Lyn Girdler

Faces of AWNY: Lyn Girdler

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.

Lyn Girdler

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.

 

Lyn Girdler

 

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?
Nadia Ackerman, 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: lyn.girdler@gmail.com.

Faces of AWNY: Tali Roth

Tali Roth moved to NYC with her husband in October 2013 as newlyweds from Melbourne, Australia. Tali is a freelance interior designer and speaks to us about the difference in design aesthetics between Australia and America, having a baby in New York, and how she started working in interior design.

 

Tell us an ‘only in New York’ moment:

Hmmm…I think it was our second week of living here and we were about to sign the lease for a West Village apartment and this guy in his ground floor apartment saw us sitting on the front stoop through his window. He opened it up and asked us why we were hanging around the building and then invited us in. Together we drank wine and danced to Rhianna. He became a close friend and turns out he was a well known photographer who lived in the factory with Warhol.

Where do you live and why did you choose that area?

We just moved to Chelsea! When we first arrived, we lived in the West Village and loved it. I fell pregnant after a year of living here and towards the end of the pregnancy I wanted to move uptown to be closer to Central Park. Although we loved our time there my husband and I craved downtown a lot and so we eventually settled on Chelsea as its close to my son’s preschool and the space we found was better than the West Village. So far, we are loving it.
What do you like/dislike about living in NY?
I love the people – that everyone is encouraging and that there is so much room for you to be yourself. I hate how focused on careers it is, but I also love how focused on careers it is. I hate the bitter winters. I love, love, love the summers. I also love the energy, accessibility and that nothing is too far away.

 

Any advice for people moving to NY?
Be open, non-judgmental and be active. Nothing will come to you if you aren’t engaging with people. It is very expensive though, so save up!

 

Tell us about your day job: 
I am an interior designer. I am a curator of objects, furniture, lighting, finishes, soft furniture and more. I bring it all together to create a strong mood and atmosphere for your home. I work mainly in the residential realm but do a few commercial projects here and there. I am obsessed with what I do and I love my clients. I didn’t work in interiors in Australia so I can’t really compare the two. I feel like there is many more affordable decorating options here and obviously a larger marketplace which makes it really easy for me to design for very different types of aesthetics and budgets. Also aesthetically speaking Melbourne is SO different to New York. I was completely shocked and confused by the style here when I first arrived. New York is more moody, industrial, luxe and distressed whereas Melbourne interiors focus more on light, minimalism and contemporary design. I try and mesh my Australian roots with my new found appreciation of the New York aesthetic to find a balance.

 

How did you get into your job in NYC?
I am part of an agency called Homepolish. They represent me and I also do some private work. I was following the company in Australia and then when I arrived I emailed them, got myself an interview and was accepted into the agency. I love working with them and feel very proud of what they have achieved over the past few years.

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Faces of AWNY: Pippa Lee (Weston)

Pippa Lee (Weston) moved to New York from Adelaide in 2011 looking to further her career in architecture and immediately fell in love with the city. We spoke to her about the process of moving, the convenience of the city, and what it’s like to work in New York’s design and architecture industry.

Tell us about why you moved to NYC?

I am originally from Adelaide, South Australia and have been here just shy of 6 years. The opportunity to move came when my boyfriend (now husband and also an Aussie) completed his Masters in Law (LLM) at Harvard University and landed a job in NYC. I moved to join him after his graduation and started looking for a job in architecture and immediately fell in love with this city (who doesn’t?)

Where do you live? Why did you choose that area?

We live in the Flatiron District right by the iconic Flatiron Building. We love this area for its conveniences like the subway, Madison Square Park and all the bars and restaurants. Plus we both also have a commute that is a 3 block walk to our respective offices so that is a real win for us. We looked around a few areas before deciding on our particular building purely for the modern amenities and location.

What do you like and dislike about living in NY?

I love the convenience of everything. You want wine delivered at 3am? No problem. You think of something cool and someone in this city has invented it and not only that, invented a way to get it to you quickly.

I love the subway and how it can get you pretty much anywhere you need to go.

I love the social aspect of everyone living so close to each other and the impromptu gatherings that result from high density living.

I love the pace and the movement and the energy and the inspiration.

I love the people watching.

I love that there is nature and beauty and hiking and beaches all within 1-2 hours from the city.

I love that people are here to make things happen and everyone dreams so big. It’s like a pulsating energy you can feel in the air.

