After meeting at a local Pride event, Heather LaPaglia and Katie Sirianni decided to combine their creative drive and launch their traveling drink business, Sips Mobile Bar.
LaPaglia says Sips Mobile Bar is a woman, Asian, LGBTQ, and veteran-owned enterprise. It offers bar services in stylish, refurbished horse trailers at events ranging from weddings to block parties.
“We love that we bring diversity,” says LaPaglia. “I think that that's going to resonate a lot with the community.”
Sips offers four different packages for rental services ranging from $700 to $2,000 based on the number of trailers needed, number of guests, number of bartenders, location, etc. There is also an “A La Cart” package for those interested in a more personalized experience with customized trailer decor, additional bartenders, and special drinkware. Sips generally works within a 45-mile radius of Pittsburgh, but Sirianni and LaPaglia say they are willing to travel farther if needed.
“The sky's the limit,” says Sirianni. “And I think that's what makes it so awesome about it being a mobile bar, we can go anywhere with it.”
LaPaglia originally had an online art business where she sold her artwork “For Violet,” but says it wasn’t receiving the attention she wanted. She then had the idea for a mobile storefront to travel to customers at pop-up locations. With the help of her husband, she transformed an old 1970s horse trailer into “Daisey” — a refurbished, white rustic mobile shop dressed in hanging flowers and citrus wreaths to sell her work and plants.
Sips Mobile Bar includes another refurbished vehicle — a 1989 horse trailer — in their fleet. This trailer differentiates from the other as it is painted black, with darker wood panels in the front accented with pop-out windows.
Sirianni first met LaPaglia in June when Sirianni’s pop-up T-shirt shop was located next to LaPaglia’s trailer at a Pride event in the Strip District. They hit it off there, and then Sirianni traveled to LaPaglia’s home in Beaver County, and the idea for Sips Mobile Bar came to fruition.
“I was staring at this trailer and I’m like ‘Oh, my God. This is a genius idea. Storefront on wheels,’” says Sirianni.
After a few failed storefronts for her T-shirts, Sirianni felt her inspiration reignite after talking with LaPaglia about operating a business on wheels. Within a week of meeting her future business partner, Sirianni traveled with her father to Philadelphia to purchase “Maggie,” the second trailer for Sips Mobile Bar.
LaPaglia and Sirianni held Sips Mobile Bar’s grand opening celebration on July 24 in collaboration with Bunker Labs, a nonprofit organization supporting small businesses for veterans, at the VFW Hall in Dormont. The event featured both trailers alongside a live DJ, catering, donations of craft beer from local breweries, and a ribbon cutting from Dormont Mayor Jason Walsh.
LaPaglia and Sirianni hope to expand Sips in the future with more refurbished trailers added to their current fleet of two, and more staff.
“We didn't expect for it to get so exciting so quickly,” says Sirianni.