St’artUp 317 is a competitive program that aims to match young brands, established businesses wanting to test a new market, startups and artists, with vacant and under-utilized first floor commercial space in downtown neighborhoods to create pop-up stores. Inspired by similar initiatives across the country St’artUp 317 is being coordinated by Downtown Indy, Inc in partnership with PATTERN in order to incubate viable retail businesses and long-term tenants, while supporting the creative class and improving the cultural profile of our city. The long-term goal of the program is to eliminate empty storefronts, increase local and visitor consumer spending and ensure that the Downtown neighborhoods continue thriving.
This series of stories highlights artists, entrepreneurs and businesses that were selected to participate in the pilot of St’ArtUp 317.
After residing in Chicago for over a decade, entrepreneurs Margaret and Brandon Williamson have found themselves back in Indianapolis, where they first met. This time, with a pop-up storefront for their lifestyle clothing brand PRSVR.
PRSVR, pronounced ‘persevere’, is one of a handful of businesses that was selected for the pilot program St’ArtUp 317. The brand itself was born 15 years ago as Brandon and his college roommates dreamed of a sneaker that looked and felt different, a luxury shoe with more obtainable price points.
Margaret and Brandon met and married six months later, but it wasn’t until a shopping trip in Chicago that Margaret realized the potential of Brandon’s budding brand.
“I’ve never seen so many men come up to another man to compliment him on a piece of clothing,” Margaret says. “Brandon was wearing this quilted funnel neck sweatshirt that he made and I started to realize there might be something here.”
After cashing out her 401K and utilizing a portion of their wedding funds to build the first collection, Margaret told Brandon she’d give him six months to make it work. In February 2013, they traveled to Houston for NBA All-Star Weekend to network and expose the brand.
“This is back when Instagram was first becoming something big,” Margaret says. “E.J. King was there styling Teyana Taylor. He left a comment on one of our posts with his phone number and asked us to give him a call.”
King explained that Taylor’s luggage had been lost and requested that Margaret and Brandon bring PRSVR pieces to her hotel room for a pull. He couldn’t guarantee that she’d like anything, but the Williamsons were willing to take the risk.
Taylor took a mirror-selfie in a pair of their leather track-pants. From that moment, new doors opened for the brand.
Margaret explains that for PRSVR, 2013 was a perfect storm of having cool products and unique opportunities.
“You have to put yourself in the right positions and be prepared to meet opportunity,” she says. “If we never would have gone to Houston, who knows what would have happened, but we wouldn’t have had the chance to get those leather track pants on Teyana Taylor.”
Since that time, the couple has worked diligently to get PRSVR to where it is today.
“For the first two years, Brandon worked full time too,” Margaret says. “He was working nights at the Waldorf Astoria in Chicago, taking the mega bus to and from Indianapolis for some time.”
Six years later, their dreams for PRSVR continue to come to fruition. The accessible-luxury collection includes one-of-a-kind pieces made of leather, fur, and other high-quality materials. While the brand mostly attracts men, it also offers products for entire families who are pursuing their passions.
As PRSVR has grown, it’s had pop-up shops in cities across the U.S. including Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Chicago and now Indianapolis.
“We got the email about being accepted for St’Art Up 317 just a couple of weeks ago,” Margaret says. “We had a few days to set up the space and open our doors. This project allows entrepreneurs a rent-free space to test their visions.”
Margaret and Brandon are excited to be back in Indianapolis with their two young boys. Margaret feels that the city is highly collaborative in nature, and they are looking forward to working with other St’Art Up 317 vendors.
To meet Margaret and Brandon and check out PRSVR, visit their pop-up location at 91 N. New Jersey St. in Indianapolis.