Western New York is full of innovators, blazing new trails as they work to build a better Buffalo. In collaboration with our partners at 43NorthBe In BuffaloTechBuffalo, and Aleron, we’re celebrating a select group of these Western New York Trailblazers. 

In this edition, we connected with Marie Rachelle, the founder and owner of Convergence Coworking, to learn more about her experiences as an avid freelancer along with her role with Freelance Business Week, a virtual and in-person event designed and organized by local freelance business owners to help freelancers expand their networks, strengthen business skills and build momentum through inspiration and learning tricks of the trade. Marie filled us in on how and why she focuses on freelancers along with the important lessons she’s learned along the way. Check out her story below.

There’s a new generation of business coming up and a huge opportunity for us to turn Buffalo into the city we’ve always wanted it to be.

Rachelle on the future of Buffalo

CG: Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you chose to focus on freelance business in Buffalo.

MR: I’m Marie Rachelle a mother of two (8 and 3), avid freelancer, and connector. I enjoy working with others to grow or enhance their businesses. Currently, I’m the coach for aspiring freelancers, business and marketing coach/consultant, organizer of Freelance Business Week Buffalo and working on opening Convergence Coworking in Hamburg. Buffalo is my home and even though I spent about four years in Naples, Florida, I’m glad to be home, building my business here. There are a lot of opportunities for a city that has been pretty traditional over the years. There’s a new generation of business coming up and a huge opportunity for us to turn Buffalo into the city we’ve always wanted it to be.

CG: Tells us about Freelance Business Week.

MR: Freelance Business Week is a conference for freelancers by freelancers. This year, we’re hosting a totally virtual event with select in-person events, Monday 4/19 @ 5:30 at Alchemy Wine & Beer and Friday 4/23 @ 5 at The K Haus. Cities involved are Austin, Buffalo, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, Miami and Tampa. It’s truly amazing to be involved with cities that I think people from Buffalo have just admired over the years. This year we have 7 cities, 30+ speakers and topics that will be helpful to freelancers and business owners alike. Some sessions include: Let Your Purpose Drive Your Brand, Holler for the Dollars DIY PR Strategies, Your Authority Book: Showcase Your Freelance Expertise, and Cryptocurrency for Freelancers.

“Bottom line, if you want it, you’ve got to prepare and ask for it.”

Rachelle’s advice to freelancers looking to work with startups

CG: How has Buffalo’s freelance scene changed over the years?

MR: I can’t speak to the past decades, but I know that over the past 3 years I’ve been learning more about Buffalo’s freelance scene, we’re coming together! I like to think I had a large part in that. Mayor Byron Brown has proclaimed Freelance Business Week in 2019 and will do so again on April 19, 2021. Coworking spaces are popping up and are AWESOME! Local municipalities are looking for ways to encourage and support freelancers and solopreneurs. It’s really great to see a city that didn’t know much about something being open to learning more.

CG:What tips or advice do you have for freelancers looking to work with startups?

MR: I believe that if there’s a person or company you want to work with, you have to ask! Networking has always been powerful, but we lacked teaching on how to build authentic connections. It’s not just a touch-and-go thing anymore. You have to care about who you’re connecting with for them to really care about you. I’ve always wanted to collaborate with startups, so what did I do? I hosted the first Freelance Business Week at Dig, did my best to involve 43 North and other startup people I knew at the time. Now, I continue to do the same, working with startup oriented businesses, like Venture Herd and The K Haus. When given the opportunity, I created an event that specifically brings freelancers and startups together. Bottom line, if you want it, you’ve got to prepare and ask for it. Feel free to reach out to me too and I can see if there’s someone I can connect you to!

“…Once you find the thing that makes you wake up in the morning and drives you through late nights occasionally, don’t give up.”

Rachelle on what lesson has positively impacted her career

CG: What is your favorite thing about living in Buffalo?

MR: I love living in Buffalo for lots of reasons – the Bills, four seasons (yes, I love the snow and snowboarding – I’m from Ellicottville), great schools, parks galore, and we’re so close to Toronto (when we can visit), Pittsburgh, the mountains, and so much more. Buffalo is a great hub for all things food, travel, adventure and family.

CG: What’s a lesson you learned that has most positively impacted your career?

MR: I’ve learned that you have to ask for help and go for the BIG GOAL. Setting boundaries for your mental health is important, but once you find the thing that makes you wake up in the morning and drives you through late nights occasionally, don’t give up. There are people out there that believe in you, what you have to bring to the table, and they most likely know other people who can help you too!

“I’m thankful for my children, support system, friends, family and fellow freelancers! Without them, my life wouldn’t be possible and definitely not as enjoyable.”

– Marie Rachelle

Marie’s right! With the increasing amount of remote work and innovation, this new generation of business is an excellent opportunity for Buffalonians to shape the city into what everyone has always wanted it to be. Whatever your role is in growing, building and shaping that future, Forge Buffalo is your go-to source for getting started with a startup, tech or emerging business! If your resume is ready and you want Buffalo’s more dynamic startup to find you, just create your free account and upload your resume. If you’re working on updating your resume, just sign up with your name and email address, and we’ll keep you in the know when it comes to the latest startup news and job opportunities.