WHIRL Magazine’s 13 Under 30 Class of 2014

By Liz Petoniak
Photographs by Rob Larson
Art Direction by Jason Solak

Amongst the long list of 13 Under 30 nominees, these young professionals caught our eye, thanks to their entrepreneurial spirit. They represent Pittsburgh’s intellect, creativity, and generosity, and prove that it’s possible to live out your dream right in your own backyard. As we traveled to meet and photograph each of them on their home turf, and we saw everyone in their element and were charmed and inspired by their fun personalities and work ethics. These are the ones to watch, and we think you’ll be inspired, too.

Introducing the 2014 class of 13 rising stars in Western Pennsylvania, all under the age of 30!


In 2013, Eva Lin, founder of Eva Lin Photography and Assistant Store Manager at lululemon athletica Ross Park, joined together with her team to bring us Yoga & Yarn, the phenomenal event that gathered hundreds of Pittsburgh yogis to the then-yarn-bombed Andy Warhol Bridge for a complimentary class. The energetic Carnegie Mellon University grad fell in love with the city when she first came here for her studies. “The amazing museums, sporting events, city pride, and growing arts scene brought me back here to live and work,” she says. “Everyone has an incredible entrepreneurial spirit, and Pittsburgh makes it very accessible and affordable for people to make their dreams a reality.” Currently, Lin is completing her teacher training through Yogaworks at BYS Yoga in South Side and hopes to publish a book of photography this year “combining beautiful yoga images with inspiring stories of compassion and community,” in addition to planning her upcoming nuptials! Says Lin, “At lululemon, we have big visions of making Pittsburgh a healthier and more mindful city in 2014 and beyond, so stay tuned for some exciting events that will be even bigger than Yoga & Yarn!”

For more information, visit evalinphotography.com or lululemon.com.

Favorite Pittsburgh Place:

“My fiancé and I just bought a house in Lawrenceville, and we love exploring all the shops and delicious restaurants — La Gourmandine Bakery’s almond croissant is on my top picks! And, obviously, anywhere there is yoga going on!”

WHIRL 13 Under 30 2014 - Eva Lin


After living in the eastern part of Pennsylvania for a few years, Pittsburgh native Stephanie Kirby realized she wanted to return to start her business, The Blue Daisy Floral Designs. “There’s something about the people in Pittsburgh that you don’t find anywhere else — a kindness. It’s a great time to be here as we are seeing so much growth right now, and I love the creativity that is coming out of it,” she says. As owner and lead designer of The Blue Daisy Floral Designs, Kirby exercises her creativity by designing stunning floral arrangements for weddings and special occasions, and teaching floral design classes. Before this issue hits newsstands, Kirby will have already put the finishing touches on flower arrangements for her own big day — her wedding to her fiancé, Patrick!

For more information, visit thebluedaisyfloral.com.

Favorite Pittsburgh Place:

“Definitely Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. There is no better place to be on a winter day than surrounded by plants and flowers. It’s a place of peace and inspiration for me. Lawrenceville comes in second. I love all of the shops and restaurants that are popping up; it’s a fun place to explore.”

WHIRL 13 Under 30 2014 - Stephanie Kirby


“Although I went to college in Philadelphia, then moved to New York City for two years, I chose to live and work in Pittsburgh because I love the idea of being a part of its revitalization,” says Julian Vallozzi, owner of Vallozzi’s Pittsburgh and Toss’t in the central business district of Downtown. “It’s so exciting to watch the transformation, and just over the past two years since we opened the restaurant, I’ve seen a neighborhood form, new construction, and a city that stays bustling beyond nine-to-five.” Aside from his restaurants’ contributions to the revitalization of Downtown, Vallozzi is also committed to helping the Pittsburgh community through his charitable endeavors. He’s on the committee of Old Joe Club Charities, which just hosted its annual Men’s Night Out event that raised nearly $250,000 for several local charities. Currently, Vallozzi is in the process of starting an annual “restaurant industry” bone marrow drive, with hopes to launch this spring.

For more information, visit vallozzispittsburgh.com.

