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!

Photographer Spotlight: Brandon Lua

The second photographer that I’m spotlighting on my blog (check out my first interview with HERE with Colin Gordon) is a newcomer on the scene.  He’s only been at it for a few months, but he’s already making a name for himself.  I came across Brandon’s Instagram account and knew that I had to do a shoot with him.  We did our session in the Old First Ward, and as you can see from the photos below, this is the exact type of gritty backdrop that I love oh so much.

I got the chance to work with him a second time at a pop-up photo shoot/music/model collaboration party at a local amazing Airbnb.  This party sparked the idea to create Locations…a project between Brandon and two other photographers Ryan Kell (one of my besties!) and Alexis Bandera.  This is a super exciting project that’s totally new to Buffalo and I can’t wait to share more details with you all in an upcoming blog post!

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I sat down with Brandon after our shoot and asked him a few questions about photography and life in Buffalo…here’s what he had to say!

How long have you been doing photography?

I’ve only been shooting for four to five months.  So not too long!

Have you always been interested in photography?

Actually, always.  I grew up, my father was always shooting.  He wasn’t exactly a photographer but he always had a camera on him.  He was shooting me, the surrounding area, his friends.  And then also growing up I had friends who were into photography, and then I kind of always envied them.  But I always felt like I was too old to start, but I don’t know…one day I just finally decided to pick up a camera and just shoot, and then next thing you know I was addicted to it.

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What do you love most about photography?

Oh man…everything.  I like capturing the moment.  I feel like every single time I’m capturing a moment, it helps me remember it.  For example, I was shooting one of my friends Denzel at an event that he threw, and his mentor that flew out from California, a really well known director, was telling a story and I remember him pointing his hand out towards Denzel and I captured that moment, and that’s something that I’ll always remember.

Which do you like more- the photography or editing process?

I like them both equally…wait, actually no. I like photography, capturing the moment more so, because I get to interact with the person and socialize.  It’s just all around fun.  I’m more hands on.

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Do you have a favorite location where you like to shoot?

I do, it’s in front of Shea’s at night.  On Main Street…I love the lights in the background.  I like to work with bokeh.  I love to work with lights a lot.  I like daytime, but at the same time, night time…there’s something about it, it’s kind of mysterious and magical.

Do you have a most memorable photo shoot that you’ve done?

I’ve had some crazy shoots!  I’ve done some pretty explicit stuff before *laughs*  Maybe it’s because I’ve never done stuff like that, it was almost natural, though. I didn’t think anything of it until after.  My absolute favorite moment was shooting my girlfriend.  She never likes taking pictures, but she’s very beautiful.  I somehow convinced her and it ended up being one of my most noticed photo.  It was in front of Shea’s, and it was just perfect, because the snow was falling lightly and she was looking beautiful as always and the light was hitting her perfect.

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Where do you draw your inspiration from?

From my lifestyle…that’s why it’s hard for me to find a niche. My life is very random.  One day I’m doing something that looks very innocent and the next day I’m doing a shoot for a rapper, next day I’m doing something for a model.  Basically, I’m not afraid to do anything, so I just do what I want to do.

What do you love most about living in Buffalo?

Most of my family is here.  I like how the city is in a resurgence and everything is coming back to life.  I like how people are taking something with so much culture and history and bringing something new to it, and not just destroying it.  The food here is so good, too.

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What are your favorite local restaurants?

That’s like picking your favorite kid…that’s really hard.  I like Pasion a lot…I’ve been working with them a lot.  It’s Cuban food, and it’s actually my first trying Cuban food and it tastes great.  I also like La Divina. I’m there too much.  They bring something authentic to Buffalo.  They have this drink called horchata which is amazing.  Well, that’s all I got…I guess I only have one kid.  I haven’t been trying many restaurants out recently.

Favorite place to grab a drink?

I like Vera Pizza.  And Pasion, their bar is great.  It depends on the mood I’m in.  I like Vera for original cocktails and Pasion has more tropical drinks.


Thanks so much, Brandon, for sitting down and chatting with me!  I can’t wait to work with you on the upcoming Locations event…it’s going to be a blast!

Also, here’s a bonus shot of the lovely Caralyn and I!

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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!

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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Tribute to Spain Rodriguez

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I think that this mural has to be one of my favorites out of my Buffalo Public Art series so far.

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This beauty was created in 2013 by a group of artists under the direction of Ian DeBeer as a tribute to Buffalo-born comic artist Spain Rodriguez.

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The actual story behind this mural is definitely interesting and worth reading about.  It was inspired by a Spain Rodriguez comic about a fight he got into at Nietzsche’s, which is across the street from the mural.  You can find a lot more information on this piece by clicking HERE!

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You can find the exact location of this graphic piece, as well as plenty of other local works of art on my Buffalo Public Art page!

Personal Style: Casual Lace

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I’m normally not into lace…it’s just to stuffy and fussy for me.  But lace cutouts mixed with a comfy sweatshirt?  Now we are talking.

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I found this awesome sweatshirt recently at JC Penney, and initially on the hanger it didn’t look like much, but I completely fell in love with it when I tried it on!  Funny how that works sometimes.  Also funny how I look totally normal in these photos but in reality my teeth were chattering because it was SO COLD outside.  The things we do for a good photo!

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On a more colorful note, this beautiful background is brought to you by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.  This piece is located behind the gallery and it one of my favorite pieces on the grounds.  Liam Gillick’s “Stacked Revision Structure” is a twelve-foot cube fabricated from powder-coated aluminum that was created specifically for the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

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I know pretty much all of the pieces on my Buffalo Public Art page are murals, but I’ll be adding this beauty for my fellow art-lovers!

72 Jewett

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Believe me when I tell you, these photos do NOT do the colors of this piece justice.

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Unfortunately for me, we took these pictures on a particularly cloudy day.  Yes, you can tell that this is gold, but it’s not just regular gold.  It’s bright-ass metallic gold, and it’s glorious!

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I was really excited to add this bad boy to my Buffalo Public Art list.  This mural was created by local artist Daniel Galas in conjunction with the Albright-Knox Art Gallery this past summer.

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The title of this piece is 72 Jewett, which was in tribute to the previous tenant of the building, Culliton Ice Company.  There are several buildings represented in this mural, such as Blessed Trinity Roman Catholic Church, the Buffalo Zoo, the Darwin D. Martin House, Kensington Water Tower, and many more.  You can read the plaque at the bottom of my post for full details!

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As always, you can find the exact location of this piece and other beautiful public works of art on my Buffalo Public Art page!