What It’s Like To Move to New York City

Outfit: White Sleeveless Turtleneck Top | Printed Skort | Trench | Bootssimilar pair here + here )

If someone would’ve told my 15 year old self growing up in my small town of South Bend, Indiana that at 27 I’d be living in New York City pursuing my career…I never would’ve believed them. Not that I had any idea of what I wanted to do or where I thought I’d be, but my quiet, small town self never would never have imagined that New York City was in the cards.

I first started coming to New York in the fall of 2016 for fashion week. My mom had never been, so she came with me to my first-ever NYFW that September. Whenever I wasn’t at shows or events, we were doing all the great touristy things together in the city. I loved this trip so much! I’ve been coming to fashion week twice a year ever since.

During this same trip in 2014, I met Conner for the first time – who had just graduated and moved to the city from Boston (I’m two years older than him 🐯).  I had just moved to Chicago about 3 months before this trip, so both of us were just starting over in brand new cities. I went a little deeper into our story here, but to make it short – the next two years of my life consisted of A LOT of flights from Chicago to NYC. Most of you know how obsessed I was (and still am) with living in Chicago. I loved everything about it. Even though I loved my weekend trips to New York to see him and network in the city, anytime anyone asked if a move to NY was in my future, it was a a hard no. It was too big, too hectic, too busy, dirty, smelly, and just not for me.

Fast forward two years and Con and I are still going strong, the New York City work opportunities and connections were flowing, and one of my best friends (John) was NYC bound.  I’ll be honest with you guys, when I decided to move I didn’t really have a plan and I was still a little unsure of if it was the right move. It was a leap of faith and an attempt to take both my relationship and career to the next level. Those of you who have done long distance know the struggle – especially when there’s no end in site. We both thought being in the same city was the obvious next step to see if this was something that could last. The city had grown on me, and I figured if there was ever a time to live in New York City, it was now – with no responsibilities holding me back. I’ve always known I’ll most likely live in Chicago forever, so I thought, why not take on an adventure on the east coast for a year or two??

So here I am! Living the high rise life in downtown Manhattan and writing this while looking out our window at the boats cruising under the Brooklyn Bridge. Conner sitting next to me on the couch – and John making food in the kitchen blaring ‘7 Rings’. You guys…life is CRAZY and so unexpected at times. You really never know how each experience is going to direct your path. And that’s the beauty of it 😉

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Answering all of your questions below about what it’s like to move to New York City..


Where did you decide to live? 

We live in a new high rise in the Financial District of Manhattan, also known as FiDi. It’s the neighborhood located on the southern tip of the island. We’re in between the Hudson and East River, so we have great views of the water on both sides. It’s a fast-paced financial hub during the day (we live right by Wall Street) and calm at night. Transportation down here is so convenient and we live right by some great landmarks like One World Trade, The Oculus, Seaport, Brookfield Place, Brooklyn Bridge, etc. FiDi is such a great neighborhood to call home 🌆

How did you find your apartment?

We looked everywhere. It was a two month process. I’ll go into more detail about this in a future blog post because this in itself could be an entire post and I know a lot of you had questions about how to go about looking for something. We looked at about 40 different apartments (🤯) and the market is super competitive so we even had a few spots we loved scooped up before we could make a move. So more on this coming soon!

What was it like downsizing from 4,000 to 1,000 sq ft?

A big adjustment! Coming from a 4 bedroom apartment with the girls in Chicago to a 1,000 sq ft apartment here was a huge difference. I moved to New York with 2 suitcases when I came here for fashion week in September – and that’s it! I did a lot of decluttering and donating and only brought the things I really loved. Simplifying things has actually been really great. We also just worked with a home organization team here in city to help maximize our small space and the end result is amazing. I’ll be sharing the before and afters on here soon!

When will you be sharing your apartment?

End of this month! John and I worked with West Elm to design the space and we can’t wait for you to see it! It’s so cozy and curated and we’re so happy it’s all finally done. Stay tuned 🙂

How do you get around town?

