I first met Lindsay Robson the way we all meet people these days: through social media. I was scrolling through Instagram one day, and her account was suggested to me as someone I may want to follow. I quickly realized why.
Lindsay founded the Buffalo Blogging Network (a fellow writer!) and had her own lifestyle blog which focused on her love for the city of Buffalo, called Nickel City Pretty. Her “brand” was exactly my style. And I love reading her blog for fun new places to check out around the city and interesting interviews with other small business owners.
Speaking of small business owners, Lindsay started her own business called Copper & Steel Buffalo – the creation of beautiful handmade chainmail jewelry. Each piece is a labor of love, and the jewelry speaks for itself. One of my favorite new “pandemic hobbies” is supporting local as much as I can. To date, I can’t even tell you how many pieces of Copper & Steel chainmail pieces I have purchased for myself, and as gifts for family and friends. For me, it is the gift that keeps on giving. The guy that I’m dating noticed and complimented me on a piece… and my mother literally cries every time she opens a box of personalized chainmail that I special order for her.
I sat down with Lindsay to learn a little bit more about her life, her business, and what drove her to start her own jewelry line.
Tell me a little bit about your background and why you decided to start a jewelry line. Are you originally from Buffalo? What propelled opening your own small business?
I am originally from Buffalo…well, Grand Island to be exact. I grew up in Grand Island and moved into the city 13 years ago.
I’ve always been the creative type and really found my passion for writing in my late teens and early twenties. My writing “career” began with Backstreet Boys fan fiction in high school, which morphed into a Livejournal in my early twenties, and finally, I found myself starting my lifestyle blog Nickel City Pretty about 7 years ago. From there I founded the Buffalo Blogging Network and recently formed a podcast with my friends called When’s Food.
Now, most people would look at these creative projects and say, hey this is good and I’m busy enough, maybe I should take a nap. But not me, I needed something else. I wanted to make a tangible product, something that could be actually seen and held and touched. Like a lot of people, I’m a big jewelry person, and one day I came across a chainmail jewelry artist on Instagram, fell in love with how beautiful it was, and decided to give it a go for myself. Through lots of trial and error (and after losing my job due to the pandemic), Copper & Steel was born. It’s so fun to take an old art form and turn it into something modern with the different types of weaves and materials that I use.
One of the first things that drew me to Lindsay was her writing. I am part of the Buffalo Blogging Network (I think I am the only member that doesn’t actually have a blog!). It has been fun to get to know other members through Lindsay and also read her blog and get inspiration for my own writing. Everything she does is centered around the city she loves, and the people in it. I asked her to speak on what inspires her around Buffalo that she wants to highlight in her writing.
What inspires me the most around Buffalo are the people. The one thing that I’ve enjoyed the most about blogging would have to be the number of amazing people that I have met. Buffalonians are what makes the city great, and I’ve been happy to showcase that through my Nickel City Gritty series. I’ve always wanted to interview small business owners and other creatives in the area, but I didn’t want to ask the same old boring questions.
I had the idea to look up really bizarre and out-of-the-box questions that people don’t normally get asked.
I had the idea to look up really bizarre and out-of-the-box questions that people don’t normally get asked. Things like “How would you survive a zombie apocalypse?” or “If a theme song played every time you entered the room, what would it be?” The people who I interview have really had fun with the questions and it shows the audience a different side of them that they might not otherwise get to see.
Writing is hard enough (trust me on this!) but taking the leap to start her own small business during a pandemic seems like a nightmare I would have (and wake up from in a panic). Starting anything like that requires patience, perseverance, and a whole lot of dedication and belief in yourself in order to be successful. I asked Lindsay if she had any advice for someone that wants to change careers or take a leap with a new business endeavor and her response was simple and honest.
I know that this is cliché and has been said a million times before, but just do it! If I would have second-guessed every decision that I made on my journey, I don’t know if I would be where I am today. Of course, I did my research and made a plan ahead of time, but I’ve found out that the best way to learn and to grow is just to jump right in. There will always be mistakes, but just learn from them, keep going, and do better!
As if a blog, small business, and podcast weren’t enough, Lindsay started the first (of hopefully many!) ‘Best Mocktail’ competition in Buffalo. Her reason for putting it together was personal, but she also wanted to highlight how many non-alcoholic options local businesses offer their patrons.
I have this section on my blog called “Mocktails of WNY.” I don’t drink, and really haven’t drank since college. I didn’t really like how it made me feel, so I just stopped, but when I would go out with my friends, I still wanted to drink something fun that wasn’t pop or water. I started noticing over the years that there was a rise in mocktails, aka cocktails without the alcohol. I thought that this was an amazing concept, and wanted to highlight the bars and restaurants in Buffalo that were doing it RIGHT…not just serving 7Up and cranberry juice as an alternative.
It took me about a year and a half to visit a ton of places, talk to the owners and bartenders, photograph and document the drinks, and create the feature page on my website. I ended up with something that I’m really proud of and am still updating with new restaurants to this day.
