Author: Vilona Trachtenberg

Vilona Trachtenberg

Spotlight Professional in 2020. Freelance journalist, traveler, dancer, music fanatic, volunteer enthusiast. Loves meeting new people in any and all capacities and helping our beloved city flourish.

Many eager event enthusiasts have been patiently awaiting, for over a year, to watch their beloved cultural arts performances (in any format). Likewise, artists and performers have been waiting it out, anticipating on sharing their talents and passions with audiences once again. While the pandemic is not over, many of these performers are preparing to get back to their routines. For one group of local artists, their performing hiatus is coming to an end, as they take to the virtual stage for a spectacular event this coming Sunday. The free, virtual event is part of Made in Buffalo’s “From Buffalo…

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Every morning, Jessica Stephens wakes up, gets her children ready for school, and then gets right to work. At 8:30 a.m. she begins searching for vaccine appointments on state and county sites and at pharmacies. She makes phone calls, sends emails and books vaccine appointments. For 12 hours, she continues her hunt.  And Stephens, of Amherst, who has helped book vaccine appointments for 3,000 people, won’t stop this full-time, voluntary endeavor until everyone who wants the shot has the opportunity to get it.  Stephens began this effort at the end of February, after she saw her friend in New York…

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MMB Realty, a newly-established real estate company, was founded by partners Mia Mootry, Tamika Collins-Murphy and Rosalind Burgin. Though they work to help sellers and buyers, their true passions lie in creating a familial atmosphere and educating their community in the homebuying process. The partners have strong, shared goals reflected in the company’s motto, “One team, one vision, one goal, one you.” That family motto has led the women to work with clients for years before their clients even purchase homes, and they’ve even attended clients’ baby showers, barbecues and weddings. They help other real estate agents, as well. When…

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A chance meetup ten years ago solidified the fate of two friends and restaurateurs who now produce and serve the best barbecue in New York State, while helping their Lovejoy neighborhood flourish. Sandi Robinson was a youth pastor for Vivian Robinson’s children at a summer camp, and when these women met, the spiritual connection they shared sparked their instant friendship. The women believe the Lord blessed them and brought them together. Sandi, owner of Speak Easy Buffalo and Vivian, the owner of La Verdad Cafe, recently joined their businesses together into Speak Easy’s space, where the duo continues satisfying customers…

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We asked Jennifer J. Parker, founder of Jackson Parker Communications and Black Capital Network: “What’s the most important bit of advice that you would give to young entrepreneurs of color?” “…entrepreneurs are all about the energy and the attitude, and you have to believe you can do it, and part of getting yourself motivated and inspired for success is embracing the history of black entrepreneurs in our country. We can learn from that – we can learn from their path to success. Be open to innovation – everything is changing every day.” As a public relations professional, Jennifer realizes a…

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 Erin Masterson Holko, an owner at Masterson’s Garden Center, has been a beekeeper for the past ten years. She realized that humans and bees can coexist peacefully, and uses what began as a hobby, to now teach apiary with hands-on training to community members. Her favorite moments of beekeeping are when she sees new queen bees that emerge from their cells and hearing the queen bees sing. When she first started working with bees, Erin didn’t realize the therapeutic benefit of the bees, and now feels empowered while working with them. Tara and Jeff Hahn, owners of Hahn’s Honeybee…

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 “Imagine going to a concert of your favorite artist and he’s handing you the T-shirt from his merch.” But now, you don’t have to rely on attending the concert to meet and interact with your favorite artists – you can stop in, interact with them and buy their merch at your leisure. Five longtime friends – Chris Boyd, Keon Roman, Malik Harris, Mario Dade and Najeeb Jackson – brought that concept to their new storefront, Nami Labs on Hertel Ave. The fivesome comprises rappers in the group Mile High Muzik, and they are also designers. They combined these passions…

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Buffalo, especially during Halloween time, is filled with ghost tours, walking tours, and stories of haunted sites. Our city even made it on to the Discovery Channel for our eerie buildings. But, what you may not know is that Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow has a Buffalo connection. The literary Ichabod Crane – the lanky, scarecrow-esque school teacher who is haunted by the headless horseman – actually differs vastly from the real life Ichabod Crane. The real life Ichabod Crane, according to The American Primer, was a 48-year career soldier of the United States Officer Corps. The American…

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We asked Jodi Drew, owner of motorcycle apparel, parts, and riding gear store Spoke & Dagger Co.: “How has the motorcycle culture changed you as a person?” From 2016, when we spoke to Jodi when Spoke & Dagger had just opened: “… their goal was to build a community – a community where a new generation of riders would feel welcome, along with veteran riders who never thought that they would see the day that this sort of bike comradeship would be fashionable again. They want riders to share their interests, their passions, and their stories.” Spoke & Dagger Co’s…

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Prometheus, a 1000 gallon offset smoker made in a workshop that reminded us of Whistler’s in the movie Blade, is the result of a great collaboration between Chef Jeff Cooke of This Little Pig and This Little Pig Smokeshow, and artist/blacksmith, Andrew Chambers, owner of Arc Iron Creations. ARC IRON CREATIONS: Forging Art From Iron “From concept, to design, to creation, all projects crafted at my forge are intended to contain not only distinct physical beauty, but an experience for the client that is not found in mass produced items. Each part of every project is individually forged with attention…

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