I love that you may even catch a New Yorker smiling on that first warm day of spring.

What do I dislike? The smells, the craziness, the lines, the garbage, the consumerism, the ego’s and the general sense of entitlement that a lot of people seem to emanate here.

But that’s also the beauty of this crazy city. It’s all things at all times. It’s a drug and you keep coming back for more. Do you need time out? Absolutely. I think that’s critical to surviving here; stepping away to catch your breath, maybe get some clean oxygen into those lungs and some vitamin D onto the skin is the key.

What are your favorite spots to escape to when you need some time out?

I love the Catskills for a long weekend, or Bear Mountain for hiking, also Montauk or Shelter Island for the beach (although not often enough). I also like to get out on a bike when the weather is fine for a nice long ride in nature.

What’s your ‘only in New York’ moment/s?

The fact that we live in a city of 8 million people yet still run into people you know in the craziest of places. The way people wear and do whatever the hell they want and make no apologies for it. When you try to offer a loaf of bread to a homeless person and get told “sorry I’m gluten free”. People clapping during landing on airplanes (more an ‘only in the USA thing’).

Any advice for people moving to NY?

Be prepared to pay a ludicrous amount for rent unless you want to live in a tiny bedroom in a share house with a bathroom down the hallway. Be open minded, grow a thick skin quickly and learn to move fast. If you can keep your wits about you the first few months you will be ok, but be prepared to adapt.

Also, take a critical look at your CV (or resume). Make it stand out, and make it ‘American’. You are playing in their game now, so learn their rules. I work in a creative industry and the amount of plain old word document style resumes I see is kind of shocking. If you are looking to be hired as someone who has flair and individuality and who lives and breathes design, your resume needs to reflect that, I like the idea of creating an online presence and making it an extension of that.

Tell us about your career:

I am an Australian registered architect who specializes in high-end residential design. My focus for the last 12-18 months has been healthy home design, specifically ‘Wellness Architecture’. I noticed after moving here how much impact the indoor centric lifestyle was having on my health both mentally and physically and after researching the subject realised just how much our indoor environments impact our mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing.

Recently, I became one of the first ever certified WELL AP architects, meaning I advise developers and private clients on how to design and build healthier buildings. As a background, WELL Building Standard is focused on the quality of the indoor environment (both in the workplace and at home) and its impact on human health.

I started my own firm Pip+Pencil in 2016 and in my free time (lol) I also freelance design with a great online company called Homepolish, which is an amazing platform that connects designers and clients for all types of interesting projects! My projects range from small scale interior design and styling all the way through to full-scale gut renovations.

I am also currently studying building biology meaning I will be able to physically test the performance of indoor qualities like air, water, light and noise as well as the presence of mould and electronic / magnetic field radiation. I think we are moving into a time, especially in the design profession; where it is no longer acceptable to just design for aesthetics, we need to think long term both in terms of environmental sustainability of the physical building as well as the health impact of being in that space.

What are some differences working here to working in Australia?

In my profession, the major differences are the typology of projects. As I mentioned, in NYC most are interior renovations on existing buildings; whereas in Australia there is a lot more greenfield sites meaning new builds and more freedom in design.

I have also found a wide range of aesthetic differences, most notably in private homes. The American tastes tend to be more traditional, with preference towards separate kitchen and breakfast eating areas rather than the Aussie style of large open floor plans where kitchens and living spaces meld into large family gathering spaces.

American style has a lot more decorative detailing and traditional materials – think detailed kitchen cabinets with ornate brass knobs – whereas Australian tastes tend to be much more European and contemporary.

I think a lot has to do with climate, in Australia we like to live a much more indoor/outdoor lifestyle, blurring the transitions between the two and really allowing the natural environment into our homes, whereas in NYC there is a lot more indoor living with smaller windows and a focus inwards. I really miss designing large open plan spaces where the climate has a huge impact on design decisions, like orientation, cross flow ventilation and shading as this is my personal style of living, it just reminds me so much of the beach!

Any advice for other Aussie professionals working in NYC?

Don’t be afraid to move horizontally to get what you want. I think a lot of people – and I am talking specifically to Aussies on the E3 – get stuck in an organization where they are unhappy because of a fear of not being able to find another job in a competitive market (not true at all) or worried about visa issues. Don’t be afraid to stick your neck out and go for what you want. This city has so many opportunities and you won’t find them unless you are willing to take a risk.

