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:

Recalculate your direction in the car and in life with ‘The GPS Girl’ – AWNY Startup Stories

From Mackay to Manhattan, Karen’s voice was catapulted across the world to all of our devices as the voice of the Australian GPS. Read how directions in the car led to directions in life and business in this week’s AWNY Startup Story.

Would you be able to provide us with some background information about you and the The GPS Girl brand?

From the age of 7 growing up in Mackay in North Queensland, my one and only passion was music. The most influential and important person to me was Olivia Newton-John, and she inspired me to become a professional singer and move to America. I would sing and play piano, be in the school musical and perform at any opportunity, and ultimately moved to NYC in 2000 specifically to build my singer/songwriter career.  Along the way I had a life-long love with personal development. In Brisbane, I studied at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, then moved to Sydney where I lived for ten years, speaking and singing on literally thousands of commercials, performing two to five nights per week in five star hotels and venues and performing on live television.

How long did you have the idea for this business and why did you decide to start The GPS Girl brand?

When I was 24, I attended a weekend motivational seminar which was life changing. The idea I could have something to do with the way my life would go was intoxicating, and from then on I was reading, listening to and surrounding myself with uplifting material and people.  In 2002, after moving to NYC I was asked to audition for a voice-over job. The client was looking for a native, Australian, female, voice-over artist living in the North East of the United States. I read the description and thought “this is a description of me.”  I went to the audition and booked the job on the spot. Spending 50 hours in the studio over a three week period, a text-to-speech voice system was created which has now ended up in over a billion GPS devices, smartphones, software programs, cruise ships and elevators around the world. As you might imagine, this was a totally unexpected development in my singer/songwriter career.

People would come up to me very excited to discover “I” was the voice in their car. It was clear to me there was something in this, but it took me a while to put it together. Ultimately I made the connection between directions in the car and directions in life and created the registered trademarked empowerment brand “The GPS Girl.” Now I travel extensively to work with individuals and groups who want to navigate change powerfully, by Recalculating when things do not go as planned. I have discovered this message is transformational, timely and universal. The kinds of conferences I keynote for are all over the map in terms of industry and location. It seems everyone is dealing with major disruption and need tools to manage change.


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

What a question! In some ways I am still waiting for this moment. I have a national television appearance airing on November 29th which I have to say is a pretty spectacular experience. When it has aired I look forward to sharing all the dish on it!  It was surreal a couple of years ago when I was a clue in The New York Times crossword puzzle. Quite a lot of people tell me I had really made it then. I mean, how completely crazy.

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

Like most of us moving to the other side of the world, I could write a thesis to answer this question. Trying to get a grasp on the way things are done here takes time. One of the big pluses is the enthusiasm of New Yorkers. I find people in life and in business here to be extremely open and helpful; genuinely interested in making connections to help others succeed. On the flip side, not having the base network I had in Australia and having to start again has been major. In Australia I found it was not always well received to be a ‘go for it’ kind of person, so I held myself back, tried not to be ‘too much’. Here, this is embraced, and it has been quite the process for me to remember it is seen as a positive to be crystal clear, ambitious and driven. To sum it up, wherever you are in the world, it is our own limits getting in the way.

Where have you been most successful in marketing your business?

Social media has been heaven sent for me. I love to keep connected and Facebook in particular has been extraordinary for my business. I am able to stay in touch with Aussie clients and American clients wherever I am, and this leads to booking business so much more easily. When I am visiting Australia I let my community online know there is availability to have me speak or sing at events, and the process is infinitely easier than before SM. My media strategy has been key in building value in my brand and continues to be one of my favorite strategies of marketing my business.

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

There is a long list of AWNY members who opened doors for me along the way. For someone wanting to come to NYC or new to the city, I would highly recommend plugging in with the Aussie network. It takes an extraordinary level of commitment and emotional work to not only come here but to stay and thrive here. Aussies understand what it can take, and I have found the support to be off the charts.

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

Hire a business coach. Immediately. It has only been 5 years since I hired my first business coach and it was an absolute game changer. The one thing I would say to my 19 year old self is to do this pronto. I would also suggest always connecting with others with a view to what you can do to add value to their lives and businesses. Of course we all want to do well and forward our own business, but if you look for how you can be of service to others along the way, it is incredible how quickly people show up to help us in return.

Other than yourself, what piece of Australia have you put into your business, and why?

Being Australian is a huge part of my persona and business. My speaking voice and accent is key, so it is very important I maintain the Aussie accent and not let any Americanisms creep in, which, after sixteen years here can tend to happen. My brand is an international brand, and I am proud to be a walking ambassador for Australia wherever I go. Sometimes I teach my audience “Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi” and make them honorary Australians.

What is next for The GPS Girl?

On December 7th I am performing a holiday concert in NYC at Stage 72 at The Triad on 72nd Street.  This is one of my favorite times of the year and we could all use an opportunity to be together, share some beautiful music and be in the holiday spirit. Beyond this, I love creative projects and have quite a few on the go. I am working on a memoir-style business book, a one woman show “Mackay to Manhattan”, and a talk show project. For more information visit and connect on FB, Twitter, Instagram with @thegpsgirl

Do you have any special offers for the AWNY community?

We have a fabulous special offer – AWNY members who get their tickets in advance and attend Karen’s Destination: Christmas Holiday Concert on Wednesday, December 7th at 9PM will receive an autographed copy of her Christmas album Destination Christmas on the night. Just mention AWNY after the show for your CD.



