Hello everyone & happy Wednesday! It’s been a busy but exciting start to September here in NYC and as I was sitting down last night to write today’s blog post, I figured that a new ‘Lessons Learned in NYC’ post was well overdue. For those of you who might be new to Retro Flame – this type of post is where I look back on my experiences in NYC and share some very valuable lessons I’ve learned since moving to this city (see previous ones here, here & here). Last night was actually my last night in my very first NYC apartment before I move out today and I guess, it got me feeling a little nostalgic. There are certain experiences and milestones that have happened since I moved to NYC that I will just never forget. The two which always spring to mind for me are the day I found my apartment and the day I landed my first ‘proper’ job in fashion. So let’s kick off Lesson No.1 with a quick chat about the job that changed everything….
1. What’s for you will never pass you.
Finding a job anywhere in the world is no easy feat, but I’m convinced finding a job in NYC is just on a whole (insanely hard) level of it’s own. Competition is FIERCE. You have to know how to stand out, you have to be willing to email every single person on your contact list that could help you even in the slightest way possible, you have to become a Linkedin stalking PRO (yes, a very useful skill indeed) and most important of all, you cannot give up. When you’re least expecting it (and just before you’re ready to throw your laptop & every single resume you own out the window) it will all come together. And looking back, I really hit it lucky. After 3 interviews, I got the call saying I had just landed the job as Social Media Manager at New York-based brand, Louise et Cie. I’ll never forget how happy I was when I got the news! It was a mix of relief but also sheer excitement because the moment I walked into that Louise et Cie showroom for my 3rd and final interview a couple of days before, I knew this was the job for me. Just from sitting in that room for less than 10 minutes, every single thing about the brand excited me. The showroom decor, the stunning selection of shoes & jewelry that lined the shelves and the overall feminine, minimalistic & classic aesthetic of the brand. It just couldn’t be more my style and right at that moment, I realized there was a reason that none of the other job opportunities/interviews had worked out. It was because this one was right there waiting for me. When you know, you know. One of the main lessons New York has taught me is to never ever settle. What’s for you will never pass you and in the end, it will ALWAYS work out how it’s supposed to.
Photos by Tara Marzuki
2. Quality over Quantity.
My role at Louise et Cie was to manage the social media channels, work with bloggers, plan and assist on photo shoots and more. It’s an experience I will never forget and one I learned an invaluable amount from. I had done quite a few internships here in the city during my college Summers, but as I mentioned before, this was my first ‘proper’ job in fashion. My first job in fashion where people really valued my opinions and input and where I got a first-hand insight into the fashion industry here in NYC. I don’t think I’ll ever stop being grateful to the team at Louise et Cie/Vince Camuto for taking that chance on me. I spent one full year working with the brand before deciding to go full-time with Retro Flame (full post on that big transition HERE) and now today, I’m so delighted to be featuring some Louise et Cie items here on Retro Flame. I learned a lot from my year at Louise et Cie, but the main lesson that stands out is the importance of investing into timeless pieces. Quality over quantity – time & time again. Two new Louise et Cie pieces I’ve added to my wardrobe which I just know I’ll have forever are the Tova Black Heels and the Towa Black & White bag. I remember seeing sketches of both of these when I worked with the brand and had already decided back then that they needed to be mine as soon as they launched. I actually can’t decide which of them I love more! The oversized gold buckle on the heels is just stunning and I love the mix of black, white and gold detailing on the bag. They’re both amazing and I’m so excited to have them in my wardrobe. You’ll never regret investing into something you know you’ll have forever. You can check out the full Louise et Cie site HERE.
3. It’s nice to be nice.
Moving on from lessons I’ve learned from the Fashion Industry here in New York to general day-to-day life lessons – a big one has been the importance of always being nice. It may sound simple, but in a city full of people determined to make it to the top (often in a very ruthless manner), things can get a little crazy. I’ve learned that no matter how crazy things do get, the number one priority is to always still be a good person. Nice guys DON’T always finish last and so many experiences so far here in New York have proved that to me over & over again. It costs nothing to be nice and in fact, it’s something that will make you stick out for all the right reasons here in NYC.