Advice for Australians looking to find a sponsor for the E3 visa is to really know everything about this visa before going into an interview. You need to understand the differences between an E3 and an H1B and be confident in explaining that. Know the perks of the E3 and be able to explain them in a way that makes the employer realize it’s an advantage to hire you over someone else requiring a more extensive and onerous visa.

 

awny-pippa lee-P_LEE copy

 

What’s your favorite New York spot?

It would have to be Central Park. My strong interest in Biophilic Design and my own personal connection to nature means I need to visit it regularly to keep me grounded. There is something so calming about walking through the park, especially the north woods where you can look up and not see a single building, you really do feel like you are not in the city anymore. I love early Sunday morning ABC’s (activity based catchups) with my friends as this is a rare time we can socialize without it revolving around food or booze!

What do you miss most about Australia?

Many things. I miss the lifestyle, the weather, the beaches, the laid back ‘she’ll be right’ attitude. I miss family of course and friends. I miss tomatoes that taste like tomato and mango’s fresh from north Queensland (I don’t miss the price of avocado though!). I miss driving and always being 20 min from a beach and never having to deal with traffic. I miss being able to rock up to the airport 20 min before takeoff and getting straight onto the plane. I miss the dinner parties and the backyard barbeque….but mainly the beaches!

What are your top 3 tips for friends visiting NYC?

Don’t stay in Times Square or anywhere near it, make friends with the subway, and actually get out into real Brooklyn (not just Williamsburg and DUMBO), oh and see the Highline. (Sorry this is four but I couldn’t help myself!)

Favorite NYC brunch spot:

Banter or Citizens of Chelsea…Aussie of course!

Favorite NYC cocktail spot & cocktail of choice:

God there are so many! It really depends what you’re going for as there are specialty places all over, but I would have to say of late it is The Edition Hotel. They have a great bar on the first floor that does a great dill cocktail with gin called Dill or No Dill. YUM!

How did you get into your job in NYC?

I was very open to opportunities and applied in a wider variety of positions than I would have if I was in Australia. I think it also helped that I had a very clear understanding  of the visa requirements and was able to explain it in a way that did not intimidate the hiring staff. My first job in NY was an architectural position at Robert A.M. Stern which was such an amazing experience and taught me a LOT about the American way of doing things in terms of design.

What do you like about being part of AWNY?

I love the community that it opens you up to. The way that everyone is there to help each other from simple questions about where to buy vegemite through to more complex issues like where to find a tax accountant who specializes in Australians. The thing about NYC is there’s always someone that has done it before you and I find that Australians especially are willing to pass that information on to help another Aussie facing the same issue, there’s a real sense of camaraderie. I’ve never met a fellow Aussie who hasn’t let the ladder down for another Aussie to climb up.

What was your biggest win this week?

Having one of my early Homepolish jobs professionally photographed and ready for publishing as well as having one of my favorite developer / clients move towards closing on a new property in SoHo which he wants to develop as a ‘wellness residence’ using my design expertise as the guiding principles for healthy home design!

What’s the biggest challenge or road block you’ve been faced with since being in NYC and how do you overcome it?

Probably the initial hesitation towards visa sponsorship. Employers don’t usually understand nor have they heard of the E3 (although it’s becoming more common in 2017) so you need to be very educated on it so you can explain how easy it is for them to sponsor you. Once that hurdle was overcome, it was more just the sheer number of people you are competing with in finding a job. In Oz it was never an issue getting work but here you are just a tiny tiny fish so you need to get very good at applying and interviewing and get used to the fact that you don’t land it the first time – that’s normal – and it just takes time.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given about living/working in NYC?

Never become complacent. Always look to grow, evolve and push yourself to that next level. There are so many things to achieve and there is no better place to do it than NYC. Suck it up, take regular nature breaks and don’t be afraid to take risks.

Who are some Aussie ladies doing awesome things in NYC who are currently on your radar?

Sophie Wilkinson is head of Design and Construction at Common Living, and another Radeladian crushing it in the construction world. It’s so refreshing seeing other women on the job site and Sophie is one of those ladies I often turn to for construction or project management advice. What she has built at Common is absolutely incredible given she has been there from the very beginning. Its so great to see someone so hardworking and dedicated to their craft really kill it when they are left to spread their wings.

