Meet Alyssa & Rich. Ages 34 & 35. Buffalo, New York. Wedding Photographers.
What is your favorite thing about living and working in Western New York?
Easily the people. One of our favorite realizations after moving here about 8 ½ years ago was that, unlike a lot of places we’ve lived, if you own Buffalo and respect it, Buffalo people will 100% accept you as one of their own. In a lot of other cities, we’ve experienced a “been here” versus “came here” divide. Here in Buffalo, if you live in and love Buffalo – you’re from Buffalo. We’re proud to say we’re from Buffalo, even though we’re only half born here. This is our home.
As local business owners of Nickel City Studios, how did you get your start and what inspired you to start your own company?
We were transitioning out of being in the Navy and Marine Corps, respectively, and Buffalo was the perfect landing spot. Alyssa grew up here and I fell in love while visiting for the first time. I took a gig with the local Marine Corps recruiting command to get here and that really let us plan for being full-time business owners. After our time in the military (8 and 6 years) we knew we wanted to work for ourselves and have more control over our own lives. Starting our own business was really the only sensible option for us when we thought about wanting to start a family and settle down in Buffalo.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs hoping to start their own business?
It is a lot more work than you think it’s going to be and it can be frustrating to have nothing to fall back on. That can also be really motivating, though. I think one of the reasons we have thrived here is the complete lack of a safety net.
What are the challenges and benefits of working so closely with your significant other?
The benefits are getting to spend all our time together. Like that line from the Hip song, “We hung out together every single moment cause that’s what we thought married people do. Complete with the grip of artificial chaos and believing in the country of me and you.” That was us from the beginning, so doing something together to support ourselves kind of went without saying. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs in the business and it can be big point of stress, but it’s also a huge relief to be at work and look over and see someone who is there for you unconditionally and will never let you down. What we do can be fairly stressful and having that trust has always been awesome.
Rich- you were recently given a startling cancer diagnosis, yet you are handling it with incredible grace, humor, and openness. How has this changed your perspective on life? Alyssa- how has it changed yours?
It has sucked pretty hard, but what are you going to do? We were very lucky and have a really, really good VA hospital here. The doctors at the VA saved my life and I’m now cancer free in a relatively short amount of time thanks to the speed and quality of treatment. The VA takes a lot of hits, but the treatment for me has been amazing and we’re eternally thankful to have had a little bit of health care eligibility left. My perspective on life hasn’t really changed, but I know a lot more now and have a very different view on cancer and what treatment is like.
What is one thing few people know about you both?
Alyssa was a gymnast and I used to play guitar in bands. Hope that’s enough, hah hah! We’re not super interesting people.