Favorite Pittsburgh Place:

“PNC Park. I am a lifelong, diehard Pirates fan and season ticket holder. It’s the best park in America. I live Downtown, so any time I have a free moment and the Bucs are playing, I will just walk over — even if I can only catch a few innings.”

WHIRL 13 Under 30 2014 - Julian Vallozzi


Wes Lyons, who grew up in North Braddock, played football for Woodland Hills High School, West Virginia University, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. In 2012, he authored a book, “The Pursuit with Patience,” which shares his inspiring journey. Though he modestly says he didn’t expect the book to take off, it was a major stepping stone to building his brand as a motivational speaker and to creating “The Pursuit,” his new life skills program that’s already been implemented in six Pittsburgh public high schools, including his alma mater, Woodland Hills. “The program develops and prepares students for success while in high school, college, and for life after college, utilizing my life experiences to help enrich their lives and empower them to reach the highest level of success,” he says. As he details the countless emails he receives from students, thanking him, asking him for advice, and confiding in him, it’s clear that Lyons is making a difference in the classroom, positively affecting the next generation of young professionals. “I feel that the young professionals [in Pittsburgh] strive to be involved in more than just their everyday jobs to be fulfilled and successful,” he says. “This mindset will continue to help Pittsburgh grow and prosper.”

For more information, visit wesleylyons.com.

Favorite Pittsburgh Place:

“Exiting the Fort Pitt tunnels. I will never get enough of driving home from West Virginia (where I graduated from college), going through the tunnels, and seeing the breathtaking view of the city. That is the best ‘welcome home’ feeling.”

WHIRL 13 Under 30 2014 - Wes Lyons


Attracted by Pittsburgh’s Cultural District and the “hub of internship and employment opportunities in small businesses and national corporations alike,” down-to-earth Butler native Annie Rosellini transferred from the University of Arts in Philadelphia to Point Park University. “I knew that not only would Point Park help me attain the education and degree I desire, but that because of its location, there would be endless possibilities in my future,” she says. In addition to being a student and skilled dancer, Rosellini takes on another big job: she’s the reigning Miss Pennsylvania 2013. As such, she travels all across the state, raising funds and awareness for causes supported by Children’s Miracle Network, the national platform of the Miss America Organization. Rosellini also devotes her time to another organization close to her heart, the American Heart Association. Since losing her father to an unexpected heart attack, she’s made it her mission to spread awareness of heart disease. Just last year, she co-founded the Jaime V. Rosellini Healing Hearts Foundation in his honor. She and her family will host the fourth annual 5K race and walk in Butler (date TBA), with proceeds benefitting the American Heart Association, the Children’s Miracle Network, and two other charitable causes supported by her father.

For more information, visit misspa.org.

Favorite Pittsburgh Place:

“I can’t get enough of Mt. Washington! I am in love with the restaurants and great food and the breathtaking, picturesque views of the city. It is always my go-to spot for any celebration, especially with family or friends visiting from out of town.”

WHIRL 13 Under 30 2014 - Annie Rosellini


Having done a “modest amount” of traveling, South Hills native Greg Liebenguth, appreciates why Pittsburgh consistently tops the list of “America’s Most Livable Cities.” “Pittsburgh has this incredibly rich, historical sense of charm, and yet, is able to reinvent itself year after year with new and exciting business developments, public projects, nonprofits, art, and entertainment initiatives.” As owner and lead web developer at Full City Media, helping entrepreneurs share their passion and project their vision through his brand and web development expertise, he’s gained a deep perspective of Pittsburgh’s start-up scene. In 2014, Liebenguth will launch a number of exciting web projects including sites for local start-ups Organically Social, LLC, an online community promoting health and wellness events in the city; TRIM Pittsburgh, a new retailer of stylish men’s swimwear and undergarments opening in East Liberty; and Celebritees.org, a fundraising concept developed by Jeff Boyd of DYOB Group that will raise money for various charities through the sale of custom T-shirts hand-designed by nationally known celebrities. Liebenguth firmly believes that Pittsburgh is a great place to start a business. He says, “We’re surrounded by globally recognized universities, state-of-the-art research and tech facilities, and, most importantly, good-hearted people who are ready and willing to support your venture.”

For more information, visit fullcitypgh.com.

