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Photographer Yves-Richard Blanc captures the spirit of the entrepreneurs at the West Side Bazaar

Yves-Richard Blanc

Back in February, we posted a photo essay on Yves-Richard Blanc who covered The Day in the Life of a Firefighter. After the post ran, Blanc reached out to us to discuss another photo essay that he was hoping to explore – entrepreneurs at the West Side Bazaar. In this series, Blanc has photographed the owners of the various enterprises, while sharing a short bio of the personalities that make the bazaar tick.  

Such wonderful and humble people. I am grateful to work on this project. As an immigrant myself who came to this country some 47 years ago as a young child from Port au Prince, Haiti, I couldn’t be more proud of the accomplishment of the immigrant community.” – Yves-Richard Blanc

West Side Bazaar Owners & Mini Biographies

Gysma Kueny

Gysma’s African Style

Owner: Gysma Kueny

Buffalonian Since: 2002

Abiye, South Sudan → Khartoum, Sudan → Cairo, Egypt → Buffalo, NY

Gysma opened her business in 2011, selling everything from Shea butter and black soap, which are both made in Ghana, to necklaces made out of paper (that her friend makes back in South Sudan). She is also involved in the South Sudan Girls Education Project.

Julienne Nyiranjishi

Julienne Boutique

Owner: Julienne Nyiranjishi

Buffalonian Since: 2008

Gisenyi, Rwanda → Congo → Buffalo

Julienne opened her shop in 2011. She sells handmade African gifts, clothing, and baskets. Her brother, who still lives in Rwanda, makes cards from banana plants and woodcarvings and then ships to Buffalo for sale.

Quote: I feel connected to the products I sell as many of them come from my homeland and my family members that are still there.

Romala Rajendran

Gadget Bazaar

Owner: Romala Rajendran

Buffalo Since: 2006

Romala opened her shop in 2016 with a focus on cell phone accessories and other small gifts.

Ma Theint

Moon Lady Arts & Crafts

Owner: Ma Theint

Buffalonian Since: 2004

Mandalay → Yangon → Bangkok → Buffalo

Ma opened her shop in 2012, selling arts and crafts from her country such as gem paintings, lacquerware, traditional puppets, and Burmese musical instruments. She also sells clothes, accessories, and religious items.

Elizabeth Sher and Soe Win

Pattaya Street Food

Owner: Elizabeth Sher & Soe Win

Buffalonian Since:

Myanmar (Burma) → Buffalo

Pattaya is the newest vendor (just the last few months) at the Bazaar.

Elizabeth and Soe opened at the Bazaar in 2018. Their menu focuses on quick eats from Southeast Asia including bubble tea, samosas, egg rolls, and more!

Raine Manuel

Zigma Naturals

Owner: Raine Manuel

Buffalonian Since: 2012

Myanmar (Burma) → Thailand → Malaysia → Buffalo

Raine opened her shop in 2015,with a focus on Natural health and beauty products. She has diversified into International clothing and jewelry.

Quote: This is my first business in the US and being in the Bazaar is training for me, I’m still learning so I can someday open my own store.

WaWa Khaing

WaWa’s Asian Snacks

Owner: WaWa Khaing

Buffalonian Since: 2009

Dawei → Kanchanaburi Province → Buffalo

WaWa opened her snack hut in 2017 after working in restaurants for many years. Her menu focuses on street food from Burma, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Quote: I want to be able to share my favorite Asian snacks and dessert recipes with the community!

Win Shwev

Rakhapura Mutee & Sushi

Owner: Khaing Theint & Win Shwe

Buffalonian Since: 2011

Yangon → Buffalo

Khaing and Win opened the Rakhapura Shop in 2013, selling Arakanese foods like sushi, soups (mutee), and salads. Their top selling sushi are the Buffalo Roll, Banana Mango Roll, and the Khaing Sushi Roll.