I knew it was pointless to have a car in New York so I pulled the trigger and sold my car in Chicago 😱 That was a big step for me. When I first moved here the thought of taking the subway everywhere gave me so much anxiety, but now I’m (almost) a pro and it’s my main method of transportation. I also walk everywhere and take Ubers.

What are your favorite neighborhoods?

Exploring here is so fun. That’s all Conner and I did during the summer. Each neighborhood feels like a different city and it’s so much fun finding all the hidden gems in each area. Every time I go out to eat or drinks with friends I always try to go to a new spot because the options are endless! Right now my favorite neighborhoods to hang out/eat in are the West Village and the Lower East Side.

Has living in New York helped you step outside your comfort zone?

Comfort zone? What’s a comfort zone?

Has the move been good for your career?

Everything is happening here. There are events going on every night of the week. So many of the brands I partner with are headquartered here. The networking options are endless. Also, shooting in the city is incredible. There’s a photographable moment on every corner and there’s SO MUCH character. So, yes!

Best thing:

I order everything online.

Worst thing:

I order everything online.

Pros:

Everyone from out of town wants to come visit, the food options are endless, the city buzz is unlike anything else, the shopping is the best, you have everything at your fingertips, so many people to meet, all the history and culture, the cool events and nightlife…

Cons:

It’s expensive, like so expensive. Inconvenient at times – I miss getting in my car and conveniently driving to my destination so much. Small spaces. The trash. Getting groceries (and carrying them home 🙄), the construction (scaffolding every.where.), the traffic..

Have you found a church in the city?

I went to Hillsong Church when I first moved here but it’s a far commute from where I live so I wanted to find something closer to my neighborhood. We tried something a little more intimate in our neighborhood this morning called Liberty Church and I really liked it, so I’ll keep ya updated!

Where should I stay if I’m visiting?

See this blog post.

Favorite spots so far?

Restoration Hardware Rooftop Restaurant

Dudley’s in Lower East Side

Buddakan in Chelsea

La Esquina – Mexican food in Soho

Django – jazz club at The Roxy Hotel

Tiny’s in Tribeca

Terra – Italian dinner spot in Tribeca (our first date)

The Spaniard in West Village

Chinese Tuxedo in China Town & Apotheke after for drinks

Joseph Leonard brunch in West Village

Macao Trading Co – favorite bar in Tribeca

Bubby’s – best brunch in Tribeca

Loconda Verde – dinner in Tribeca

Mercer Kitchen in Soho

Emily Pizza in West Village

Due West – dinner and drink spot West Village


More to come, but hope this answers some of your questions! Thanks for stopping by and happy Sunday xo

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Balancing Faith & My Career

I wanted to start this post by giving you my definition of what it means to be a blogger.

To put it simply, a blogger is someone who enjoys sharing parts of their life online. You can share just about anything you want on the internet, and as long as you’re influencing people who choose to follow along with your content, the list of ways you can make money from a loyal following is endless. Obviously, you can blog as a hobby, but if you’re calling it your career then I’d assume it’s generating income.

To be more specific, I’m a fashion blogger that dabbles in 20-something lifestyle content. Lifestyle is such a broad term, but that’s the best part – I never feel boxed in when it comes to what I want to write about. This means my content can always be evolving and that I can make the executive decision to publish whatever I feel compelled to share. I love cultivating my sense of style and sharing my creativity to inspire my followers. Especially my petite readers! I totally understand the struggle to find clothing that fits and makes you feel confident. I use my website and Instagram to inspire outfit ideas, decor inspiration, organizational methods, to share my faith, thoughts, and a lot more. I advertise for brands and for products I believe in and want to share with the world. Ultimately, I do my best to use social media to show young women what I think it means to be both classy and bold in all areas of their lives.

