A Phoenix native, Caelyn has been in love with fashion for as long as she can remember. As a little kid, she recalls, she was always very expressive with what she wore and very insistent upon choosing her outfit – even if it didn’t match. From the age of 4 or 5, she’d go to thrift stores with her mom every week. Early on, she developed a knack for finding unique things with bright colors and patterns and figuring out how to put them together. She loved seeing what other people were wearing, but her ultimate goal? To do something different than the norm. It’s little surprise that, to this day, her favorite hobby is shopping. “I just love to shop,” she says, whether it’s online, the mall or little random places.
Originally hailing from Mexico, Felix moved to the U.S. over 20 years ago. He tried his hand at a variety of different career paths – from restaurants and hotels to massage therapy – but he never found a job he loved until he started working at the Buffalo Outlet. The story goes a little something like this – one day, Felix was shopping for some great deals at the Buffalo Outlet and he was asked to apply. “Ding, ding, ding,” he says. “I got lucky.” Four years later and he still loves going to work every day. “Working here is like my favorite place,” he says. “When I’m here, I’m so happy.”
Beyond working with an amazing team, Felix’s favorite part of the job is helping regulars shop the store. For many of them, he knows their style super well. “When you’re tagging and see a nice piece for a customer that comes in regularly,” he says, “their face is priceless. You see how much they love it.”
Felix loves watching movies, listening to pop music – Madonna, Cher, Adele, Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus, to name a few – and, of course, styling up a storm. He has loved fashion all his life. He grew up with sisters and loved helping his grandmother copy popular styles for them with her sewing machine. These days, Felix takes style inspiration from pretty much everywhere – TV, magazines, coworkers – and loves to try out all kinds of different trends. “It all depends how I feel in the morning,” he says. “I have a lot of stuff. I’m country some days, rocker other days. I like to mix it up.” Since recently downsizing his house, this is more true than ever. His current strategy? Every couple weeks, he takes a few random boxes out of storage and, whatever’s in them, that’s what he’s wearing!
To get dressed each morning, Felix starts by picking a pair of shoes and building the outfit from there. Go figure that his current shoe collection clocks in around 300 pairs – from sneakers to boots to Louis Vuitton and Gucci. “Shoes are always there for you,” he says. “It doesn’t matter how big or thin you get.” Ultimately, Felix goes for looks that are unexpected and that make him feel special. “Life is so short,” he says, “and in the morning, you have an opportunity to reinvent yourself. If you bought a dress you like and you don’t have the courage to wear it, just go for it. Life is fun. It doesn’t have to be boring.”
Growing up, Katriel cites his parents for inspiring his interest in fashion. His dad is an R&B musician with a flair for good style and his grandmother was a whiz on the sewing machine. His parents were also excellent cooks. In high school, Katriel studied the culinary arts and had the chance to work with chefs in Las Vegas. While he loved the artistic aspect of plating food and the way that his dishes would delight customers, he ultimately decided that fashion was his true love.
Originally a sneakerhead with a self-described 90s Fresh Prince-inspired style, he now takes inspiration from Jimi Hendrix, Lenny Kravitz and the 1970s. “I’m a sneakerhead at heart,” he says, “but a boot guy on the feet.” He still has a collection of more than 50 sneakers, with prized possessions like a pair of Air Jordan 1s from 1985 (the first Jordan ever made) and Kendrick Lamar Cortez’s, but his style now is more runway. Think 1970s vintage, Western styles, square toes, loafers and boots. “Being bold with fashion,” he says, “is one of the reasons why fashion is what it is. Be different. Make something out of nothing. Make it yours… I never want to look like somebody else.” When it comes to styling or creating the perfect photograph, Katriel recommends spontaneity. “If you see anything around you, take advantage of it. Step outside of your comfort zone. Put something on that you’re not comfortable with and see people’s reaction.”
Katriel has been working at Buffalo since June of 2019. He loves the way that the job teaches you about a wide variety of styles. With such a diverse staff, as well, you not only get to see the styles – you get to see how people wear them. He also loves talking to customers and finding just the right piece for them. “Just have fun,” he says. “Of course you have to work hard and get your job done, but if you’re not having fun, then the customers won’t have fun. The rest of the staff won’t have fun.”
Katie comes with a background in Musical Theatre and a Master’s degree from Sarah Lawrence in directing, ensemble work and digital media. These days, when she’s not at Buffalo Exchange, she works as a freelance director and playwright with a focus on narratives centered around women and retelling historical narratives. She also works as Associate Artistic Director with Troy Foundry Theatre in Troy, NY. She takes inspiration from artists like Frida Kahlo, Louis Bourgeois, Caravaggio, and Gustav Klimt, as well as from sound and music. “I think theatre is the greatest collaborative art,” she says, “so things like music, fashion, visual art, digital media – they’re all essential to creating far-reaching performance art.”
