Hello everyone! So 3 weeks after breaking the ‘I just quit my job & got a new visa‘ news, I’m finally getting a chance to sit down and share a little more light on how & why this big decision came about and also details on what’s to come. I must admit, I’ve been waiting a LONG time to write this post and it feels damn good to be finally doing it. It’s a long one, but it really does explain everything you could have ever wondered about me, so grab a cup of coffee and let’s get started.
Firstly, I just want to emphasis that I actually think ‘quit’ is the completely wrong word – this wasn’t any spur of the moment decision, it was a step I was working towards for a very long time. A thought-out, calculated decision to move onto the next chapter and start doing everything physically possible to make those dreams of mine a reality. If some of you happen to be new to Retro Flame, you’re probably thinking why the hell is this one quitting her job at 24, along with a million other questions I’m sure, so I want to take a step back for a minute and explain exactly what got me to this stage. And just a very quick disclaimer to say that I know I still have a long way to go and I’m no way saying that I’ve even come close to ‘making it’ but the main purpose of this post it to just share my journey and show the progression that can be made over a few years. I’ve really enjoyed writing this post and I hope you’ll enjoy reading it just as much.
SO LET’S REWIND:
I’ve talked before, in bits & pieces, about my education & career path, but I think it will be good to have it all finally in one place here in this post. My path has been an interesting one so far and in no way a straight-forward one, but looking back, every tiny step along the way happened for a reason and it all pieced together in the end.
For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to do well in everything I did. Doing things half right has always been and always will be my pet-peeve. So I’ll admit that I took school & college pretty seriously. I still played a lot of sports and did quite a bit of going out (and don’t regret it for a minute), but when it came to exam-time, you genuinely wouldn’t see me for that full month. Sleepless nights, endless coffee – whatever it took to be prepared, I did it. Even when my appendix burst in final year college and I was bed-bound for 6 weeks – I made sure I didn’t miss a continuous assessment Q&A that I knew I needed to do to get the overall grade I wanted. I’m definitely not one of those ‘naturally’ smart people- I’ve always had to work really hard when studying for exams, but as much of a struggle it was at the time, it always always paid off.
When I was in my final year of school, I knew that I really wanted to do something in fashion, but the problem was was that I didn’t know exactly what. Seeing as I didn’t do art (I genuinely can’t draw to save my life) my career guidance teacher at the time convinced me that there really wasn’t any options for me. Bear in mind now that this was a time well before Blogs & Instagram, so I guess I just believed that she knew what she was talking about. (Isn’t it funny how other people can have such an influence on big decisions?) So instead, I looked into business/law courses. I always had an interest in business. I was so fascinated by the thought of someday owning my own business and being my own boss, so I decided to pursue a Business/Commerce course. Business & Languages had always been my best subjects throughout school, so in the end I applied for the ‘Commerce & Spanish’ course in UCC and I got it. Off I went to Cork for the year and looking back now, this was a year where I finally started to become a little braver. I remember choosing Cork for 2 reasons – a) It was close to where I was from and b) I knew people going there. I don’t think other colleges around Ireland were even an option for me at the time which is so crazy to think now! I was definitely a little on the shy side and was scared to venture too far outside my comfort zone, so this was the best option for me at the time. But long story short – I only lasted there a year. I loved my year in UCC – I made some great friends (one being Ciara – who I now live with here in New York), being part of the UCC Fashion Society allowed me to still keep my interest in fashion going strong and I guess, it was a year where I really started to grow up. I liked it there but I didn’t ever feel 100% happy as fashion was always still on my find.
