Nickel City Gritty: Caralyn Mirand

I’m sure many of us have had this experience- you come across a person online who looks interesting, decide to follow them on Instagram, Twitter, or any various social media sites, and become fast internet friends.  From this point on you either keep the friendship digital, or decide to meet up in person, in which that could go incredibly well or you could totally end up getting catfished.

Fortunately for me, I ended up having a wonderful experience with my next Nickel City Gritty interviewee Caralyn Mirand.  Looking at Caralyn’s Instagram account, you’ll see that she is a successful plus size model, securing campaigns with huge clients like Macy’s.  Not only is she a model, she started her own business called Buffalo Beautiful.  She could have easily moved to New York City to work full-time, but instead stays true to her roots and is a Buffalo girl through and through, living here and commuting weekly for jobs.  She is a beautiful person both inside and out, and I’m so happy to share this fun interview with you all.

This is Nickel City Gritty and this is Caralyn Mirand.

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How did you start modeling?

I started when I was a senior in High School.  I applied and was accepted to Clarkson University.  My mom told me to go online and look up scholarship information, and instead I posted my pictures on the Tyra Banks website.  She was having a teen plus size modeling competition. So if you were a size 12 and you were a teenager, you were eligible.  So the next day I received an email saying “Please submit the correct images.” and I was like “Woah, that’s crazy!” because when you were posting the pictures, people were posting them so quickly that my picture went from page one to page ten when I refreshed it.  It was crazy that somebody noticed mine!  So the next day I posted the correct ones and was told “Congratulations, you are in the top 100!” and I was like “Oh my god, that’s crazy!” Next day top 50, then top 25, then top 10…things happened very fast.  They flew my mom and I to New York for about a week to compete on the Tyra Show.  It was a total whirlwind experience and we filmed two episodes.  We did three photo shoots and we did a model walk that had to be creative. We also did a video about Tyra’s beauty campaign that was all about exposing your natural beauty.  So long story short I was the runner up of the competition, and being 17 years old I was heartbroken!  But it’s kind of crazy, I’m the only one out of two cycles of this competition that’s still a working model.  After the show, I met with a modeling agency and they said if you’re not willing to move to New York  then you don’t really have a future, call us after college and maybe we could work something out.  That was kind of a bummer, but I was still able to negotiate myself to work with Seventeen magazine, so I would say “If you could pay for my flight, I would work for free.” and that’s how I got my start! I was feature in Seventeen four times, which was really fun.

How long have you been doing your side business, Buffalo Beautiful?

Living in Buffalo, post college, I thought okay I wasn’t modeling full time, what’s my passion?  What do I want to do? And I wanted to start establishing something here, so that I didn’t need to rely on modeling.  So, to not necessarily fall back on, but to put some roots here again.  So it’s so cliche, but it came to me in a dream.  I woke up and was like, Buffalo Beautiful! And I started writing stuff down in the middle of the night.  That’s how it was born.  It is a consulting company, but that idea is evolving, for sure.  I kind of threw everything at the wall to see what would stick and I’m in the process of updating my website.  I launched it in 2015.  Right now I’m focusing on helping people develop their confidence from the inside out.  So you could wear great clothes, but if you don’t feel good on the inside, you’re not going to feel good on the outside.  I love working with women and men of all ages and helping them become the best versions of themselves.

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Describe your style to me.

Oh gosh. Okay, my style would be classic, easy but polished.  And versatile.  And always evolving.  I think my favorite thing is to invest in pieces that will never go out of style.  Jeans, a leather jacket…I like to buy trends cheaply.  I don’t invest in trends unless it’s something that I’m really stuck on.  One of my goals this year is to invest in better basics.  Better white shirts, better pairs of jeans and getting them tailored.  Being smarter and not just buying to buy, but to actually curate a wardrobe that will last.

Do you have a favorite outfit or favorite piece of clothing?

Right now, I don’t know what it is, I’m all about my black jeans.  Whether it’s regular black jeans or ripped black jeans.  I bought like six pairs of black jeans this year…it’s crazy.