There have always been cocktail competitions in the area, but I’ve never seen or heard of a mocktail competition before.
I wanted to expand on this a little bit and actually hold an event. There have always been cocktail competitions in the area, but I’ve never seen or heard of a mocktail competition before. So, with a lot of planning in a short amount of time, “Buffalo’s Best Mocktail Competition” was born. I had six amazing bars and restaurants onboard (Hartman’s Distilling Co, Buffalo Distilling Co, Jack Rabbit, Ballyhoo, Marble & Rye, and Mister Sizzle’s) and the event completely sold out which was absolutely amazing. I was nervous that a drinking town like Buffalo wouldn’t get behind a “sober” event, but the city came out in full support, and I’m so excited to host more events like this in the future!
Out of everything Lindsay is working hard on right now, her jewelry line shines (pun intended!). Copper & Steel Buffalo is like no other jewelry I’ve ever owned. The attention to detail is immediately apparent, and I find myself grabbing her pieces to complete an outfit before I head out the door. I asked her what inspired it in the first place, and how long a piece of chainmail takes from idea to completed product ready for purchase.
What really inspires me for my line is the mixture of strength and softness to my pieces. Historically, chainmail was used as an armor for protection. It’s so beautiful to me to take an artform that is known for its strength and then to make it out of copper or gold, softer metals. It’s a beautiful juxtaposition. A single piece can vary in terms of how long it takes to make. My simpler bracelets take about a half hour each, whereas I’ve had some custom necklaces which have taken literal hours or even three to four days to complete. It all depends on the complexity of the weave.
When I asked Lindsay if she has plans to expand her business to a brick and mortar store, she said that she saw the possibility in the future, but also has had a great deal of success with pop ups, and selling at local stores like Wild Root. Every pop up is listed on her Instagram account, and she is at a holiday market every weekend in December. As for what the future holds for her and her blog and jewelry line, Lindsay is not completely certain but she knows that she is on the right track.
I want to continue to grow professionally, mentally, and artistically. I fully believe that if we stop learning then we grow stagnant, and I never want to stop learning. I want to keep meeting and networking with more people, continually perfecting my jewelry craft and working with new materials, learning new jewelry patterns, getting my designs into more stores, and possibly branching out to locations outside of Buffalo. I’ve done a few pop ups in Rochester and that market was so fun, so I’m hoping to get into a few stores there!
One thing is for sure, she will always be busy and will never run out of things on her “to-do” list. And that is how she likes it.
Along with my blog/website, podcast (Fun fact, we won “Best Podcast” in Buffalo Spree‘s Best of 2020!), and jewelry line, I also have a full time job. So if you roll all of those things into one, I work a LOT. My weekends are mostly consumed with jewelry popups, or hanging with family and friends and two dogs. One thing that I love doing is taking my jewelry materials to my favorite bars and restaurants and cranking out a few pieces while I have dinner or a few mocktails. You’ve probably seen me recently working at Jack Rabbit, Company B, or Buffalo Distilling Co. It’s so fun for me just to perch myself at the bar and talk to the bartenders or other people there while I work. It gets me out of the house and is a nice change of scenery!
I had to ask Lindsay what some of her favorite places around town are to grab a mocktail and enjoy a good meal. It was not a surprise that like most Buffalonians she had a laundry list of delicious spots.
Oh this one is tough. Buffalo is such a good food city. I’ll tell you a few yummy things that I’m obsessed with at the moment. Jack Rabbit’s chicken finger sub is deadly; Mister Sizzles Saucy Cowboy burger is amazing; Frank Hot Dogs have the best fries in the city; The Grange has awesome pizza; Ballyhoo mac & cheese is insane; love anything at Swan Street Diner for breakfast; I dream about every single one of the desserts at Black Sheep; oh and of course I order lloyd like two times a week.
Best mocktails? Aside from the competitors of the mocktail competition, some of my favorites have also been from Hydraulic Hearth, The Grange, and Billy Club. I love all the neighborhoods of Buffalo! Each one is so unique. I currently live off of Hertel Ave, so North Buffalo will always have a special place in my heart, but soon will be moving to the West Side which I’m very excited about. Can’t wait to explore!
Getting to know Lindsay over the last few years through her blog and jewelry line, and in person too, has been so nice. Buffalonians are so proud of their city, and it really shows in what she is doing in her personal and professional life. She and I have a lot in common.
The city itself is a base for everything we both love: the food, the fun things to do, the eclectic artists and small businesses, and especially its people. I can’t wait for Lindsay to move to the West Side soon, so I can link up with her for a mocktail and some tacos. Until then, I am going to pull up Instagram and order yet another Copper & Steel piece. I need a couple gifts, and the holidays are fast approaching. I might have to order a couple new pieces for myself while I am at it. Treat yourself, right?
If you would like to learn more about Lindsay and all of her endeavors, follow @nickelcitypretty and @copperandsteelbuffalo on Instagram, and go to nickelcitypretty.com to read her blog and learn more about her.
Lead photo credit (L): Jackie Dipuccio