So let me share something now that I don’t think I’ve ever told you before. About halfway through the year, I met a girl called Megan (who Ciara actually introduced me to) and she told me all about a fashion buying course she was about to apply for at The London College of Fashion and that I should totally apply too. My mind was immediately racing and before I knew it, I had applied and set up an interview for a few weeks time. I genuinely had never been so excited about finding out about something in my life. So off I went with Megan (who I literally had met once, haha!) to London at the end of January and did a group interview with about 6-7 other people. I left the interview not really knowing what to think (looking back now, I remember how unconfident & shy I was) but hopeful that I would hear good news soon. So a few weeks passed and then one day I received a text from Megan saying that she had just been accepted. I was so unbelievably happy for her and I knew an email had to be on the way to me soon as well. I waited and waited and and I finally got the email – I hadn’t been accepted. I was outright heartbroken. That’s the only way I can explain it. Heartbroken that I hadn’t got it but also so disappointed at the fact that I would now have to stay in Cork and stick with Commerce. That was when I knew that I definitely wasn’t 100% happy in the course I was in.
All throughout Commerce, I had a friend called Audrey and after telling her my disappointing news, she told me something, which at the time I didn’t even realize, but this something was about to change everything. She told me that she also wasn’t very happy in Commerce and was looking into a fashion business course in a small college in Galway which I had never heard of called, GTI. Granted it wasn’t any London College of Fashion, but as soon as she started speaking I was all ears. I started looking into it and she was right – there was a level 5/6 course in this college which covered Fashion PR, Buying, Merchandising, Project Management & Styling. It sounded like THE DREAM! I still wasn’t sure what exact part of the fashion industry I wanted to pursue, so this was the perfect course to allow me to see what I was good at. I applied the next day and before I knew it, I had an interview set up. All I can remember is that I went into that interview promising myself I wouldn’t mess this one up. The earlier rejection had really made me more determined than ever and thought me one of the best lessons I had learned so far. What’s for you will never pass you. So this interview went great and a few days later they let me know that I was in!! Imagine how excited I was! So it was actually a 2-year course, but they allowed me to go straight into the level 6 part seeing as I had already completed a year of business in UCC – so this was perfect. I contacted UCC and let them know that I wanted to defer my course (I didn’t want to just quit but instead keep all my options open) and I immediately started looking into moving to Galway.
Galway had (very sillily) never even been one of my options so I literally didn’t know one thing about the city. But it really wasn’t long before I felt head over heels in love with the place. My year in GTI was where everything changed. You should have seen how excited I was going to college every morning. I very rarely missed a day and I can honestly say that when I wasn’t in the college, I was working on my projects. It was a course where there were no exams. Yes, NO exams! Instead, each module was graded on a continuous assessment basis. I was only every used to exams so this was all very new to me, but I can honestly say that I learned more from this method of teaching than anything I had ever done before. I was so interested & eager to put my heart & soul into every project I did. I really was pretty crap at the design & merchandising side of things but my God, I tried. I ended up getting distinctions in each of the 7 modules (yes, even design -haha!) and learned the single most valuable thing to date. I learned what a blog was. I’ll never forget it. We were in a Fashion PR class and my tutor asked us all to list our 5 favourite bloggers. It was still pretty early stages in the course and I was too embarrassed to say anything but I didn’t know one single blogger and had never in my life even heard of a ‘blog’. Haha! So I took out my phone and started googling FAST and it was here that I started to learn about blogging. I was intrigued and before I knew it I was hooked! (More on starting Retro Flame down below, but just wanted to share this story first.)
So as it was coming close to the end of my year at GTI, I, of course, had to start thinking ‘what next?’ The course allowed me to figure out the areas that I wanted to focus on (which were Fashion Marketing & PR) and the areas that I definitely didn’t want to be involved in. Turns out, I really didn’t love the Fashion Buying side of things so thank goodness I didn’t get accepted into that 4 year (very expensive) fashion buying course in the London College of Fashion! As I said, EVERYTHING happens for a reason. So knowing that I really loved the marketing side of things, I made the decision to finish the Commerce course I had already done 1 year of. Now I know what you’re thinking – I thought you hated that course!? I did. But I think what I hated most was that I felt that it was preventing me from studying what truly loved -which was fashion. But now that I had done the fashion course and knew the area I wanted to focus on, I knew that having a marketing degree behind me would always stand to me – which it did. So I transferred into 2nd Commerce in NUIG (3rd college in 3 years) and did my last two years of Commerce there. I dropped the Spanish module which meant I would only have to do 2 years instead of 3. I was eager to get into the working world as fast as I could! Oh and you also might be asking why I transferred into NUIG in Galway instead of going back to Cork. Simple answer: There are very few places in the world that make me happier than Galway. I LOVED this city and didn’t want to leave anytime soon. So I stayed, finished commerce and left both the city and college with great friends, memories for life and some seriously big dreams.
