Feed Your Furry Friends The Best With Hound Fresh!

The product was provided to me by Hound Fresh in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Attention all dog owners! How picky are your four legged friends when it comes to their food? Super fussy? Will eat anything? I have one of each, so I am on both ends of the spectrum…and it can be really frustrating.

I’ve never formally introduced my two dogs to you all, so here they are. I lovingly call them the Idiot Twins. Idiot #1, Bella, is a mutt. We aren’t quite sure what she is, actually, although I wasted my money on one of those doggy DNA tests once. We knew that she was an Australian Cattle Dog mix, but I just wanted to know what the mix was, as she looks part German Shepherd. The test results came back that she was an….wait for it…AUSTRALIAN CATTLE DOG MIX. They didn’t tell me what the mix was as apparently they can’t test past three generations back. Anyway, long story short, she is my picky eater. Sometimes she’ll eat fine, sometimes she’ll snub her food, sometimes she’ll eat both her and her sister’s food. There’s no rhyme or reason, I guess it just depends on if she wants to be stubborn that day and drive me crazy.

And speaking of her sister, Idiot #2 is Libby, the English Springer Spaniel. She will eat everything and anything, even if it’s not food. She’ll just assume that it’s food and eat it anyway, so that’s fun. Not.

I was recently approached by Margaret, owner of the local company Hound Fresh. They make dog food with real ingredients, cooked fresh every week! How cool is that? If you visit their website, it breaks down all of the ingredients and answers any questions that you might have about the process.

Margaret sent me two containers for my pups to try out, and this food was a raging success. Bella, the picky one, gobbled up this food without any question or hesitation. She seemed to really enjoy it. All she really cares about is meat, and this food is packed full of chicken and veggies and doesn’t have any grains or fillers, which is really important. Libby, the vacuum, actually took her time eating, which was totally out of the ordinary for her, and she normally seems to swallow her food whole without actually tasting it. She was chewing her food for once, which made me a happy mamma.

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I asked Margaret a few questions about Hound Fresh and the future of her company, and here’s what she had to say!

When did you start your business?

Hound Fresh officially started this past fall after a year of researching and working with our team to develop our recipe. It was important for us to take the time with our nutritionists to ensure that we had the best possible food available.

Have you always known that creating dog food was something that you wanted to pursue?

Not at first. I started Hound Fresh because I wasn’t happy with the options that were out there to feed our pets. When I adopted Comrade (my amazing lab mix;) seven years ago, I had no idea that a world beyond kibble existed! Believe it or not, I always believed that dogs shouldn’t eat “people food”. Comrade suffered with skin conditions that just wouldn’t go away with any of the treatments. Thats when I started looking into his diet and switched him over to a fresh food diet. The results were amazing. His skin alignments cleared up, and his overall health improved. The more I read about fresh food diets the more I realized what an important role they played in keeping dogs in optimum health. Fresh food diets work great for dogs that are also struggling with allergies, itchy skin, chronic ear infections, digestive issues, and weight management.
The issue with kibble is first and foremost its ingredients- the majority of kibbles use ingredients that are “not fit” for human consumption- these include the 4D’s- Dead, diseased,dying or disabled. These ingredients are used not only in lower quality kibbles but in premium kibbles as well.
Hound Fresh never uses grains,by-products, preservatives, “mystery meat, or rendered meat. You can see our ingredients and we are totally transparent in everything we put in our food.

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What do you love about owning your own business?

I love the fact that it allows me to pursue something I am passionate in. Each and every single dog we feed are part of our Hound Fresh family and we take a genuine interest to make sure that each of our dogs is thriving. Helping them achieve their health is very fulfilling for us.

What are the challenges that come with owning your own business?

I think the biggest challenge was trying to keep it as simple as possible for our customers. Kibble is very convenient, you just scoop and go! We also wanted to keep it as convenient as possible while still providing a superior fresh food diet. With this in mind, we came up with our business model. Our food is cooked fresh to order Monday morning and than delivered Monday evening. We provide weekly delivery right to your doorstep. Our food is individually customized and pre-portioned by meal for each individual dog. Just open and serve!

Any plans to expand into stores?

