Interview by Michelle Holler:
BRO is featuring a series of interviews that will help to tell the stories of the people who have opened businesses at the West Side Bazaar. The objective of the series is to highlight the compelling journeys that each shop owner made, so that we may become familiar with the owners and their businesses.
Name: Julienne Nyiranjishi
Languages Spoken: Mother tongue is Kinyarwanda, French
Country of Origin: Rwanda
Journey to Buffalo:
It took many journeys to get myself and my family here to Buffalo NY. I am from Rwanda, where my family and I left because of war. We were looking for a place where we would be safe and ended up in the Congo. Then, after some time we had to leave the Congo because war broke out there as well, and we ended up back in Rwanda. My daughter was the first to leave Africa and to arrive in America as a refugee. She then applied for my husband and me to get permanent residence in the US. In 2008, my husband and I came to visit our daughter. We felt comfortable and safe here in the US, so we decided to stay. Then, in 2012, my youngest daughter came to join us here in Buffalo. I still have family back in Rwanda and my dream is to visit them someday.
Store in the Bazaar:
The store I run in the West Side Bazaar is called Julienne Boutique. I sell a variety of products from all over Africa. Many of the goods come from my homeland, including Rwandan peace baskets and other types of specialty woven baskets. My brother, who still lives in Rwanda, makes cards from banana stamps and woodcarvings, which he sends to us. We sell other handmade jewelry that is also made in Rwanda, along with shawls from Namibia. We also have unique instruments from South Africa including drums and an instrument called the kalimba, a thumb piano.
I hope to graduate from the bazaar and have the opportunity to open my own store because I like business. I feel connected to the products I sell as many of them come from my homeland and my family members that are still there.
The West Side Bazaar | 25 Grant Street | Buffalo NY 14213