Before I move onto what happened next, I want to chat very quickly about the thing that brought me most value during my college years: Interning. Yes, not all the days spent in lectures or the late nights staying up doing projects – but all those days/weeks I spent interning learning everything from the bottom up. My first internship experience happened while I was in GTI. As part of one of our modules, we were required to do an internship. There were no rules or restrictions or a list of certain places where we had to it – we were given free reign to use it as an experience to really learn. So I racked my brains and in the end, I contacted two companies/people. The first was a PR/Model agency in Kerry called Upfront PR. They allowed me to come along and help with the backstage management of their fashion shows & events. I was in my absolute element. The internship was supposed to be unpaid as I was gaining experience instead, but I’ll never ever forget that they ended up paying me for one of the shows I worked it and then offered me more paid work in the future. I couldn’t believe it! I actually went on to work at so many shows with them and I still to this day am so grateful for all I learned. The second was with a lovely Galway-based stylist called, Georgina Vahey, who I helped style a shoot for an Irish magazine. I still have the magazine at home and will never throw it away. It even credits my name. I will always be thankful to both of these for giving me a chance. Often here in New York, when you’re started out you’re first internship could be at VOGUE or ELLE or some huge company and although mine weren’t as big as these, to me it did feel as important. It doesn’t matter where you intern, it’s what you take from it that matters.
Interning really was my favourite – it’s where I could really see my love & passion for the industry shine through. So even though I had gone back to Commerce, I was still determined to keep doing as many internships as possible and keep building up that portfolio of mine. I knew it was the only way. Plus by now, I had already started Retro Flame, so it was great content for that too. So one day while I was sitting at home with the TV on, there was a show on highlighting an Irish designer called, Natalie B Coleman, who looked amazing! Now I rarely watch TV, so I saw this as a bit of a sign. When I was back in the college library on Monday, I plucked up the courage to send her an email to see if by any chance she might be looking for an intern. I told her I was really interested in marketing, social media and PR and would love to help out. 2 days later she emailed back asking could I come to her house in Monaghan for a week. I literally think I nearly screamed out loud in the library. What were the chances!?
So I took a week off college (priorites, haha!) & off I went in my car to Monaghan (where I had never in my life driven to before) and stayed with her in her house for a full week to help her with PR before her presentations at London & Paris Fashion Weeks. What a week it was! We worked long days and it was something totally new to me but I loved every minute. I’ve stayed in touch with Natalie ever since and still absolutley adore her work. And looking back, it’s actually funny how that week lead me onto the next chapter. Here’s another good story for you. Believe it or believe it not, that random email to Natalie sent from the NUIG library which lead to an internship in Monaghan is exactly what helped me get my foot in the door of the NYC Fashion Industry. While I was working with Natalie, I noticed that her brand was represented by a Fashion PR agency based in Soho, New York. Now at this stage, I had already had it in my head that I wanted to spend my Summer interning in New York. I’d only been once before but I knew that I’d love it and it was where I needed to be. So I explained the situation and asked Natalie if she would introduce me to the owner of the PR company, Shannon. She did and after a skype interview from the NUIG library a few weeks later- I got the job!! I was starting my 4 day a week Summer internship in Soho, New York on June 1st. Very funny how things happen, right?
