Nickel City Gritty: Elizabeth Siematkowski

I present to you, the very first interview in my Nickel City Gritty series. Nickel City Gritty is a very special project of mine.  It is a series of interviews, videos, and photos of the very thing that made Buffalo what is is today- the people.  I'm interviewing and photographing those very people that run this city; those who are doing incredible things and living outside the box.

But these aren't just any old interviews.  These interviews are getting down to the core of the person- their favorite music, food, memories, and things that they love about this amazing city that we call home.

This is Nickel City Gritty, and this is Elizabeth Siematkowski.

If you don't know who Elizabeth is, then you've probably been living under a rock.  Girlfriend has been EVERYWHERE lately.  Liz is the mastermind behind Buffalo Black Book.  If you don't know what Buffalo Black Book is, then you are definitely living under a rock.  The BBB is a quarterly print magazine committed to highlighting and exploring culture, subculture, love and people through candid conversation and busting of social stigma.  Its very first issue, Bodies, has been wildly successful, being sold online, as well as in few select boutiques around Buffalo and even at print stands in New York City.

From the moment that I met Liz, I instantly felt a strong connection with her, like we've been lifelong friends.  Her infectious personality draws you in and when you are speaking to her, you can tell that she she is really interested in your life story and what you have to say.  That's why she's so perfect at what she does.  She truly cares about the people that she interviews for Buffalo Black Book and knows how to make a person comfortable.  She's super chill and the authentic "cool girl" that many of us women strive to be.

I recently dragged Liz out in the freezing cold and snow to my favorite restaurant Toutant for brunch.  We ate waffles and bonded over our mutual love of Hanson (she's a Zac girl and I'm a Taylor fanatic) and I learned that she's got a very interesting, yet dangerous, hidden talent.

Describe your style to me.

That's really tough.  Sometimes I can get a little wild in what I wear. I like to mix in pieces that are really classic.  I like the idea of having one really nice sweater versus ten semi-decent pieces that could get kind of weird in a year or two.

So you stay away from trendy?

Yeah, so something classic, like my grandmom's sweater, something that somebody made that's a classic piece.  But then I also love the bohemian street style.  So it's not quite grunge, but it's not like full boho.  I love heeled boots and nice tight pants.  It's definitely a blend of the two styles.

Do you have a favorite piece of clothing?  Something that means a lot to you?

Yes!  Well actually, one of my favorite sweaters I just lost, which was really sad.  So now, probably my favorite outfit would be in the summer, it's jean shorts and this vintage Police tee that I haggled in Toronto.  Like haggled it down from like $212 in a glass case, and I was like "This is ridiculous, how long has this been in there?" to like $30 Canadian.  And so that Police tee is just like, my heart. So probably that and jean shorts in the summer and in the winter, tights pants and what used to be my favorite sweater. So now I need to get a new favorite sweater!  But I have one that my grandmom made me and it's fitted, white fisherman knit, and I like that a lot.  And boots.  I like my black Rainbow boots.

Rainbow.  Like the store Rainbow?

Yeah, the store Rainbow!  I'm like, I don't know. I just LOVE Rainbow.  I have some bodysuits from there that are just out of this world.  And I was gonna get these really nice black leather boots a while back but they didn't have my right size. So I walked into Rainbow one day and they had the exact thing for $15 and I was like DONE!

Do you have a style icon?

I love Nicole Richie's style, oh my god I love her style.  I also love Gwyneth Paltrow.  Love her style.  And also Sienna Miller a lot.  It's kind of like that simple but classic kind of look.  And of course Audrey Hepburn.

Where do you look for inspiration?  What inspires you?

I think what inspires me is seeing people do things that are kind of off the beaten path and do it with in amazing flair and just absolutely dominate. I love seeing people who are unexpected or people who are underdogs. Like they wouldn't expect them to be crushing it or to do well.  Against the odds, crush it at life doing whatever they are doing. I think that inspires me because that is so great.  When people are themselves.  It's really hard to kind of just be who you are.  Sometimes you are pigeonholed into a job or a profession or family expectation. I love people who are just like "We are out here, that's it!" Just own it.  That is so cool to me.  I think that's the closest you can get to somebody, when they are themselves and you are really having a genuine connection.

What is currently on your playlist?

I just made a BBB playlist on Spotify.  I really love a lot of French 60's music, like Francoise Hardy. She's a French 60's Pop artist and she's radiant and I love her style as well.  She's just absolutely flawless and her music is beautiful.  I was into Bossa Nova for a while.  But now on this mix there's some Hip Hop and a little bit of Folk.  I love Folk music.  But I also love great aggressive Hip Hop music.  For Hip Hop, Wycleff is my man.  Like "Gone Till November."  Ugh, so in love.  And then I like Dance music, but not too much of the EDM, just like what really makes you dance.  I love Tracey Chapman, oh my god. She's one of my faves.  That's one of the first artists that I remember when I was a kid. I played "Fast Car" over and over and over again.  You can just feel so much from her songs. I love Debbie Harry and of course Madonna and Michael Jackson.  My mom loves Cyndi Lauper and Dolly Parton so I know all of their stuff.  I liked Cher a lot when I was a really young kid!

What is your favorite or most memorable concert that you've ever been to?

