Nickel City Gritty: We Must Dash

How amazing would it to be to be able to travel across the world with some incredible people and have everything taken care of for you from tours to accommodations to transportation?  The definition of worry-free travel.

Well thanks to Brandon & Stephanie Zarbo, this dream is now a reality.  The husband and wife team own their own active travel business called We Must Dash, and they are doing some incredible things.  Brandon & Stephanie take care of absolutely everything that you could think of, and make sure that you will have the time of your life.  All that you need to do is show up and have a blast.

I recently sat down with the duo, and we chatted about travel, music, and everything in between.

This is Nickel City Gritty, and this is Brandon & Stephanie of We Must Dash.

Travel photos c/o We Must Dash

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Tell me a little bit about how you started your business.

B:  We were taking our honeymoon and we wanted to spend a good amount of time in Southeast Asia, and I had been doing research about companies such as Contiki and Intrepid Travel, and I was completely dumbfounded at how many people were traveling to Thailand, and we had really fallen in love with the area. Ever since the first time I had been there, I was trying to get people to come with me, and then me and her (Stephanie) went, and we had done about five months in Southeast Asia, and that morphed into us saying, “We’re having our honeymoon, why don’t we just bring a bunch of people to Thailand with us?” I think at the peak we had about 24 people. It went really well, and everyone was raving about it. so we said, let’s just organize it and put the website up, and that’s that!

Describe your style of personality to me.

B:  I am a challenger.  I think that everyone wants to do things, they just need the motivation to do it, so I’m constantly the one to challenge you to do it. Do it, you are gonna enjoy it.  Sometimes people need that little bit of a push. I would say, like, my style is more of a friendly challenge. It’s just the little bit of motivation that you need. I’m super outgoing, really an extrovert. I want everyone to get along with each other and have fun, and this was another reason why this was kind of like, just fell into our laps, I think.  She is very analytical, and that’s not in a negative way, and I’m just jumping off the cliff like let’s do it and we’ll learn as we go.  So mine is leap first then ask questions later.

S:  I think we both are really strong in the mentality of creating fun.  Always trying to find a reason to have fun in any situation you’re in. I feel like it’s taken me a long time to get to the point where I can jump a little more than I used to because I’ve had a lot of loss in my family and learning that, and realizing that at no point is anything going to get worse.  There’s been things in my life that have been the worst situations, and I’ve been able to always come back out of them with growth and a new perspective.  I’m a little bit less scared than I used to be.  The fact that we’re freelancers, never in my life could I imagine this. I would have wanted some kind of safety net to fall back on.  At the end of the day, learning through all of this and the craziness to come out on the other end and say, “We’ll figure it out.”  We’re resourceful and passionate about this and I’d much rather throw my passion into something than wait ten years and go, “What the hell did we do?”

B:  I think that’s why we work well together.  Not just in this business but our relationship has been really strong because I’ve always been the one to be like, well *laughs* I guess peer pressure is a bad word, but in a positive way.  That’s why I say I’m more of a motivator and she’s the one to always take people aside and talk to them, and that’s why I said analytical.  She always more of the friend that you can confide in.  This has kind of been a push with our brand, because we’ve seen other travel companies that are like “Washboard abs! Boobs and butts and look at the beautiful travel!” and we really just want to radiate those friends that you can always confide in no matter what.  We want you to feel ultimately comfortable.  If you ever want to travel, just ask us questions. We just want people to get out there and experience the world.  A smile is the best currency that you can have.

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What is on your playlist?  What do you both love to listen to?

S:  We just started a We Must Dash Spotify actually! We are tailoring it specifically to certain moments in travel.  I’m a big closet EDM fan…that’s pretty much all I listen to.

B:  Yeah, we listen to a lot of Trop House and stuff like that.

S:  That’s the island thing, because immediately for us it’s like we’re back in a villa.  Also, right now, Lord Huron, we could listen to them all day, they’re just great, and easy to listen to.  Not too distracting and great background music.

B:  I just listen to such a wide variety of music.  I’m such a fan of corny 80’s music, though. It’s what I listen to all the time, and she hates it!  I also like to make playlists for every situation I’m in.  So, like, when I’m having some drinks around the fire, I’ll have a mood for that.  When I’m trying to get amped up to go out, I have a mood for that. And then I have one that’s silly when I’m trying to make her laugh.

