Wednesday, 12 April 2017

What Am I Even Doing Here? A NYC Update

Rarely do I share chatty life updates here, but as the halfway mark of my current year long visa approaches, I wanted to sit down and share. How do I begin to make sense of these whirlwind six months in New York City? Let's focus on what exactly I'm doing in NYC...

Jacket and Necklace: H&M | Trousers: Thrifted | Shoes: Penneys/Primark

Firstly, I finally got my job signed off by my sponsor CIEE! So I can finally announce that I'm working with the incredible ethical handbag company Hebe Rose New York! While my focus with them is digital marketing and PR, I've been doing a little bit of everything! On any given day you could catch me running around the Garment District picking out fabrics; pulling inspiration looks from fashion magazines; or meeting influencers who could promote the brand. Think Devil Wears Prada but with far friendlier people! So far my highlight was the Brand Reveal, which was attended by a bunch of cool influencers who I identified and invited. It's my first job in the fashion industry, and I'm getting a real insight into how it all ticks over.

But I'm also getting a taste for the fashion industry from another angle: as a photographer's assistant to NYC fashion photographer Joseph Chen. At this job, I'm learning each and every detail that goes into making a beautiful image. From location scouting and securing permits to hauling lighting equipment around the location to retouching and colour grading the final images. It's been an intense few months, but worth it for how much I'm learning.

And on top of working those two gigs, I also do a lot of freelance photography. I recently launched my Facebook page for that so do give it a like if that's your kind of thing. It might sound crazy busy, and it is, but I love each job and I cannot stress enough how much I am learning out here. All thanks to opportunities I just would not have gotten back in Ireland.

From this post it seems as everything is going swimmingly, and in a lot of ways, it is. But, real talk: New York is tough. Tougher than I ever imagined it could be. But it's all part of the experience. I needed toughing up anyway.

Follow my New York adventure on Instagram.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Inside My Notebook Collection: 5 Excuses to Go Stationery Shopping

Notebooks are my favourite thing to splurge on when payday rolls around. Sometimes I think I have more notebooks than thoughts to write down, but most of the time I think: where's the closest Paper Source?

Since this blog is a space for all my loves and obsessions, it's about time I share my current notebook collection with you, and let you in on what I use each one for too. First up it's...

1. The Journal

This A4 beauty is the Kate Spade spiral notebook in which I write down my thoughts, doodle, budget and keep track of my goals. Whether I'm documenting what's already happened or planning ahead, I'm probably picking up this notebook. It might not be the most efficient way to do the serious stuff like budgeting, but adulting is just so much more fun when it's written in a pretty notebook with a scented gel pen.

2. The Morning Pages Notepad

Writing morning pages is now a morning ritual of mine. Morning pages are when you write down your stream-of-consciousness for three pages. It's simply a way to get your thoughts down on paper, clear your mind and see what's important to you for that day. I usually start by writing what I'm planning on getting done, and end by scrawling down a few gratitudes. This little notebook is perfect for the practice because it's pocket-size, meaning that writing my morning pages doesn't take a huge chunk out of my day.

3. The Appointments Planner

Why "The Appointments Planner" and not just "The Planner"? Welp, it's because I have two planners. Could someone organise an intervention for me because my notebook obsession is getting out of hand...

Anyway, this Paperchase 2017 diary is where I note down every single event, meeting or appointment I have coming up. It's the notebook I'll pick up when I need to know where I've got to be. After I've been to an event, I'll strike through and tick it off. If I don't make it to an event for whatever reason, I'll scribble it out. This distinction is important as I like to be able to look back at a day and be able to see where I was and what I did.

4. The To-Do Planner

The To-Do Planner is the sparkly one pictured above - the blue one is my Appointments Planner. Obviously, I use the To-Do Planner to keep track of my daily to-do list. But it's also important for my goals - I choose a realistic day when I hope to have achieved the goal, note it down, and if that day comes and I've completed the goal I get the satisfaction of ticking it off. I have symbols for whether a goal is completed, not-completed or postponed to a later date, kind of like the ones you find in bullet journals. For the sake of brevity, I won't go into any more detail about my system here, I'll save that for another blog post perhaps!

4. The Work Notebook

Of course, most of my freelance work is done on my laptop, but sometimes you need to note things down on paper for ideas to flow. That's why I use this black marble notebook, from Staples, for my work. Admittedly, I don't use it enough, most days I won't even pick it up. But it is great to have by my side for when an idea needs brainstorming.

