Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Small Business Spotlight: Rust Belt Love

"Some people cringe when I tell them I work primarily with brides, but I don't think I've worked with a single bridezilla!" Owner of Rust Belt Love Alyson O'Connor told me.

Rust Belt Love, a local full service design firm, has found its niche within the wedding industry in Buffalo and Western New York. "We are really about creating the specific look and feel our customers want for their events. It's great to sit down with our clients who don't know what they want or the styles they like, and after our initial meeting be able to put their ideas into drawings. We have an extensive proofing process because we want to make sure we create exactly what our clients want."

For Rust Belt Love, the design process starts with the invitation. "It is the usually the first thing your guests will see, and sets the tone for everything after that." Alyson always encourages her clients to think outside the box by picking a few different styles to start with, even if it is something you don't think you will like. Over the past few years, Rust Belt Love has worked with clients who really loved one style, but during the design process, and after looking at samples, ended up going with something totally different. In addition to invitations,  Rust Belt Love will create place cards, menus, programs and more. They can also consult on centerpieces, ceremony design, favors, bouquets and other event necessities!

Beyond weddings, Rust Belt Love works on corporate events, birthday parties, baby showers/announcements and other special events.

The concept for Rust Belt Love was created about three years ago by owner Alyson and her sister Megan. The pair had helped design weddings for family and friends and decided to take it to the next level. After Megan finished up her Master's degree and found a full-time job, Alyson's husband Nick took over the business side of things. Last year Alyson and Nick welcomed a baby girl, Samantha, and Alyson quit her full-time job in advertising to be able to work from home and focus on running Rust Belt Love. "It is truly a family business. I couldn't do it without the support of everyone around me, both of our families, and we are so lucky to do what we love in a city where not everyone gets to find their niche."

When talking about Buffalo and the WNY area, you could tell the passion for the city they share. After moving back to Buffalo close to seven years ago, Alyson and her husband moved into an apartment in Allentown and fell in love with the area all over again. "The people, the arts scene, the night life, the fierce loyalty of other ex-pats, we knew we were home! The name of our company says it all, we truly have so much love for the rust belt, we couldn't imagine being anywhere else!"

Rust Belt Love also has a store on Etsy where they sell cards, gift tags and drawings. If you need thank you cards or have friends having a baby it is THE place to shop! Check out the "Congratulations on your bean" card and the "Congratulations on two peas in the pod" card! Absolutely adorable!

Some fun facts about Rust Belt Love: they have a 100 year old letterpress that they use for all their cards on Etsy and a 100 year old guillotine paper cutter they use to cut all their paper with. The studio is housed on the third floor of their Elmwood Avenue home, and is filled with furniture that has been passed down through the generations. 

If you are interested in learning more about how Rust Belt Love can take your design dreams and make them a reality, you can find all their contact information on their website (which is also full of samples). Consultation appointments can be set up, and once you meet with Alyson, you will start to feel the wedding/event planning stress disappear. They offer packages to accommodate different budgets and can work within your price limits. 

You have hundreds of options when deciding how to spend your wedding/event budget, but Rust Belt love is more than just a number on the budget sheet! They will give you an experience, a theme, and a memory you will never forget!

Alyson O' Connor, owner of Rust Belt Love, working hard

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