I am also crushing on the work of Aussie interior designer Paris Forino. She is doing some incredible projects around the city and overseas. She has found a beautiful mix of Aussie style with American chic and it’s awesome.

Brooke Holm is an amazing photographer who recently moved to NYC (she is technically not Aussie – born in the US, but raised in Oz, so I’ll claim her) and is an extraordinary photographer. I first discovered her when I saw her name repeatedly show up under all the amazing architectural photos I would see in publications like Houses and Architecture Australia; however her talent doesn’t stop with architecture, she also captures landscapes and still life in such beautiful detail and I constantly find myself suggesting her art to my clients!

CJ Hendry is an Australian artist who I creepily Instagram stalked and actually recently ran into at an art show. She does these amazing hand drawings with meticulous detail, all with a fine felt tip black pen! And while her art is incredible, I really love her vibe which is such a laid back ‘she’ll‐be‐right’ Aussie breath of fresh air in this city!

I also really admire the work that Emma Isaacs is doing with Business Chicks. This woman is a pocket rocket and is really kicking ass. Her company is relatively new to the city (they are HUGE back in oz), and its so great to see her amazing attitude spread through the city to other like minded business chicks!

Connect with Pippa:

By email: philippa.j.lee@gmail.com or pippa@pipandpencil.com
Website: www.pipandpencil.com
Instagram – @pipandpencil / @_pippa_lee
LinkedIn and Twitter

Faces of AWNY – Caroline Heslop

Aussie Caroline Heslop moved to New York City in May 2012, after she took a solo trip to several major cities in the US & Europe scoping out a city for a potential international move. New York stuck in her mind soon and she started making secret plans.  In this Faces of AWNY profile, Caroline tells us how her life in New York has blossomed and her favorite parts of the city and its surrounds.
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Where do you live in New York? Why did you choose that area?
In these past 4.5 years I have moved 5 times! I just renewed my lease for another year because I couldn’t bear to move again.  Note: Find a good mover and keep their number on hand. You will inevitably call them again and again. I spent 1.5 years in the West Village, 2 years in Battery Park and over a year now in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Even though Williamsburg is rapidly changing – (Hello Apple & Whole Foods!), you just can’t beat the community feel, restaurant scene, silence, and greenery. 
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What do you like/dislike about living in NY?
This is an easy one.  At 5′ 2″ the packed L train commute is my worst nightmare. Especially in the summer.  My face is perfectly at armpit height. However, for all the frustrating things that this city throws your way there is so much to love. I love that Manhattan and its surrounding boroughs have so much to offer. You really can’t run out of things to do, see, explore. I have an excel bucket list that will never end!
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Tell us about your ‘only in New York’ moments?
All my ‘only in New York’ moments don’t even surprise me anymore. They are hard to recall. It just becomes the absurdity of living here. Like many I have had some crazy celebrity moments. I recently discovered Winona Ryder lives above me and Chris Rock once crashed a $14 stand up show I was at to practice some SNL material. The subway is always entertaining. Forgive me but I really love “show time”. It always makes me crack a reluctant smile. Hurricane Sandy and snow storm Jonas are both once in a lifetime moments that I will never forget. The city the morning after a large snowfall is always so quiet and beautiful. Witnessing the NYC reaction to the election last November was pretty extraordinary. I once saw a manhole explode as flames and water shot at least 20 feet into the air so now I walk around every single one!
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Any advice for people moving to NY?
I could talk for hours to share everything I have learned the hard way. Here are a couple of my key pieces of advice:
  • Get your finances in order before you leave and learn what a secured credit card is – it will help you build credit SO quickly!
  • Do everything to avoid paying a broker fee- there are plenty of nice apartments out there without one
  • Network, network, network – its likely how you will get your biggest opportunities in this competitive, “hustle” landscape 
  • Spend the  necessary money to buy a good winter coat and short snow boots ( the ones to the knee will tire you ladies!)
  • Please don’t hide up in the city – get out of town! Go explore upstate and I don’t just mean Westchester! Go explore Long Island and I don’t just mean the Hamptons! See the rest of the country! The landscape and climates are so broad and beautiful. I am about 25 states in, and I plan to visit all 50!

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Faces of AWNY: Kate Lee

Aussie Kate Lee moved to New York City 3 years ago settling in Astoria, Queens.  We talk with Kate about what a freelance “cultural entrepreneur” does, her volunteer work with the International Rescue Committee, as well as her favorite NYC spots. 

