Buffalo Boss Babe: Alyson O'Connor
Today's Buffalo Boss Babe is Alyson O'Connor from Rust Belt Love. They are a stationary boutique that is obsessed with making the most beautiful and custom paper imaginable. I have not met Alison in person (yet) however we legit talk like we have been friends for 30 years. She is sarcastic, super kind and oh so creative and if I can pick three traits I like most in people <<< its those over there! We sat down with Alyson to chat more about it all!
What made you start or brought you to where you are today? Tell us your story and what makes you a Buffalo Boss Babe.
My story very boringly starts the way almost every other stationer in the business started, with designing friends, family, and my own wedding invitations. I moved to NYC when I was 17 to go to art school, and after living and working there for a few years after graduation, I moved back to Buffalo to be closer to family. My then-boyfriend-now-husband-and-business-partner and I had both grown up here, and are both the oldest of 6 kids, so we have a ton of family that we are really close to. After moving back, I worked in agencies for a few years doing graphic design work, until my friends and family started getting married and I fell in love with invitation design. It was a place I could actually use my illustration and design background together. I started Rust Belt Love with my sister and we both did it as our side hustle for about a year and a half until had my daughter, at which point I took it full time. My sister went back to teaching full time, so my now-husband-and-business-partner Nick came on part time doing the back-end stuff. Fast forward 5 years, one more baby, and a brick and mortar shop later, we now both do this full time. Nick does the majority of running our household and runs the letterpresses in our home print studio, while I run the day to day and the majority of the client work. This year we have also expanded our team to two more amazing boss babes, our design assistant Sophia, and my other sister Kacie who helps with our packaging.
Who are your favorite people to follow?
Oh God, so many. Local boss art babes Alyssa Capri (@inkillustrations) and Ashley Johnson (@aej.create), design giants like Ceci New York (@cecinewyork) and Bows and Arrows (@bowsandarrowsflowers), my local wedding pro list is too long to include everyone, but some of my favs are Christy at Wild Blossom Hollow (@wildblossomhollow), Sarah at OMG Cakery (@masterbake), Karina of KC You There (@kcyouthere), our calligrapher Gina at Pretty Sugar (@prettysugarco).
What are your favorite things to do in the area (Buffalo and greater WNY)?
We basically spend all of our “free" time either with family, or hanging in the city. We love going ice skating at Fountain Plaza, going to “The Beach” (i.e. the giant sandbox) or just walking around at Canalside when the weather is nice. On the rare chance we get to go on a date as adults, we love Lucky Day, Left Bank, and Marble and Rye.
Tell me about your favorite collaborations or a dream collaboration?
Christy at Wild Blossom Hollow came and collaborated on our holiday window design in the shop last November, and I’m having a hard time parting with it, I love it so. I am also currently working on a collab with Michele of Whimsy Confections that I am love love loving!! And a super secret wedding style shoot I’m cooking up with some of my favorites that is just going to be so amazing when I can finally talk about it!!
If you could have coffee with anyone in the world who would it be?
Is it too cliche to say Barack and Michelle Obama? If I can only pick one, then Michelle. Sorry, Barry.
What are your hopes, dreams, goals? Big or Small.
Our biggest goal for this year is to launch our wholesale greeting card line. It’s so much work but it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, and by extension to someday do the National Stationery Show. Big goals - I think I would love to hire an entire design team and expand our product line.
Tell us about your family a bit ( 2 or 4 legged ) ?
I have a son and a daughter that give me light and life and joy in my heart that I didn’t think was possible. We also have an amazing big dumb boxer-bulldog mix named Brick. He was our first baby and is currently a 75lb lapdog.
Feel Good Five :)
Color: Black. haha, thats not a color. Ok fine, blue?
Super Power: I can tell when my kids are faking sleeping. It makes them crazy because I won’t tell them how I know. Lamest
Animal: Dags. Yeah, I like dags.
Season of the year: Spring. I know Fall gets all the love, but as pretty and nice as it is, all I can ever think is “Winter is coming.” Spring is so much better!
Alyson is a true gem! Her designs are honestly amazing and I could watch those wax seal video's she does ALL DAY! She is a Boss Babe, amazing mom and truly helping shape the resurgence of our city ( like so many other bad ass boss babes). Their brick and mortar store is inside the historic Market Arcade Building on 617 Main St. Buffalo. Swing by and check it out along with all the other amazing businesses inside there! You can see more on their website rustbeltlove.com or follow them on social @rustbeltlove.
Alyson is also one of our speakers at the first Boss Babe Speaker Series: Growth. Snag your tickets on EventBrite.
Until next time babes!
Buffalo Boss Babes is a woman run blog series featuring women in and around the city of Buffalo N.Y.
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Here's to strong women! May we know them. May we be them