Katie’s biggest theatrical influences include Samuel Beckett, Carol Churchill and Jose Rivera. Her work tends to be abstract with a goal of creating worlds that are recognizable but different from ours. “Experiencing art is not one size fits all,” she says. “It’s a very personal experience, and my goal is always to create space for each individual to find what they’re looking for.” Continuing her work amidst the pandemic has been tough, she admits, but just as Spencer Block believed, Katie knows that art is essential to our existence. “Art has survived every era of chaos, war, political turmoil and dysfunction in history,” she says. “We need art to express, communicate, protest, and process… When the opportunities aren’t presenting themselves, create your own.”
Over the past year and a half working at Buffalo, Katie has found her creativity and creative problem solving to be a huge asset to her job. “In the end,” she says, “fashion is art. It’s a way of communicating about ourselves, and even when I’m not making theatre, I feel like I’m working with art every day that I get to handle clothes.”
You Wouldn’t Guess:
I only have about 40 pieces in my closet total!
My Road to Buffalo:
I wanted a change of pace! I had been working in the wedding industry, and was looking to step into a role that was more fashion-oriented.
I’m convinced I can learn other languages through music, so I’m listening to a lot of French and German pop from the 80s.
Our store’s building has existed for about a century and is alongside several that have popped up within the last year.The city is a combination of old and new, tradition and innovation.
Random Customer Conversations I’ve Had:
What color we think describes the day, what planet we think we could survive on. A lot of weird conversations for sure, but it makes for a unique experience every day!
My Personal Style:
Andy Warhol pop art created on a yacht in the south of France, if that makes any sense.
Path to Store Manager:
I started as a Buyer, but knew I wanted to progress up the ladder. I’m grateful that Buffalo Exchange provides frequent opportunities to do so!
I was an art student for a hot second, so painting and sculpting. And I love to learn, so I like to keep up with science journals.
Skill I’ve Strengthened:
Communication.This job has helped me learn to not only communicate efficiently,but also understand that everyone communicates differently!
Recent Buffalo Find:
A bubblegum pink Acne Studios western shirt from the 90s!
I Could Spend Forever…:
Looking at a new museum exhibit!
Favorite of the Five Points of Power:
Speak the truth. Speaking openly is one of the kindest things anyone can do!
Whales, nature documentaries, trying not to kill my lemon tree.
I had only shopped at Buffalo once before deciding to apply — and I’m happy I did!
“Don’t take yourself too seriously, but take other people seriously.”
What was your Buffalo path?
As a Buyer at the Dallas store, I was very eager to learn and share my knowledge. I would ask my managers for training and request to share style/trend reports. After a year as an Assistant Store Manager, the Store Manager position became available and I jumped on it! Growing through each position has given me a lot of insight.
What have you become better at?
Taking feedback. I would get defensive or feel that I had to give an excuse/reason for everything. Eventually I started to understand that without feedback, positive or negative, I wouldn’t grow.
What’s your favorite Buffalo find?
A blue floral vintage jacket. The funny thing is that I have yet to wear it. It’s just sitting in my closet, waiting for the special moment to shine, but makes me happy every time I look at it.
What are you interested in? Any hobbies?
Anything creative. I love redecorating my place or those of my friends/family. I’ve also been getting into watercolors — very therapeutic.
What media have you been into?
I just finished reading Deepak Chopra’s The Path to Love and started Alex Haley’s Autobiography of Malcolm X. I’ve also been watching Sister Sister on Netflix — takes me back to my childhood. Love it!
What’s your favorite Five Points of Power?
Be accountable for your own experience. It brings the ownership back to you. You have the power to make each decision in your life.
What advice has been the most meaningful to you?
Don’t take anything personally. Each person’s experiences mold them, and they respond to things differently because of that. Instead of taking things personally, I try to work on being more understanding.
By Aarian Frye, Buffalo Exchange HQ
There are many things I love about my mother, from her sense of humor to her generous spirit. If I had to choose one of my favorites things about her, it’s that she’s never been risk-adverse. She’s braver than I am by a long shot, and doesn’t back down from a challenge… unless the challenge is allowing me – her one and only daughter (Hi, Mom!) – to dress her in outfits outside of her comfort zone. However, she agreed when I added in this one important caveat: my mom could dress me as well *cue ominous lightning strike*. Read ahead for our Freaky Friday of an afternoon shopping session at Buffalo Exchange Tucson to celebrate Mother’s Day.
First, my mom picks out this checkered skirt and off-the-shoulder blouse for me – good job, Mom! This actually looks like a lot of the things I already own. My only hang up is the silhouette of the skirt – I don’t find the knee-length bell shape to be particularly flattering on me. This would be an ideal look for a Mother’s Day brunch, though, and I could definitely see myself wearing this outfit beyond the Buffalo Exchange dressing rooms!
“Oh, Aarian, no,” is my mother’s response to this striped ruffle blouse and floral jeans. Oops. Guess my mom is not much of a pattern clasher. Nonetheless, she tries them on – and doesn’t totally hate it! This is a huge victory in my eyes. If you’re also hesitant about mixing patterns, I recommend keeping the color scheme soft and simple, like we did here.