Hayley Whitfield is one of AWNY’s extraordinary event leads. Find out how she ended up in a billionaire’s apartment and what she misses most from Australia.
Tell us about yourself – why did you move to NYC?
I moved to New York in 2013 from sunny Sydney, with my husband Michael and 6 month old mini poodle Rosa. We came here just for the experience really—it was always a dream to live overseas in a fast-paced city. I’d travelled loads before, but always skipped America – so arriving on a warm August evening to the West Village was pretty cool. We’ve been here for four years, but took off around the world for 12 months in the middle. After traveling, I was like, right, we must go back to live in New York again, it’s the center of the universe.
I’m originally from Murchison, a Victorian riverside town with 630 people – you know, with all the usual suspects – a bridge, bakery, pub, cemetery and river.
How did you get into your job in NYC?
I launched a company Wolfpack NYC, producing luxury show-stopping dog coats with exaggerated faux-fur trims and accessories, for residents of this dog-crazed city.
What are the differences to working in Australia?
New Yorkers thrive on self-promotion and networking to connect and leverage relationships. As a typical Aussie who has grown-up believing that modesty is a great character trait, the reality in New York is that you just don’t get anything done unless you learn how to hustle and can articulate your personal brand and proposition to others, in like, an elevator pitch. I’ve had to learn to be comfortable articulating my strengths and intentions, without the shadow of worrying that I will be perceived as having a big head. In New York, it’s simply not a bad thing to talk openly about your successes and intentions, it’s a comfortably, open platform to identify ways to collaborate and help each other.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given about living/working in NYC?
By this drop dead gorgeous male makeup artist at the MAC store in Union Square – it’s an incredible melting pot this city, but damn you gotta devote some serious time to self care when you live amongst the hustle and bustle.
What’s your ‘only in New York’ moment?
Hmmmm I went into this billionaire’s apartment on the Upper East Side, overlooking Central Park and showed my collection of Wolfpack leather dog coats for their selection. I was like, yep, for a solo start-up, that’s pretty cool.
When you need retail therapy, you run to…
All Saints, Meatpacking District
Favorite NYC brunch spot
Banter – An Aussie café in the Village.
Favorite NYC cocktail spot & cocktail of choice
One Hotel Brooklyn Bridge Rooftop – absolutely phenomenal view of the Manhattan skyline, Brooklyn Bridge, Hudson River, historic Dumbo, and with beautifully styled décor. All cocktails.
What are your favorite ways to connect with Aussie culture in NYC?
Through the AWNY events and working on the committee – its full of Aussie slang to keep me grounded. And of course, every Aussie brunch spot.
Anything you miss about Australia?
BBQ Shapes, BBQ Shapes, BBQ Shapes
What do you like about being part of AWNY?
Feeling like I have a ‘home away from home’ Aussie family. We share the same relaxed, open values – it’s so easy to relate.