Oh my god.  Okay, I was in Hershey, Pennsylvania  with my family and I was probably the only person that I knew who liked the Hanson brothers and I'm not afraid to admit that.

Okay, who's your favorite?

Oh man.  I liked the young one. I liked Zac, you know that little "Lucy" song.  I named by dog Lucy, which now I'm just realizing I wonder if that was some subconscious thing from my Hanson days!

*Note from Lindsay:  At this point we both broke out singing "Lucy" and it was probably one of the top five moments of my life*

So  we were in Hershey Pennsylvania park and we were camping out and my parents had a pop-up camper and we heard that Hanson was playing.  So my brother and I stood on the roof of my parent's van in a parking lot with my dad's binoculars and watched the Hanson brothers and then I went back to the campground and was listening to their cd on my little walkman cd thing crying because I was so happy that I got to see them!  So I think that was definitely my most memorable concert.  Everyone was like, "Can we go home, we can't see anything and we hate Hanson." and I was like "Oh my god my life's complete!"

What were you like in high school?

I was kind of quiet, I still am, which is surprising.  I'm generally pretty shy.  Which I may not seem like it.I love people, obviously, and I love interacting. But getting to know people, it takes me a while to get pretty comfortable.  So I was pretty quiet, and I was also a competitive figure skater.  I graduated high school and just went and figure skated.  I always just thought I would do that, and then one thing lead to another and I was like, meh, maybe I should go to college since I guess that's what people do.  I was pretty much just skating and being quiet.  I didn't like school, I hated it.  I just didn't like sitting and I didn't like homework and it was just so constricting.  I was just bouncing around and was a bit of a lone wolf and just did my own thing.  I liked everyone and appreciated everybody but also was just like "Get me out of here!"  I was always just weirdly trying to push boundaries, even in high school.  I would sit with different groups of people every day and try to just not do what everybody else was doing.

What made you get into skating?

I think just from where I'm from the Great North.  It's cold, there's nothing to do, and when I was a kid my dad would build an ice rink in our backyard and I think that made me love it and I just kept going with it.  I LOVE Canalside...that rink is amazing!  I actually got kicked off the other day.  It was one in the afternoon and I was like "I'm going down there" so I brought my skates and hopped over the thing and just started skating and then this security guard was walking after me and I was like "Can't catch me!" and he was like "You can't be out there.  I'm calling the police." and I was like, I probably shouldn't get arrested today so I said "Please oh please let me just skate" and he was like "No I really can't." but that was the best outdoor rink I've ever skated on in my life!

Do you have a celebrity crush?

Oh god, I've got a couple.  Let me think...definitely love James Franco.  I love Sienna Miller.  I love Jake Gyllenhaal and I really love Ellen Paige.

Favorite local restaurants?

I really love Merge. I love how even in the early days they were doing beautiful vegan foods.  I'm not a vegetarian or a vegan but a lot of what I eat is and I love going to places where people make these beautiful creations with all sorts of cashew cheese and really cool things. Lloyd tacos are obviously incredible.  ABV's chickpea burger is out of control good and I like their beer.  I love going to the West Side Bazaar and I always get this chickpea naan special.  It's like $5 and the guys is so nice, and for some reason every time I go there I'm like having a hard day, so I'm holding back tears and I'm so upset.  But he's always there and is like "Do you want the lunch special?" and I'm like "Yes!" and I just sit there and eat it by myself in silence and enjoy the atmosphere and end up feeling better.  You know what I love about it?  It comes on a tray and they use real bowls so it's like a family feel and it's just like off the grid and I really like that place for lunch.  I love Hydraulic Hearth...definitely one of my favorite restaurants in Buffalo! It's the most beautiful.  I like Larkin a lot and the energy down there.

Favorite place to grab a drink?

I like Essex Pub a lot.  For a good beer, ABV is really good.  I like going to Vera and Buffalo Proper.  And Frizzy's for some reason, I have no idea why.  I like some of the classic spots like that.  Essex and Vera are definitely my go-to's.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I can do a cartwheel on roller blades!  Whipping that one out is always a good idea.  One of these years I'm gonna not have done it in so long and I'm gonna try it and actually break my neck. Like "Look what I can do! Just kidding, I need a hospital!"

Backstreet Boys or NSync?

Oh my gosh, I never got into either!  I was too hooked on Hanson, and Tracey Chapman.

Okay, so what about either Britney or Christina?

Britney forever!  Love, love...I will always carry the Britney torch.

Where is your happy place?  Where do you go to de-stress?

Definitely anything involving nature.  I have my dog, an 85 pound Golden Retriever Siberian Husky mix named Lucy and I love her so much. So I'll go for walks with her. I love the new Outer Harbor trails so that's our new spot.  I also love the Artpark Gorge and of course being from the North Country, the Adirondacks.  So anything like a walk or nature, that is my happy place.  Or rollerblading as fast as I can, really as I can.  I like going fast, as fast as I can!

Okay, so my last question is...what do you want to be when you grow up?

I want to be somebody that my goddaughter will be proud of.  That's it.

Thank you SO MUCH for the Interview, Elizabeth! You were so sweet to answer all of my questions and now I'm so happy that I have someone to talk about Hanson with.

Stay tuned for the next installment of Nickel City Gritty!