Friday, March 25, 2016

Small Business Profile on Awakened Astrologic

" For you, a comet, under a blue sky, leaves trail of color,
For you, a star, dreams of being able to kiss you, dream to hear your voice,
For you, full moon, keep vigil for you, my girl, keep vigil for you, my love. "
― Miguel Ángel Sáez Gutiérrez, Zori 2ª Parte

What's up, everyone? I've been pretty busy photographing a couple of extended profiles, lots of beautiful boudoir, and some pretty awesome kids.

 One such amazing business is Awakened Astrologic, the work of  #hotyoungastro Aaron Fried. I spent a couple of days with Aaron and his patrons during their readings and just generally getting to know him. It was a really terrific experience, especially watching people have "ah-ha" moments while interacting with Aaron and I'm really excited to share his business and passion with you!

 His typical healing work space is located inside of Inspiration Point at 483 Elmwood Ave., and it certainly made for a dynamic atmosphere. The soft music, happy shopkeeper (Claire), sweet smelling incense, locally handcrafted jewelry and trinkets, tapestries, books, and other lovely novelties make up the cozy storefront. It's only natural you would find Aaron situated in the back in a comfy chair, surrounded by beautiful artwork. 

(For those not in the know, astrology is defined as the study of the movements and relative positions of celestial objects as a means for divining information about human affairs and terrestrial events. As a Metaphysical Medicine Astrologer, Aaron's mission is to help "you gain clarity into life's most pressing questions, and move beyond challenges," through practical, cosmic insights.)

 When we first spoke, Aaron told me he is 29 and tapped into his life's purpose at the age of 23 after spending some time discovering his inner yogi. It became immediately clear that he is compassionate and engaging with the people who's lives he enters, no matter how briefly. He tells me, "More than anything, I want to nourish and inspire the people who welcome me into their lives both personally and professionally."

 It was, at first, really intriguing to talk with someone who has a formal background as a mathematician and formerly taught calculus at U.B. because I had a much more casual image in mind when imagining what an astrologer yogi is like. Throughout our first conversation, though, I found myself suddenly realizing the two things went perfectly hand in hand for him. As he spoke, I came to realize that Aaron facilitates a lot of practical understandings in what might seem to some to be an abstract calling. Even, last Friday night, while speaking about some of these images that we created together, I heard the mathematician time and again. For him, his logical mind makes him quite facile in engaging with a technical art

I was also able to get some follow up feedback from one of his clients, Alex. She was able to answer some questions that I think will help a lot of others who've never experienced a reading like this understand what you gain from it. 

 Q. Hi Alex! Was this your first reading? If not how did it differ from a previous reading and who was that reading with?

a. This was my first astrology reading but I have had a few psychic and tea leaf readings. This was different in the sense that it was more of an over all an introspective reading. What's really going on very deep inside the mind and heart as my other readings were about my surroundings and my place within them.

Q. How did you feel throughout the experience? Did you feel welcomed, open, calm, or did you feel you were leading the reading, anxious, or uncomfortable?

a. Overall, I felt amazing, all day. I felt completely comfortable and at ease from beginning to end.
Q. What was your reading's main theme? Is this something you often find yourself coming to a head with in your daily life?
a. Relationships and a current state of learning and tuning into my inner being. All extremely relative of where my energy has been focused.
Q. What did Aaron help you become more mindful of? Did he encourage you to let go of anything and, if so, what?
a. Of course, very mindful. Aaron was very encouraging to continue the path I have been on.

Q. Do you feel you were easily able to navigate steps to accomplishing the previous?
a. Yes, Aaron has a wonderful way of expressing everything he wants to say. Making me see things very clearly as we talked things through.
Q. Are there any new insights about yourself you'd like to share since the reading?
a. Aaron and I share very similar insights but new ones evolved as well. Simply opening so many new possibilities and ideas. What made it extra special was taking one thought or feeling and expanding it to its full capacity and/or breaking it down to it's deepest core.

Q. Overall, were you impacted by the reading in a meaningful way? If so, how?
a. Very much. I cannot exactly put into words how I was impacted because it was so powerful. It is inexplicable. It definitely goes beyond the reading. Like I said, expanding and breaking down ideas truly opens up even more possibilities and knowledge. Time did not exist during the reading.
Q. What did you think of Aaron himself?
a. Aaron has so much depth within himself. He has so much to share. Truly an amazing and special person. I could go on and on.