Where’s your favorite place to buy jeans?

I used to be a die hard Gap person, but not as much anymore.  This is crazy to say this, but I’ve actually had a lot of luck at American Eagle this year for jeans.  I recently bought jeans there, and I wear a lot of Fashion to Figure jeans and they start at a size 12.  Every once in a blue moon I will have good luck at TJ Maxx and Marshalls but I don’t really count on it.  I’ve also been all about the little white sneaker.

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Do you have a style icon?

Ummm…I feel like I should.  This is hard, because I really find my inspiration through street style.  I love looking on Pinterest, and let’s say that if I buy black jeans, I’ll type in “black jean outfits” on Pinterest and I’ll search that and get inspiration from that.  I also love to look at magazines and finding inspiration through normal people, as silly as that sounds.  It’s hard because there are people who I love the way they dress, but it wouldn’t look good on me.  Like Olivia Palermo, I love all her outfits, but I could never wear it.  Also, people that I work with, too,  Like everyone is always dressed so cool.  And it’s funny, because they’re not wearing anything crazy.  It’s simple and classic.

What is currently on your playlist?

I am obsessed with The Highway on Sirius Radio.  Backstory, never loved country music, moved to the furthest point north in New York State, fell in love with country music up there somehow.  I love Top 40 pop music, stuff you can jam and move to.  I love being able to sing along.  My boyfriend and I have bonded over country music.  Drake White is so good, I listen to him on repeat.  I like feel good music and the old early 2000 jams.

Do you have a favorite or most memorable concert?

It’s a tie between my first concert ever, which was Britney Spears at Darien Lake or every year my boyfriend and I like to get to Pittsburgh to see Kenny Chesney, he does the stadium tour.  It’s a fun vibe in the summer and a fun atmosphere.  Everyone’s drinking beer and tailgating.  It’s the kickoff of summer.

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Do you have a celebrity crush?

So, I don’t know what it is, but I’ve always loved Adam Levine.  I’m not really even that into tattoos, but I think he’s really good looking.  Blake Shelton’s personality really cracks me up, and it’s funny because I don’t even watch The Voice that much, but those two are good looking.  I’m all about the tall, dark and handsome, though.  It’s kind of my jam.

What’s your favorite restaurant in Buffalo?

I love Sinatra’s in Kenmore.  You know you’re going to get a good Italian meal. I love Acropolis and La Nova.  Tempo I love for the fancy date night.  I also love Andersons, is that bad? Also, I will gladly get a health problem for Paula’s Doughnuts.

What’s your favorite place to grab a drink?

I would say Vera is a really good place to get a drink, and my boyfriend and I would go to Templeton when we first started dating.  That’s more for scenery.  The patio with the fire pits…that’s where my  boyfriend and I fell in love.  We go once a year on our anniversary.  Or even just Canalside or Liberty Hound…that area is just fun.

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What’s your spirit animal?

A turtle.  So I was a Delta Zeta in college and turtles were our mascot.  Ever since then my parents would buy anything with a turtle for me, to the point where it got a little excessive. I have my spare bedroom that’s tastefully turtle themed.  I have this really beautiful turtle keepsake box from Room and I have little turtles all over my house.  And slow and steady wins the race, I guess!  So yes, a turtle.  Or my dog is my spirit animal, because he doesn’t get out bed until noon and really has one hour of active time…so maybe he is.  His name is Walter.  He’s a 30 pound pitbull mix.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?

I’ll tell you the best and the oddest.  The best one, I’d have to say, is that I know how to make people feel good, and that relates back to my Buffalo Beautiful.  Helping people feel good about themselves after I help them.  The oddest one is that makeup artists tell me all the time that I have really good spacing between my eyes and my eyebrows for makeup.  So I’ve never thought about that, but that’s cool!*

*Editor’s note: The instructor who taught me in makeup school called this orbital space*

And, always my last question.  What do you want to be when you grow up?