And that's all my notebooks... For now! Either I've convinced you that you need another notebook in your life or I've convinced you that I have an unhealthy addiction to stationery. Either way, I hope you enjoyed the post and would love you to follow me on Instagram and Bloglovin'! Until next time xx

Monday, 27 February 2017

Bagging a Free Haircut | Skint in NYC

NYC is not a good place for living that frugal life. But alas, here I am with a few cents in my pocket and dreams bigger than I can afford. I thought, why not blog about it? Enter my new blog series: Skint in NYC.

For the first edition of Skint in NYC, it's all about the hair. If you're going to do NYC when you're broke, you're going to have to do it with good hair. Having no money in this city is ten times when you don't feel and look your best.

Skip to the tips or read on for more chats.

The before. Absolute state of that hair!

I was having a bad day in general, but it was also a bad hair day. My buzzcut had grown out to an awkward, untamable length and the rest of my hair was simply greasy and unloved. Oh, and there was no end to my split ends. All these factors were at play when I wandered past a hair salon with a sign calling for hair models. I barged in, ready to sign my soul away in exchange for a new do.

This is only for hair style changes, you know?
Yes, yes okay.
How short would you go?
As short as you want.
Really, okaaay...

...That, my friends, is the conversation of a desperate girl and a sightly bemused Asian hairdresser.

So I put my name down and later received a text from Mami, the hairdresser who would be giving me my new look. I'd since calmed down a bit and started backtracking... I don't want it tooooo short. Luckily, she wasn't eager do an extreme makeover so I was happy to trust her with my unruly mane.

The hairdresser's was the quirky KIDA NYC at 369 Broome St. Freebies aside, it seems like a great salon to get a cut, with its cool decor, chill tunes and lovely staff.

Before and after

After letting Mami know what I wanted, she got to work. The buzzcut was snipped to size with scissors - rather than a razer - to make the ends look more natural. To finish the look she blowdried it to its natural wave, by scrunching the hair as heat was applied.

Since this was a training exercise for the Mami, the supervisor came over to review her work. The two girls nattered away in Japanese about my hair - presumably the supervisor was giving feedback and letting Mami know where she went wrong. The longer they talked the more I worried something had gone array with my hair! Since their conversation was in Japanese, I was left in ignorant bliss. The cut looked good to my eyes anyway...

The final look

All-in-all, it was a pretty stress-free experience, but not one for the faint-hearted! Ultimately, you are letting someone practice on your hair, so mistakes can be made. And with that word of warning out of the way, here are my tips for getting a free or cheap haircut in NYC, if you care to dare with your hair...

How to bag yourself a free or cheap haircut in NYC:

  1. Decide what you want: Are you going for a colour or a cut? And just how wild would you go with your new style? Obviously, the more open to new styles you are the easier it will be to find a hairdresser who wants to practice on your hair! But don't feel pressured to go for a completely new look if that's not what you're after. Just know how flexible you want to be and make what you don't want very clear once you've found a potential hairdresser.
  2. Bookmark this: This handy guide by New York Magazine has a list of all the top hair salons that offer cuts and colours for free or cheap.
  3. Pop in and ask: New Yorkers are a friendly bunch, so if you spy a cute salon that you'd like to try out, why don't you go in and ask if they're looking for hair models?
  4. Search the Craigslist "free stuff" section: I know, I know. Craigslist is full of creepers, right? Well, not necessarily. I've been using Craigslist to find photography gigs for a while now, and it's been great! You can find freebies here by simply typing "haircut" or "hair color" in the search bar. Of course, on a website where anyone can post anything you're going to get some dodgy posts - so be careful! Have an email or text conversation first and if it's at a legitimate salon, you've found a winner!
  5. Don't forget to tip: Just because it's free doesn't mean that you shouldn't give your hairdresser a small token of appreciation in the form of a tip. Since I am still getting used to tipping etiquette here, I turned to @LeHoarder - a blogger who always bags herself freebie haircuts. She told me that while it is optional to tip, if you're going for a cut you could tip $5-$10 and if it's a colour then $10-$20 will do.

And that's it! Let me know if you've ever been a hair model in the comments.

Keep up with my Skint in NYC series by following me on Bloglovin' or on Instagram. Wishing you only good hair days, always! x

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

3 Things I've Learnt From 3 Months in New York

Despite only arriving in New York at the beginning of November, I like to think I've already learned a lot about life in this crazy city. Here are three things that have stood out to me thus far...

Top, jumper and jeans: H&M | Coat: River Island | Necklace: Topshop | Shoes: Kurt Geiger

1. It's not as scary as you think

One thing that has really surprised me is how safe New York feels. So far I've lived in both Brooklyn and East Harlem in Manhattan, and though there have been times when I've been kept up because of shouting on the street outside, in general I've always felt secure in my apartments.

