AWNY Mums and Dads Update, August 2017

Written by Helen McWilliam

It’s been pretty quiet on the Mums and Dads front this month, so I thought I would report on my progress with visiting all the Central Park playgrounds before it gets too cold. To date, I have visited 13 out of 21, six since I started the challenge. It all gets a bit tricky from 14 on as the playgrounds are not as easy to access by subway, but I am committed!

Here’s a run down of the six I have visited since starting the challenge:

Diana Ross (West 81st St and Central Park West)
I’m not sure if Diana Ross is aware, but her namesake playground is in quite a state of disrepair. It felt quite unsafe for my two- and four-year-old. A section of the playground had been blocked off with signage stating it was unsafe. I personally won’t revisit this playground until it has been completely upgraded. It’s such a shame, because it is well shaded and in an easy to access area of Central Park.

West 110th Street Playground
This is a perfect playground for pre-schoolers. Well shaded, with a range of activities for different levels of ability.  It’s easy to access by public transport (no lift at either 110th St stations), but there was no close access to public toilets. As an additional positive, no school or camp groups visited whilst we were there.

East 110th Street Playground
What makes this a great playground option is that it is just above the Harlem Weir. It’s worth the trip to visit a very beautiful part of Central Park. The playground was easy to access via public transport (again, no lift at the subway station), but a negative was that it was very busy with school and camp groups. There was plenty of equipment to climb on, however they were a little challenging for pre-schoolers who, like my children, assume they have far greater abilities. Additionally, there was open access to the swings, which can be a little hairy at times with the aforementioned pre-schoolers. I would recommend this playground for ages 5 and above. Another plus for this playground was that it was very close public toilets.

Tarr Family Playground (West 100th St and Central Park West)
Full sun. This playground was hot. It’s a shame because it was a relatively quiet playground with a range of activities for different ages, with plenty of space to run around.  The sprinklers were good fun but it again had no nearby public toilets.  It was quite a hike from the subway, too.

Rudin Family Playground (West 97th St and Central Park West)
Beautifully shaded, but definitely more for younger children.  My 4-year-old appeared bored at this one, while my 2-year-old thought it was amazing.  I did too for the shade. A few school groups came through, but it wasn’t overwhelming.  As with the Tarr Family Playground, there is no access to public toilets and it’s quite a walk from the subway.

James Michael Levin Playground (East 76th St and Fifth Ave)
This was a very small but popular playground, with some sprinklers.  My two children enjoyed playing here, but there wasn’t much play equipment and I don’t think all of the sprinklers were working.  Nice large space though with some shade.  I can’t advise on access from public transport as I walked, but, again, there was no access to public toilets.

Still eight more playgrounds to go.  I could be cutting it close before school starts but I should definitely be able to get it done before it gets too cold.

We’d love to hear what you think about the playgrounds in Central Park, so please contact us through our Facebook page or email AWNY.

Enjoy the rest of your summer and Amanda and I will be back with more events planned for the fall.

AWNY Mums and Dads update, June 2017

Written by Helen McWilliam

May was a quieter month for the AWNY Mums and Dads group after a very busy April.  The warmer weather has been very welcome and my children are loving the more regular sight of sprinklers in the playgrounds.

This month, Amanda and I wanted to include a shout out to the Dads of this group.  The events we’ve organised so far have been focused on the Mums.  We’d love some input from the Dads to see if you’d like our help to organize a Dad’s meet-up, arrange a Saturday playgroup or something else entirely.  Please contact us through our Facebook page or email AWNY. We’d love to hear from you.

With the school holidays rapidly approaching, I wanted to share a day trip idea.  As I have recently overcome my fear of travelling on the subway alone with two children, I am finally leaving the Upper West Side.  Well, if I’m honest there’s still fear, I can just do it without hyperventilating and shouting! The New York Hall of Science in Queens is worth the long subway ride.  I have a 4.5 year old and nearly 2 year old and they were both transfixed for hours.  It would also be suitable for much older children as my two missed a lot of the meaning behind many of the exhibits. All the exhibits were engaging and hands on, however the ‘Connected Worlds’ installation was a must see. There’s also plenty of staff on hand to help the children get the most out of the museum. It can get a bit hectic with school groups but there’s a preschool area where groups aren’t allowed and we were advised that the groups tend to leave at 12-1pm. A few helpful pointers:

1. There’s no lift for strollers at 111th street Subway Station in Queens however, however I found I only had to look towards the stairs and people were offering me help.

2. The café was pretty basic so I would advise bringing your own food.

3. In what I would consider a big win, the shop was easily avoided!

Some up coming AWNY events to highlight: the ‘Working In the USA’ information session presented by Belinda Jackson is on the 14th of June.  It provides expert advice for Aussie job seekers.  Plus, the annual AWNY picnic is one for the whole family on the 24th of June in Central Park.

Photo credit: Helen McWilliams

Enjoy your June and the last few precious weeks of school before the endless school holidays!