My go-to answer to this is usually a stay at home dog mom.  I actually want to be happy and be able to travel and have a family and improve my cooking even more…I’m an amateur chef.  I want to find happiness and laughter every day, and family for me is number one.  As long as you have your health and your happiness  and family…that’s all I could ever ask for when I grow up.  I wish I was funnier *laughs*  It’s never been about where I am, it’s who I’m with.  I would rather be sitting with someone like you in a shack than being with low quality people in the most beautiful place in the world.  It’s important to surround myself with good people, especially in the industry that I’m in.  I want to continue to surround myself with people who challenge me to do better and to care about important things.  That’s all I could ever want and ask for.  Man, that got me in the feels!

Photographer Spotlight: Colin Gordon

A few weeks ago, I talked about my love of photography.  Recently, I’ve been very blessed to work with some extremely talented local photographers.  Instead of just compiling some of the photos in a random blog post, I wanted to really showcase these amazing camera magicians.

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The first photographer that I’m going to feature is Colin Gordon.  I’ve known Colin for a few months now, and he is such a genuinely nice person who has a true passion for his craft.  I shot with him a couple weeks ago on an extremely cold and windy day in Allentown, and although the weather conditions were a little rough, the photos turned out phenomenal!

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I asked Colin a few questions about his business and life in Buffalo…here’s what he had to say!

How long have you been a professional photographer?
I have been a professional photographer for about a year and a half.

What do you love most about photography?
There are so many things I love about photography that it’s hard to narrow down to just one! First and foremost, I love to create. Secondly, I love technology and computers. Being a photographer lets me justify buying new gadgets haha. Thirdly, making people happy with the images I create is an amazing experience. Not only am I doing what I love, I get to create something special for someone that can never be recreated and that will last forever. It’s honestly pretty surreal sometimes. Also, I love that photography forces me out of my comfort zone. It makes me explore new places and meet new people.

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Do you have a favorite location where you like to shoot?
My favorite location is the spot where I have yet to shoot! But on the realz Italy was amazing…

What’s your most memorable experience as a photographer?
There have been countless memorable experiences as a photographer. In the past year, I would have to say shooting the Shakey Graves concert at Canalside was a highlight. They’re one of my favorite bands and to be able to combine live music and photography is amazing. Two of my favorite things at once!

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
There are many sources that I draw my inspiration from: local and national photographers, tv shows, and my friends and family.

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What do you love most about living and working in Buffalo?
I love living and working in Buffalo because you can feel the energy and excitement of the next generation of businesses and entrepreneurs. All I remember hearing when I was growing up was how terrible things are in Buffalo. Now, things are finally starting to turn around and it’s cool to watch it happen. It gives me hope for the future.

Favorite local restaurant and/or bar?
Too hard to pick only one haha. Here’s my top 5: Saigon Cafe, La Divina, Black Sheep, Mothers, and LLoyd (trucks and factory).

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Are there any locations in Buffalo where you would love to shoot but haven’t yet?
Yes! I want to shoot on top of one of the grain elevators. I’ve explored so many of them but have yet to get to the roof. I’ve seen other local photogs do it so there must be a way!

What’s on your playlist- what do you listen to while you are editing photos?
My taste in music is all over the place. I love house and techno but I also listen to a smorgasbord of bands. My most recently played bands on Spotify are: The Decemberists, The Head and the Heart, Odesza, Pinegrove, Ugly Casanova, Modest Mouse, Shakey Graves, Alt-j, and Vampire Weekend.


Thank you SO MUCH Colin for shooting with me!  I had a blast!!  Make sure to follow Colin on Instagram for your daily dose of gorgeous photography inspiration.

Nickel City Gritty: Hertel Avenue

By now, you’ve (hopefully!) read two of the interviews in my Nickel City Gritty series…if not, go ahead and click the link, I’ll give you some time.

Now that you have made yourself familiar with this project that is near and dear to my heart, let me present to you the very first Nickel City Gritty video!

