Lyn Girdler, originally from Melbourne, Australia, has been in the USA since 2000 – that’s 17 years! Her American journey started when she moved to southern Connecticut from London for a nanny job. She’s built a life and a career here as an entrepreneur.
Where do you live and why did you choose that area?
I live in South Norwalk, CT, on the water. The original reason I’ve stuck around this area was proximity to the work I was doing at the time—running a high-end textile company—and to my boyfriend. I’ve left for long periods of time but now the proximity to nature is a big draw for me. Plus, I’m close enough that I can get to the city within an hour, there’s good food and a great farm-to-table scene, and I can get out on the water easily, too. Coming from Australia, I feel like that satiates my soul. Every time I had the opportunity to move full time into the city, I felt myself shrink at the small living spaces and the expense of it all. I wanted my money to go toward my business and travel while still being able to have a good life. Plus, I fell into a great creative and interesting community here who have truly supported me.
What do you like and dislike about living in NY?
I liked the trouble I got into when I first arrived here. So many fun parties! Ultimately, I think the draw for NYC was the culture and the unexpected, fully magical moments that the city offers. Everything is available. Also, the diversity of people and their willingness to self-express. It’s a loud, bold city that makes you accountable to be who you are; unapologetically. To me, it’s the most authentic and genuine city in the world. It doesn’t apologize and it doesn’t ask you too either. I’ll reinforce my position on the lack of space. I’m a sponge to my environment, and I’m a slave to it.
Tell us about an ‘only in New York’ moment you’ve had.
There have been so many wonderful New York moments. I think every day the city offers you some vignette of beauty and wonder. One night with some co-workers who were in from London, we found ourselves late night in a piano bar in Times Square. I met two guys who were visiting from Australia who had happened to run into each other on the street (neither knew the other was visiting). They told me that they had come to this bar because they heard Liza Minnelli sometimes shows up. It was a Tuesday night – it didn’t seem likely. Five minutes later
I turned around and Liza walked in. An hour later, she was up on stage singing to a small audience of 10 of us. We couldn’t believe our luck. There was also the time I stuck around after the last comedy show at the Comedy Cellar
and Chris Rock got up to practice some material.
Do you have any advice for people moving to NY?
I will say that it’s a vastly different experience visiting NY versus living in NY. From all the friends I have had who’ve done that transition, the romance can be marred with many frustrations. Also, use the SAVE function on your Google Maps app so when you get recommendations of places to visit and restaurants you can have it handy when you’re walking the city and looking for a place to go. People will always tell you about a great spot and it’s hard to remember it all.
Tell us about your day job.
I own a high-end furnishing fabric company called Malabar
. We design and manufacture hand-woven, specialty fabrics for the home and sell to the interior design trade, adorning beautiful homes and hotels and restaurants… even the Met
I also own a boutique ethical fashion company called Love Nomadic
. This has been a passion project of mine for the past three years. It was developed out of my love of textile and design and very inspired by my travels. I seek out small family-run businesses or individual artisans from places like Ecuador, India and Colombia. I was spending a lot of time in Colombia with my Colombian boyfriend at the time, who was an artisan himself, and I travel to India every year. The product rotates based on the areas that I’ve been spending most of my time. The brand is most known for the Nomadic Weekender, which is made from the surplus textiles left over from Malabar. So there’s little waste and it’s strong, versatile and the perfect size. And the Imali dress:
a long, backless dress (with pockets) that’s made from vintage saris which have been re-dyed and repurposed. Everything is made from surplus or found materials.
Any advice for working in NYC?
I left Australia in my early 20s, and I’ve been an entrepreneur most of the time I’ve been in the U.S. There are traits about this city that are very clear. I think that this city loves and supports people who are truly ‘giving it a go’. I think the city runs on networking and connection and offers lots of opportunities for that. At the risk of sounding redundant, I think it’s really a place where you can explore who you are and what you want to do. America is a bold and loud country and NYC is the nucleus of it. I’ve seen some people truly succeed in the most authentic way in this city, with great drive and passion and have been rewarded for their hard work. Practically speaking, follow every lead and follow up with every contact with no expectation.
Who are some Aussie or Kiwi ladies doing awesome things in NYC who are currently on your radar?
, a singer/songwriter and illustrator. Her story blows me away but it’s totally driven by her commitment to her craft and her ability to stay humble and on the ground, doing the work. She owns Natchie Art
—her store in Dumbo is full of her own art, which was truly built from hard work and magic. It’s the best place to buy a unique NY drawing that’s well priced to send to family, or to have in your personal collection. Also, it goes without saying, Karen Jacobsen
. She doesn’t stop and she genuinely wants you to live a better life. I met both these girls when they had barely unpacked their suitcases here and I’ve watched them carve out amazing lives. They’ve inspired and helped me immensely too.
What’s your favorite New York spot?
Washington Square Park on a Sunday in the summer when every character is out. American Legion Post #138
in Harlem on a Sunday night for the best local, home-grown jazz and soul food. Rockwood Music Hall
for an intimate night of discovering new music. I also just discovered the Gallow Green rooftop
at The McKittrick Hotel on a Sunday, which is super fun.
Anything you miss about Australia?
The authentic nature and directness of us Aussies. I miss being able to avoid pissing people off with the truth. Americans are often a little shocked by it. The value placed on lifestyle, rather than money. The healthcare system, the access to nature. You can drive along a lot of the coastline here on the East Coast and not even see the water because it’s all privatized. I feel like that is criminal. I miss food without sugar loaded into it (bread, butter, etc.) and, of course, my family.
What was your biggest win this week?
Besides the fact that I’ve managed to go three days without an almond croissant from my favorite cafe…!?
At the moment I’m going through lots of transition—all good ones—moving apartments, re-building my business Malabar and keeping Love Nomadic going, as well as the daily personal experiences. There is so much movement that I’m just really focused on the small wins. Every day is something new and it’s the little things, like getting to a decision my team all agrees on, finally managing a Skype call with a friend from overseas, laughing hysterically over a witty comment in the office with all the girls. We’re an all-female team—that feels like a win every day.
What are your top tips for friends visiting NYC?
Walk the city. Don’t get on a tourist bus. Move to the side of the street and let people pass—New Yorkers are always in a rush. Ask for help, New Yorkers are very happy to help.
Favorite NYC brunch spot
Favorite NYC cocktail spot & cocktail of choice
How do you really have a favorite spot in NYC? It’s just so abundant! I do love Sel Rrose
on Delancey St, and around the corner is a little speakeasy, Fig. 19
. My fave cocktails are anything with Tequila or bourbon!
Connect with Lyn:
You can follow on Instagram my projects @malabarfabrics and @lovenomadic, and you can also reach out to me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.