Maria del Carmen Rodriguez

Kiosko Latino

Owner: Maria del Carmen Rodriguez

Buffalonian Since: 1993

Queens → Fajardo → San Diego → Memphis → Buffalo

Maria and Alain opened at West Side Bazaar in 2017. They specialize in Puerto Rican and Mexican cuisine, which they learned about while living in San Diego. Many of the recipes Maria is serving up at her business were passed down from her grandmother.

Maung Maung Saw & Than Than Nu

007 Chinese Food

Owners: Maung Maung Saw & Than Than Nu

Buffalonians Since: 2013

Sittwe → Johor → Buffalo

Maung Saw learned how to make dim sum while working in Malaysia. The family opened up 007 in West Side Bazaar in 2015, and their dream is to introduce their dim sum in a similar way that sushi has been brought to all parts of the U.S.

Kap Za Thang

Thang’s Family Japanese Ramen

Owner: Kap Za Thang

Buffalonian Since: 2009

Hakha → Kuala Lumpur → Buffalo

Kap learned how to make Japanese food while working in Malaysia, managing a franchise of over 26 stores. He opened his own restaurant in the Bazaar in 2017, serving ramen and other Japanese comfort foods such as udon and donburi. Come and feast on the Prawn Ramen, the Korean Kimchi Don, or the Seafood Fried Rice!

Mohammed Yaseenv

M Asian Halal

Owner: Mohammed Yaseen

Buffalonian Since: 2011

Mawlamyine → Bangkok → St. Louis → Buffalo

Mohammed opened his restaurant at the West Side Bazaar in 2013. He specializes in halal foods from South and Southeast Asia. Many of his dishes are also vegan and vegetarian, which makes M Asian Halal Food a great stop for anybody with dietary restrictions.

Zelalem Gemmeda

Abyssinia Ethiopian Cuisine

Owner: Zelalem Gemmeda

Buffalonian Since: 2005

Ethiopia → Yemen → Buffalo

Zelalem learned how to cook in Ethiopian food and ran a restaurant while living in Yemen. She has been running a restaurant at the West Side Bazaar since 2012. A staple of Ethiopian cuisine is injera, a sourdough flatbread, which is served in many of Abyssinia’s dishes. These dishes are meant to be eaten with your hands and are can be topped with cabbage, spicy lentils, potatoes and beets.

Htay Naing

Nine & Night Thai Bistro

Owner: Htay Naing

Buffalonian Since: 2013

Myanmar (Burma) → Buffalo

Htay learned how to cook Thai food while living in Malaysia. He has been operating at West Side Bazaar since 2016, proudly serving up authentic Thai dishes to the diverse customers that make up Buffalo’s West Side. Their food travels exceptionally well and everything can be made to your liking, from mild to extra spicy.

Quote: My customers are mostly American and 25% Burmese, which is great because I get to serve all kinds of people.

Nadin Yousef – photo supplied by the West Side Bazaar

Macrame by Nadin 

Owner: Nadin Yousef

Buffalonian Since: 2014

Baghdad → Damascus → Sakarya → Buffalo

Nadin opened up shop in 2015, shortly after arriving in Buffalo. She makes macramé wall hangings, plant holders, and accessories out of her booth in West Side Bazaar. Her products can also be found on Etsy. Nadin recently began selling Middle Eastern clothing and gifts, sourced from Jordan, to compliment the theme and style of her macramé.

Quote: I brought a dream with me to my new home: to open my own business.

Special thanks to the staff at West Side Bazaar that helped to make this photoshoot happen:

The Bazaar is run by WEDI Buffalo, and organization the is expanding eastwards in Buffalo – read here about their participation in the Broadway Market.

Westminster Economic Development Initiative (WEDI) is a non-profit organization, that reduces barriers to success and opportunity through economic development, community building, and education. Since 2006, the staff and volunteers of WEDI have been working to empower economically disadvantaged people in Buffalo, NY. WEDI believes that empowered people can transform their community.

Yves-Richard Blanc | Creative Photographer | Blanc Photographie | (716) 319-8979

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Instagram: @blanc_photographie