Jerome Turner, owner of 4J Leggings Boutique in the Strip.

    Jerome Turner, owner of 4J Leggings Boutique in the Strip.

    Between the white columns at 1814 Penn Avenue sits 4J Leggings Boutique. Outside you may see several pairs of leg mannequins displaying a sample of the many unique leggings owner Jerome Turner sells at the boutique, but there is so much more inside the store. There you’ll find an array of leggings supporting the black and gold. You will also find yoga leggings, dress leggings, cold-weather leggings, jeans, t-shirts, jackets, vests, and even custom Steelers sneakers.

    4J Leggings Boutique especially focuses on custom-made leggings and active wear. There are not only one-of-a-kind Steelers leggings but also a number of other teams’ “Game Day” leggings in store and on the website. Additionally, there are leggings highlighting holidays such as Halloween and Christmas. Turner says that 75 percent of his business is comprised of custom-made products, adding, “We specialize in different.”

    Different it is … and that difference is what makes 4J Leggings Boutique a great fit for the Strip, a location where the shop will celebrate a nine-years’ presence in January. 4J Leggings Boutique is located in the Penn Mac building in the space formally known as Café on the Strip. Why the Strip? Says Jerome: “The Strip chose me!”

    When asked how he got started in the business, Jerome recalls a vacation he took to Bangkok. He toured a mulberry silk farm where he learned about the Bombyx mori moth. The caterpillar is strictly fed white mulberry leaves. The result is a cocoon made up of individual long fibers that are pure white in color. These fibers are used to make mulberry silk, one of the most luxurious and durable silks. Jerome knew he wanted to sell these at home.

    4J Leggings

    Once back in the ’Burgh, Jerome looked for a place to sell his mulberry silk scarves. He was fortunate to land a space in the parking lot and sidewalk across from his current location in the Strip District.  Working on the weekends, Jerome sold his mulberry silk scarves from that lot. One day his contact with the scarves asked if he had ever thought of selling leggings; the thought had never crossed his mind. Back at his full-time job as a behavioral specialist one day at UPMC in Oakland, he looked around and saw women wearing leggings, realizing that “everyone was wearing them.” From that point, he decided to sell leggings.

    For Jerome and his 4J leggings, the devil is in the details. 4J leggings come in many varieties, each one carefully crafted. With factory relationships in China and Afghanistan, 4J leggings are reasonably priced and are of great quality. Jerome pays attention to the weight of the fabrics, stitching, and color. He even sells leggings in longer lengths for taller woman. All of these components are of particular importance to the finished product and to the customer.

    As a behavioral specialist for 25 years, Jerome understands the importance of listening, especially listening to his customers. He often observes the customers in the store; they look with their eyes but also feel the product with their hands. When he hears his customers saying things about the fabric or other details of the leggings, Jerome is able to explain the fabric and stitching and direct them to one of the many choices he has in the store. In-store shopping provides the customer with many options, including a dressing room in order to find the perfect fit. 4J Leggings Boutique is open every day except Tuesday.

    When the pandemic hit in 2020, Jerome had to change the way he did business. People were not coming into the Strip to shop in person. He realized he needed to offer online sales. Today you can shop 4J Leggings Boutique through its website, 4Jimports.com, as well as at the brick-and-mortar location on Penn Avenue in the Strip (open every day except Tuesday). The boutique also partners with eBay, Etsy, and Amazon.

    Jerome has seen many changes in the Strip over the years. He feels that being in the Strip gives him “a constant influx of new faces and new sales.” The Strip has become a destination point in Pittsburgh, especially for those here for a sporting event or a convention. The Strip attracts people from all over the country plus international visitors. When asked about all the new residential development popping up, Jerome feels it is an opportunity for him and his brand. With all the other vendors throughout the Strip, selling leggings gives him an edge. “I have a niche,” says Jerome. “No one else sells what I do … I have leggings for all occasions!”

    Elizabeth Kovach Kunz is a freelance writer who lives in Wexford with her husband, Dan, two children, and a chocolate lab, Maggie.