This video was made possible by the incredible duo Brandon & Josh at Buffalo Above. I’ve been working with these guys for a few months now and from our first meeting I knew that we had something special. After hashing out a few ideas on where to take this series, we quickly decided to focus on the one thing that inspires me every day- Buffalo. This city, its neighborhoods and its people are a HUGE inspiration to me, so why not showcase it?

For the first video, I wanted to talk about my neighborhood- Hertel Avenue. I have never felt more at home than where I am now. In this video, I talk about why I love Hertel so much, I touch on my personal style, and you’ll see some gorgeous shots of the street and its businesses.

Big props to my husband for being a good sport and agreeing to be part of this project. He’s an avid cyclist who also has a passion for Buffalo and its culture, so it was only fitting that he would be the first subject. Also, I know that it was difficult for him to describe his personal style, but everyone has a style identity, even if you’ve never thought about it!

The team at Buffalo Above and I have a few more projects in the works, so stay tuned!  Where will Nickel City Gritty be showing up next?

Harborcenter Canalside Artwork

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Before I talk about this colorful piece of public art, first let me say that these photos were taken way back on an unseasonably warm day this past November…oh how I wish that I could walk outside with bare legs and arms right now and not freeze to death!

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These colorful babies are the next addition to my Buffalo Public Art page.  Last year, Harborcenter announced that they had three loading dock doors that needed a little bit of beautifying, so they hosted a public art contest.  Out of all of the entries, I am so happy that this piece won.

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This was created by Thomas Paul Asklar and Matthew Sinclair Conroy.  According to the press release, the bold and bright colors of HARBORCENTER’s winning design symbolize the brilliant renaissance of the Queen City through light rays that radiate throughout the mural and represent sunrise and sunset.  Art Deco is represented throughout the mural to pay tribute to Buffalo’s rich art and architectural history, highlighted by City Hall, which was completed in 1931. The mural’s mighty bison pays tribute to Buffalo’s namesake animal and the Native Americans who held the buffalo in sacred regard. The seal of the City of Buffalo hovers with a lightning bolt, along with an iconic grain mill, to reference the city’s powerful industrial history. The historical sign of the “Two Waterfronts” and image of the lighthouse pay tribute to the merging of the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes, which was vital to grain trade for generations. A young mule represents the Erie Canal’s importance to immigrants and their vital contribution to our region’s commercial success. Paying further tribute to Buffalo’s place as the Queen City of the Great Lakes is the iconic SS Arthur M. Anderson cargo ship, which represents the shipping industry and is believed to be the last ship in contact with the SS Edmund Fitzgerald before its sinking in 1975. The SS Anderson is still in service today.

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This is definitely a must-visit piece of public art, and it’s absolutely hard to miss it!  Whenever you come on down to Canalside to spend a day on the water or head on over to the Key Bank Center for a concert or a Sabres game, stop on by Harborcenter and snap some photos of this beauty.

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Remember to check out my Buffalo Public Art page for the exact location of this mural as well as other beautiful pieces in the area!

Let’s Talk About Photo Shoots

All of the photos in this post were shot by the amazing Ryan Kell.  Dress is from Nasty Gal.

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Photo shoots are an interesting thing.  Sure, they seem simple at first.  You have the person taking the photo and the subject, but then all of these added factors come into play- equipment, lighting, weather, background, photographer’s skills, etc.  So what initially seems like a simple thing turns into something much more complicated.

Running a blog has made me appreciate photography so much more.  Sure, I still use my iPhone for quick shots, but there’s nothing like an incredibly crisp and detailed photo to really brighten up a post and give it life.

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I remember my first “big” photo shoot for my senior pictures.  I was SO excited to wear different outfits and do my makeup and hair all fancy.  My favorite outfit of the bunch was a one-shoulder leopard print top with a pair of sassy black pants and I stood in front of this faux brick wall backdrop in the photo studio.  I thought I looked SO badass and I was so proud of those photos.  I was like, “Oh my god, this is what it must feel like to be a celebrity!”