Favorite Pittsburgh Place:

“The Strip District. It’s full of culture, good food, and it’s ever-changing. There’s always something new to discover.”

WHIRL 13 Under 30 2014 - Greg Liebenguth


In 2007, John Nicklas, then-president of local kitchen and bath companies SPLASH Kitchen Bath Home and Nicklas Supply, saw something special in Brent Hugus. He recruited Hugus right out of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh to work as a full-time designer, and seven years later, the pair now co-owns LUXE Home and Design, a luxury kitchen home design firm with locations in Downtown Pittsburgh and East Liberty’s new Indigo Square. Hugus serves as vice president. “We share the same vision and want to bring the best products and design pertaining to the kitchen and bath industry to Pittsburgh,” he says. Watching him in the new East Liberty showroom, which opened in October, showing customers steam showers and custom tile from Quebec, and seriously geeking out over the newest kitchen appliances, it’s easy to see that his passion for top-of-the-line contemporary design is real. Says Hugus, “It is very inspiring to see the change young professionals are making in the city. We are no longer following — we are leading in innovative business vision, style, and approach.” Hugus is most certainly one of those leaders.

For more information, visit luxepittsburgh.com.

Favorite Pittsburgh Place:

“Market Square. It’s alive with people enjoying urban food, drink, and the new Downtown vibe.

WHIRL Magazine 13 Under 30 2014 - Brent Hugus


Family roots run deep in Pittsburgh for Evan Addams, whose great-grandparents originally settled on Polish Hill. He now owns a duplex in town with his wife and decided to stay in Pittsburgh following his graduation from Grove City College with a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship and to enter the growing start-up community. In 2011, he joined local start-up NoWait, “the anti-reservation waitlisting app that connects guests with their favorite casual-dining restaurants,” and currently holds the title of director of accounts. Addams played an integral role in growing the app’s subscriber base, which now includes restaurants all over the country, in addition to local spots such as Burgatory and Pamela’s P&G Diner in Oakland. NoWait boasts more than 30 million users to date. Outside the office, Addams gives back by helping to lead TingaTinga Capital, a nonprofit, venture capital firm, to local entrepreneurs in third-world countries, which has already created more than 100 jobs in Uganda. He says, “To see so many recent grads giving back to the community where they were educated and raised is really inspiring. Old factories are converting into offices for tech start-ups, and instead of moving to San Francisco, businesses such as NoWait and Birchmere Ventures have settled in Pittsburgh. Seeing the philanthropic and economic impact that young executives have delivered before they’re 30 makes me excited to raise my family in Pittsburgh.”

For more information, visit nowaitapp.com.

Favorite Pittsburgh Place:

“A favorite weekend activity for my wife and me is to enjoy great food, and our favorite spot is Dinette Restaurant & Wine Bar in East Liberty. From the second-story restaurant, we can see how the whole East End has revitalized into a vibrant community. Close to my heart both personally and professionally, Dinette was first to join NoWait’s ever-growing list of restaurants, and its prosciutto pizza is the best in town.”

WHIRL Magazine 13 Under 30 2014 - Evan Addams


Former professional soccer player and Pittsburgh native Richard Costanzo has racked up an impressive list of soccer accolades over the years, and he’s using his talent to help Pittsburgh’s youth. In 2012, he founded the Pittsburgh Soccer Academy (PSA), and as owner and director, he works with many different youth soccer organizations, hosting camps and clinics that cover all topics of the game, but truly specialize in the technical aspect of soccer. “These camps are a lot of fun for the players, but are extremely informative, too,” Costanzo says. “We also plan on holding some charitable events this year, and are looking to help with different special-needs organizations around the city.” Costanzo, who attended Thomas Jefferson High School, appreciates the blue-collar ethic of the people from Pittsburgh and is happy to be living in his hometown with his friends and family. He says, “I think it’s great that a large network of young professionals are staying in the Pittsburgh area for work, instead of moving out of the area to start their businesses.”

For more information, visit pittsburghsocceracademy.com.