NYC SUMMER INTERNSHIPS
A lot of you often ask me about the internships I did in New York before moving here full-time – how I got them, etc. – so this next section will explain it all. You know from above exactly how my first NYC internship came about and believe it or not, the rest were of a similar ‘chancing my arm’ type nature. I absolutely loved my Summer at the PR agency and looking back, it’s really where I truly started to learn about the fashion industry in NYC. I was completely clueless going into and left absolutely fascinated with all things New York. I helped on the PR side and worked with two amazing women – Shannon, the owner and Sara, the PR Manager. This internship was unpaid, so on my first day, I asked Shannon if she knew of any Irish bars in the area which might be looking for a waitress and luckily, she did. On my very first day, she brought me for a welcome lunch (I knew from the get-go she was lovely) to an Irish bar called, The Ear, which was just about 6 or 7 doors down from our office. She called the owner over to our table (she knew him from going there a lot) while we were having our lunch, introduced me and he told me to come in for a trial Friday night. So I went in on Friday and worked there every single Friday & Saturday night that Summer after that. I made enough in those two nights to pay my rent and keep me going for the week. Intern-life is far from glamorous but there is always always a way to make it work.
At the end of this fantastic Summer, as fashion week was approaching, I couldn’t get it out of my head that I wanted to go to New York Fashion Week. I had no idea how I was going to make this work though (I had about 5 followers on Retro Flame at this stage) so I started to do some research and see what designers were showing. One of the designers was, Whitney Port, from the TV show, ‘The City’, which I absolutely loved at the time – so I thought to myself how on earth could I go. I was on my computer, so I pulled up her website, found the general info@ email at the bottom and sent an email. I do love my emails, don’t I? haha! I told them my name, shared a link to Retro Flame and asked straight out if by any chance they might be looking for an intern to work at their fashion week show. And you’ve probably guessed by now what happened next. Yup, they emailed back saying that yes, they actually were!! You should have seen my face – I can still remember texting Tommy to tell him. I was literally fit to burst with excitement. So I changed my flights, moved in with my boss from the PR Internship in Brooklyn for 2 weeks (my Summer apartment lease was up) and worked with Whitney Port and her team for 12 days during fashion week. If you want a little more indepth insight into that whole experience, I actually have a full blog post HERE. So there you have it – another internship got from literally just sending an email. As you can imagine, it was a damn good first Summer in NYC.
Back to college I went on cloud 9 and immediately started planning my next Summer. No joke. I had fallen head over heels in love with New York City and the crazy opportunities it had to offer. So rewinding a tiny bit, what I hadn’t mentioned was that on my way to my first day at the PR internship, I was actually randomly stopped on the street by a street-style photographer who asked to take my picture for a feature on a website called, www.refinery29.com. It was my first time hearing of this website, but of course I said yes. I was delighted! From that day on, I read Refinery29 every single day as they always had the best NYC recommendations and information about cool events happening around the city. Plus, I absolutely loved all their fashion features. So my picture ended up being featured on the site (and I was delighted with myself, haha) and about 6 weeks later, I got an email from another girl at the site. She said she worked on the team which scouted bloggers for different shoots and after seeing me in the street-style feature, she wanted to know if I would be interested in doing a paid shoot for the site. A paid shoot!? What!? Remember, I had about 5 followers!! Refinery29 is a site which focuses a lot on highlighting the up & coming people so I guess they just wanted to give me a shot. So the shoot went well, I used that same money to change the flight for the Whitney Port internship (and vintage shopping) and now have a guess who I got back in touch with when I was looking for my internship for Summer No.2? You guessed it, that same girl who emailed me about the shoot.
I went through another Skype interview process and spent my second Summer working at one of the most creative & innovative companies I probably will ever work at. They seriously knew what they were doing and I learned A LOT. So as you can see, my J1 Summers weren’t spent on the beach, instead I really really focused on using them to set me up for a longer and more permanent spell in NYC. I worked hard, while by the way living in very ‘interesting’ apartments with friends. During my second Summer, to keep rent low, I shared a 2-bedroom apartment with 7 other girls. I shared a double bed with 3 of the girls in which we slept sideways in (I told you it was interesting) for a whole Summer. Glam NYC life, hey? But I wouldn’t have changed one thing. We had the Summer of our lives and I just knew in my heart the whole time that all the hard work would pay off.