Yes! You can find us at Animal Outfitters!

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What do you love most about Buffalo?

The people! Buffalo has such a sense of community and pride.

What are the future plans for your business?

We have had such a great response from Buffalo! Our immediate plans are to continue to expand our grow our customer base.


Thank you so much Margaret for the yummy meals for my pups! If you would like to try out Hound Fresh for your fur babies, visit their website to get started today!

The Victory Gardens Spring Pop-Up

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Photos by Ryan Kell

A few weeks ago I had wrote a post about the Oxford Pennant Pop-Up…and it’s finally open!

With the help of Fern Croft, the entire store has been transformed into a beautiful wonderland full of succulents, air plants, ferns, moss, and everything in between.  Everywhere you look, there is something new to explore…it is totally magical!  And, a fun fact, all of these plants are for sale.  I picked up a lovely wooden air planter which looks perfect in my office…and I haven’t killed the air plant yet, which is a miracle!

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Among the beautiful flora, Oxford Pennant is also selling carefully hand-picked items that are incredibly unique and a gardener’s dream…watering cans, hanging planters, gardening gloves, etc. But for those of us who were not blessed with that green thumb, they also sell pieces that are perfect for us fashionable folks…sunglasses, Oxford Pennant tees, and my personal favorite, these “Stay Lucky” and “Raise Hell” cuff bracelets.  So cute!

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I wish that I had a magnetic wall in my house so I could fill them with these magnetic air planters! Don’t these look like little pineapples?

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You are also able to purchase their pennants as well, which you could previously only purchase on their website.  I pretty much wanted to take every single one home with me.

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Thank you so much Oxford for letting me have a sneak peek before the doors opened…the store looks amazing!

If you are local in the WNY area, or if you want to take a trip in to town to check this out, you can find their pop-up at 43 W. Tupper in Buffalo.  The Victory Gardens is open from 12-8pm Monday-Saturday until July 3rd.  Get in before it’s gone!

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Trebird Skateboard Jewelry

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Photos by  Ryan Kell

Jewelry made out of a skateboard.

Sounds crazy, right?

Well, it definitely doesn’t sound crazy to Katie, owner of Trebird Skateboard Jewelry! I first became aware of Trebird a few years ago at a local artisan show, and from that point on I was completely hooked.  Her pieces are so unique and fun and add a little pop of color to any outfit, which is perfect for people like me who pretty much only wear black.

What I love so much about her jewelry is that you can really tell just how much time she spends on each one.  No two pieces are the same, and that adds an awesome variety to her brand that makes you want to keep collecting more and more.

I recently asked Katie a few questions about her business and life in Buffalo and found out that what started out as a broken skateboard slowly transformed into her passion.

In this shoot, I’m wearing the Skateboard Necklace, FRED Pendant, and Skateboard Earrings c/o Trebird. 

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When did you start your business?

Trebird started back in May of 2013. We’re actually coming up on our 5th anniversary!

Have you always known that jewelry design was something that you wanted to pursue?

I took a metalsmithing class back in college and I fell in love with it. After my course, I tried getting into it again but due to lack of resources I started branching out into different mediums. I worked with wire for a while and I hated everything I was making. I tried working with sewing thread, bead-working, recycled paper, you name it. It actually wasn’t until I worked with scrap paper that I realized I really like the idea of transforming something old into something new. Kyle (my boyfriend at the time, now husband) came home from the skate park one day with a broken skateboard. I saw all the colors in the board and I was so excited to tear it apart. Once I started cutting into it, I made my first pair of earrings. After that I started doing some research, got all the equipment I needed and set up my bench in the basement.

To go back to your question, I don’t think it’s something I’ve always known I wanted to do, but as I continue to make jewelry I find myself mildly obsessed with jewelry making of all forms. I’m currently trying to get back into metalsmithing again so there will hopefully be a new line from Trebird in the future.

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How did you come up with the name Trebird for your brand?

Trebird came from living on the corner of Tremont and Bird in Buffalo. We were all brainstorming for a name one day and my friend Ryan suggested Trebird. I’ve got a lot of Buffalove in my heart so I thought it was the perfect fit. All of my boards come from skaters that skate the Buffalo streets so I thought it’d be neat to name all of our pieces after Buffalo streets too. (Potomac Pendant, Hoyt Pendant Earrings, Tremont Necklace, etc.)