What’s On in New York, June 2017

Our monthly events list often leads with the fun happenings from the AWNY committee but June has quite a highlight. One of AWNY’s most popular events is the ‘Working in the USA’ careers advice evening. You’ll learn top tips for job searching, seeking out networking opportunities, optimizing your resume for the US market, and listen to the job search experiences of other New York based Aussies. The event is led by our President Belinda Jackson (Prosell international). The tickets for this event go quickly and space is limited to secure your spot!

We also have our Annual AWNY picnic on this month (June 24th in Central Park) and a great list of fun things to do in New York as we had into the steamy months of summer.


June means Jazz in New York City and it’s definitely the month to get to one of the 100 performances at the Blue Note Jazz Festival (various venues). You’re guaranteed great music and performances run throughout June. Schedule, locations, tix available here.

Free Summer Movies start June 2 at various locations around the 5 boroughs. There’s mix of pics to delight all ages. A schedule of movies, dates and locations is found on the NYC Park website. All the movies are free.

The Human Rights Watch Film Festival simply has to be included on our June What’s On list. The organizers encourage the addressing of Human Rights Issues in the films selected for the festival, and unsurprisingly there is a broad list presented this year. The festival runs from June 9-18 at with showing at either the Lincoln Center or IFC Center. Details and tickets available here.

June also sees the commencement of the SummerStage series, free outdoor concerts at various locations around the city, that run into September. Elvis Costello, The Metropolitan Opera, and Freedom Party are highlights for June.  This link provides a view of everything happening in June. Expand to to see the entire SummerStage series.

Fifth Avenue goes car free (well, for 23 blocks) on June 13 for the Museum Mile Evening, commencing at 6pm. All the museums along the stretch of fifth dubbed ‘Museum Mile’ are free and there will be live music to entertain you as you hop between them. Schedule and details available here.

Working in the USA Event is on June 14th at the Australian Consulate. Polish your resume, learn great networking tips, interview skills and job seeking advice. If you’re currently looking for a new role, or even thinking about starting a job search in New York, then don’t miss this event. It’s one of our most popular events each year, so make sure you secure a spot!  Tickets available through the AWNY Facebook event page.

USA Father’s Day is June 18! If you’re celebrating and need options, there’s this Jazz brunch cruise, the Father’s day scavenger hunt, Smorgasburg, or check out Open Table and book a table somewhere fancy or fun.

This month’s Generation Women event brings together Australian author and AWNY Member Georgia Clark, along with 4 other notable women from different generations to read and share their perspectives on a theme. This month’s theme: my first time saying no. The event is on June 21st and tickets are a very reasonable $25, available through this link.

Take advantage of the totally free Concerts in the Park series and listen to the New York Philharmonic orchestra on one of 5 performances between June 13-18 at various locations around the city. Information and schedules available here.

The Annual AWNY Picnic in the Park is on June 21st. We’ll be there from 2pm – 4pm for bring the whole family, plus any visitors you have in town, and enjoy a great afternoon with your Australian friends. We’ll have games and face painting to entertain the kids, please bring your own picnic lunch. For more info, visit the AWNY Facebook event page.

Photo credit: Joanna Hishon

AWNY Startup Stories: Eatwhatever

New York based Aussie export Jacqui Rosshandler, President of Jacqui LLC is creator of Eatwhatever, the revolutionary breath freshener that assures confident kissable breath allowing you to – you guessed it –  eat whatever you like with confidence. Jacqui shares her business experiences and offers some great insider tips in this week’s AWNY Startup Story.

Tell us about the Eatwhatever story…

I created a better-for-you, confidence building business quite accidentally. Looking up at the mountains of Verbier and feeling not so fresh after a, shall we say “spirited” New Year’s eve, I wished there was a breath freshener that worked internally, was all natural and fun to use. This led to the invention of Eatwhatever breath fresheners and a decade in the natural CPG industry. A natural networker, I soon became known as the little Aussie hustler and grew Eatwhatever’s distribution from niche retail stores like Colette (Paris), C.O, Bigelow and Rickys to Amazon, Wholefoods, Duane Reade, Fresh Market and Publix, to name a few.

How long did you have the idea for this business and why did you decide to start Eatwhatever?

I had a boyfriend who used to cook with a lot of garlic. I couldn’t bare how I felt like I smelt like garlic for days. I would brush my teeth, chew gum but nothing worked. The smell was coming from my stomach, not my mouth. So I created Eatwhatever. A breath freshener that works in the stomach AND the mouth!

What has been your ‘Ah Ha’ / ‘I’ve made it in the USA moment’?

The first time I went to a NY party and took one out and had a stranger say “oh my god I love those! My boyfriend steals them out of my hand bag all the time” was absolutely thrilling. Now when I travel I see them in all the CIBO airport stores and I do a little jig. I still can’t believe that strangers buy them and love them.

What have been the hardest lessons in starting a business in New York?

I suppose just realizing what you don’t know. I’m not sure that’s harder here in New York then anywhere else though.


Are there any particular technology/distribution/production challenges you have faced?

Plenty. As a mostly solo operator, I try to do all of these things and I am certainly not good at all of them. Technology is not my forte. Distribution is tough when you don’t know much about the players. It’s a steep learning curve. The only way to learn it is to ask a lot of questions and work it out as you go. There’s no degree for this kind of thing.

