A lot of things have changed recently for Michele Krienbuhl. Her boutique, Michele’s Motif, just made a big move from Robinson Street to Webster Street in the heart of North Tonawanda’s shopping district. She’s looking at adding some new aspects to her business and looking forward to expanding her customer base.
However, there’s one thing that hasn’t changed, her dedication to raising cancer awareness and raising funds for cancer research through the annual Ride for Roswell event. She accomplishes this through her shop, which donates 25 percent of all profits to the event, estimating that she brings about $6,000 in each year.
“It feels great to be a part of this,” she said. “The day of the ride you don’t get the full impact until they announce how much was made. Last year we brought in $4.6 million, for a one-day event. It feels great to know I was a part of that. It’s not just what I raise, it’s what the whole community raises.”
In 2010 Krienbuhl quit her job as a contract manager with First Student and began making jewelry. One year later she found herself in the position to purchase the Robinson Street storefront where her shop resided until the big move in September. Michele’s Motif is a women’s and children’s boutique, which offers clothing, jewelry and other accessories, much of which is made personally by Krienbuhl.
Though her business is not specifically attached to raising breast cancer awareness, the fact that it caters to women, complete with bright pink walls, has attracted several breast cancer survivors who are happy to share their stories, Krienbuhl said. Additionally, there is one shelf in the store which displays products for which 100 percent of the profits go to Roswell, including colored ribbon jewelry and other items which represent hope for those fighting the disease.
“Once people hear the word cancer, it’s a whole different ball game,” she said. “People associate cancer with death, but we want them to feel hope. We work with that hope, but unfortunately hope seems to revolve around money.”
In the past two years Krienbuhl said her business, assisted by a complete team of Ride for Roswell participants, has raised a total of $26,000. She emphasized that she did not do it alone, that both her team and the other riders are all an important part of making progress in the fight against cancer.
Krienbuhl got involved with the Ride for Roswell 17 years ago, even before her own cancer diagnosis. For the past five years, she and her team have been members of the Extra Mile Club, a designation reserved for those who bring in over $1,000.
Moving her business to an area with more foot traffic will hopefully increase her profits, therefore increasing the amount of money she’s able to contribute to the Ride for Roswell. She also teaches beading and wire wrapping classes and is in the process of adding beading supplies to her inventory.
The new location at 72 Webster St. is the old home of Hodgepodge, a popular gift shop which has recently closed its doors. Shoppers have said that the new business is not only a fitting replacement for Hodgepodge but are happy to see a business giving something back.
“I am charmed and happy to see this space reused. Hodgepodge was a beloved shop and to have this space alive again is wonderful,” said a shopper from Tonawanda, who added that donating to cancer research is a bonus that’s, “really very impressive.”
With all the great success in previous events, as well as the new momentum from the move to Wesbter Street, things are looking brighter than ever for Krienbuhl and Michele’s Motif. As long as she’s alive, she said, she’s going to keep fighting for cancer research and to raise cancer awareness.