S:  So yeah, I could listen to EDM at any moment on any day at any circumstance.   And that’s totally a post-cheerleading thing. I would make the mixes for cheerleading and yeah it’s bad sometimes.  Sometimes I’m like, “This makes no sense why I’m listening to this and how it fits this moment.” but it just works.

What is your most memorable or favorite concert you’ve ever been to?

S:  Mine was Edgefest 2006, and we were both in high school, Taking Back Sunday was playing and Anberlin, and it was like my mecca of high school bands, I was so excited.  And he goes, “We’re gonna go backstage!” and I’m like, “Get the hell out of here, who is this dude?” And we ended up watching the show backstage! He literally just walked backstage and was like, “Oh I’m here with the crew.” And they were like, “Okay!”

B:  I had played in bands for a while and all throughout high school, so you just know. It’s just confidence.

S:  So I was thinking, like, what is the worst that could happen? They are going to send me out into the crowd? That’s not even that big of a deal! What did you like, jingle your keys and pretend there was a pass on it?

B:  Yeah, I just grabbed my keys and was like, “Oh here” *waves keys quickly* And I did it so fast so they couldn’t actually see anything.

S:  Yes, we’ve been to some great shows but this was definitely the most memorable.

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What were you guys like in high school?

B:  I was a complete spaz.  Just Dr. Detention all the time.

S:  I was a pretty good student! So I was a weird one, because I was an art student, and president of band, and I was also the cheerleading captain.  I could never specialize in something, because I always had my hands in a million different things. And nothing’s changed, because I’m just used to trying a little bit of everything and never excelling at one thing, just always being moderately okay at a lot of things.

If there was a movie about your life, what actor would play the role of you?

S:  I’m trying to think of the person who I most identify with…Ellie Kemper from the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt…I feel like she’d do a good job for me.

B:  Vince Vaughn.  I don’t talk as fast as he does, though.  He’s just somebody who I identify with because he started out by writing his own movie and then he made his own way into the movie world. And he’s a Libertarian too, which I identify with…the only Libertarian in Hollywood pretty much.

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What is your spirit animal?

B:  Bald Mothafuckin’ Eagle. *laughs*

S:  You would say that.  I’m starting to think that my dog is.  In a past life I would have said something like a fennec fox, and I don’t really have a reason for that other than I just like them…they’re adorable.

B:  I would say a lion, but that sounds to conceited, so we’ll go with a mountain lion and/or a cougar.  Because I don’t want to call myself a lion, because that’s like, “I’m a fuckin’ lion” and it’s so big headed. It would definitely be a big cat of some sort, because there’s a certain amount of viciousness to them but only when it’s warranted, but then there’s gracefulness to them.

S:  So I think I would probably say a butterfly. I’m fascinated by the caterpillar to butterfly transformation, the whole thing…like I have a butterfly garden and keep the caterpillars and let them go.  And I love the idea that science doesn’t even know  why they shift and how that whole process happens, but they are becoming something else.  And the migration for monarchs blows my mind too, that they just instinctively know.

B:  Just born to travel!

What is the most memorable trip you’ve ever taken?

S:  Our five month trip was out of this world.

B:  Yeah, we did so much in five months.

S:  That was life changing.  I know that for a lot of people that type of experience is not just something that they can do.  But, I shouldn’t even say that.  They think that it’s not possible.  But there are a lot of scenarios that a lot of people could make it work.  That trip just changed our lives.  We lived out of backpacks for five months and the people we met, the experiences we had, we stayed with families and to see how they live on a day to day, it’s just so polar opposite of what we do and the things that we worry about. And after I was overwhelmed just walking into a grocery store.  People don’t have these options.  It really opened my eyes that we have way more control in our lives than we think we do and it really comes down to prioritizing what’s most important.

B:  I think mine was this past trip with everyone, because we were taking such a leap and trying to expose people to something so different.  The Honeymoon trip.  We had a lot of people who meant a lot to us.  I had one of my best friends in my entire life who’s had a lot of shit happen to him and he took a chance to go on this trip, and just seeing how he changed from the first day to the end of the trip.  That happened to a few people.  And it was something coupled with us taking such a chance on kickstarting this business, and using something like our honeymoon, it was very personal, it’s like your time as a couple to go out and do what you want to do, and for us to take a chance and invite all these people.  It could have gone so horribly wrong, or so we thought.  And I think it opened our eyes that this could really work.  We were ready.  This does change people and it really does make people reevaluate themselves.

