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.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas Is A Time For Giving

I used to do something called Giving Is Awesome at the holidays to gift portraiture and services to people who were deserving and nominated by someone who recognized them. Over the years I stopped it because people were asking others to nominate them and I didn't feel that was in the spirit of the holidays. I give gift certificates out for Chinese auctions and other fundraising efforts, and on occasion surprise people I see and recognize for having grace and strength in tough situations. I can't always give everything I'd like to give, but I give what I can. It's something I can do all year long and I know those people aren't asking for portraits. It is just something nice I've been lucky enough to be able to share with them.

 On Christmas Eve I was able to share it again with my friend, Emily, who I watched persevere through a tough 2015. She's an awesome mom and wonderful woman who I'm so glad to count as a friend!

 Anyways, so I've been helping with her kids and we had a surprise shoot last Tuesday. On Christmas Eve I was able to share them with her and this is what she had to say about her family. These are some of my favorite shots. .

"2015 has been a very difficult year for us as a family, we are so lucky to have each other. We are stronger, braver and more resilient than I ever imagined.
My kids are such strong, beautiful, spirited, intelligent, amazing little souls. I wake up and fight every single day for them."

These are some of my favorite shots. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Small Business Profile on Sage + Arrow (Subtitle: Oh, hello there... Yes, I'm still around and kickin'!)

Its been three years since I updated, I know. Its been crazy busy around here, what with having a 5 year old, giving birth to some beautiful twins in 2014, a couple of very busy businesses and a happy social life. I hope you're well and on the path you wanted for yourself as we swing on into 2016! One of my business resolutions is going to be to update this 'ole blog about once a week, including what I hope will be bi-weekly small business profiles- a kind of getting to know my neighbor small business, if you will.

 To start this series of 26 profiles I'd like to begin with introducing you to my soulful friend Nicole, from Sage + Arrow, Her business and products are the embodiment of this beautiful, warm, and loving woman, and can be found online and at several local businesses (Phoenix Rising Therapeutic Massage is one I'm hoping to check out soon because what photographer doesn't need some R+R right after the holidays??). She has a busy Instagram where she often posts flash sales for fans and her Facebook often features pictures of her wildly adorable family communing with nature when they're not working.

 So Nicole came over one morning with some of her amazing products and we had a nice chat and she answered some questions about S+A for me. (And read about 60 books to the twins while I shot because they just did not think nap time was seriously going to happen that afternoon.) Let's jump in, shall we?

Q. Who are you?

 A. Sage + Arrow, sacred healing apothecary.

Nicole, owner and all around beautiful soul behind Sage + Arrow

Q. What do you do?

 A. I create products for bath, body, mind, and soul. I'm dedicated to making offerings from Mother Earth's finest gifts. Always all organic, vegan, and fair trade.

Men's line inspired by Nicole's own burly husband includes soaks, beard balms, aftershaves, salves and more

Q. When and how did you start your business?

 A. In 2014 I realized I could share the items I made for my loved ones with everyone around me. I feel driven to provide people with moments of self-love, rituals... like so many before us. In a world so engulfed in busy, I believe we desperately need to connect with the Earth and ourselves.

Mermaid Spray on the left for the beachy waves you want without the harsh chemicals you don't want
Full Moon Healing Oil on the right is a sacred blend of  Earth oils and quartz to cleanse and calm

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

 A. They work! These are products I've used daily for years; they soothe, center, and fulfill your need, whatever it may be. I love how they're created so purely yet can convince customers to switch brands after one use!

Mellow Mermaid Bath Soak on the left ensures relaxed vibes with Himalayan salt, lavender, chamomile, and calendula.     Blissful Bath Melt (right) provides ultimate moisture, healing, and relaxation to melt your troubles away. 

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

 A. Sage + Arrow donates baskets to charity monthly, I also hos new and full moon ceremonies which create a healing ritual space for women. Also, I'm a post-partum doula and use my products to promote wellness in new mothers.

Baby Love Bath Powder is formulated to soothe rashes, irritated skin, or even a generally fussy baby. Make it part of your baby's routine with Baby Bliss Bath Tea.

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

 A. In 2016 S+A will be featured in a second Vegan Cuts box.

This lemon oil infused exfoliating scrub helps eliminate mental fatigue, stress, and anxiety with it's Vitamin C packed punch. Hibiscus helps eliminate inflammation and provides beneficial antioxidants. 

Q. What are your Sage + Arrow goals?

 A. I want to continue providing a healing space for women in our community with my new and full moon ceremonies... to create a deep and loving community while promoting self-love and care.

Organic Coffee Face and Body Scrub (my new favorite!) is made with coffee for improving circulation and minimizing the appearance of skin imperfections, coconut oil to moisturize, and Himalayan sea salt for it's therapeutic properties for skin.

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

 A. A woman who chased every passion in her soul, a kind and whole woman who never stops learning or giving love to those around her.

Winter Woods Shampoo and Soap Bar is made of hand-crafted shea butter soap, infused with balsam fir, pine and eucalyptus aids in rejuvenation of the body and mind, boosts the immune system, and strengthens the respiratory system. 

 Follow Nicole and S+A on Instagram and on Facebook