Nickel City Gritty: Erin Habes
Generally speaking, when you mention the City of Buffalo, people don't automatically think of fashion. Snow and chicken wings, sure, but fashion...not so much.
But these times are changing. The fashion and creative industries in Buffalo have grown immensely over the years. Boutiques, fashion shows, major events, clothing lines, designers...Buffalo is doing it, and doing it really well.
One of the women at the hull of the fashion industry in Buffalo is none other than Erin Habes. Erin is a force to be reckoned with. She's definitely one of the women that I've looked up to most in my blogging and creative career thus far. She's an entrepreneur, a teacher, a producer, a fashion maven, a stylist, and to top it off, she looks absolutely amazing while doing all of it.
To be honest, Erin's interview was one that I was most excited about doing. She's so inspirational to me, as I'm also a woman of many hats. If you've read my interviews before, you know that I always ask my subjects what their spirit animal is. Well, in my case, Erin is my spirit human. It was pretty fantastic talking to someone else who is obsessed with their phone, in love with Beyonce, and hates cold shoulder tops (sorry ladies, they're just not for me.)
Please listen to Erin's AMAZING Madonna playlist while you read her interview. This is definitely one that you'll enjoy!
This is Nickel City Gritty, and this is Erin Habes.
"We built the culture that has everyone saying "Yes! we're so lit!"
Tell me about how you got started in the Buffalo fashion industry.
I went to Buffalo State, and graduated with a merchandising degree, but while I was there I used to work at all of the boutiques. Well, not all of them, but Half & Half and Shoefly. I worked with incredible women who became my mentors growing up. Working in the boutiques is definitely where I got my start. I loved working for mom and pop shops. I loved the customer relationship that was built and then watching these boss babes having these stores and taking control and doing something cool in Buffalo. I always admired that. There was a really cool line that Sue used to carry at Shoefly called Farylrobin when I needed my internship, and we contacted them and they brought me on. I did my internship with them and they hired me and then I was a sales rep with them for three years. I would travel all over and sell shoes, some really cool shoes, to small shops all over the country. That really exposed me to different aspects like design, sourcing, PR, and it was a small office so I got to really be immersed in the fashion industry. I decided to leave and come back and I opened up a store, so I've basically done everything. So everything then just kind of grew. It went from that to producing fashion shows, I started teaching at Buffalo State, and I'm celebrating my eleventh year teaching! Over the years I kind of realized that I wasn't meant to be stuck in four walls with my own store, even though I loved it. But that kind of sparked into creative consulting and then producing and styling and now I'm writing and also projection...it's just crazy! I think that's the coolest part about Buffalo is that you don't have to do just one thing. If I wanna write I can write, if I wanna teach I can teach, I can have an Airbnb, and there's just so many different pathways that the city allows you to be the most creative that you absolutely want to be. You know, it's funny. Back in like 2008 I was looking around and being like, "Why is nobody talking about fashion? What is this?" When my store, Sweet and Dirty was open, it was Sweet and Dirty and Sunday Skate Shop, and it was the creative center of cool on Potomic. It was a Lifestyle, right? We were the first ones to do Lifestyle. We weren't just a boutique. We had creative artists and local designers and trunk shows and parties and it kind of became bigger than just the stores. It was about building a culture that didn't exist here. A kind of indie cool youth culture, which usually sparks that change in every generation. I like to think that we played a big part in how Buffalo is now....just saying. *laughs* We built the culture that has everyone saying, "YES! WE'RE SO LIT!"
How would you describe your personal style?
Oh yay! I love this question. I like easy pieces. I love this kind of elevated sportswear. I'm always wearing kicks and incorporating it into my higher end pieces. I've been wearing a lot of oversized pieces like wide legged pants. I get a lot of my pieces from Annarlette. One of my favorite designers is Anja Schierholt, she's an incredible German designer. There's a casual thread and I always like to have very simple pieces but then I jazz it up with my accessories. I'm very accessory based. I think that Italy had a great impact on my style. It was like a breath into my lungs of fashion! I was able to get some really great pieces. I love cool contemporary pieces. So, you know I'm into production, so when you're behind the camera, you need to be comfortable. You know, I tell my students, "We're in a production. If I see something that's dirty, I'm going to get on my hands and knees and I'm gonna clean it. I don't care." It's not pretty fashion for me. It's functional yet feeling good about myself and comfortable but feeling polished and put together. I'm more on the shy side when I talk about myself in that regard because I like to be on the other side of the camera. But you know, I admire those incredible women who you see who are in front of the camera. I admire their...sass.
But you're sassy!
I am super sassy. So maybe I just described myself! *laughs* Awesome.
What is the best compliment you've ever received?
I love when people compliment me on my laugh. I have a very distinct laugh, and I'm usually the loudest person in the room but I don't realize it. I think that it embodies who I am, my laugh. It's a good compliment when someone is like, "Oh my god you have the best laugh!" It makes me feel good. I laugh with my gut! It's who I am. My laugh.
What was the first think you bought with your own money?
I was in New York City with my best friend Abby and I went to Selma Optical and I spent way too much money on a pair of sunglasses. Blue, like a beautiful true blue, and red on the back. They were these big honkers and they were pretty expensive, but that was the one big purchase that sticks out in my mind. We had just graduated from high school and felt all cool and went to New York City for a girl's weekend and we were on TRL *laughs* and then it was when Yolanda was one of the veejays and we got to meet her and it was frickin' amazing. Isn't TRL still on now? It will never be the same. NEVER. I'm sorry, kids, it will never be the same. Carson was on, and it was when Ricky Martin was really popular and I was obsessed with him, and we made a poster and on one side it said "Ricky Martin Shake It" and on the other side it said "Carson will you go to prom with me?" and he saw the poster and commented on it. I died. So yes, it was that trip when I bought the glasses and felt super cool.