What’s funny is that combining the street names have kind of turned into an overall branding for most of what I do. Our shop, Fred Handmade Wares, was named pretty much the same way. Franklin + Edward = Fred. Ha.

What do you love about owning your own business?

I can honestly say, my absolutely favorite part is seeing people wear my jewelry. I still get a little goofy every time I see someone wearing a piece of mine. Even if I don’t know who they are, I usually run right up to them and say, “Hey! I made that! You look awesome!”

My customers are awesome and they really are amazing looking people in general. I’m not just saying that. Haha.

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What are the challenges that come with owning your own business?

There are so many challenges to owning your own business but I can definitely say it’s worth it. I’m on Etsy so keeping up with updating the shop is a monster of it’s own. It takes hours to get all the photos together, uploaded, tagged, etc.

It’s also difficult to find a lot of jewelry suppliers in the area. I try my hardest to make sure all of my hardware is sourced from local vendors. I’m lucky that Bead Gallery on Sheridan is so close, otherwise I’d have to search throughout Etsy for hours finding the right pieces.

It’s also difficult to stay up to date on style changes. I think my biggest hurdle was getting people to wear Trebird at first because they didn’t really understand the idea behind it. Now I have a solid customer base that loves repping Trebird and I couldn’t be more thankful for that.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I draw a lot of my inspiration from my own personal style, which can be good and bad. I’m a very neutral person and don’t have much “pizazz” to my outfits. I make a lot of jewelry based on if I would wear it. But the downfall to that is a lot of people may not like my style or what I would make based on that. Instead I’ll think of events that people could wear my jewelry to and I start to imagine the type of people that would go to those events. Concerts, a night on the town, to the beach, snowboarding, etc.

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What do you love most about Buffalo?

There’s so much to love about Buffalo it’s hard to narrow it down. I would have to say the food though. I’m a sucker for a good meal and a good drink. And there’s SO many amazing places around here. Essex St. Pub might be the one place my husband and I go a little too much. Their BBQ game is just so on point!

What’s currently on your playlist?

Oh man, it’s different every day! Lately I’ve been really into Tame Impala, Alabama Shakes, Shakey Graves, Real Estate, Mac Demarco, and a little Bruno Mars sprinkled into a mix on the daily.

What are your plans for the future of your business?

I feel like I’ll always keep making new pieces for Trebird but I’m really going to start getting into metalsmithing. Depending on how that goes, there could be mix of new pieces in the future!

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Oxford Pennant Spring Pop-Up

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Okay, so I have a confession to make.

I’m kind of, sorta, completely, utterly obsessed with Oxford Pennant.  Seriously, this past year, EVERYONE received Oxford pennants from me as gifts.  Best. Ever.

Last year, Oxford created a pop-up shop called The Victory Gardens in December.  I actually wrote a blog post about it which you can find HERE.

For those of you who were able to attend their Holiday pop-up, you remember how incredible it was, right?  Such amazing pieces that were perfect for anyone on your gift list.

But hold up.  Next weekend, Oxford is REOPENING THE VICTORY GARDENS! *cue the heavenly music*  Their Spring pop-up grand re-opening is Saturday, May 20th from 6-9:30pm, and will be running through July 3rd.  I have a little bit of insider intel, and from what I hear, the shop is going to look absolutely beautiful!

Hope to see you there!

Bubbles & Berries Boudoir

What’s the first thing you think about when I say boudoir photography? Scary? That’s what I used to think…until now. Like a lot of women, I used to be intimidated by boudoir photography.  Generally speaking, stripping down to your underwear in front of a stranger sounds crazy, but then the stranger starts taking photos of you? Yikes.

