Women Who Move Buffalo - Shawna Stanley

— Shawna Stanley

On this International Women’s Day, that quote above says it all, don’t allow yourself or anyone else to make you feel small.

photo credit - @David_Jaan

photo credit - @David_Jaan

On a Saturday morning at Five Points Bakery I sat down with Shawna Stanley, a photographer (specializing in Birth Photography, Shawna & Co.) and entrepreneur, building The Vanguard House - a co-working community & social club for the modern woman, right here in Buffalo. I was introduced to Shawna through Carrie Rinehart, owner of Rusterior and creator of Buffalo Boss Babes. Meeting Shawna when I did, comes at a time in my life when I need to surround myself with inspiration and positive people. She reminded me that the current situations I am faced with professionally should not have the power to dictate how I feel, make me feel little or make me second guess my talents, hard work and integrity.

From Southern California, Shawna moved to Buffalo with her children to live with her Mother (who is originally from Buffalo and moved back) during a difficult time in her life, looking for extra support. Once being here, Shawna was drawn to the east coast - the people here - it’s a sense of community and she loves the culture of Buffalo.

So you may be asking yourself what is The Vanguard House? What is the idea/concept behind it?

The Vanguard House is a community space here in Buffalo offering support and possibilities to the modern day working woman. Woman will be able to go here and feel empowered and be productive.

Why did Shawna start this?

Because she moved to Buffalo with her kids in tow, 5 boxes and no income. It was through her diligence in connecting with people in the photography business that she realized there needed to be a place to work - a space that would offer child care opportunities, a place to work and a place to connect. She began by doing her research, visiting other cities (like NYC), sending out surveys (which you can find here) and building great connections.

So where did the name come from?

Her and her fiancee have talked about opening a community garage and using Vanguard, which means a group of people leading the way in new developments or ideas. Since the community garage didn’t happen yet, she took the name of it. The Vanguard House is supposed to feel like a second home to women.

What is Shawna’s favorite thing about Buffalo?

Buffalo gives entrepreneurs an opportunity to put there dreams and ideas to work. They go a long way here.

What are the next steps for both The Vanguard House and Shawna & Co.?

In regards to Shawna’s photography business focusing and dialing in more on family and birth photography are more her passion. As Shawna’s vision for the The Vanguard House continues to grow and her dreams and ideas turn into reality you can follow The Vanguard House on Facebook .

The Vanguard House is about women connecting with themselves. Going through this process has showed her how evident it is that women need this space .

Her favorite quote?

“The things you are passionate about are not random, they are your calling.” - Fabienne Fredrickson

What motivates her to keep going?

Shawna is thankful to have a tight knit group of people to give her pep talks, keep her going, push her and remind her on those tough days to not give up.

Shawna’s favorite women to follow on social media?

  • Katie Campofelice (partner and friend in The Vanguard House)

  • Mover and Shaker - Miki Agrawal - she started following her through Instagram and connected with her through an online book club.

  • Laurel Flynn - an intuitive coach who helped Shawna push her vision to a more scalable vision

Other local groups that have helped Shawna along the way - Block Club who helped with the branding and a lot of different processes, Small Business Development Center, The Women’s Business Center at Canisius, NAWBO and some private consultants in the business realm.

For more information on The Vanguard House subscribe to the mailing list on their site.

And remember “Hold Fast to Your Dream”


photo cred - Shawna & Co