What is something that a ton of people are obsessed with but you don't see the point of?
Well...I mean...the cold shoulder trend?
Like, no! Don't. No...don't. You can put that in writing. *laughs* I actually use that example when I'm talking about fashion forecasting, like when we're talking about the trend, you know the bell curve of the trend. We're into the period right now where it's been mass accepted and unfortunately it's still hanging around...it's still here! Still here, everybody! So yeah, I can't. Everything comes back.
Well now fanny packs are back, so.
I know! I could get down with fanny packs! I have a flat one that I wear for production. I like the more trendy fanny packs. Some of these girls could pull it off. I couldn't think I could do a traditional one. Maybe back in the day I could. But now I would just look like a...like a...mom. Not that there's anything wrong with being a mom!! But you know, like a 1980's mom, especially because my hair is cut like this. *laughs* I would legit look like your 1980's mom!
What is one of your favorite smells?
Hmmm...well the first thing that came to my mind is Keith! He just has like a...he just smells so good. I think that, you know, I guess that means we're soul mates. I like the way you smell naturally. I know he'll appreciate that.
What is your spirit animal?
I'm a cat person. We used to have this one cat named Boo Bear and oh my god he was like our little spirit animal! But I love cats. I've had cats my whole life and I was just telling Keith that I really need a cat. We haven't had one in two years and I think it's time. I think we need to get a cat! My grandmother was always a cat lover and my mom, and so it's just ingrained in me. It's a level of comfort that I like and I haven't had in a couple of years, so I'm craving. So we will be going on the cat hunt. Hopefully soon we'll find the perfect little fur baby.
What is on your bucket list?
I want to go to Japan. That is the next thing that I want to do. I want to go visit one of my best friends. She's like my sister and she lived in Buffalo for a long time and went to Buff State for fashion and got her master's here and then moved back to Japan and that's the one thing that I want to do.
If you could bring one fictional character to life, who would it be?
That's a really tough question. Have you watched the new show on Netflix called Schitt's Creek? There's this one character David, and I'd like to bring him to life. I'd like him to be my best friend. He is frickin hilarious and he's got great outfits. Keith and I were both sick at different times this past winter and we watched the entire thing and it's brilliant. It's amazing.
What is on your playlist?
I get into this Beyonce obsession every once in a while. I'll put that on Pandora and whatever else pulls up from it. It's good vibe music and I love her whole Lemonade album. I love Madonna and I love Robyn and all of the fierce ladies.
What product or service do you love so much that you'd gladly be their spokesperson for free?
Ummm...would I get free product?
Okay, I would like Groom Service. Like, I love their facials and stuff. I love their products, and so...yes.
So hint, hint Katie.
Yeah, Katie. I like beautiful makeup. I could get down with that. Everything. I just want to roll around in the beautifulness of her products.
What takes up too much of your time?
Keith would say social media. Or maybe just like, my phone. That does take up a lot of time. When part of your business is working on social media you're looking at your phone a lot. So yeah, I would say my phone. It's very sad, but I'm like, "No, I'm actually working! I'm not just like, hanging out, like WOOOO!" I try to take more time to just absorb what everyone else is doing, but that also takes time. It's a lot.
What are some of your favorite bars or restaurants in Buffalo?
I love Marble & Rye. Ummm...I just went to brunch at Lait Cru Brasserie. That was an incredible brunch, oh my god. I like Toutant. I don't really go out to bars anymore...that's really sad.
The only bar I really go to now is Angelica.
Oooohhh that's a really pretty bar! I could see myself hanging out there. How about, "Where Erin could see herself hanging out!" I would prefer Angelica to Buffalo Proper because that's straight up, like, dudes. So I'm glad that they have the femme bar. The lloyd bar I actually frequent often, because it's actually, like, a hybrid. It feels like it's okay to drink at 3:00 in the afternoon, because you're also eating a taco! Oh my god, I'm obsessed with Public. So maybe it's not so much the evening restaurants, but more of a like, afternoon. Oh my god Public...I'm so proud of them. They have completely effing stepped it up. Game changer. Such a great move. So everything that they're putting out is what I could totally get into. I guess I'm maybe more of a cafe girl! So Tipico and Public and Sweetness 7. I'm definitely more of a cafe girl. Because when you're a creative and you don't have a workspace, right?
What role do you play in the group of your friends?
I think I'm the leader in a lot of ways. I've always been this way. I love bringing people together, so whether it's a creative situation or my friends or whatever, I love bringing people together. I have this girl crew now, because I've found that I was working so hard and I wasn't having any time to hang out with my friends, so we've started this girl crew, and we do little DIY crafting projects and it's awesome. They helped me doing my creative problem solving sessions. I'm more of the glue. Or as my students say, "Miss Habes, you are the plug." And I was like, "First of all, what is that? Okay, cool." So yeah, I like to bring people together.
What is the best thing that happened to you last week?
Ummm...what happened last week? I looked at a office space for Projex, and that was probably one of the best things ever! And I put our deposit down and I signed the lease and it's super exciting! When we did Enlighten, it was like okay, Erin's gonna become Project Manager and more so part of this company and so that was a big move. To have a space to dedicate our mindset and moving forward and making this into a real company! We're gonna be adults! *laughs*
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be Iris. I just want to be a very super eccentric old lady with great beautiful grey hair, like the good grey hair, and I'm just gonna be super eccentric and I'm just gonna wear crazy caftans every day, kicks, and crazy jewelry and be over the top. It's almost like Absolutely Fabulous. One of my favorite blogs is Advanced Style, and I have an obsession with these old ladies that have really sick style! I want to be that now, and even more so then. I'm letting my grey hairs come out, game on. I think I'll attain it!