SM: Chicago had Studs Terkel, Pittsburgh has you. . . .  What is your process in selecting your subjects for interviews?

KS: Studs Terkel?! He's the man. If I manage to interview as many people as he did in his lifetime, I will consider myself one lucky woman.

My goal with Yinzpiration is to feature young Pittsburghers in their 20's and 30's who work in a variety of fields and have a love for the city. I find out about people to interview through nominations (from both interviewees and readers of the blog).

I sometimes feel like I should dedicate a blog post just highlighting some of the nominations. I’ve truly been touched by the many beautiful things that have been said about the people of Pittsburgh!

SM: What have been some of your favorite interviews so far? Why?

KS: I've enjoyed every single interview thus far. I do have few specific highlights:

1. Taping Trevor Weller's (aka Real Deal) original rap predicting the Superbowl XLV. He wrote it specifically for the interview, and my friend Rob de la Cretaz helped record it one freezing cold night on the streets of the South Side. I was blown away by Trevor’s talent and remember reflecting on the drive home that my life had certainly become more interesting since starting these interviews.

2. Stepping into Rachel Vallozi's yellow-sunshine-love kitchen on a gloomy day in March. I was smiling for hours afterwards. I've had several people say her picture is their favorite one from the blog. (And look! Rachel was interviewed right here on The Swerve! She's such a gem.)

3. Being served a delicious dinner complete with homemade ice cream by the lovely Jessicarobyn Keyser. It doesn’t get any better than dinner at the home of a fantastic cook.

My favorite part about having an interview blog is keeping in touch with the people I meet afterwards. Many interviewees have become friends, professional contacts, and even business partners. Each interview has inspired me to try something new: I've checked out restaurants, comedy shows, plays and conferences.  Oh… and hair products! Is it selfish that I added the shampoo question for my own benefit?

The blog has enabled me to experience Pittsburgh through many different perspectives—from natives and transplants alike. I've lived here for six years and I still have so much to discover—and most importantly—more people to meet!

SM: Without mentioning names, we've all had bad interviews. I sometimes go into an interview with lofty expectations based on certain traits of the interviewee and walk away feeling slightly let down. Has this happened to you? What, if anything, do you do to compensate for the interview via your writing? Or do you go back and try again on a different day, hoping to get different results?

KS: Truthfully, I’ve yet to be disappointed. I've been fortunate to have been connected with interesting, open and honest interviewees. I believe that everyone has something to share—I aim to pin down what makes each interviewee excited, and inevitably I learn something new.

SM: We covered favorite, least favorite, we have to hit worst. Ever completely misread a subject and have to scrap the interview? Why and what led to this?

KS: Fortunately, this has never happened yet for me.

SM: Being an adopted Pittsburgher, give us "lifers" an outsider's view of the strange, weird (some of us are nice too, I suppose) people that we are?

KS: Pittsburgh's colorful personalities are what make this city so great. I'd take strange and weird over bland and melancholy any day.  

SM: What have you learned about yourself through doing this project?

KS: Writing this blog has helped me discover a writing voice that I didn’t even know existed. Prior to this experience, I believed that for my work to be worth others’ attention, I needed to be clever, have cutting edge ideas and use impressive language. When I realized I could just be “me,” writing became quite natural.

I've also discovered the welcoming and incredible Pittsburgh blogging and Twitter communities and have made some amazing friends and connections.

Lastly, I think I can officially say I’ve become addicted to meeting new people. I can't stop. I just love it!

SM: Your goal is to interview 100 Pittsburghers; when you hit number 99, are you going to have second thoughts about ending the blog or do you have plans to go out with bang with a big-name Pittsburgher?

KS: Reaching 99 interviews will most certainly be bittersweet. It’s a big goal and I’m looking forward to it—I’m not sure I will want to quit!

As for the last interview...  Big name? Perhaps. Bang? Most definitely.

SM: Any ideas or interest in turning this project into a book?

KS: A book was not my original goal for Yinzpiration, but I wouldn't be opposed to it. My focus is to highlight young, innovative Pittsburghers. If writing a book would enable me to share these folks with the world in a new way, I'm all for it.

SM: Living or dead, give me the top-five people you would love to interview (and they don't have to be Pittsburghers) and briefly explain why.

KS: Richard Hershey - My Grandpa. He passed away before I was born. Rumor has it that he was a wise and handsome farmer who could eat impressive amounts of ice cream.

Susan Gregg Koger - Pittsburgh female entrepreneur and founder of ModCloth. I’ve had fun watching her company grow!

Katharine Hepburn - My namesake. I’ve always admired her spunk.

Tavi Gevinson - Writer of one of my favorite blogs: Style Rookie. Her effortless creativity is enchanting. I also love the way she writes.

Jacques Pepin - Who wouldn’t want to talk to a man who makes the most perfect omelets?

The blog has enabled me to experience Pittsburgh through many different perspectives—from natives and transplants alike. I've lived here for six years and I still have so much to discover—and most importantly—more people to meet!

I'm really thankful to my husband Nik and Plumb Media ( for sponsoring the project and helping with the technical aspects of the blog. This project would not be possible without such amazing support.