Buffalo Boss Babe: Kristy Rock
What made you start or brought you where you are today? Tell us your story. What makes you a Buffalo Boss Babe?
Hi there! My name is Kristy, and I’m the editor of Qween City, a lifestyle and culture webzine based in Buffalo, New York. We tell the stories of emerging artists and movers in our city, and the stories of established people that haven’t been told before.
A LITTLE ABOUT ME
In mid-2016, after spending a decade writing about underground comedy in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Buffalo, New York, I officially “resigned” from the comedy scene. I still love seeing live comedy to this day, and have maintained dear friendships made during that time, but I knew I had to step away -- the time and energy required to do the job right was finally beyond my grasp (somehow I got old in the course of 10 years’ time? Bizarre). It was then that I began the arduous process of “changing streams” and trying to figure out what might be next for me.
At that same time, I was having a parallel thought about how truly lucky and blessed I felt to have met so many incredible, inspiring women since moving back to WNY in 2012. I was a full-blown 30-something adult by that time, and had only a teeny, tiny social network in my new/old city. Somehow I slowly found myself with more and more new adult friendships with women, something I was told was rare if not impossible. One day I was thinking, “Hmm, I’d like to still write about cool people, where can I focus my attention?” and “Wow, so many great ladyfriends these days… I’m so lucky!” It then hit me: I could write about THEM. The answer was so obvious.
I set about looking for a good outlet for my newfound “beat,” figuring it was out there somewhere. The Buffalo blogerati is multi-faceted, and pretty impressive for such a small market. Surely there was someone focused on writing about the ladiez of our town… right?
I looked and looked (I already had a pretty good grasp of who was writing about what and publishing where), but couldn’t find a platform that would suit the pieces I wanted to write. I asked a friend who was heavily steeped in Buffalo media if there was something I might be missing, or someone who might already be doing something that focused on the women in Buffalo – she concurred that there was not, then emphatically decreed that there absolutely should be, and wtf was up with that, anyway?
Let’s be straight: I did not set out to start up a whole new animal, here. I really just wanted to contribute to someone ELSE’S thing. I didn’t think I had enough of an authoritative voice to push a whole new media outfit onto the community. My skillset was fine (good enough to get the job done, anyway – lots of room for improvement tho, of course!), but I felt like an interloper, and to do anything like that alone felt straight-up psychopathic. So, I got a group of those awesome women together, people from different corners of my life who didn’t really know each other apart from the usual “Buffalo 1 Degree” thing, plied them with wine, and asked for their opinion on my idea for a website about the women of Buffalo.
Much to my utter delight and paralyzing horror, they not only loved it, but wanted to be a part of it. We started mapping out plans that same night.
A LITTLE MORE ABOUT QWEEN CITY
That was July 2016. Since publishing our first profiles in October 2016, we are now up to more than 70 profiles of the people that make this city hum in infinitesimal ways, plus a buuuunch of other stuff, which I am thrilled to detail below:
SMASH TALKS is a weekly love & relationship advice column by Ashera Buhite, who, while writing for Qween City these last three years, finished her studies and will be certified this year or early 2020 as a family and relationship therapist. As a gift for all of her work and achievements, I produced a paper copy of all of the columns she wrote for Qween City, which became a 263-page book.
About a year into the Qween City project, writer Lara Martini pitched an idea for a weekly food series. This awesome idea became NOMASTE, a series focused on the food scene and the people who make it come to fruition. Along with acclaimed photographer Alana Fajemisin, Lara has chronicled the stories of near 20 women in the restaurant industry, pairing her long-form profiles with restaurant reviews. I always love/dread editing and formatting her stories and the gorgeous original photography that accompanies them, ESPECIALLY when I’m on some dumb diet (nearly 100% of the time). The hunger is REAL!
UTTERANCE is a fairly new section of the website, helmed by editor Tia Brown. Tia has long been a favorite peer-writer of mine, when I used to read her long-form essays of life abroad years ago. I was fairly geeked at the prospect of having her on the staff, to be very honest. She pushed to have a section on the website be dedicated to original literary and artistic works, and I enthusiastically agreed. Since then we’ve published original essays, poetry, short stories, and visual art pieces from a variety of contributors, including high school students. I would love to see this section fully blossom in 2020.
QWEEN OF CUPS is our first foray into the world of YouTube, created and hosted by Ashera Buhite and Afura Fareed. Afura comes to Qween City with an extensive background in video work, and was interested in pursuing a platform in which to address the needs of the modern-day witch. Loving the idea and knowing of Afura’s prior and current work in the video realm, I proposed that we turn it into something people could watch, a show that would feel like you were hanging out with a couple of good gal pals. They took this idea and ran with it, and I’m so excited to see what’s next for Pick Your Potion – the latest iteration of the series.
