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716 Style: Meet Rachel Stepien, the 'crazy plant lady'

Name: Rachel Stepien, 34.

Who she is: Owner of the Plant Shack, which opened in November at 618 Main St., East Aurora. The Plant Shack’s first location at Knox Farm State Park opened in July and is now closed for the season. The Plant Shack sells houseplants, grown locally or in Texas and Florida, as well as gifts and home decor sourced locally or from global small businesses. The shop also offers workshops and classes. Stepien, who grew up in Youngstown, served six years in the Air Force Reserve, graduated from Canisius College with a degree in animal behavior, ecology and conservation and is an information technology manager at Verizon Media in Lockport. She is a board member of the Friends of Knox Farm State Park. Hobbies include photography, reading, video games and board games. Residents of West Seneca, she and her boyfriend have two cats, Mailbox and Cupboard.

What she’s wearing: A typical outfit for work – jeans from Express; a black T-shirt from Target (she also has it in other colors); Inkkas boots with cacti design; a Tree of Life necklace that belonged to her late mother; leaf-shaped earrings from Life is Succulent in Amherst; six rings, including a grandparent’s wedding band she wears on her thumb;  three bracelets including a hook bracelet from St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, another given to her by a friend with a paw print and the name of Stepien’s late dog, Brandi, and a third engraved with “Hakuna matata” (meaning “no worries for the rest of your days” which she said is her mantra).

Signature piece: “It could be one of three. It could be shoes that are bright in color or have a really cool pattern. It could be a statement necklace or earrings – something that stands out against what I’m wearing. Or it could be the shirt itself with a funny saying on it or an animal with sunglasses on. Just always something to draw the eye and pull the outfit together," she said.

Listen to Rachel Stepien describe her approach to fashion:


Fashion statement: “My approach to fashion is being very simple, being practical, but also having a splash of accent as well – so either a sweet pair of shoes or a fun necklace to wear. But I also have to take into consideration what is clean and has the least amount of cat hair on it when I choose my clothes in the morning.”

Last thing she bought: Black booties from Target to wear on a business trip to California because her other ones were “worn to the ground.”

In the market for: "I’m always on the lookout for another accent piece – a really cool pair of shoes or a statement necklace."

Her necklace. (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

Her Inkkas Prickly Camping Boots. (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

Her rings and bracelets. (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

The plants are housed in an old apothecary cabinet. (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

In December, we compiled a gallery of 716 Style photos from 2019 by Buffalo News staff photographers. Take a look:

A look back at 716 Style 2019


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