Sailor Gruzleski of Retrocentric

Retrocentric founder Sailor Gruzleski has always been attracted to the styles from the '20s, '30s and especially '40s and '50s. When her family relocated from New England, where she ran a salon and pin-up studio, to Cincinnati, it didn't take her long for her to find a willing collaborator to refine her business idea here. 

Now, she works alongside photographer, Jess W, to make customers' pin-up dreams into photographic realities.

How did you start your business?  
I owned a salon, spa and pin up studio geared toward the retro athsetic for five years in New England, and I moved my business to Cincinnati when my family was relocated. I decided to focus solely on the pin up studio aspect of the business, creating a full experience destination business. I decided to partner with a local photographer, Jess W, who was beginning to move away from family photography and more toward retro and pin up. I always find collaborating is better than competing—it is a large part of the philosophy behind Retrocentric.

How did you come up with the idea for your business?
My grandmother was my biggest style inspiration and her stories of the ingenuity of the WWII era always seemed impressive. I liked the idea that women could work in factories, yet still retain their femininity—it's something I feel we have lost since the feminist movement. Women should not have to apologize for dressing up, wearing makeup or spending time on themselves. We can still be tough, strong and independent while wearing lipstick!

This is what I always wanted Retrocentric to be—a haven where women could come spend the day being pampered, getting dolled up and having fun on their own terms in a supportive, all-female environment. And having gorgoues photos at the end of it is just a bonus.

What local resources did you take advantage of and how did they help?
We have definetly tapped into the local community of non-traditional small business owners as much as we can. We are still very new—just a year old in fact—so we have many more people to meet and partner with. The local media has been fantastic to us and has really helped expose us to the local community. We've utlitized our local chambers of commerce, media sources and neighbors.

What would you do differently if you started your business again?
I think I would have begun our location downtown or in Over-The-Rhine. It's really exciting what is happening downtown, and we really want to be a part of it and support the growth that is happening.

What’s next for you and your company?
Right now we are working on our second charity project, Pin ups For Pound Pups, which will benefit the local SPCA and animal rescue organization that can save death row dogs. The calendar will be available for sale June 1, and we hope to raise a large sum of money to save these beautiful lives. And hopefully do it each year. We are also planning a big launch party this summer with an adoption event as well. Giving back to the community that supports us is very important to Retrocentric, so we hope for continued growth and continued relationships.

Interview by Sean Peters