Tell us why you moved to NYC?
DSC_1561Back in Brisbane, I performed and created performance works and used theater, arts and culture as a tool for development, capacity building and education. In 2012, I joined a workshop with an experimental punk dance theater company from NY. While doing the workshop, I’d pulled out my NYC guidebook (I had a guidebook from my trip back in 2005), mused over the pictures and thought, ‘how am I going to get myself to New York City?’ The next day the director asked me, ‘what are the chances of you being in New York next year to perform with us?’ I said I’d make it happen.

Where are you from?
I grew up in the Blue Mountains, lived on and off in London for years, in Sydney, then Brisbane and did a stint in Tennant Creek before moving to NYC?

Where do you live?
Ditmars, Astoria. I really like Astoria because I feel like I leave the city when I go home, and it’s super diverse, has fantastic food, and has the wonderful Astoria Park and Astoria Park Pool (which is 200 meters long and 50 meters wide).

What do you like/dislike about living in NY?
I love how the culture challenges my own: having to be more forward, confident, fight my own battles. And the diversity is all its forms. I dislike when distance gets in the way of relationships.

What’s your ‘only in New York’ moment/s?
Riding my bike at ten at night in the middle of winter, with snow all around, to the YMCA, going for a swim and having the pool to myself, having a piping hot sauna afterwards, then riding my bike back home through the snow. And, learning salsa New York Style is better (the ‘two’ means you step on the second beat instead of the first)

Any advice for people moving to NY?
It’s good to have something to come to – a course, a workshop. Just to meet people and get orientated. This city is full of immigrants – you’re not alone.

What do you do for work?
I freelance in what I recently titled ‘Cultural Entrepreneur’ – that is being involved with products and processes that use culture as a catalyst for education, development and diplomacy. I recently finished an MBA in innovation and leadership and am currently collaborating with scientists who work on Mtb (tuberculosis).

I also volunteer at the International Rescue Committee doing cultural orientation for newly arrived refugees. It continually proves to be a profound experience, encountering people who have had to leave their country and are now calling New York home.

I also volunteer with AWNY as the Events co-lead. The first AWNY event I came to was Susie Lang’s ‘Emotional Transition of Living in New York.’ It was the nurturing experience that I needed. Especially being alone in this city. And I realized that some of the ticks I have aren’t because I’m a pain the butt, they’re cultural. I was a revelation and gave me some space to relax a little in this big city. So, when I was at the GM meeting earlier this year, I wasn’t too surprised when found myself volunteering to be part of the team.

How did you get into your job in NYC?
I was on a J visa and I sent an email to every person I’d made a connection with, explaining I wanted to stay and wanted to get an E3 visa, and I asked if they knew of anything. A friend responded and got me into her organization.

As a professional working in NYC what are the differences to working in Australia?
Back home work would come to me. It was a shock, coming here, how much I had to hustle. Also, the wage difference in the non-profit sector is astounding. It’s very low.

Any advice for other Professionals working in NYC?
Networking is key and building relationships are key. Here, more than anywhere I’ve been, skills and qualifications aside, people really go on their gut instinct and trust. There is so much competition, so if you click on a one-to-one basis, that’s what counts. And it’s the same way vise-versa, while you have to be discerning, trust is super important.

What’s your favorite New York spot?
Astoria Park Pool and the different parks along the water in Astoria. The pool overlooks the river and the Triborough bridge, and the parks are full of families and kids and BBQ’s. I even saw a game of cricket being played (proper stumps and all).

What do you like about being part of AWNY?
The comfort of all the familiar cultural markers and the warm support I feel from the group.

What was your biggest win this week?
I found out my overall mark for my masters, a high distinction!

What’s the biggest challenge or road block you’ve been faced with since being in NYC and how do you overcome it?
I wanted to shift my career from its focus on arts and culture to something that had broader application. Doing an MBA was part of this shift, and networking and doing informational interviews have been key to understanding more about the industries I’m interested in and how they work in NYC.

Who are some Aussie ladies doing awesome things in NYC who are currently on your radar?
Katie Walker. She’s heading up the Institute of Medical Simulation and Advanced Learning.

Contact Kate
Get in touch with Kate through her website and blog – Unsealed Roads.