Where have you been most successful in marketing your business?

Digital press has been hugely successful for us. Not ads, but genuine digital PR so people click directly on a link and purchase – it’s what PR dreams are made of.

Do you have any mentors, and how have people been with sharing information and their networks?

I know a lot of people in the business now and certainly consider them friends and mentors. Most people in the CPG world are quite helpful and willing to share their knowledge, make introductions etc. It’s a pretty wonderful industry in that sense.

What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a business?

Ask a lot of questions. Don’t be shy! Go to trade shows and make friends. The people who run the booths hold the key to whole lot of knowledge so don’t be afraid to ask them questions. And don’t worry about keeping your business idea a secret. If it was easy to do/produce, someone would be doing it already so be prepared to share in order to get the info you need.

What is next for Eatwhatever?

We just launched Woofmints – breath fresheners for dogs and Woofmints cologne . A line of all natural, US made pet products seems the most natural progression!



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AWNY Startup Stories: Natchie

New York-based Australian Nadia Ackerman started Natchie after 2 years on the flea market circuit in NYC. Now she owns and runs a store in DUMBO as well as ger growing online store. She talks to AWNY about how it began, her lessons, and shares her top Startup tips.

Tell us about yourself and your business, particularly what inspired you to begin.

My name is Nadia Ackerman. I am an Australian singer/songwriter. I moved to NYC from the northern beaches of Sydney, Australia in 1998.

After many years pounding the pavement as a professional singer I hit a wall and had an emotional breakdown. I was introduced to EMDR therapy and not only did it save my life but also opened up my mind to illustration and songwriting. I took art in high school but in no way did I ever consider myself an artist! 4 years ago after working hard in therapy I started to see my songs as drawings. It seemed odd to me but the images were powerful and fully formed in my mind. All I had to do was buy paper and pencils and get started. I began with one of my albums, “The Ocean Master” and started drawing every song on the album. I then came up with the idea of selling the images as greeting cards and prints. Each image would have the lyrics on the back and a free download code so you could own the song. Thus…Natchie was born! After two years on the NYC flea market circuit I opened my own brick and mortar store in Dumbo, Brooklyn, NY.

How long did you have the idea for your business?

There wasn’t really anytime between the idea and bringing it to life. It happened almost immediately.

Why did you decided to set up a store, and what made you choose DUMBO?

I really believe in connecting with my customers so the idea of just an online store didn’t interest me at all. I want to meet people, see their reaction to my work, and get to know them. Dumbo came about because I used to sell my greeting cards down here in a store. Every time I dropped off an order I would be like…hmmmm…this is a GREAT area!

As a very talented and creative person, what tips or tricks do you have for people like you, that might need to focus their efforts to achieve something big, instead of trying to do ‘everything’?

I think the best advice I can give is to have a GREAT idea and just jump in with both feet. Don’t overthink it or you will never get anywhere. As soon as you begin with your idea it will guide you to what you need to do and when.

What steps did you go through to launch your business? (logistics, marketing etc)

I secured the store in Dumbo, set it up, painted the walls, the floor everything! EXHAUSTING. I set everything up and just opened. I’m a big believer in Instagram as a marketing tool (@natchieart has over 11.8k Instagram followers at the time of publishing). Then pretty much all of the opportunities that have come my way simply walked in the door by chance.


What has been your ‘Ah Ha’ / ‘I’ve made it in the USA moment’ 

Maybe singing at Carnegie Hall for Sting and Trudie’s Rainforest Benefit Concert? I am actually doing that again this year on December 14th with Sting, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor and many more special guests yet to be announced.

Where have you been most successful in marketing your business?

Instagram and word of mouth!

Do you have any mentors or groups that have been instrumental in their support, and how have people been with sharing information and their networks?

Yes, there is a fantastic blog in Spain called The author, Bianca, stumbled across me at a market a few years ago and held onto my business card. A few years later she tracked me down in NYC and we have been working together ever since. She sends a lot of fabulous Spanish tourists my way and I just love it.

What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a business?

Make sure you have a product that is unique and something that people will want to buy. The best research I did was the markets around NYC for 2 years. That enabled me to fine tune my product until I felt confident enough to open an entire store. And don’t think too much – just go ahead!

Other than yourself, what piece of Australia have you put into your business, and why – or if not, also, why?

A lot of my drawings have the ocean in them and headlands! It was not intentional – it’s in my blood and comes out unconsciously in my work.

What is next for your business?

Christmas! And preparing for Japan again (earlier this year I was picked up by an incredible Japanese Department store called “Loft.” They flew me over to launch my product in 10 of their stores throughout Japan. It was a great success and looks like it will happen again next year).

Do you have an offer or promo code you would like to share with the AWNY community?

Yes! Use the Online shop code AWNY for free shipping.



 Love this AWNY Startup Story? Want more?

Register for our monthly newsletter and be kept in the loop for our upcoming Startup Stories event where you can hear more stories like this first hand and meet some of Aussie women entrepreneurs.

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Are you an Australian female who owns a business in New York? If you are and you want to tell us all about it, email us at