Q. When you received the reading, did you have questions and, if so, was Aaron able to help answer them for you?
a. Everything was so fluid and one aspect guided to the next. Of course, I had questions along the way. Aaron was always able to answer them and sometimes then cross over into other dimensions or level of relevance. Truly a wonderful experience. I am so so so grateful.
Q. What was the best part of the reading for you?
a. Truly getting lost within the depths of our discussion. Both of us lost of a sense of time.

 He also, very occasionally, meets for readings within his own home. I had the opportunity to watch him work in both environments and can confidently say that he was equally on task in both locations. 

Lovely Lunations, hosted by Aaron, is a free bi-weekly series dedicated to attuning participants to the astrology of the present by exploring the energies of the New and Full Moons, and Eclipses. Each lunation (New & Full Moon), they intentionalize the celestial influences consciously and creatively. Witnessing the lunar cycles reveals the evolution of their intentions: New Moons invoke times of conception and Full Moons illuminate times of manifestation. We sow what we reap, so the purpose of Lovely Lunations is to gift you with the awareness that lets you be the master of your destiny.
Each edition of Lovely Lunations carries a unique glimpse into the cosmic energy of the moment, along with relevant insights and universal life lessons. Lovely Lunations features guided meditations and imagery to nourish, support, and inspire you during these peak times of the monthly cycle and to honor and appreciate the magical patterns of life energy that are common to the human experience.
Lovely Lunations is offered both as a bi-weekly podcast, “The Lovely Lunations Stellar Astrology Podcast” and as a live community event, “Lovely Lunations Live”, at Inspiration Point in Buffalo, NY. “The Lovely Lunations Stellar Astrology Podcast” is available on Aaron’s website, and will soon be available on iTunes. “Lovely Lunations Live”, at Inspiration Point, features creative expression in the form of music, poetry, visual art, dance, and enactments to illuminate the astral energies of the time. Lovely Lunations is sustained by Lovely donations.

To remain accessible and fulfill his humble desire to be of service, nourish, and inspire others, Aaron currently offers his readings to local Buffalo residents at the remarkably affordable price of $90 for a 1-hr intensive session. For non-residents of his local community, he offers readings at the regular fee of $150 for a typical reading. He also offers long-term coaching and guidance through major life changes as well as everyday mundane details of life through his technical art, which allows him to tune-in to people's dynamic and evolving life experiences. His goal is to make his work relevant and to be a rock of inspiration for his clients when they need it most.

Check out his website for a more in-depth look at what Aaron offers with his gift here and follow him on Facebook for any special offerings! You can check out the Lovely Lunations podcast or Lovely Lunations Live events page to mark your calendars for the next one!

If you are interested in a small business profile and in the Buffalo area, please get in touch with me via my website or facebook!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Funny Guy Clayton Williams, a Profile

Hey there! Since the weather's been all ups and downs the last week the small business shoots had to be postponed till later in this week! So, today I bring you a little Q and A with local comedian Clayton Williams.

 27 year old Clayton is a pretty swell guy who hung out and chatted with me over a session for his head shots. I've caught his act at my favorite funny bone joint, Helium, when he opened for Judah Friedlander and before he even opened his mouth I was in giggles. From his amazing hair to his insane Hawaiian shirt, this fella gets a crowd laughing easily just stepping onto the stage. Add that to his self-deprecating jokes and the fact that he sounds uncannily similar to Seth Rogan... let's just say you need to go check out one of his shows! We passed the time talking about his career as a comedian, his favorite person in the world (his grandma), the importance of smelling clean, and what's coming up for him soon. 

 Let's jump right in!

Me: Hey Clayton, how long have you been doing this? How'd you get started?

Clayton:  I got into comedy almost 4 years ago. I've always loved comedy and I was told about an open mic at Nietzsches so I went there to check it out. It used to be email only and every time I tried to sign up, the person running the room would say it was full, so I found another open mic at Mr. Goodbar and started there. Now I run that open mic

M. Any highlights from the show last night? (Clayton performed at the Riviera Theater for the 8th Annual Big Lebowski Party before the flick.)

C. Uh, getting to perform in a theater was really cool. It was the first time that's happened. The most interesting thing I guess that usually the comedy portion of that show doesn't go well because the crowd just want to see the movie. So it was a surprise that the audience were invested

M. That's really great it went well. Did you like performing for a bigger crowd? I always got so nervous

C. It's funny, that wasn't the biggest crowd I've performed for but it was different because it was a theater so the sound was really spaced out. Performing in front a large crowd isn't as nerve racking as performing for 6 people.

