Goodbye, New York
I’m feeling a flood of emotions as I get ready to type this post. Whew! Is this really happening? Is this my goodbye?
I’ve lived in A LOT of places but as of 2019 I’ve lived in NYC the longest. During the 10 years I’ve been here I’ve moved a total of 16 times (a lot of it was to and from the same apartment). I literally counted it the other night during a conversation with a friend and couldn’t believe it. Then again I can. New York City will make or break you. I’m so damn glad I moved back to this crazy city.
When people say “If you can make it in New York you can make it anywhere” i feel that shit deep down in my soul because the amount of things I’ve experienced here are unimaginable. I moved here in 2009 from Miami with $600 in my bank account thinking I was about to live my best life. Instead I was sharing a room AND bed with my older brother who was living with two roommates in a Harlem apartment at the time. I experienced bed bugs for the first time as the building became infested (traumatizing) and I blew through my $600 quicker than I could blink an eye. I had the hardest time finding a job since I moved here on Christmas Day (the flight was cheaper that way) and ended up tutoring children in my neighborhood a few hours a week through a government program until I finally started working at Bloomingdales in Soho and was able to rent a room. Here’s a brief timeline of how the next 10 years would play out for me in NYC.
Started working at Bloomingdales part-time while attending Mercy College full-time for Marketing. Hated the school and long commute. Met a boy at my brother’s job named Art who became my best-friend and we started dating shortly after. Moved in with my brother and Art who were living together at the time (bad idea) and left school. Tried to transfer to City College but Johnson & Wales University in Miami would’t release my transcripts until I paid off one of my loans. I was LIVID, but everything happens for a reason.
Started working at Citibank in Midtown part-time to pay off my loans. Working two-jobs was ROUGH. Worked at the bank 3x during the week and Bloomingdales the other days and weekends. Worked 17 days straight in a row once. BEYOND EXHAUSTED. Sucked it up though because loans had to be paid so I could get my degree and not have to work crappy draining jobs in the future. Met my future boss at the bank. Asked to intern for his venture capital firm on my last day. Interviewed for the job two weeks later and was offered an Executive Assistant position. THE GLOW UP was real. Felt good to walk in the bank like a bawse. I hated working at the bank so much but so thankful for the doors it opened and how comfortable it made me feel discussing and handling large amounts of money. Expressed my creativity by creating heavy content for the blog.
Worked my ass off. Learned a lot about what it takes to run a business and deal with clients. Learned how important relationships are how it’s crucial to take care of those who take care of you no matter what their job title is. Went back to school. Struggled to keep my grades up because I worked full-time while going to school full-time. Made great money at my job and got to be chauffeured around NYC by our company driver. Moved in with Art into our own apartment. Friends turned into family. My great-grandmother passed. Heartbroken but determined to maker her proud and carry on her legacy.
Work and school was my life. This definitely took a toll on all of my relationships as I was always busy. Experienced the biggest loss of my life to date. Art loss his battle to depression. It was the most unbearable pain I had ever dealt with. I was in a very dark place after and was not myself. Did not know how I was going to make it. Started going to therapy weekly. Cried a lot. Felt so broken and alone but pushed through with the help of my amazing therapist and loved ones. Quit my executive assistant job because I was so unhappy. Didn't care to downgrade to another job because life is too short to be miserable and not chase your dreams. All I wanted to do was finish school with good grades so I quit and started working for an Argentinean consulting firm in the same building. It was part-time, I got to choose my hours and worked by myself as I was in charge of running their NY office. Pay was great too. THE JOB WAS PERFECT! Moved in with Art’s grandparents because I hated being lonely in our apartment and didn’t really know what to do with my life.
A blur. All I remember was hitting the books hard and balancing my job, internship and the blog. Grades were good. Learned a lot and made great connections at my internship. Blog was doing great! Was featured in print magazines and modeled for hair brands. Sponsorships were coming in. Attended a lot of events and conferences and networked my ass off. Work was great and I even got to go to Argentina to meet CEO and the rest of the company. Traveled with friends. Wasn’t planning on dating but met a boy at the gym and we ended up together. Therapy was making me a better me. Moved in with a friend.
Crazy year! Finally graduated school and felt on top of the world! Blog was doing great and I was really making my presence known as a Latina blogger. Went to Europe with friends to celebrate my accomplishments. Relationship was rocky. Should have known it wasn’t going to go anywhere but shoutout to being young and dumb and ignoring the signs. Started to feel uncomfortable with being comfortable. Applied to work for an art company on cruise ships selling artwork after talking to my college roommate about her experience. Celebrated my blogs 5 year anniversary party with amazing sponsors and 175 guest. Ended the year putting my things in storage as I prepared to leave to go work on a cruise ship in Australia. Scary AF but I was ready for this new adventure.
Job on cruise ship was not what all its cracked up to be. I’ve never worked physically and mentally harder in my life. Grateful to have seen stunning parts of the South Pacific. Learned how to sell, entertain an audience and be more charismatic. Came up with business plan for a haircare line. Tapped into my inner power thanks to books like The Alchemist. Stayed my full contract term even though I wanted to quit before it ended. Came back from Australia with a new perspective. Decided to go hard with blog and influencer work while I figured out how I could create a hairline.
Moved in with boyfriend only to find out he cheated on me while I was away and had every intention of getting together with said girl (they’re married now btw lol). Was hurt and heartbroken after this devastating breakup but looking back it was a blessing. We definitely were not compatible. Had to move back in to Art’s families house and that was hella embarrassing. Had a few side hustles like doing makeup, working for a latina blogger network, and modeling but income was not stable so I was broke AF for the most part. Somehow managed to move into an apartment with two roommates I barely knew.