Favorite Pittsburgh Place:

“The Strip District. I enjoy all of the ethnic restaurants and wholesale stores; it’s definitely a unique area in our city. Once in awhile, I also enjoy a night out with friends at Le Mardi Gras in Shadyside, which is truly a one-of-a-kind cocktail lounge with a lot of character and class.”

WHIRL Magazine 13 Under 30 2014 - Richard Costanzo


Known as “Miss Solomon” by her readers and the hundreds of thousands of people who watch her YouTube channel, Fauna Solomon is the founder of thedatingtruth.com, an advice blog for singles. She says, “I grew up in Pittsburgh, and it’s always been full of opportunity for me. I’ve been able to build a business and make a living. It’s wonderful.” The smart, savvy, and stylish blogger aims to help singles improve themselves, enjoy the dating world, and eventually find “the one” through the clever and perceptive content on her site, including two intense online courses specifically focused on helping men and women build confidence and find love. Additionally, Solomon offers dating coaching for those seeking a more personalized experience. But, she’s not only a one-woman show; she also works with Flaunt Boutique in South Side and 720 Music, Clothing, and Cafe in Lawrenceville, just to name a few of her collaborations with fellow young entrepreneurs.

For more information, visit thedatingtruth.com.

 Favorite Pittsburgh Place:

“The North Side, where I live. It’s close to everything, and it’s picturesque. You can walk Downtown, or to the stadiums and the Carnegie Science Center. It’s full of history.”

WHIRL Magazine 13 Under 30 2014 - Fauna Solomon


Brother duo and fitness entrepreneurs Joe and Anthony Vennare took the road less traveled on their journey by choosing not to settle. Prior to founding Vennare Ventures, LLC, Joe was a social studies teacher and a personal trainer; Anthony was in The United States Marine Corps. They opened a gym that grew to a membership of 400 people and decided to close it with the hopes of spreading their message further. With Joe writing copy and Anthony working behind the scenes as a web designer and developer (Joe calls him “the Wizard of Oz”), together they own and operate two brands: Hybrid Athlete, a website which offers free bodyweight training; and Fittsburgh, an online guide to healthy living in Pittsburgh and farm box service, which provides subscribers with local, seasonal, and healthy foods. Joe says, “This city one of those rare places where hard work really does pay off and neighbors actually know one another, a place where innovation and history collide, where rust and resilience run deep. Pittsburgh is poised to retake its place as a pivotal region for the nation and the world. We’re going to be a part of that.”

For more information, visit getfitpgh.com and thehybridathlete.com.

Favorite Pittsburgh Place:

Joe loves “any and every library and museum” in Pittsburgh, and Anthony has a soft spot for “Sunday morning in the Strip District.”

WHIRL Magazine 13 Under 30 2014 - Anthony Vennare and Joe Vennare


Kirstie Corso originally moved to Pittsburgh to pursue a master’s degree at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. Shortly thereafter, she connected with Maria Caruso, founder and artistic director of Bodiography Contemporary Ballet, who, to Corso’s surprise, offered her a company contract. She enjoyed dancing and the Pittsburgh environment so much that she decided to stay with the company. “During this time, Maria and I decided to tackle the development of Bodiography Fitness and Strength,” she explains. “It has been a whirlwind of writing, formatting, networking, instructor trainings, photo shoots, and planks. It has been an exciting opportunity that keeps me on my toes.” Today, Corso holds many titles, including program director for Bodiography Fitness and Strength; company artist for Bodiography Contemporary Ballet; adjunct professor in the dance department at La Roche College; and fitness instructor at Club One. She says, “Pittsburgh can be an exciting place for young professionals. I’m excited to see the opportunities continue to develop over the next decade.”

For more information, visit bodiographycbc.com.

Favorite Pittsburgh Place:

“Shadyside. I’ve lived in the area for the past five years and really enjoy the demographic, the vibe, and its location in the city.”

WHIRL Magazine 13 Under 30 2014 - Kirstie Corso

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  1. Robb Myer
    February 22, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Congrats to all the winners. I’ve been in Pgh 9 years and seen this place change so much. Great to see young entrepreneurs choosing to build their companies in the burgh. It’s an exciting time to be here.

  2. Evan
    February 22, 2014 at 11:15 am

    Thanks, Whirl! Great piece – honored to be amongst these names