M. Ha, no, I guess not for comedy. Have you had to do that or do you mean when you're bouncing ideas off people?

C. I've done shows In front of like 12 people before. At open mics it's very common to perform I front of 3 to five non comics.

M. Ever bomb?

C. I've bombed. I've bombed a bunch of times.

M. What's the worst/best part of all this?

C. Best part is when you do really well, it's one of the best feelings in the world. Like, if drugs feel as good as that you can understand why people do them.
The worst part is the feeling that you never know that you're going to do well. One guy said "comedy is the only job where you don't know if you can do it everytime."

M. That sounds like an anxiety attack to me. Perks of the job?
C. Meeting really good people that you've looked up to for years. Free drinks at places.

M. So that was your first show?
C. Paid show? It was a new faces show at Mr. Goodbar. I was probably a year in

M. How'd you do?
C. I had a good set. I was bad but I got decent laughs.

M. Tell me about a show you did where you walked off knowing you were da bomb dot com.

C. It was a showcase I did that was being recorded for the managers of the other helium clubs. And I remember just doing super well on it, got an applause break and they kept laughing. It was the best feeling.

M. What's an applause break?

C. When the crowd likes something you did to the point where they stop, laugh, and clap.

M. Ok, so it was as self-explanatory as I thought it would be!

C.It is but it's still hard to explain cause it just seems weird.

M. Is there anyone you consider a mentor now, or when you first started?

C. I would say Mark Walton has had the biggest influence on me in buffalo comedy. He gave me my first paid show and he's helped me a lot. He also put me in charge of Goodbar cause he was moving to New York. Weird Al Yankovich is also a big influence on me comedy wise

M. Who's someone you really liked opening for?

C. The coolest and nicest guy I've opened for was this Magician named Justin Wilman. He was super cool to hang out with me and friended me on Facebook like 2 months after the shows we did. He was the host of cupcake wars.

M. I know you're funny, but what's the best show you've ever seen?

C. Kyle Kinane like 2 years ago.

M. What's big and upcoming for you?

C. I'm opening for Kyle Kinane in March, he's probably one of my favorite comedians right now and as I mentioned he was the best show I've seen in person

 Clayton will be performing March 10-12 at Helium. You can keep up with Clayton and find out when he's performing by checking out his Facebook. While you're at it, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Small Business Profile on Papercraft Miracles

Hi there, everybody! How's it going? It's been a pretty productive first few days of 2016 and I'm making optimism and mindfulness my priorities for self-improvement this year. What about you?

 So, I spent a couple hours with my friend Janna of Papercraft Miracles over the weekend going over her amazing products while our babies had a jam session and have I got some pretty treats to share with you! I couldn't get over each beautiful product as I browsed and perused through all of her handcrafted goods- I left with a pile of my own and a wishlist a dozen deep... I want it all! And, I'm pretty sure you will, too, after seeing her amazing products below. Let's get this show on the road, shall we?

Q. Who are you?

A. Janna Willoughby-Lohr of Papercraft Miracles

Hanging out in Janna's studio room while she preps some Valentine's workshop mini books

Q. What do you do?

 A. Create handmade paper & books, custom works, book layout & design, consulting & workshops. 

Stitched mini books, approximately 4"x4" and 4"x5" each. Each product comes signed by artist. 

Q. When and how did you start your business?

 A. I conceived of the idea and started training &learning in 2002 but the full business wasn't up & running until 2013. 

Custom wedding album, pages individually handled to add silver edging.

Q. What are your favorite things about your own products?

 A. They make people reflect on their lives & feel happy. Almost everyone has a smile on their faces after seeing them. 

Daydream Reminders, approx. 2"x4" each with handmade paper covers.
Inside images by artist have a beautiful meditation to remind you to live fully.
I keep mine in my car to look at whenever I'm stressed and need a reminder to go get lost ;)

Q. Do you have a favorite thing to make?

 A. Paper! & really complex, structurally challenging books. 

GORGEOUS books for sketching and writing. Approximately 9"x13".

Q. What's the best part about running an art business?

 A. Making people happy & knowing that so many of my customers buy the experience as opposed to just buying the product. 

Decorative Star Books available in Large (above) and Small (below) sizes.
Small Decorative Star Book, opens like above Large version.

Q. How does your business give back or serve your community?

 A. P.M. supports several organizations, for example 10% of proceeds from all rainbow products is donated to G.L.Y.S. We are also a corporate sponsor of the Western New York Book Arts Center. 