STARTING RETRO FLAME & THE ‘HUSTLE’
So in the midst of all that craziness, I had started Retro Flame. You’ll know from my story above that it was during my time at the fashion course that put the idea of blogging into my head. I initially started by posting my outfits on a website called Lookbook and after a bit of encouragement from my friend Saibh, I finally bit the bullet and set up my website. I really didn’t have a clue about what I was doing but I was so so eager to learn. There were only a few bloggers in Ireland at the time, so we really were just all figuring it out for ourselves. I remember writing my first post in September and then totally chickened out and didn’t write the next one until October. But from then on, I really got into the swing of things. Major LOL’s when I look back at my old posts and the crazy outfits I used to have my Mom shoot in our back garden but I would never ever delete them. They’re just too funny. And of course, show that you can come a LONG way.
I talked in this post about how Retro Flame began as mainly a fashion blog but over the years has developed into an all-round lifestyle site where I share my story with you every day. It’s been a lot of work (and I mean a lot) over the past few years and honestly, people aren’t joking when they say it’s a 24/7 type of commitment. With the quick rise of social media sites like Instagram & Snapchat, there really is always something to be doing. For the the first year or two, I’m fully sure that it was just my Mom and a few friends reading. But after a while, I started to slowly but surely build a following. The more consistently I posted, the more I would see increased engagement. Brands started to get in touch about possibly working together on different projects and I poured my heart & soul into every post I did. It’s actually crazy to think how different my life would be without this site – I honestly don’t know what I would do with all my time, haha! I’m also pretty sure that if I had gotten the London course, Retro Flame mightn’t even exist today – so again, everything happens for a reason.
While Retro Flame was still a hobby during my college years, I tried my hand at a lot of other ‘side hustle’ jobs. I loved any way to make a little extra money (for extra clothes)- it’s just the way I’ve always been. I actually had nearly forgotten about some of these things before I started writing this post. So first up, I remember seeing these really cool studded iphone cases somewhere online and wanted to get one but they all seemed crazy expensive. So I thought to myself I could definitely make my own ones. I went online – bought plain black cases and gold studs and made my own one. I posted a picture on Instagram and people seemed to love them. So I enlisted my sister & cousin to help me make them (no down time in our house, haha) and started my own little online shop. Before long, I had also added statement jewelry to the store and ended up making enough money to fund my first Summer in NYC. I loved it!!
As soon as all my stock had run out, I moved onto selling my pre-loved clothes. Before my Depop days, I remember I used to go with my parents to car boot sales around Munster every Sunday morning and sell my clothes, as well as anything else I could find around my house. We would pack up our car and head off at about 7am to set up and each time, we would leave with about 200-300euro. It was great! One day then while I was in New York, I got a brainwave that I would love to set up events around Ireland where people could come and sell their clothes. It would be like the car boot sales but a lot more chic & fashion focused. So I mailed (my online friend at the time) Nessa, who I had never met before, to ask her if she would be interested in running these events with me. She said yes and ‘Steal my Style’ was born. Up until my move to New York, we did several events in Cork & Galway and loved absolutely every minute of them. Nessa & I are actually still best friends and still chat about Steal My Style to this day! I’ve always loved working and being busy, so this extra ‘hustle’ will always be a part of my journey!
THE YEAR AFTER GRADUATING
Once I graduated from college, the next step needed to be decided. I could a) keep going and do some sort of masters/post-grad or b) I could start applying for Marketing jobs. I wanted to do neither. I knew that I had my eyes set on moving to New York on the graduate visa but I also knew that I needed to build up Retro Flame to a bigger following, as well as – SAVE! So I decided to take a full year out and try my hand at working on my own projects. I lived at home in Kerry (to keep costs down) for the year and more or less lived in a tiny room I had made into my office. I LOVED THAT ROOM. I would work around the clock on content for Retro Flame and this was the year that I finally started to see some growth. I remember I would drive up and down to Galway (3 hours each way -sometimes in the same day) just to shoot with a photographer called, Julia. Bless my Mom and her photo skills, but I just knew they weren’t going to cut it if I wanted to improve my site. So I found Julia, loved her style and started shooting once a week with her. Yes, it might sound crazy to drive so far to just shoot looks (that I was in no way being paid to do) but I swear to you, this paid off. I’m such a big believer in the fact that you have to invest in to see returns. I would also travel up and down to Dublin on the train to go to different events and after a while, I started to get my name out there.
