Now, I certainly don’t claim to know every in-and-out of the City. In fact, I guarantee that about 90 percent of New York residents have a better understanding of it than myself! I’m simply speaking from the perspective of a native Alabamian who is learning a different lesson every single day while living in this wonderful City. I could write a novel on all of the New York lesson that I’ve learned. All in all, I hope to continue learning and growing into the New York woman I aspire to be.
After high school, I did not end up attending Parsons, NYU, FIT, or any other NYC college, but I did spend five amazing the University of North Alabama where I graduated with a degree in Fashion Merchandising. Nonetheless, I did not let it stop me from moving to that desired city. So, during Christmas break of my final year of college, I was glued to my laptop applying for New York City based fashion internships while balancing my retail job during its pike season. I eventually landed an internship with the sustainable fashion brand, Ix Style. During spring break of senior year, while everyone was partying in Panama City Beach and Gulf Shores, I was off to my second visit to New York City to meet old friends, find apartments, and become better accustomed to the environment I would soon be living in.
Living for the City
On May 17th 2016 at exactly 1:15 PM, my new life had officially begun! However, the day it was an absolute struggle! For starter, my flight was delayed over an hour. After landing, I spent approximately 15 minutes looking like a total tourist trying to hail a cab. Lastly, I nearly pulled my back out trying to drag my over-sized suit case up all five flights of my walk-up apartment, causing a stress-induced migraine. Nonetheless, I knew the day was the start of an amazing, new journey. I basically took that day as setting the tone for my new life – the perfect mixture of excitement and stress.
The following day, I started my internship at Ix Style. The brand carries Mayan huarache sandals, tote bags, and jewelry with a trendy, modern twist, but the most fabulous part of the company is that proceeds provide clean drinking water to Guatemalan communities. Although the company was becoming quite successfully such as being featured in Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, and People Style Watch. However, with all this success, the company was still in that startup phase. It was the perfect learning experience to see a small business at that stage, being that I am a start-up fashion blogger! I was able to see the hard work and dedication it takes to make your business grow and the importance of not settling for anything less than achieving your ultimate goal.
The internship was pretty laid back and manageable for the most part. It was located in the trendy neighborhood of Tribeca in a building right across the street from the Hudson River. We would sometimes spend our lunch breaks relaxing in the park. I would intern during the day and work as a server at a high-end, Upper East Side restaurant every night. This was my first and hopefully only server job. Overall, both jobs were fast paced and resulted in understanding more of the culture and environment of New York.
After the end of that summer internship and an extensive application process, I landed my current job at Bloomingdales 59th Street Flagship as a selling specialist for BCBGMaxazria where I’d sell to and style a diverse clientele. It’s strange calling my current place of employment a “job” because I’ve enjoyed almost every moment of being a part of the Bloomingdales team. Like any job, you have some tough days, and the fact that it is the NYC fashion industry makes it especially tough. At the end of the day, Bloomingdales 59th Street Flagship is a fabulous environment with over 2,000 passionate employees who keep each other motivated and accountable in reaching goals for the company and, more importantly, themselves.
All in all, there is this certain energy and attitude that you simply cannot find elsewhere. With a population of 8 million people, New York is full of competition. Although It can get disgustingly ruthless, I’ve been endlessly driven by surrounding myself with inspiring individuals and constantly reminding myself of my future dreams.
The real eye opener was when I visited my hometown in Alabama, five months after living in the City. I saw how much I’d changed, how confident and sure of myself I had become, and how much I sparkled! It gave me the most vivid understanding of why I left in the first place. I understood that my number one reason for my moving was not only to live in America’s “fashion capital” (even though it was a close second!) The main reason for taking that leap of faith was to truly live with a purpose, surrounding myself with individuals who wanted that same quality of life. New York pushes me beyond my limit in being the best version of myself. I’m not saying that you can’t become motivated in Alabama – motivation should come from within, not just your current state. However, you get a get new level of inspiration when you are surrounded by millions of individuals who have already made it, are currently making it, or are striving to make it in the most competitive cities. Moving to New York has also allowed me to understand what “making it” is – it’s your own version of success. It’s the reason you wake up in the morning. It’s what gives you the willingness to sacrifice whatever might be holding you back. Moving over eight hundred miles away from the one home I’ve ever known has been the biggest sacrifice I’ve ever had to make, but it’s also what drives me. If I’m not fighting and giving it all I have here, then what’s the point? I could be lazy anywhere in the world.
New York is a tough city. It is often cold, rude, frustrating, and expensive. I have had countless times where I’ve asked myself, “What am I even doing here?” “What was the point of leaving my old life behind?” “Was I happier back home?” “Is it even worth it?” However, if you face every day with a total focus of your dreams and the willingness to fight harder for them than you can imagine, you will be unstoppable! Because at the end of the day, the reason many people leave their easy, hum-drum lives behind and make a new living in this hard city is because they know that there is something more out there for them.
New York City will allow you to be your true, fabulous self because, at the end of the day, every unique trait will be your best asset. Back in my hometown, I’ve always been comfortable with myself; however, I never felt like I truly fit-in with the Southern status-quo. Unfortunately, this would push others away because I was so different. However, in a place like New York, you want to take your unique qualities and absolutely own them! When there are thousands of people competing for the same position or role that you want, you have to dig deep and find what makes you beautifully unique. You have to take it and flaunt it in a way that will make you stand out in the crowd!
Being here has allowed me to not care what others think. It has given me the mindset of, “I don’t care what you think of me. I’m going to be my amazing self, and no one is going to tell me to do otherwise!” As the saying goes, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”
New York City represents the whole world, from every culture, race, religion, social status, and occupation. Living in such a diverse environment and seeing life from different points of view has encouraged me to open my mind and no longer see a one-sided view of the world. What makes New York what it is not the skyscrapers or the fancy venues, but the people coming from virtually every walk of life. Each NYC resident, native or transplant, has his or her own New York City story. It’s such a blessing that each day represents a new page in my incredible New York Story!