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BN360 Spotlight Professional: Christa Penner

Between owning and running a great business, keeping up with an active five-year-old, and finding time to pursue her creative passions, Christa Penner is busy finding her stride as a successful young professional in Buffalo Niagara. Over a quick lunch latte, I sat down with Christa, the owner and managing member of ShopCraft and our BN360 Spotlight Professional for August, to find out just how she balances it all so well.

Q: Christa, personally and professionally, where are you now?

Professionally, I’m in a growth stage. We just completed moving ShopCraft down the Elmwood Strip into a new and bigger store front. We are building our artist member-base and expanding our product offerings.

Personally, My family and I have been enjoying the beautiful Buffalo summer weather. We believe strongly in engaging in the community as a family and in partaking in activities like the Garden Walk Buffalo. Watching my son Jack get exposed to the arts and culture Buffalo has to offer is so exciting. He is learning to explore his own creativity and curiosity and wants to learn and understand where things come from and how they are made.”

Q: Do you consider yourself a young professional?

Yes, I do consider myself a young professional. I am a business owner, which might not fit the expectation of the words young professional.” I don’t wear business professional clothing or report to an office every day, but I do manage a team with expectations and emotions. I endlessly work on time management skills. I grow my knowledge-base and I work on skill set development. To me, it is these common goals and functions that make people young professionals, not necessarily your work attire or job title. At the end of the day, we are all striving to do good work in whatever capacity that is.”

Q: What does being a young professional look like for you?

Hard, but rewarding. I am an entrepreneur, a creator, a mom, a wife, a Spotlight Professional, and so much more. No one says it, but there is this a silent expectation that you are supposed to do and be it all. You have to be the successful business owner, while still being there for your family and friends 100 percent of the time. On an average day, I am balancing childcare needs and changes, spending time with my son, opening and running the store, driving and acquiring new business, supporting my collective artisans, and still having quality time with my husband and son.”

Q: What role have connections played in your success as a young professional?

My success as a business owner has been based on making and building connections in a multitude of ways. ShopCraft is a culmination of my passion for local business, hand-made goods, and celebrating art/creativity. I form connections in the community with other artists, then work to help them see my vision and feel passionate about it. We are based in the Elmwood Village neighborhood and plan to stay there. That means developing and building connections with other business owners and the neighborhood in general. Because Buffalo Niagara is my passion, and I believe strongly in our local community, I am always working to better connect in the community at large both personally with my family and professionally in the work I do and in the business I grow.”

BN360 is the young professional development and engagement program of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. Learn more about BN360 and find out how you can get involved here. BN360 is presented by Alliance Advisory Group. The 2019 Spotlight Professionals series sponsor is Alpine Films.

This content was produced in collaboration between Buffalo Rising and The Buffalo Niagara Partnership. The facts and opinions published in Buffalo Rising express solely the thoughts and opinions of our respective authors.

Written by BN360


BN360 is the region’s premier young professionals program. Through a variety of programs and events, BN360 focuses on the tenets of: connect, develop, and empower—creating an inclusive and collaborative network of resources that can empower talented individuals to achieve their goals for professional growth and success. BN360 is a program of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.

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