So Retro Flame was definitely starting to grow, follower-wise, but I was still broke and needed to start saving for New York – so the side hustle continued. My dad had just launched an online Tyre company called www.virgotyres.com (he’ll love this little plug, haha) and hired me as the website & marketing manager. So you’re probably thinking tyres are a bit of a stretch from fashion but believe it or not, I loved it. I helped design and build the website from scratch, did all the SEO myself (I did a course to teach me) and ran the social platforms for the full year. My Dad has always been an entrepreneur himself, so I definitely learned a lot that year from him about starting businesses. It didn’t matter that it was tyres, what mattered was that I was learning skills I could transfer to any aspect of my own career. As well as doing this, I also used to help smaller businesses around Kerry/Galway with social media and this all added to my New York savings. As soon as I had enough saved up, I went and got my graduate visa and got ready for my move to New York.
MY MOVE TO NEW YORK
I actually have done a separate post all about my move to New York HERE, but I’ll quickly go through my job-path and what lead to my new visa. You might remember that my first job when I moved here for the year was with the stunning, Olivia Palermo, during New York Fashion Week. I moved here on a Thursday, found my apartment on the Friday and started with Olivia the following Tuesday. It was a pretty jam-packed start! The job with Oliviavince was only for a month, so I knew that I would have to find another one for afterwards, so as to get my graduate visa signed off. The graduate visa allows to you work in America for 1 year in a company which allows you to use your skills from college. Moving to New York is a tricky experience on it’s own, but wow, visas certainly make it even more complicated. Olivia’s team ended up actually introducing me to the Digital agency that looked after some of her social media channels and they offered me a job. Truth be told, I think I actually jumped into this too quickly. The job was fine, I liked it but I didn’t love it -but I knew it would work for my visa. Unfortunately though, I was wrong. A few weeks in, when it came to asking them to sign my visa paperwork, there was some complication on their end and I had to leave. So there I was again -back to square one. I’ll never forget how gutted I was.
It was November (2 months into my visa) and I still hadn’t found a job. I spent HOURS every day job-hunting and sending out emails and eventually I found something again. I started working with Depop, handling all the blogger collaborations, and developed a HUGE soft-spot for their lovely team here in NYC. Unfortunately though, once again, there was a complication with the visa and I found out that I wouldn’t be able to stay there either for the full year. Eduardo, who I worked with and was one of the very best people I met since moving to New York, really tried everything in his power to help me find a new job (he knew how stressed I was) and ended up introducing me to a recruiter. See how everything just seems to tie together? I truly believe that you meet everyone for a purpose.
So I met with the recruiter who told me she had a job I would be perfect for, I interviewed a few days later and a few days after that, I found out that I had gotten the job as a Social Media Manager at a fashion brand called, Vince Camuto, and they would 100% be able to sign off on my visa, as well as apply for the next 3-year one for me. Can you just imagine how relieved I was!? After nearly 6 months of trying and failing with other jobs, I had finally found the one!! I started there on February 24th 2015 and worked there for 1 full year after. In the meantime, I had been approved for the H1B visa they applied for for me (1 in 4 chance of getting it) and as I said in this video, everything was going well. I could say so so many good things about my time at Camuto but I honestly would be here for the day so I’ll keep it short. Simply, it was an experience I will never forget. Yes, I had worked here & there with other companies in New York, but this was my first REAL job in NYC. I’m still so grateful that they took a chance on me – this was the start of it all. I remember in the interview when they asked me about my digital marketing experience, I went on for about 5 minutes about my work at Virgo Tyres. It just kind of blurted out, haha! It gave them a bit of a laugh and I think seeing that I had the ability to work with whatever I had, along with my dedication to Retro Flame was what got me the job in the end. I can’t even begin to explain how much I learned during my year there. I worked with women I will always have so so much respect for and I watched myself grow & gain more confidence in my own abilities every day.
