The Sunny Side of NYC Life with Isabelle Back

Meet Isabelle, a Swedish-Australian living in New York who keeps on the sunny side of NYC life by keeping Aussie traditions alive from afar. AWNY spoke with Isabelle about starting her business Nordblooms during the pandemic and advice for other Aussies missing home.

Hello Isabelle, what do you miss about Australia and New Zealand?

I definitely miss the weather, the beaches and the access to nature. I used to go for long walks along the coast in Sydney as it’s so scenic and good for the soul. Although I do go for walks in New York as well, and I love the city’s vibe, I do miss the beauty of Australia! 

What bits and pieces, curiosities and comforts do you bring back with you from home that you are running scarily low on?

To Save Face sunscreen from Mecca Cosmetica – it’s amazing and I can’t find anything as good here. I need to restock before summertime. Lucas’ Pawpaw Ointment, I can’t live without it. Lavosh crackers, there’s no other cracker that pairs so well with cheese.

What are some ways you stay connected to Aussie and Kiwi life here in New York?

The Australians in NYC Facebook group and the Australian Women in New York Facebook Group have been great to stay updated about everything that is happening and to feel connected to the Australian community. These pages might be the only reason why I still have Facebook.

What are your go-to Aussie and Kiwi spots in NYC that you visit when you’re in need of a taste of home?

When I first moved here, I experienced a bit of a coffee shock getting burnt coffee and milk which put me on filter coffee for a while. After some investigation I found some great Aussie cafes.

My local favorites for coffee are Hole in the Wall and Butler. When I go to my old neighborhood, I like to stop at All The King’s Horses (ATKH) Cafe and get a coffee and a snack. Robbie, the owner, is such a great guy and saved me when I didn’t have WiFi in my new apartment. For a brunch fix, the breakfast bowl from Bluestone Lane is delicious and the brassicas salad at Two Hands is my go-to. 

For Aussie treats I like Dinkum, they have great options for snacks and staples when you get the cravings and their bright sunny packaging makes me happy.

Isabelle Beck on the streets of New York, her new home. Image credit: Supplied

Has your day-to-day life changed much since the pandemic, and how do you stay “on the sunny side of life”? 

My day-to-day life has changed quite a bit during the pandemic. I started working on my own business, Nordblooms,  an e-commerce florist focusing on Scandi-styled long-lasting flower bouquets. It’s been nice to have something to devote myself to which has been equal parts creative and challenging. It has definitely kept me busy and taught me to become more resilient. I think that one of the changes that I have made is to not plan too far into the future. I have been more focused on being in the present which I think is a positive change. There is always so much going on here that it’s actually nice to take a step back. Also not taking anything for granted and being appreciative of what you have as you don’t know what tomorrow will look like. I felt that the pandemic forced you to stop and re-evaluate what is important to you and was a wakeup call to make changes to make your life better so that you can enjoy it more going forward. 

Isabelle’s new venture, Nordblooms. Image credit: Supplied

What advice can you give to fellow Aussies and Kiwi’s who are desperately missing home right now?   

It’s hard when you miss your home, your culture, family and friends. I don’t know if I have any advice other than try to do things that you enjoy doing, go outside, go for a walk, and meet up with friends here so that you’re not alone. Be sure to also call your family and friends back home. I think that video calls are great, it’s a different connection when you see someone’s face rather than just doing a voice call.  

What does it mean to you, to be an Aussie or Kiwi woman in NYC? 

I’m Swedish-Australian with a fusion of both cultures. I think what sets Aussie women apart in New York is their outgoing nature and witty sense of humor. New York is such a melting pot of people from all backgrounds and I think it’s really nice to also have that Australian representation in the mix. The diversity is what makes New York great.

How do you stay connected with the Aussie and Kiwi community here in New York?

Before the pandemic I would go to Australian events, venues and stand-up comedy shows. It gave me my dose of Australian food and culture to feel connected across the distance. Many of the Australians that I first met when I moved here have sadly gone back home but there’s still a few of us left. 

Isabelle with one of her Nordbloom bouquets. Image credit: Supplied.

What foods and items help you stay connected to Aussie and Kiwi culture?

The connection to Australia in terms of food and drinks is through coffee, brunches, wine, lollies and BBQs. I’m really glad that there are so many great options available and that Australian businesses are doing really well and are being embraced by the Americans. 

How do you like to celebrate Australian and New Zealander public holidays in New York?  

I like going to the events that are organised through the expat community to get together and celebrate. Despite the distance and time difference you are celebrating and partaking in the same event as people back in Australia which makes it feel like you’re still participating in the culture. I think it’s important to keep the traditions alive even if it’s done from afar. 

Connect with Isabelle

Instagram: @nordblooms

Thank you Dinkum

This sunny interview series was made possible thanks to Dinkum. And to spread more cheer, Dinkum is serving up a 10% discount code for the AWNY community to help you access your favourite Aussie products! Use DINKUMAWNYNOV10 for 10% your next order*. If you’re looking for a taste of Australia, Dinkum is the perfect antidote to homesickness for anyone yearning for a sunny slice of Aussie life with over 1,000 favourites including Tim Tams, Vegemite, and Milo featured on its online store.

*10% discount is valid for use at until November 30 2021.


Author: Tarley Jordan

Tarley has been an AWNY volunteer since 2012. She is award-winning marketer from Sydney (with stops in Brisbane and Rockhampton), who moved to New York after meeting her husband in a typical New York chance encounter. Find her on Instagram: @tarleyj

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