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!


Startup Stories – Tanya McCaw of Royal IT

Tanya McCaw is the CEO of Royal IT, an IT Managed Services business. She and her business partner and husband arrived in NYC in 2015 to take a bite out of the Big Apple. AWNY sat down with Tanya to find out what it’s been like bringing their company from Perth to NYC.

Tell us about your business and what inspired you to begin?

Royal IT provides IT consulting, support and Managed IT services to small businesses of up to around 200 staff. Our team of consultants, engineers and project managers become the IT department for our clients so they don’t need to hire their own IT staff. Our goals are to maximize our clients’ profits through the use of technology. We have an office in Perth, Australia, which is now 9 years old and we opened our second office in NYC in 2015.

My business partner and husband is the founder of Royal IT – he started the company after working in the IT industry for over 17 years. I joined Royal IT when it was 3 years old and needed a person to take charge of the business and leadership aspect. I have always wanted to own my own business since I was a teenager, and now that I am realizing this dream with my life partner I feel blessed as we really complement each other.

You brought your business to the USA two years ago – what was the inspiration for moving to the USA?

After backpacking around the world together for a couple of years when we first met, we had a taste of what it would be like to live abroad.

We came to NYC for a holiday 5 years ago and instantly fell in love with the energy of this amazing city. There are so many interesting, talented and diverse people compacted together – it really does inspire me on a daily basis to evolve and become a better version of myself.

From a business perspective, we have always dreamed big: our goal is to open 5 international offices. By moving to the US we are able offer an exceptional service that is 24×7 because we have international teams that are on opposite time zones. The US was an attractive place to start because the need for Managed IT services in small business is becoming crucial as the technology landscape becomes more complicated.

It also made good business sense to expand to the US and diversify our markets during a time when Perth is experiencing an economic downturn.

Tanya McCaw 3

As an IT consulting business – why come to NYC vs other cities in the USA?

In a city like NYC business professionals are very busy and don’t have time to wait hours for their IT issues to be resolved. Our 24×7 help desk and technical consulting team is able to service the round the clock needs of our clients. In addition, we provide guaranteed IT support within 45 seconds! We do plan to expand to other cities in the USA, but at this stage we are focusing on NYC.

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

The first 12 months I definitely wasn’t in my comfort zone and was trying to get a grasp of the unique way everything is done in this city. I worked really hard on putting myself out there to develop new friendships and networks and after a while it started to pay off. Now I find that I am out most nights of the week either socializing, attending workshops or networking events. I love it!

My ‘Ah Ha’ moment was when I was delivering a presentation on Royal IT to a group of around 30 professionals and I was sharing our story. I was proud to show photos of our international team and offices. I remember feeling really confident and proud of what we have achieved so far.

What have been the hardest lessons in starting a business?

There have been so many! Starting a business and expanding internationally isn’t for the faint hearted that’s for sure. The main lesson would be not rushing into new hires and taking the time to find the right people. We are now very picky with selecting new staff to join our team and have a lengthy interview process in place. We go against the grain of the typical ‘IT geek’ and employ exceptional communicators that can relate to our clients’ needs. Of course it’s also essential that they possess the right technical skills and are a good fit for our team.

What has been the hardest thing about bringing your business to the USA?

Leaving my family, friends and the Royal IT team in Perth was definitely the hardest part. The flight to Perth is around 26 hours, so unfortunately I don’t have the luxury of popping home for a long weekend catch up. Despite this, I make sure I take out regular time from my schedule to Skype home. My parents and Aunty and Uncle are coming to visit in August this year and they have never been to NYC, so I am very excited to show them around.

Where have you been most successful in marketing your business?

We use an outsourced marketing team to coordinate the marketing campaigns for both our Perth and NYC offices. We developed a strong brand and use a range of marketing strategies that have proven successful, which include in-bound marketing and paid advertising. Networking and referral-based marketing groups have also been critical for lead generation.

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

Royal IT is a member of several different IT industry groups that provide ongoing training and mentoring by business leaders. We also attend a couple of industry conferences each year, which are critical as they provide a community to share information and learn the latest technology trends.

In addition to this, I have engaged the services of Zento Global Consulting for the past five years for business coaching. We have used business coaches since the early stages of the company’s development and this has been an instrumental component to supporting the company’s growth.

Tanya McCaw2

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

The best advice I can provide is: don’t go at this alone! If you don’t have any business experience, find some mentors or engage a business coach. It might cost a bit extra but it really is a wise business investment and will save you from making many costly mistakes. If you pick the right coach they will effectively become part of your team.

Secondly, as a business owner a critical part of your responsibility is to put aside time every week to work ‘on’ the business. This time should not be switched out to work on operational or reactive tasks. Use a virtual assistant and outsource ALL of your lower level tasks where possible, as it is not a good use for your time.

Finally, it is critical to take time to look after yourself. Eat well, exercise, meditate and ensure you have time for family and friends. It is very easy to get caught up in all the ins and outs of running a company and let your life and health go downhill.

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

Our business name is from the street we used to live on in East Perth: Royal Street. Our whole team in Australia is involved with the servicing our NYC clients in one way or another, which is really exciting.

What is next for your business?

Continuing to grow the NYC office and expand our networks is the priority. At the end of 2018 we will start looking into opening our third office somewhere in the USA.

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

Royal IT offers a 10% discount on our services to AWNY members. Use the code RIT-AWNY when you get in touch.

Tanya McCaw 4

Follow Royal IT at:


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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.



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