Boudoir photography has come a LONG way, and believe me, there is nothing to be terrified of.  Recently I met with Robyn of Bubbles & Berries Boudoir to do a little session of my own and it was an amazing experience!  We met at her photography studio and from the moment I met her, she made me feel so relaxed and excited to start our session.  Robyn likes to do things a little different with her clients in order to make them feel as comfortable as possible with the process, as well as really get a feel for their personalities so that she can make the most of their photo session.  She asks her clients a number of questions ranging from what music they listen to, to what they like the most about their bodies.  This way, Robyn creates a super personal connection with her clients and can make sure that they have the best experience possible.  Also, one of the things that I loved most is that she has multiple sets in her studio, so you can switch up the vibes for all of your different sides!

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I sat down with Robyn and her new photographer addition Tessa before my session to ask them a few questions about Bubbles & Berries and about boudoir photography in general and here’s what they had to say!

How long have you been shooting boudoir professionally?

I started in 2010, so this is my seventh year doing it! I started because I read an article about it and I had no idea what it was, I read it in a professional photography magazine. I was working weddings with my husband already so I was already shooting professionally for a while.  So as soon as I read the article I was like, oh my gosh, I need to do this! Like, I didn’t even know it was a thing! So I just started to do my research and see what was out there, and there was nothing around here yet.  It was all pretty much on the West Coast or New York City.

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What drew you to boudoir? 

What it was mostly, at least from the article that I had read, was the takeaway that the women get from the experience.  So I knew right off the bat that it wasn’t so much about taking pretty pictures for people, it’s what they take away after their shoot for themselves.  That’s what made me want to try it and do it and really find a way for women to embody their inner sexy.  I feel like so many people shy away from that and they feel like they could never do that kind of thing and I was like “Yeah you can!”  That’s really what drove me to start this business.

Do you find that you get mostly brides as clients?

I think there’s a shift in the business.  Originally most of my clients were doing it as a groom’s gift or a significant other gift, but then I don’t know if it had to do something with my style, but there was a shift.  The clientele base started to become either new moms or people who just wanted to rekindle things in their relationship or just try something new.  Or people became more body aware and more comfortable with themselves to embrace that.  But now, with bringing Tessa on board, I want to shift it back into doing more brides as well, because I feel like I kind of got away from that.  I feel like it’s an ever-growing thing.

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What do you love most about what you do?

I love getting to meet the client for the first time, seeing how nervous they are, and just knowing that it’s gonna all be okay!  On top of that, when they leave here, seeing the excitement on their face and knowing that they had a really great time.  Obviously I love the positive feedback, but I just love to see how it makes them feel.  They are really doing it for themselves, and I don’t think people really get that until they do it and have that experience. Once the first few clicks of the camera are off, maybe five minutes in, they completely forget where they are and they are just enjoying themselves.  I love the transformation.

What is one of your most memorable experiences as a photographer?

The first one that comes to mind is that two years ago I did a Mother’s Day giveaway. The woman who won it, her baby was 9 months old when she came in, and all of our email conversations were pretty much her telling me that I had my work cut out for me and all that stuff. She came in and she was very nervous and felt very uncomfortable at first, but then she got her hair and makeup done and started getting into the session and after I had emailed her to tell her what I great time I had with her, and her response was basically that she got home and she cried because she didn’t feel like a frumpy new mom.  She couldn’t believe the amazing time she just had, and she hadn’t even seen her pictures yet! That was probably one of the most memorable experience that I’ve ever had.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

There’s a lot of photographers that I follow.  I like the Boudoir Divas, and it’s funny, I feel like my life path is sort of going in the direction that they went in. They are kind of branching off and doing something different and changing, so I find it interesting that I’m also in the changing process. I admire their business ethics and they model themselves and business women first and photographers second, which is extremely important to run a successful business. Also, my husband, honestly, and I know that sounds cheesy! He taught me everything I know from the beginning, I was not a photographer, I was a graphic designer. As Onion Studio was its own business and I was a graphic designer, I was looking for new jobs and I was like “Can I just work for us and make that happen?” So we both went full on board working for ourselves and he really inspired me to get educated and push myself and keep my eyes open.  He’s my biggest photography inspiration, and he’s a really hard worker!

Tessa:  One of the things also, as your inspiration, are your clients themselves. I think that’s an important part about what differentiates her boudoir business from others.  Getting to know the clients. So beforehand there’s a questionnaire, talking about style, music, what are your outfits going to be…kind of a dialogue to understand her client first, and then from there she adjusts the session to fit them.  It’s really unique, and a lot of inspiration comes from that. It’s a teamwork thing!