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What’s on in May 2015

A shortlist of things to do and see in NYC in May 2015, curated by Belinda Jackson.

Spring is here with gusto, warmer weather and spring flowers are being welcomed all over the city.

The new Whitney museum opens on May 1 and on May 2 they have a Block Party to celebrate their opening. In honor of the Whitney’s greatly expanded gallery space in its new Renzo Piano–designed home in the Meatpacking District, the museum will open with America Is Hard to See, the largest display of its permanent collection in history. Expect to see works by Edward Hopper and Andy Warhol, along with a staggering selection of other artists.

The Kentucky Derby will be held on May 2 at Churchill Downs. It is the longest running sporting event in the USA, having commenced in 1875 and is also the first leg of The Triple Crown. The other races in the Triple Crown are The Preakness Stakes on May 16 and the Belmont Stakes on June 6.

The Liberty will be celebrating their 4th BIRTHDAY on May 2nd and hosting a Kentucky Derby Themed party!! They will be offering complimentary Mint Julep cocktails and light fare! Races kick of at 6:24PM ET. So be sure to get there early and grab your spot! 29 West 35th Street.

Cinco de Mayo May 5 – a day to celebrate all things Mexican, so look out for specials at your local Mexican restaurant.

Five Boro Bike Tour is May 3. It’s sold out this year so if you missed out get your name on the list for next year, or, just go out and enjoy the festive atmosphere and cheer on the participants.

Pen World Voices Festival of International Literature May 4 to 10.

Mother’s Day is May 10, so pop a card in the mail to Mum or if you’re lucky enough to have your Mum in NYC get organizing.

AWNY member Karen Jacobsen – The GPS Girl, will be presenting her show “It’s never too late to recalculate” at The Triad Theater on May 12.

NY City Ballet has its Spring season at the City Center.

Frida Kahlo – Art, Garden, Life Exhibition at the New York Botanical Garden will run from May 16 to November 1. This blockbuster exhibition will be the first to examine Frida Kahlo’s keen appreciation for the beauty and variety of the natural world, as evidenced by her home and garden as well as the complex use of plant imagery in her artwork. Featuring a rare display of more than a dozen original Kahlo paintings and works on paper, this limited six-month engagement will also re-imagine the iconic artist’s famed garden and studio at the Casa Azul, her lifelong home in Mexico City.

Pitch Perfect 2 with Aussie star Rebel Wilson opens May 18.

Fleet Week NYC is from May 18 to 26.

Out From Down Under & Beyond: Fine Art From Australia and New Zealand Art Exhibition at Agora Gallery – May 19 to June 9, 2015, with Opening Reception Thursday May 21, 2015 6-8 PM. An exhibition of Oceanian art world and perspective in this show consisting of artists native and migrant to Australia and New Zealand. The works in the show range in style and medium, offering a unique insight into those artists’ backgrounds, inspirations, and environments.

Summerstage concerts throughout the summer all over the city – May 18 to Sept 24.

Shakespeare in the Park is a consummate New York City institution, one that has drawn more than 5 million people since it was first staged in the park’s Delacorte Theater in 1962. This year the production will include The Tempest, starring Oscar nominee Sam Waterston (The Killing Fields, Law & Order) and directed by Tony nominee Michael Greif, from May 27 to July 5. The park will also host performances of the bard’s late romance Cymbeline, July 27–August 23. Tony winner Daniel Sullivan, who helmed last year’s production of King Lear, returns to direct.

Memorial Day is May 25 – the official start of the Summer. In preparation for the summer check out this list of the 10 Best Parks in NYC.

75th Anniversary of American Ballet Theatre will be held on May 18. Their season runs May 11 to July 4.

The centerpiece of American Ballet Theatre’s 75th Anniversary celebrations, is The Sleeping Beauty running May 29 to June 13. Choreographed by Artist in Residence Alexei Ratmansky, this new take on the classic will also feature costumes and design from Richard Hudson, who won a Tony Award for his work on The Lion King musical. With Hudson’s designs taking inspiration from the great Russian designer Leon Bakst, this promises to be a bold new interpretation of the material, whilst still drawing on the ballet’s rich history. Featuring Tchaikovsky’s lavish score, this timeless story of a sleeping princess, an evil witch, and the awakening kiss of a handsome prince is sure to cast a spell on your heart and imagination.

Saving Place exhibition is running through to September 13 – The Museum of the City of New York celebrates the 50th anniversary of the landmarks law with this exhibition, which explores the roots and impact of the movement through models and building samples, architectural fragments, a timeline of the history of the preservation movement, original documents, drawings, paintings, photographs and more. In the 1960s—following the demolition of the world-famous Pennsylvania Station—a huge movement came to the City that called for the preservation of our architectural history, prompting the signing of the landmarks law in 1965. Since then, the goal of preservationists has been to blend old, historically significant buildings and architecture with newer construction, adding to the City’s growth and success while keeping its past alive.

Sinatra – An American Icon – through to September 4 at The New York Public Library.

Save the Dates for June

Celebrate Brooklyn opens on June 3rd with Chaka Khan as the opening act.

River to River Festival – June 18 to June 28

Coney Island Mermaid Parade – June 20

Annual Chappel-Hadlee Cricket Match – June 20