Where is your happy place?  Where do you go where you need to get away from the craziness?

S:  In a hammock.  It doesn’t even matter where the hammock is.  A house is not a home without a hammock.

B:  I would say the property.  We have property down in the Southern Tier and I could be mowing the lawn and just hang out and watch the dog run around.  Just hanging out and cooking shit over the fire and watching the sunset.  Super duper happy place.

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What is your favorite restaurant in the city?

B:  Currently, I’d say Kaydara.

S:  We really love it there.  It’s pho and it’s Vietnamese fusion, so it’s a mix of a bunch of different stuff, so we always go there.  It’s definitely pretty close to what we had in Vietnam.

B:  I would say that’s my favorite place right now. Either that or a fuckin’ taco place like Don Tequila’s or Cantina.  But Kaydara is the number one for now.

My last question that I always ask, because it’s very important.  What do you want to be when you grow up?

B:  I just want to be somebody who motivates people to be who they want to be.  That’s it. As long as I can do that, I just want to be somebody who makes it easier for people to achieve what they want to achieve.

S:  When I actually had to think about it when somebody asked me that after college and stuff, when I was asked what would be my dream job, it was something so lofty like, “Open a summer camp.” I think the about the happiest that I’ve ever been, and not to say summer camp was the end all be all, but as a general statement, all of the different things and activities and the people you are meeting, I think summer camp is a totally underrated thing that now, kids find a million reasons not to do that. That was such a defining part of growing up and learning to appreciate those things and trying stuff that you would never be able to do at home.  So I think we’re on the path for me getting to be what I wanted to be when I grow up…a camp counselor! But just in a very exaggerated form.

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Thank you SO MUCH Brandon & Stephanie for taking time out of your crazy schedules to meet with me.  It was a blast talking with you and I’ll definitely have to take a trip with you soon!

Are you thinking of doing a bit of adventure traveling but don’t know where to start?  Check out We Must Dash and you could find yourself on a trip that will change your life.

Buffalo State Runway 10

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This is the BIG YEAR for Buffalo State’s Runway Fashion Show!  Ten years is a huge milestone, and they are pulling out all of the stops for this one.

This year’s show is going to be held in the Sports Arena, a gigantic leap from their “smaller” shows of the past, and I’m so excited to see the designs this year.  Each year, the students have to design around a specific theme.  This year’s theme is Remember/Imagine.  This theme empowers the fashion students, both current and past, to remember where they’ve been and imagine what the future of fashion holds.  If you are curious about last year’s show, you can check out my post about Runway 9 HERE.

This year the Buffalo Blogging Network is the official sponsor of the Press Pit, and I am so thrilled to be working with the Runway 10 team!  We will have a bunch of bloggers from our network in the audience covering the show, so make sure to check out social media for a peek at the amazing designs!

Tickets are still available on their website, so make sure to get yours today and join us for a night of fun and fashion!

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!

Locations: The Event

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People.  This is exciting.

A few weeks ago, I attended a pop-up creative party that was held at a local super artistic Airbnb in the city.  Local photographers and models were hanging out, listening to music provided by an awesome DJ and taking some killer photos.  The collaborations and connections that happened during this event were insane, and the vibe throughout the entire place was electric.

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This party sparked the creation of Locations.co, the brainchild of local photographers Brandon Lua, Ryan Kell, and Alexis Bandera.  According to their Facebook page, Locations is a new and exciting collaborative experience coming to Buffalo where models, photographers, stylists, and creatives of every industry are invited to mix, share, and bare witness to live photo shoots in unique settings.  Nothing like this has been done in Buffalo before, so this has been getting a LOT of attention.

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Their first event is being held at MES Lounge on April 9th.  Tickets can be purchased on their Eventbrite page and early bird pricing is on now through April 1st.  If you are planning on attending, definitely take advantage of that!

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I’m honored to be involved in such a groundbreaking event.  Follow the Locations Instagram account for updates.  We hope to see you there!

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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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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.