Breaking News
More () »

City Shapers: West Side Bazaar entrepreneurs

This week's City Shapers faced long journeys before coming to Buffalo.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Each week, we highlight a Buffalo City Shaper - a business owner or someone who works for a not-for-profit who is part of the Buffalo's resurgence.

This week, we have two. They are women whose journey to Buffalo was unexpected.

"I'm from Iraq. I came to the U.S. in October 2014 with my family," says Nadin Yousef.

Nadin Yousef's journey to Buffalo with her husband and four kids began in Baghdad. They left Iraq in 2006, and made their way to Syria and Turkey before coming here as refugees. She started looking for jobs almost immediately and got hired as a baker at Wegmans and opened Macramé By Nadeen.

"How does it make you feel to be able to own your own business?" asked 2 On Your Side’s Kelly Dudzik.

"Proud, strong, happy," says Yousef.

Yousef says for her, working on macramé is like doing yoga. It's relaxing, and she enjoys meeting other entrepreneurs and customers at the West Side Bazaar, a small business incubator on Grant Street.

"I meet the people from all over the world, and that's so beautiful," says Yousef.

"And everybody has their own story to share," said Dudzik.

"We learn about the culture from all over the world, that's so beautiful. That's what I like in Buffalo. That diversity and culture and how they expect that and how they live in peace with it," says Yousef.

Yousef misses her loved ones in Iraq and visits them when she can.

Gysma Kueny also came to Buffalo as a refugee.

"I'm from South Sudan, but by the war, we go to the North Sudan, I grew up in North Sudan," says Kueny.

Her parents were killed in the war, and in 2002 Kueny was granted refugee status in Cairo to come to Buffalo. She had no family here and it was tough at first, but then a friend encouraged her to open Gysma's African Style.

"I go home twice a year or one time a year to bring products from South Sudan. South Sudan is a newborn country. We got our independence in 2011 after all the years for the fight," she says.

She puts everything - from African clothing to necklaces to soap - in her luggage to sell at the bazaar. Kueny is thankful for everyone who has helped her along the way.

"When I came, I got nothing in my hand, I'm a person, I don't have any parents, and I raised my sister and brother, and I always tell everyone you can start a life here. You want to be a different person, well, you need to be strong and struggle and do everything you can," says Kueny.

Kueny is now an inspiration to other refugees making a new home in Western New York.

The West Side Bazaar is open Tuesday through Saturday and is also home to several restaurants.

If you know a Buffalo City Shaper, you can nominate them by emailing Kelly.

Before You Leave, Check This Out