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What do you love most about living and having your business in Buffalo?

So I grew up in Akron, and my family was kind of timid into venturing out into the city. We really didn’t do much of that, so once I went to college and got a job out this way and started to explore, I was like “Why are they so worried about everything?” Now Buffalo is on the upswing of creativity and art and acceptance, it’s a really accepting place to live. I think that’s a major part of why I love this, especially with a business such as boudoir.  Also, the tight knit creative community that we have here. Even among photographers.

Tessa: Very friendly competition and wanting to bring everyone up instead of trying to stomp on someone or undercut them. Let’s make more business for everyone and help everybody out!

Do you have a favorite local bar or restaurant?

I like small local restaurants.  Mangia in Orchard Park has a good variety and a nice atmosphere and is family friendly.  I like any atmosphere that’s cool and relaxed. We aren’t really up to speed on the bar scene yet.  We are too focused on the business, I think.

What is currently on your playlist?

I like Portishead, also Bishop Briggs.  Beats Antique, one of their creators is a dancer, and she caters the music to dancers.  Since I’m a dancer I really appreciate this.  I’ve taken workshops with her and to see her journey and the process of everything is really cool.

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What are your plans for the future of your business?

A lot of growth! Bringing Tessa on this year has been huge. I’ve always been the one to hold myself accountable, and now I have someone else to help with that and to share and bounce off ideas and just have another person to have vision with. We also want to hit the bride scene hard this year and offer awesome opportunities for brides.  And also we want to launch couples shoots. I always want to learn and grow and offer new things to people. Also, we would like to have some events, possibly an open house or a bridal event.  We are offering hair and makeup as add-ons to photo shoots as well.  Lots of fun things!

What advice would you give to a woman who really wants to do pictures but is nervous about the process?

I would first ask why they want to do the pictures, because having the insight into the thought process of why they want the pictures is important. Are they doing it for someone else or are they doing it also because it’s pushing them out of their comfort zone? I would say that there’s really no reason not to do it! It’s a lot of fun and since we offer the opportunity for people to make it what they want, it’s not scary or intimidating. If they did want to do lingerie but they are nervous about it there are so many options out there for lingerie! We really try to get to know people first to make them comfortable.

Tessa: We always tell people to not underestimate themselves. We remind women of how beautiful they are and tell them that we are going to focus on something that they really like. So maybe they have a new bra that they brought that they really like.  We want them to be excited about the things that they are comfortable with.  We allow them to be themselves but also push them in a creative way, but only to the limit that they would choose.

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Thank you so much Robyn and Tessa for an amazing experience! I’m completely in love with these photos and you are both the sweetest! If you are looking for a local boudoir photographer, make sure to contact Robyn ASAP!

Once And For All Clothing

I started getting really interested in fashion four years ago when I started my blog and I bought into the trend-salad…I wanted EVERYTHING trendy and I wanted to wear all of it at once.  I look back on some of the photos and cringe because it sometimes looked like I was wearing a costume.  Now that I’m a little bit older and my style has evolved, I’m gravitating towards classic and well-made pieces.  Basic pieces that are elevated and expertly crafted.

I’ve been following Molly and her clothing brand Once And For All for a while now.  She’s a local designer who crafts stunning pieces that aren’t trendy, but completely classic and will last a lifetime.  Molly recently sent me the Nya II blouse and oh my god, can I just tell you how beautiful this top is!  I had to do this beautiful piece justice, and something about it totally inspired me to do an artistic photo shoot.  I collaborated with two of my best friends- Ryan Kell with his photography and Chuck Tingley with his artwork as the backdrop, and I think this turned out to be one of my favorite shoots to date!

I asked Molly a few questions about her business and her inspiration, and here’s what she had to say!

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When did you start your business?

I started by hand making and re-purposing vintage garments in 2011 under the name Once Vintage. I sold on consignment at local boutiques, at local markets and on Etsy. I switched gears and launched into manufactured wholesale product under the name Once And For All in 2014.

Have you always known that fashion design was something that you wanted to pursue?