MAKING THE DECISION
So as I said, it was all going great. I had found the job of my dreams where I actually had real responsibility, I had just got approved for a new 3-year visa to work with them and Retro Flame was continuing to grow. In the Summer of last year, I actually signed with a blogger agency here in New York who now acent as my management agency and since then, things got A LOT busier. I would work at Vince Camuto from about 8am-7pm every day and then come home and stay up until about 1/2am working on Retro Flame. My weekends were spent shooting looks, catching up on emails and preparing my posts for the week ahead. It was busy, but I had a system and I was working around the clock to make it work. I always say that the busier you are – the more productive you are. So I just kept my head down and kept going. It was just right before I went home for Christmas though that I had hit a wall. I must admit that I was getting a little frustrated. Not because of the work-load, but because of the fact that I wasn’t able to give either job the full 100% I wanted to give it. I felt like I was giving both 50% and in my eyes, that is doing something half-right – which I see as the biggest waste of time, ever. I loved both but I knew that if I kept going the way I was going, I would never truly excel in either.
These following few lines are important. This is a point that I really want to make clear. As hard as it was, I absolutely LOVED balancing a full-time job as well as Retro Flame. I have so much respect for people who do both and I think it is very possible to sustain for a while. But I knew in my heart & soul that in order to excel with either of them, I would have to make a decision. I read a quote which will always stick with me – “Good is the enemy of great.” This basically says that yes, you can be good at a lot of different things at once, but in order to be GREAT – you have to go ALL IN. So right before I left for Christmas, I started sending out emails to anyone I could think of to ask them if they knew of ANY visas which would allow me to work full-time on Retro Flame here in New York. I really didn’t have a clue about my options. When I moved to New York, I only knew about the Grad Visa and the H1B so I knew this was a long shot. But I had just been named as one of the Top 40 Irish People in Digital Marketing in America and I had a feeling I might be able to use this to my advantage.
After speaking with a guy called Jonathan, I found a visa that might just work!! A 3-year visa which would allow me to work on Retro Flame full-time. I found a lawyer and by the end of January my application was in. I was excited but I also knew not to get my hopes up. I ended up paying extra for quicker processing because my work load had gotten even crazier and at the very end beginning of February – I got the news! I had just been approved for the visa!! It’s funny, I was actually at work when I got the visa and because I hadn’t even told them I was thinking of leaving, I couldn’t tell anyone! So I’m pretty sure they thought I was crazy smiling away to myself for about 2 hours in the corner. Haha! I broke the news that week (which they were so supportive about by the way) and handed in my notice. Just 3 more weeks and I was free!! It was definitely a very bitter-sweet ending but I’ve always been the type of person to go with my gut. If something was in my head, I just had to go with it. Who knows, maybe it wasn’t the exact right time to do it, but I truly believe that ‘Great people do things before they’re ready.” Nothing will EVER be easy in New York and nothing will ever be handed to you on a gold plate. But if you want it bad enough, and that’s the big thing, anything is possible here.
So a month into this new chapter, here are the answers to some questions you may be wondering about.
So are you now a full-time blogger?
Yes and no. Yes, I’m now working on Retro Flame full-time here in the U.S. but I also have a new business at home in Ireland which I’m currently in the middle of launching. It’s completely separate to Retro Flame, but I promise to share details soon. I love Retro Flame but I also have a huge interest in building other businesses & exploring new ventures. So hopefully this is just the start of it.
What are the next steps for Retro Flame?
As you may have seen, I just recently launched my brand new YOUTUBE CHANNEL where I am going to be posting daily videos of my life here in New York. It’s been quite the challenge so far, just like everything else at the beginning, but I am absolutely loving it and I’m so glad you have been enjoying this new chapter too. If you have a minute, I would LOVE for you to subscribe here. That way, you’ll never miss a video. I actually have posted 3 new vlogs this week, so be sure to check them out. As well as that, I’m also working on a lot more content for my blog (lots more travel stuff, especially) and it’s not set in stone yet, but there may be some Retro Flame products coming your way in the next year. Exciting! I’ll also be doing weekly email newsletters which I’m very excited about as it will be a chance to share more exclusive content with you, so if you would like to receive these – feel free to sign up HERE. Retro Flame still has a very long way to go but I can’t help but be excited for what’s to come!
