Moxie Cloth: More than clothes

Moxie Cloth owner Jeannie Gabbay
In addition to clothes, Moxie Cloth owner Jeannie Gabbay offers wall space for female artists, raises money for wigs for cancer patients and is collecting luggage for children in foster care. 

At Moxie Cloth in Lebanon Shops, clothing isn’t the only thing that’s got moxie. When a customer walks through the door of the women’s boutique, owner Jeannie Gabbay is ready to help her feel her best, whether through fashion or one of many initiatives geared toward empowering women and giving back to the community. “Each customer is beautiful, and my focus is bringing out that beauty through confidence,” she said.

“A good retailer is born, not made,” said Gabbay, of Lakemont Drive, who was born and raised in Beechview and has worked in retail for 18 years including at former Pittsburgh retail staples like Kaufmann’s, Lerner, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bare Feet—a retail shop owned by her husband, Mo. In 2005, the Gabbays moved to Israel with their three children, where they ran another small business.

Upon returning to Mt. Lebanon in 2008, Gabbay decided to try her hand at something outside of retail, and worked at St. Clair Hospital for seven years as secretary in the orthopedic unit. But the retail business kept calling to her. “My husband noticed that I was withering on the vine,” said Gabbay. So, in 2015, while she was on leave from work due to a minor illness, she and Mo ventured to Lebanon Shops to peer through an empty storefront window. The following Monday, they went back to inquire about renting the space. “Within 15 minutes, we had signed a lease,” said Gabbay.

Seven years later, Gabbay greets, dresses, motivates, laughs, cries and celebrates alongside her customers at Moxie Cloth. “I wanted to create a community boutique feeling, a sanctuary, a place to feel your best,” she said. Her goal is to approach customers with warmth, compassion and love—and create an experiential feeling where each customer receives individual treatment.

Gabbay asks about customers’ lifestyles, the purpose they want their clothing to serve, as well as their personal styles, and helps find new pieces to integrate into their wardrobes. “Our style and clothes evolve as our minds and bodies change over time,” said Gabbay. “Sometimes you need an overhaul, and seeing yourself differently has the power to be a pivoting point and to change something within you.”

Empowerment doesn’t only come from the fashion at Moxie Cloth. Gabbay runs several community-based initiatives, including offering wall space at no cost for local female artists to display art pieces for sale. Artists can reach out to the store if interested in displaying art.

Gabbay also runs the “Moxie’s Mane” annual fundraising initiative to purchase human-hair wigs, in partnership with Hair Enhancements in Dormont, to benefit women experiencing hair loss due to chemotherapy. “Moxie’s Mane” has raised $20,000 to date, according to Gabbay.

Her newest initiative is collecting luggage for the Foster Love Project, for foster children to transport personal items. Luggage in working condition, such as suitcases and duffle bags, can be dropped off at the store.

“I want to be a support and foundation for other women,” said Gabbay. “Confidence goes before them like a red carpet when they walk out the door [of Moxie Cloth].”

And for someone looking to find or enhance their own sense of moxie, Gabbay offers the following advice: “Try something out of your comfort zone, stay open-minded, and come on in and ask for help.”

Photography: John Schisler