Small notebook, approximately 4"x4".

Q. What's new and exciting for the business?

 A. Running full-time instead of part-time. Finally getting a new, shopable website, loads more workshops, including monthly open bookbinding studios at W.N.Y.B.A.C. Also, a new state of the art paper-making studio in 2016

Origami Star Books are approximately 3"x3" when closed and open to 6"x6". 

Q. What are your Papercraft Miracles goals?

 A. To increase joy & positivity across the world. To bring other artists together to craft larger projects highlighting the strength of many. 

Medium Sized Journal, perfect size (to me) at approximately 6"x9"

Q. What do you wanna be when you grow up?

 A. Wrinkly! Haha... well fulfilled & active. I hope to have my work in art galleries and my poems in textbooks. That would be pretty cool. 

 And now in her own words... from her Artist's Bio

  Born on Mother's Day, I grew up mainly with my mother and my older brother. Divorce and peculiar happenstance led me to have a biological father and a legal father, both of whom are currently remarried and have other children. I have seven brothers and sisters but I am the only child between my birth mother and father. I created an artist's book called These Roots Go Deeper Than the Birth's Surface about my experiences being part of a nuclear family reaction. Here is an excerpt of the text: "I am scaling the center line, this middle link that binds with a love far stronger than what has never held my parents together." I truly believe that my unconventional family structure is what has led me to be so independent and multi-faceted, because I spent a lot of time in between three different families with three different sets of rules, and I had to learn to adapt quickly to changes in my life; to accept what came my way. 

Jars o' Joy, mini jars full of 30 uplifting and honest meditations each. 

    I have been writing poetry since I was five years old and was first published in Earth's Daughters (a nationally distributed women's publication) when I was just 16 years old. I graduated from Hutch Tech high school in 2000 with a Regents BioChemical Technology degree. From there, I applied for and received a creative writing scholarship from Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC. I have been attending Warren Wilson for four years and will graduate in May with a BA in Integrative Studies: Entrepreneurial Creative Business Arts; a major that I designed to fit my goals in life. I have been very artistic since I was a little tiny girl, but since I attended a technical high school that didn't offer any creative arts classes, I had become distanced from my love for creativity. When I arrived at college I was flooded with a tremendous creative energy and I knew that I needed to "make stuff" although I wasn't sure what. 

Forest Wisdom, a new creation measuring approximately 3"x3". Perfect for any gnome or fairy garden. 

   I proceeded to take several studio art classes including printmaking, papermaking and bookforms. I also took several music classes to learn to play the guitar and the piano. Over the past four years I have created and displayed artworks ranging from drawings and paintings, to handmade paper and books, to woodcut prints and monoprints, and photography. I have also written countless poems and have begun work on an autobiographical book of poems called Skin and Stories Stretch to Cover Bones and These Beliefs: Autobiography of a Middleman. In addition to writing poems and making art, I have also branched out into several different musical forms including folk guitar and political hip-hop rhyming. I often perform "raps" at open mic nights and poetry slams and this is one of my favorite ways to reach out to people. 

One of her latest undertakings, beautiful, hand-marbled paper measuring approximately 8"x12".
 I brought home 3 for decorating my house and matting portraits. They're simply amazing!

    I have created reachforthestars papercraft miracles as a way to make a living doing what I love; creating unique works of art. I have known for a long time that being a starving artist is typical and being a profitable artist is not, and creating my business venture while I am still in college lets me get a head start into the realm of the profitable artist. So far everything in my life has worked out how it should; like puzzle pieces falling into place. I hope to inspire people from all walks of life, especially women. In today's society there is a lot of pressure on women to be strong and assertive yet the media continues to broadcast the message that being aesthetically pleasing is "the way to the top!" I strive to help people see the beauty that a human soul possesses, no matter what it's dress size its body is. 

Handmade papers made out of willow-bark and pigment (left) and ref clay mud to create hemp colors (right)

    Always remember that everything is a miracle! Especially life.

Coffee Mug Books, one of the coolest concepts I've recently seen! Cream colored pages for an Americana and dark covered for a black coffee. The wisps on top are the coffee steam

Follow Janna & Papercraft Miracles on Instagram and Facebook.

Decorative mini book measures approximately 2"x3" on cover

And seriously, guys, go buy some of this stuff; it really is incredible!

Cloth Books for babies, approximately 5"x5". Hand-stitched and machine washable.