METTLE is another fairly new section of the website. Under this health and wellness umbrella we’ve participated in two group fitness events, and hope to continue events on a monthly or bimonthly basis in 2020, as a way to 1) enjoy each other’s company without even drinking wine or anything, 2) Promote different fitness organizations in the community, and 3) meet new folks interested in joining in on the festivities with us. If you’re interested in helping to produce Mettle events in 2020, please drop a line!
Not content to JUST have a weekly advice column or host a monthly video talk show, writer Ashera Buhite proposed a series of featurettes which would highlight the ladiez who create Buffalo’s soundtrack. This series became NOISEMAKERS, featuring 25 women and their current music projects, until its hiatus in 2017.
SCENE is dedicated to photo essays of events we attend IRL. It began before IG Stories were a thing, but since I’m such a die-hard archivist, I’d like to still publish these photos on my “hard copy” website, in addition to utilizing the benefits and fun of an intangible social media to tell our IRL tales.
I definitely need to wrap up soon, but I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to the various collabs we’ve taken part in since our inception in 2016:
November 2017: We tried our hand at original merchandise, designing two t-shirts with the QC logo. I still wear my tees to this day. I’d like to revisit merch at some point in the near future.
November 2017: For no reason at all, we got together with dear pal Psyko Kupkake of 125 Art Collective, got Shannon Dawn dressed up as Krampus (cuz obviously Kupkake had goat leg tights and hooves just like, in storage), then went out on Elmwood Ave. during Small Business Saturday to promote 125’s holiday sales and QC in general. People were….somewhat amused. We were VERY amused. A photoshoot ensued, of course.
August 2018: We teamed up with our pals at Nickel City Renegade Roller Derby to co-produce an annual travel fundraiser consisting of a comedy show and a basket raffle. We had so much fun in 2018, that we did it again in 2019. Being that Shannon Dawn is a comedian and former rollergirl, and I’m a former comedy producer, it’s a great marriage of all the things we like the best – bellowing laughter, baskets of loot, and badass ladiez on skates.
September 2018: One of the biggest honors of my life happened in September of 2018, and it’s all thanks to Qween City. I was asked to be a GUEST JUDGE of BUFFALO’S BEST PIEROGI CONTEST. I honestly thought that I had literally died and was now in a heaven of my own device? So random. So beautiful. Of course, I brought along my gal (and honorary Polish babe!) Alana Fajemisin to capture all of the delectable, mouthwatering moments of those lil pillow-filled bites of the divine. Truly one of the greatest days of my life.
March 2019: We were contacted by Step Out Buffalo with a very fun media collab – to act as media ambassadors for Buffalo Whiskey Riot 2019. Armed with an iPhone and a DSLR, four of us descended upon the Buffalo Grand Hotel for an afternoon of pure, rampant silliness. Our IG Story of that day is buried in our Scene Highlights, but it’s srsly one of my favorite pieces of digital storytelling that we’ve crafted thus far. PS -- We will always say yes to whiskey. Feel free to always invite us to your whiskey-related events.
Spring 2019: We revisited our “foray into fashion” in the spring of 2019 with Charge Buffalo, who are subsidiaries of 26 Shirts. The guys over at Charge wanted to create a women-centric design to commemorate Women’s History Month, but wanted to be sure to include some women in the design process (natch). Qween City was pinged to help develop this design, working with Charge to create the visual and slogan of this t-shirt. A portion of the proceeds from all sales go to the Buffalo City Mission; you can find the t-shirt for purchase here.
After a 6-month hiatus this year due to new jobs, new babies, new loves, etc., we are coming back at full-clip in September (next Monday, in fact!). I’m absolutely pumped to get back to the editor’s desk, and am continuously humbled and awed by the sheer amount of amazing people there are still left to talk to in this glorious city of ours – and the list continues to grow by the day. What a time to be alive!
So, in conclusion: I guess my project management skills and my absolutely blessed, lucky life filled with incredible women who also act as a well-oiled unit of talent makes me a “Buffalo Boss Babe.” I feel shy accepting that distinction, but also very honored. I figure I’ve rambled long enough here, but there are so many fun questions I didn’t get to! Maybe that’s a chat for another time, in-person over a glass of wine. After all, my very favorite thing to do is to chat with beautiful, lovely people.
VERY SPECIAL THANKS to Buffalo Boss Babes for allowing me to go “off script” with this one, and for all of the incredible work they do bringing together creative, powerful women in Buffalo and Western New York.