4. That Irish ‘charm’ helps almost every type of situation.
As well as being nice, being Irish definitely helps too ;) What is it about us Irish that people seem to have a soft spot for!? Whatever it is though, I’m not complaining!
5. You can’t start to forget where you are.
I remember when I moved here first, I just couldn’t stop exploring. Although I had spent Summers here, the fact that I had properly moved here (and finally had some money once I got my job) meant that every week was an opportunity to try a new restaurant, explore new vintage shops and try to see every single inch of this city. But it’s funny, as time goes on, you start to get so caught up in your day-to-day life that you forget to appreciate where exactly you are. When you live in a city as great as New York, this just can’t happen! The girls and I recently had a chat about how boring we had become and made a promise to start doing more new things again. Just last week, I went to my first Broadway show (I saw Aladdin which was AMAZING) and it reminded me just how great this city is. You can’t forget to keep looking up to remind yourself how lucky you are to be here.
6. Everyone here has a story.
…so you need to keep that conversation going. Whether it’s the person you’re sitting next to on the subway, that girl you’re waiting in the coffee line with, the stranger sitting across from you at a dinner event….you just need to start chatting. Honestly, you just never know who you’ll meet in this city and it’s one of the main reasons I love living here.
7. After you’ve lived in New York, everywhere else will be a piece of cake.
This is what I kept telling myself when I was on the search for a new apartment this Summer. It’s probably better that I save that whole struggle for a seperate blog post but let’s just say it was a challenge and a half. One I do not want to do for a LONG time again. Finding the perfect apartment is a challenge in itself even though all I really wanted was a little extra space for a home office (oh and a living room that maybe fits more than 2 people) but throw in credit scores, guarantors and applications and it becomes a big ol’ mess. I won’t go into the specifics too much, but in order to rent most places in Manhattan, you have to have a) a really good credit score (which is tricky when you haven’t lived here that long) and b) earn more than 40x+ your monthly rent. If you don’t meet certain requirements, you have to have an American guarantor (someone who earns 80x+ your monthly rent and can basically pay if you don’t) but if you don’t have family here, this is obviously a tricky one. I’ve probably already lost you in the midst of all that but just take it from me, they don’t make it easy. I’m pretty sure you’ll never live in the perfect place here in NYC unless you are very very very rich, but on the bright side, every house/apartment you have somewhere else afterwards will feel like nothing short of a palace :)
8. Savings are essential.
It’s not really the city to come to to save, but no matter how hard it is, it has to be done. You never know what you’ll need than extra 100 dollars for.
9. If you don’t ask, you won’t get.
You can’t be shy in NYC. More often than not, if you put your mind to something, you CAN actually get it. Once you learn to put yourself out there and realise that the worst that can happen is a ‘No’, you’ll be amazed as to what you can achieve. Anything is possible in NYC…
10. It’s OK to go off track every now and again.
Finally, if there’s one big thing I’ve learned while living in New York it’s that staying focused is essential, but not always easy. There are a lot of distractions in this city many of us call home and a lot of days/experiences which will dishearten you more than you could have ever imagined – but it’s all part of the journey. You will fall off the track on many occasions and question if you actually belong here, but at the end of the day, as long as you’re able to pick yourself up as quickly as possible and realise that you’re doing just fine – everything will all fall back into place. New York will push you and pull you and make you question why you ever moved here in the first place, but that’s the beauty of the place. It will shape you and make you stronger than you ever knew possible. If you can make it in New York, you can make it just about anywhere.
I really hope you enjoyed this post! It feels so good to be back to writing longer posts like this. I leave for Ireland today, but I have lots of new posts coming up next week. Be sure to follow along on Instagram (@retroflame) and Snapchat (@retroflame1) in the meantime and let me know if you liked this post :)
Have a lovely Wednesday,