From that moment on, I was hooked.  The thing is, I wasn’t hooked on the sole idea of having photos of myself taken…don’t get me wrong, having some professional shots of yourself is a pretty cool thing, but I was actually hooked on the process itself- picking out the outfits, deciding on what types of photos I wanted to get, thinking about what the final images will look like, doing my hair and makeup, working on posing in the bathroom mirror…all of that is SO much fun to me.

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My second shoot after that was when I turned 18. My mother always told me, “You’ll never be as beautiful as you are when you are 18 years old.” Which, while I may have believed her then (I thought I was so bomb), I will have to respectfully disagree with her now. Thanks to a lot of practice with contour and highlighting and growing out my sperm eyebrows, I think I’ve blossomed from ugly duckling to swan over the course of 15 years (and wow, I’m old.)

This coming-of-age photo shoot was SO extra, and I’m laughing just thinking about it. It was in the same photo studio as my senior portraits, but this time, they had me laying on this cloud-like thing next to a white column, with a strapless bra on so it looked like I was topless, with angel wings on and a feather boa, and I was actually holding a real live dove. Yes, angel wings and a bird. I can’t make this up. I need to find these photos.

The main thing is that I was SO happy! Again, the process of having my photo taken was so exciting…but I’m not going to lie, I think the wings definitely helped.

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Flash forward to post-angel wings Lindsay and my photo shoot history is much more diverse. I’ve been so fortunate to work with some incredible photographers in my blogging career thus far. I know that a lot of bloggers, especially fashion bloggers, shoot with one photographer and one photographer only. Where’s the fun in that? There are SO many different styles of photography, so why not play around with exploring this amazing art form?

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So, back to my original point…wait, what was my original point?

Ah, yes. My point is that if you have an opportunity to work with a photographer, or just want to hire a photographer to take non-selfie shots of you, then DO IT!  It’s an amazing experience and you’ll get to practice your Tyra Banks smizing poses in the mirror at home.  Seriously though, I’ve found that no matter how many times I’ve practiced a pose or a facial expression, it NEVER turns out the way that I imagined it.  I’ve noticed that the most amazing photos happen when they aren’t rehearsed or too thought out.  Have fun and love the process.

And remember, if you’re feeling up to it, there’s always angel wings.

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A super huge thank you to my friend Ryan Kell for taking these photos.  You are awesome!  Seriously, people, contact him if you need photos taken or design work done.  He’s legit.

Buffalo Black Book Magic Release Party

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It’s no shock to any of you that I go to a lot of events…and by a lot I mean a metric shit ton. You’ve seen me post about everything from art festivals to fashion shows to store openings.  I always say that if there is an event, any kind of event at all, GO TO IT!  It doesn’t matter if it might not seem of interest to you in that moment. Just go.  You never know who you will meet!  I’ve met some of the best people and really networked my ass off this way.

If there is one event in the city that you should definitely attend, it’s absolutely the upcoming Buffalo Black Book release party!  You might remember that I posted about the last party in September, and it was one of the most fun events that I’ve been to.  It also was the very first time that I connected with Elizabeth, the creator of the BBB.  Just a reminder that you can read her Nickel City Gritty interview HERE!

This party is celebrating the recent launch of their second issue Magic (still available to purchase on their website).  This issue is brilliant, and full of some of my favorite people!  If you are in Buffalo, near Buffalo, or just feel like coming to Buffalo for the weekend, join me at Hydraulic Hearth this Saturday to celebrate Elizabeth and Buffalo Black Book.  It’s going to be an awesome party!

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Personal Style: Bodysuit Love

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I think the last time I wore a bodysuit I was about 5 years old in dance class.  I’m pretty sure it was an obnoxious bright red and covered in sequins.

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Now days, bodysuits are much more fashionable than the spandex nightmares of my childhood.  I was a little bit nervous with the deep V on this bad boy, but a little bit of fashion tape and it stayed in place all night.  I think this has marked the start of my love of the modern bodysuit.  This one is from Express.

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Curious about this awesome brick walled hallway?  A few of my friends threw a studio party at their art studio downtown this past weekend.  I luckily remembered to snap a few photos that night…their new space looks amazing!

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