I had always loved fashion since I was a kid but I did not think that it would not be the right fit for me as a person. I was more interested in art and business. My degrees are in Marketing and Graphic Design and I am an oil painter. I fully switched gears into fashion while I was working in the advertising field in New York where I fell in love with the fashion scene. In retrospect I had always had a preconceived notion that fashion was just fluff, but I came to realize that it really was art. I think that was the reason I opened up to the industry.

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How did you come up with the name Once And For All for your brand?

I was just looking for a segway name from Once Vintage, my previous business, that felt somehow related. I wasn’t sure where the businesses were going to go, or if I was going to keep doing both, so I wanted something to keep them together. I thought about using Once since it was the only word usable for the new concept and I thought about the phrase “Once And For All”. The name easily lent itself to a lifestyle brand, it sounded sure of itself, and it felt inclusive all of which fit my requirements. I then thought further about the connotations of the term “Once And For All” such as; an ending, a definitive decision, completion or something of conclusive in nature. This led me to think of the philosopher Seneca’s quote: “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”. I am a Christian and my faith is very important to me, so it felt like there was an expression of my faith in that concept.

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What do you love about owning your own business?

I love the involvement in so many different areas. I am of a decidedly dual nature mixing the creative and business, so its vey fulfilling to utilize both sides. My day-to-day activities are varied and include: research and development, design, technical design, sourcing, fabric testing, pattern making, manufacturing, quality control, photo direction, creative direction, sales, graphic design, web design, e-commerce, marketing, social media, PR, accounting, customer service, and all of the organizational and administrative stuff I have to do daily. The design aspect is my favorite, but I often think that if I was only a designer I couldn’t do all these things I love to do and I would miss them.

What are the challenges that come with owning your own business?

Well, its really hard sometimes. It can be isolating, you can get down on yourself, and you can get in your own head a lot. Plus the self discipline of time management, creating and maintaining your timelines, and pushing yourself to grow can be really hard. I have to work really hard at staying balanced through self care and a positive mental attitude.

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Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I concept in depth each season like a sociologist on my subject matter. The inspiration is different each time and comes about organically through my current exposure to art, history, music, geography, current events. Wherever I am feeling inspired or compelled, I follow. I exhaustively research, write and pull photo references as I sketch my ideas. After I let myself be immersed in my concept, I source my fabrics and do my tech drawings and this is when start to edit down the big ideas to whats manufacturable and sellable.

What do you love most about Buffalo?

Truly, my family. Also the ability to go into the country or be on the water in various directions in 20 minutes.

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What’s currently on your playlist?

I am listening to my vinyl collection a lot at the moment, my next collection is very 70’s inspired so my listening habits are heavy on the singer songwriter babes of the 70’s.
Joni Mitchell – Blue
Carol King – Tapestry
Bonnie Raitt – Bonnie Raitt

What are your plans for the future of your business?

Currently I’m working on expanding my wholesale sales and e-commerce. I would like to make larger collections on a larger scale of production. Future expansions could possibly include a manufacturing facility or a retail location.

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Thank you so much, Molly, for answering my questions and this beautiful top! Make sure to check out her website Once And For All for more incredible designs!

The Victory Gardens by Oxford Pennant

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I have noticed that recently, especially with the Holiday season, pop-up shops are becoming increasingly more popular.  Most pop-ups last a weekend or two, but the ever-wonderful Oxford Pennant has blessed us with a month-long pop-up called The Victory Gardens.

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The Victory Gardens is located at Oxford Pennant’s shop on West Tupper in the city and runs through January 1st.  I had the chance to finally stop in a check out the shop this past weekend, and it’s EVERYTHING.

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Not only do they have some of their amazing pennants for sale, they carry some unique items from brands such as Pendleton, Juniper Ridge, Mollyjogger and even custom Hudson Hockey sticks.

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You can find The Victory Gardens at 43 West Tupper in Buffalo.  They are open all week from 12-8 through January 1st.

Make sure to check out their website for a full list of their hand-made pennants available for purchase.  I might have bought about 4 or 5 to give as gifts this year!

Want to learn more about Oxford Pennant? Check out their recent interview on Yeah! Buffalo’s blog!

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