By Jessica Pruitt, Buffalo Exchange HQ
For Buffalo Exchange Founder Kerstin Block and her daughter/business partner Rebecca, fashion comes naturally. Like most mothers and daughters, though, they don’t always have the same taste when it comes to clothing. Even still, they seem to agree on most things – or at least which shoes to wear. When I sat down with them, they were both wearing the same pair!
The original treasure hunter
Kerstin describes her style as eclectic and vintage, noting that she has long used fashion as a way to stand out from the crowd and show off her unique viewpoint. “I always wanted to wear different clothes because I didn’t want to look like everybody else,” she says. This is probably why she has developed such a penchant for interesting and unusual clothing, namely 40s and 50s vintage and hand-embroidered blouses.
Kerstin can often be seen walking across the Buffalo Exchange campus in flowy linens and Eileen Fisher shoes or vintage dresses accented by classically Southwestern jewelry. Unsurprisingly, she is a Buffalo Exchange customer through and through: Kerstin loves searching out unique treasures in her free time and turns over the clothes in her closet regularly. “I love to shop,” she professes.
Obsessed with shoes
Rebecca loves to shop, too, but her wardrobe is more classic and modern, with a strong bent toward practical pieces that work for her lifestyle. “If it fits and it’s cute, I’ll wear it,” she jokes. She tends to stick to timeless staples that she can mix and match and rarely wears the same pair of shoes two days in a row. “I love shoes and purses,” she confesses. “I easily have over 75 pairs of shoes at any one time.” As her mother, Kerstin, chimes in, Rebecca actually has a whole room dedicated to this collection.
“A lot of times, I admire her shoes,” says Kerstin, noting a pair of leather gladiator sandals Rebecca brought back from Italy. Rebecca, on the other hand, admires how well-coordinated her mother’s outfits are. “She dresses better than me,” says Rebecca with a smile, “and when we’re out together, people often tell me I’m really lucky to have such a hip mom.” The mother-daughter pair respects each other’s style so much that they don’t find the need to give each other fashion advice. “We like shopping together and we might ask each other’s opinion,” says Kerstin, “but we both do our own thing.”
In business, as in fashion, being a little different from each other serves this pair well. “Luckily, the things that make me frustrated are not the same things that make my mom frustrated,” says Rebecca. Even still, after working together for so long, they tend to think alike, sometimes even reading each other’s minds.
Growing up at Buffalo Exchange
This mom-daughter team has been working together for almost as long as they can remember. “Rebecca grew up in Buffalo Exchange,” says Kerstin. From the time she was in elementary school, she would come to the store after school to work with her mother and father, Spencer Block, until they all went home for the day.
In high school and college, Rebecca worked in the store as a Buyer and, after getting a degree in anthropology, took on her first career role at Buffalo Exchange – New Merchandise Buyer. Eventually, she started working closely with Spencer, going on to take over many of his administrative tasks. She currently serves as Vice President.
Nowadays, Kerstin and Rebecca run the company hand-in-hand. In both fashion and business, these two trust each other implicitly. It’s this mutual respect that has helped them to grow the company from one small store in Tucson, Arizona to 49 stores across the US. Buffalo Exchange is a family business through and through – and it wouldn’t be where it is today without this dynamic mom-daughter duo. The best part about working together? As Kerstin confidently replies, “It’s nice to know that we can depend on each other.