How has the transition been so far?
A lot of you have been asking me about this. It really has been great! Granted, I’ve yet to find a system that 100% works (and a bedtime) but I’m really happy with the progress so far. As you’ve probably seen from my snapchats & vlogs, I’ve been working a lot from my (tiny) apartment. I’m 100% not complaining as I think it’s possible to work from absolutely anywhere as long as you love what you’re doing. But I must admit that I don’t know exactly how sustainable it is. I’m not sure how healthy it is to be working all day in the same room that I sleep in. I don’t have any room for a desk in a room that’s not my bedroom, unfortunately, so it’s kind of my only option at the moment. To break it up, I’ve been working a lot from cafes in the Upper East Side which is great and I’m going to look for a new apartment which can act as my office and living space over the next few months, so it will all fall into place very soon. My current lease is up at the end of August and as much as I’ll probably ball crying leaving my very first NYC apartment, I know it will be for the best. Apart from all that, the transition really has been great. I talked in my video about the importance of getting to a stage where you wake up every single morning excited for the day ahead and after a pretty interesting path, I’m finally at that stage and appreciate every single minute of it. I know it sounds crazy, but I’m actually finding it hard to stop myself from working. I’ve been up until 2am every night this week editing & writing but at the end of the day, I really think this is a good complaint. When I get back from Ireland/Coachella, I’m determined to try to have more of a work/life balance but I know that will all fall into place over time. At the end of the day, I chose to have a 24/7 so I don’t have to have a 9-5, so yes it will be a lot of hard work – but I know it will all be worth it.
If you’ve successfully made it to the end of this post, I just want to thank you! I know it was a long one, but I really wanted to be as detailed and honest as possible and hopefully cover a lot of the questions you guys ask me on a regular basis. I also just want to stress that I’m 100% not advocating for you all to go and quit your jobs in the morning or that everyone needs to be entrepreneurs. Everyone is different and has different goals. I’m simply just sharing my story in the hopes that that it will inspire any of you who ARE in a similar position. If I can do it, I promise you can too.
Looking back on the last few years and my experience & path so far, there are 6 main lessons I have learned:
1. It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.
Always remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck and the right thing is waiting right around the corner for you. I’ve had many disappointment along the way, but looking back, each and every one of them happened for a reason.
2. If it’s both terrifying and amazing, then you should definitely pursue it.
If a new opportunity scares me, I just know it is going to be good. Stepping outside of your comfort zone is only way you are going to see progress and realise your true potential. If something doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.
3. Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.
Never ever wait for opportunity, instead, go and create it. The ‘chancing my arm emails’, the decision to change college courses, the move to New York – all decisions which sculpted my future. Start making those changes!
4. Surround yourself with people who get it.
One of the very biggest lessons I’ve learned, is to only be around people who want nothing but the best for you. You will be absolutely amazed what the difference that extra support will make. I’m so incredibly lucky to have grown up around parents who absolutely love everything about entrepreneurship. Any crazy idea I went to them with – they supported and I’ll always be grateful for that. It’s also to important to always remember that supporting anothers’ success won’t ever dampen yours and so focus on having a group of friends that live by this motto and be brave enough to get rid of any who don’t. Not always easy but you do not need any negativity in your life.
5. If you’re not doing what you love, you’re wasting your time.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we all only have one life. ONE chance to make the best of the ONE life we have. Why not wake up every morning and absolutely LOVE what you’re doing? Continue to do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do and work every day to make that dream of yours a reality.
6. The harder you work, the luckier you get.
And the most important lesson of them all – absolutely nothing will work unless you do. Success if the sum of small efforts repeated day-in and day-out and yes the whole process is going to be hard but it is not impossible. Good things take time and A LOT of dedication, but if you truly want it, success and opportunity are coming your way.
So there you have it guys! I truly hope you enjoyed this post and that you found it useful. I would love for you to send me a snapchat (retroflame1) ot tweet (@retroflame) to tell me what you think.
As always, THANK YOU SO MUCH for your continued support. Here’s the the next 5+ years of hustle!