Style Unlocked: A Whole Different Animal
You can’t miss the giant black buffalo head hanging outside Buffalo Collection in Old Town Scottsdale, beckoning foot traffic to take a peek. Wood-inlaid turquoise furniture shines in the daylight and Native American rugs and petroglyph paintings on hide hang proudly while the intoxicating aroma of leather fills your nostrils once you inevitably get lulled inside.
The textures and carefully curated designs in each hand-selected piece can be customized to each client’s delight. Caramel-swirled onyx end tables and light fixtures, one in the shape of amber glass antlers, sparkle from the street. Cast bronze statues abound, one in the perfect Western-style cowboy doing the lean with his trusty saddle nearby. Artfully decked-out buffalo skulls, teeth and leather on designer furniture fill every nook, as well as a buffalo head similar to the one outside, except in pristine taxidermy condition.
Much like the Native American tradition of using every part of the animal, Laura and Michael Levenberg have kept this homage to the original owner.
“Originally, Laura started working for the lady who started this whole operation on a bison ranch,” Michael said.
Founder and botanist Julie Littlefield started the concept at Scenic Mesa Ranch in Hotchkiss, Colo. Her vision was literally going back to grassroots with land restoration, as the bison had a way of bringing the native grass and dirt back to life. The new bison created more bison, which spurred the meat business, which led to tanning the hides and using all parts of the animals. Enter a fourth-generation furniture builder, and that’s how Buffalo Collection began.
Michigan-born Laura and Chicago-born Michael met in Colorado and fell in love. They bought the business from Littlefield before she died almost eight years ago and are keeping the tradition alive.
“Bison leather is thicker and stronger than cowhide on a molecular level,” Michael said.
He and Laura created the business in Aspen but longed for expansion as they shared the same wanderlust. “We picked Old Town versus North Scottsdale because it’s like the small town in the big city and reminds me of Colorado,” Laura said.
This season marks the couple’s 12th year at this location, but something was still missing. It became clear that there were a number of items not related to home furnishings that didn’t quite fit in the Buffalo Collection. So continuing to chase their dreams, they transitioned their storage location down the street into a storefront, and Buffalo Boutique was born.
“We opened a year ago. We wanted to open a secondary location for small pieces, handbags, jewelry, etc.,” Laura said. “It’s for smaller items that don’t fit in the showroom.”
The best part about both collections? All their artists from Colorado have stayed with the duo for all these years.
“It’s very organic. We haven’t sought out anybody. It’s been over time as we met people we think we would work well with,” Michael said. “We know each and every artist we represent; it’s very curated. We handpick every piece in the collection.”
“Everything has a story, and the art is original art,” Laura said.
Clients have told them they don’t have to search the entire Southwest; they know the couple has already done that. The pair gets a lot of commissions, customs and color schemes. They plan to start a boutique line of furniture available online only, something more simple and not as customizable.
And what will the future hold for this ambitious couple?
There’s discussion of T-shirts, activewear and mugs designed by their artists, specific to the boutique, and getting creative with some one-of-a-kind clothing. Maybe even a secondary boutique.
It sounds like Buffalo Collection and Buffalo Boutique are ready to roam the range even more.
To learn more, visit buffalocollection.com and the newly launched buffaloboutique.com.