I've also never had any trouble getting from place to place. The subway is a strange place, where you'll encounter people asking for money, blaring music, singing, and even conducting impromptu dance-offs. But these quirks of the New York subway just go on around you. I've never felt singled out by someone on the subway. If you're not one of the loud ones on the train, you're probably just keeping to yourself, head down, eyes fixed on your iPhone. Not to sound terribly anti-social, but that's the way I like it.

2. It's hard as hell to get noticed

In a city of 8 million hustlers, how do you stand out? The harsh reality is, a lot of the time, you don't. Whether you're trying to bag a job or a guy, it's not as easy as brushing up your resume or swiping right on Tinder. There are countless opportunities here, but to get a look in, you'll have to play the numbers game. Send hundreds of resumes and you might just get your foot in the door of somewhere special. Just don't get discouraged. Keep on hustling and I promise you'll find the perfect fit eventually, whether you're looking for a career, apartment or date.

3. It's not just bigger, it's louder

Everyone from Europe knows that in America, bigger is better. Bigger serving sizes, bigger buildings, bigger cars. What I didn't expect was how much louder everything is here. In fact, it's my main gripe with this place. If you as much as look at an approaching car, expect said car driver to beep the bejesus out of their horn. At any hour of the night, you'll hear beep after beep of impatient, trigger happy drivers.

And then there's the emergency vehicles. Apparently, it's not enough that the sirens of the fire engines here can be heard from space, they'll blare their horn for added effect. Noise pollution is a huge issue, so if you're a light sleeper, I'd definitely recommend earplugs.

Ah, the ol' Big Apple, hey? It's loud, it makes you feel small, but it's not actually that scary. Have you been to New York? What surprised you about life here? Let me know in the comments!

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Thanks, 2016

Let's be real, in a lot of ways and for a lot of people, 2016 has been the worst. But this post isn't about all the god-awful things that happened this year. Instead, it's a chance for me to reflect on my own personal highlights. To remind myself that despite the terror of this year, there's still a lot to be grateful for. Self-indulgent as ever. Well, what did you expect? I'm a self-declared lifestyle blogger. It's all rainbows and butterflies in this world.

Side note: If you're looking for rants about politics and the state of the world, you're more likely to find that on my Twitter.

This has been the year I made one HUGE change: making the move to New York. But there was also lots of smaller, life-affirming steps along the way. As usual, most of it revolves around travel, it really is what I love most. Let's take a look back at my 2016...

2016, thank you for... My first ever solo trip abroad

With a camera around my neck and a book in hand - aptly, David Ebershoff's The Danish Girl - I had everything I needed for my weekend break in Copenhagen. I was flying completely solo, and I loved it! I could wander wherever throughout the day, with as many pauses for photographs as I wanted: my kind of holiday.

I wish I could travel everywhere twice. Once on my own and once with a companion, because both experiences are worlds apart, and even the atmosphere of the city feels different depending.

Thank you for... The job that took me around the world

This year I was thrilled to have attended two of the conferences in the Web Summit family, RISE in Hong Kong and MoneyConf in Madrid. I was a Content Coordinator for Web Summit, and so, I got to go to the events to create some kick-ass content.

Work hard, play hard. That's my motto and that's certainly what it's like working on one of these conferences. The work is tough - I was interviewing people and turning around the articles within the hour - but when you're getting the chance to talk to your tech idols it's all worth it. I've learnt so, so much from working those conferences, not least how to perform under pressure. And I also got to see a little of both Hong Kong and Madrid in the process. Loved it.

Thank you for... A taste of Croatia

Croatia was a simple girl's holiday all about catching rays and bopping to tunes. It might not sound like much but it was glorious. I think it's because I was in desperate need of a holiday by the time summer rolled around. With the out-of-office auto reply doing its thing, I switched off my work mode entirely. A blissful time was had.

Thank you for... The move to New York City

Wow. I'm in New York City. More than that, I'm settled. It doesn't feel like a holiday, it feels like my life. It's surreal and amazing and scary and countless other emotions that I can't even verbalise. I am grateful that I'm here, and that my family and friends all supported me in this big move. No wait, my family and friends have been incredible, they deserve their own shoutout...

Thank you for... My family and friends

I don't think any of us could of gotten through the insane year that was 2016 without our support network. Personally, I relied on all of my family and friends in one way or another this year, and they were all there for me. They were there for me when I needed reassurance, or a hug, or even just a laugh. So to them I say thank you. You keep me going.