Roomate situation was interesting. Worked my ass off to make my rent. Struggled a lot. Ate lots of sandwiches and ramen noodles. Continued to create content. Sponsorships would come and go. Was tired of the inconsistency in my life and applied for jobs left and right. I wanted stability more than anything because I I was tired of struggling. Would make it to multiple interview rounds yet not one single job offer. Was frustrated and depressed. Had no idea WTF I was doing with my life but just knew I couldn’t give up. Learned as much as I could from my side hustles. Moved out of crazy apartment and in with my brother and his best friends sister. What a relief!
Determined not to sit around and wait for money to come to me in the form of sponsorships and collabs I decided to put my Advertising & PR degree to work along with my experience as a content creator and go to the brands and ask for money instead. Planned a six-city tour for Afro-Latinas. Secured Kia Motors as our title sponsor along with multiple brands in the hair category. Executed tour with an amazing team of creatives. FINALLY had stable income doing what I love. Was so proud of myself for making it happen because that tour was NOT EASY but we killed it. 13 million impressions and 730 total guest in attendance across the country. So grateful for your support. Ohh and I got a dog from Puerto Rico. Named him Rico.
Learned a lot about business this year and the importance of observing people’s actions over their word. When people show you who they are believe them the first time. So many good lessons learned. Thankful for these opportunities and all the amazing people I got to meet and work with during the tour.
Pitched Aisha a collab idea after meeting her on tour. She pitched me the opportunity to create my own brand instead. Dream come true! Started working on line behind the scenes. Moved into my own apartment at the end of year. Life changing. So emotional. I never thought I could live in NY on my own. Finally my own home. Couldn’t have done it without a core group of people who have become my family here in NY. GRATEFUL for friendships. Thankful for travel! Got to experience so many great cities in the US and took a much needed vacation to Europe with friends. Started my vision board workshops.
Got a manager to handle influencer business as it was getting harder for me to keep up with all the administrative work and negotiations. Heaven sent! Worked quietly behind the scenes on my haircare line Botanika Beauty. Worked a lot with amazing brands as an influencer and traveled a lot both for business and pleasure. Really came into my own living alone. Never knew how amazing it was to be in solitude with your own thoughts.
Expanded Good Vibes & Vision Board workshop into a wellness series with monthly events. Honored to cultivate these spaces for my Vecinas. Learned a lot about the haircare industry from Aisha. Still can’t believe I managed to manifest the most perfect mentor for me. We are a dream team together and couldn't be more perfect as an Aries + Gemini duo.
Wrapped up the year only saying yes to the thing that bring me absolute joy. So happy I followed my heart when it came to my wellness series because of the lives these workshops affected. Could not believe I made more money from producing my own workshops than sponsored deals in 2018. I was shocked when I saw the numbers. Best part was being able to share that money with local owned businesses by securing their services for my events. THIS IS WHAT ITS ALL ABOUT! Cultivating community while supporting your community. Shoutout to The Lit Bar and Spiritually Sparkled who graciously opened their doors for me and my Vecinas before they were officially open to the public so I can host my workshops there. Nothing brings me more joy than supporting others dreams, especially if they just so happen to be women of color from the Bronx.
Ended the year doing traveling and getting to know more about my family in Dominican Republic. A trip I will never forget.
Launched Botanika. My wildest dreams come true. CRAZY. Absolutely crazy. Contemplated something that had been sitting heavy on my heart since Fall 2018 and finally made a decision. Change is scary but your comfort zone will kill you. It’s time to level up and step into growth. It’s time to push past that feeling of security and step into the unknown. Big risk will give you big rewards. Look at all that I’ve been able to accomplish in 10 years in NY! It’s time to go. Trust in the magic of new beginnings…
I’m equally excited and sad to share that I will be moving to Chicago on June 11th. I’ve been thinking about it a lot since last fall because I’ve been traveling there so much for Botanika. Funny enough the first time I visited in 2013 I fell in love. I remember telling my friends that I could totally see myself living there and here we are.
The back and forth travel was a lot and honestly since we launched the line it’s been killing me not to be close to the business since Botanika is based out of Chicago and Aisha lives there as well. I’ve been able to move the needle and get so much work done while I’m there. I want to soak this experience all up. I want to learn as much as I can from my mentor and I want to step into this new level of growth even if it means leaving behind a city I love so much. I’m crying as I write this because these past 10 years in New York were not easy but they molded me into the woman I am today. If you knew how many L’s I took living here you would be even more thrilled for my wins because I freaking deserve every bit of them. New York will eat you up and spit your ass back out como si nada. Especially if you don’t have privilege. But it will give you the gift of access and opportunity. Your only job is to turn that access and opportunities into growth. How you do it is on you….
The people I’ve met here changed my life. The experiences I’ve had here changed my life. I came back here as a wide-eyed, naive, ambitious and innocent 19-year-old. I leave here as a wise, intuitive, ambitious business woman and I have New York to thank for that. Uptown specifically. Harlem, Washington Heights and the Bronx MADE ME and I’m proudly leaving here grateful for everything I’ve been able to accomplish in these streets. NYC tried many times to take ya girl out but I fuc*ing made it!
I’m heading to Chicago with a different mindset. You see, I’m not afraid of starting over. I’m not afraid because this time I’m not starting from scratch. I’m starting from experience. And trust me when I say that surviving and slaying New York is at the top of my resume.
Thank you for joining me on this wild ass ride called life. Thank you for being here through all my ups and downs. I look forward to sharing this new chapter of my life with you all as I dedicate myself to growing Botanika to the same level as the prestigious brands I’ve had the pleasure of working with while committing to become my highest self through my own personal growth and development.
Chicago ain’t ready for all this Uptown heat I’m about to unleash