As a Buffalo crusader, teacher, entrepreneur, social media influencer, and blogger, Alex Miller has been showcasing WNY values through his Wegmans-integrated company, Born & Raised Shop, but that’s not where his story began.
Early on, Alex Miller learned civic pride from his parents. He was shown that what makes a city special is its art, architecture, history, culture, natural features, and most importantly its citizens. During much of Alex’s youth Buffalo was stagnating, but a grassroots movement was beginning. People who knew the variety and abundance of the city’s assets were pushing their agenda, and citizens were getting involved. Kathleen Smith, Alex’s mother and a Buffalo teacher for 40 years, was one of these people. She took Alex to many rallies in Niagara Square to protest the demolition of Buffalo’s historic landmarks. One of these rallies was to reestablish the Erie Canal Terminus by using the original ruins, not creating an inauthentic facsimile. Alex’s father, Terence Miller, shared his abundant historical knowledge of the Western New York area by decorating his law office with art and artifacts from Buffalo’s early days including texts and maps. So, you can assuredly say that Alex grew up with a great historical and cultural value for his city.
This Buffalo News clipping from 1999 shows Alex, age 15, and his mother participating in a rally to preserve the historic ruins of the original Erie Canal. The original foundations of the buildings and the canal walls were in peril. This historic gem could have been lost to our city forever. Fortunately, it was persevered, and became the popular area that is currently the flourishing Canalside.
Alex got personally involved in promoting Buffalo when he questioned the authenticity of a best-selling poster called “Just Another Day in Paradise” that supposedly depicted his hometown. It turned out that this image was not a picture of Buffalo at all, but one of New York City. After exposing the truth with the help of 7 Eyewitness News, Alex was ready to create a new authentic image of an iconic Buffalo landscape.
Not only was Alex responsible for the new (and accurate) Shea’s Main St. poster titled “Forever in Paradise”, he also put the hidden bison/buffalo outline of the Erie Basin Marina front and center for all WNY trivia buffs. His second tribute image is titled “Hidden in Plain Sight”. Read more here.
What started as an iconic Main Street image, photographed in the winter of 2016, has evolved into a multitude of opportunities for this Buffalo Public School teacher, including becoming a vender at Wegmans, and the launch of an e-commerce website. This was a Buffalo lover’s dream.
For several years, Alex Miller worked hard, taking amazing pictures of Buffalo landmarks each telling its own distinct story. Many of these images would be showcased in myriad forums. For example, he utilized a 6-foot tall Shea’s marquis to house all of his uniquely themed Buffalo products at each WNY Wegmans. Alex named his business Born & Raised, to capture the pride Buffalonians feel for a city rich in architecture, culture, and natural beauty.
Alex, and his fiancée Brittany, have incorporated many local Western New York businesses and artisans within the scaffolding of the company. They think it’s a great feeling to make a full circle sale. That means – from the designer to the fabricators, the majority of the products have Buffalo roots. The circle is complete when a former Buffalonian who lives in another state buys locally produced products. It’s also satisfying to give a little bit of comfort to those feeling homesick, especially during the holiday season.
In 2017, while promoting Buffalo through his business, Alex suffered a 99% blockage of a major LAD artery known as the widow maker. This, and the advice of his heart surgeon, led him (and Brittany) to switch over to a vegan/plant-based diet, while documenting their health journey on a blog and social media platform called White Gloved Vegan. They continue to advocate for eating greener and promote the vegan diet in a positive, reinforcing way. The couple is under contract to write a cookbook with a publishing house in 2021. They state that they both feel truly blessed to be given an opportunity to help others and will never take it lightly.
“As a 35 year old man, I occasionally think of Abraham Lincoln’s quote:
And in the end it’s not the years in your life that count; it’s the life in your years.
The older I get, the more this quote resonates with me and becomes clearer. Young or old, during the best of times or the worst, I have and will continue to take a stand up for my city, the place I was Born & Raised.”