I think of my blog as an online journal – somewhere to process my thoughts. Whether I’m sharing how to get through a break up or how I organized the drawers underneath my bathroom sink…the information is available to anyone who cares enough to stick around and read it. I love sharing a few of the 123875898 thoughts that go through my head on a daily basis with you. I’m a compassionate person who craves human connection more than most things in life, and my goal on here is to connect with you whether it’s bonding over how comfortable a new pair of boots is or sharing a piece of advice from a lesson I learned the hard way.

Which brings me to the topic of this post.

In the past, I’ve struggled finding the right balance between my two contrasting worlds.  Wedged between the glamorous industry of fashion & beauty… and life as a Christian woman. I’m not saying the two worlds can’t coincide -I follow so many incredible girls that do an amazing job of sharing their both their faith and style through their platforms (like Brighton Keller & Kara Stout). But, I do think things can get a little confusing when it comes to chasing success in my career while simultaneously searching for my identity in Jesus. I can say this because I know what it feels like to work 150 mph towards your goals, achieve them, and then still feel like something’s missing in the end. This year I learned that sometimes success in business requires huge sacrifices, and at times I found myself sacrificing things like a healthy work-life balance, my relationships, and even my beliefs. It’s easy to get a little lost when hours of my day are spent on social media where materialism thrives, comparison is unavoidable, and the more edgy the content the better it performs. I’ve always viewed fashion as an expression of creativity and to me it’s never been about vanity or having the latest and greatest. Yes, I love beautiful outfits and interiors, but there’s also the Olivia who hibernates at home in the same Arizona Tea sweatshirt 3 days a week and writes and listen to podcasts to escape from all the fluff – and I love that life too.

So let me tell you about a time I posted something on Instagram that I’m not too proud of. It was last year in Cabo at the time when my Instagram was growing really quickly and I was beginning to notice that the amount of likes I received increased whenever my clothing in the picture decreased. Look you guys, I’m human. And of course it feels good to post a picture on a beach when you’re feeling confident. But the moment I hit publish on this very cheeky bikini picture, marks one of my all time fails on Instagram. It took about 3 minutes before I realized what I just did, and then I deleted the picture immediately. As confident as I might have felt in that bikini at the time, the type of message that picture sent was no where near who I am or the type of message I wanted to share with the thousands of girls following me. I take so much pride in showing girls that you don’t have to be a bikini model on Instagram or post sexy pictures of yourself for justification or attention. You guys know how it is, you scroll through your explore page and see so many beautiful women with perfect figures and minimal clothing. In my opinion, that’s not something that needs to be shared with millions of strangers on the internet. This was the first of a many posting mistakes I’ve regretted on Instagram that I’ve learned from.

Choosing not to conform to the ways of this world was never meant to be an easy task. What’s easy is to go along with what everyone else is doing – to fit in with the crowd – to blend. But as Christians that’s not what we’re called to do. We’re called to set an example of what it looks like to a life influenced by Christ. I have the best examples of Christian women in my life who are paving the way for me and showing what it looks like to live a life of purpose. My mom and both of my best friends Linds & Rachel. They understand what is means to express yourself through style, beauty, and creativity, without letting it overshadow their true purpose. I encourage you if you don’t already to draw closer to the women in your life who are inspiring you to be a better person. Whether you live in New York City or Granger, Indiana – you can find wonderful & inspiring people everywhere.

Obviously, work is work. And at the end of the day we all have to do our best with the talents, gifts, and circumstances we’ve been given to make a living. It’s how we survive and pay the bills! Whether your job is to help manage someone’s finances or you’ve been given a platform to share your ideas on how to plan a bridal shower, we’re all making a difference in each other’s lives with our careers. Sometimes all it takes is changing your perspective and seeking out ways to positively impact people’s lives using your unique skills and talents in your job. Which is what I’ve been trying to do more of through my platforms lately.  If you’re feeling burnt out at work and lacking purpose in your job, remember this verse: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people” [Colossians 3:23]. If you keep this in mind, I can almost guarantee your mindset at work will change. There are so many ways you can use your career to better the world and make someone else’s day, and in that you will find more purpose in what you do.

I’ve found the key to keeping the right balance between my career and my faith is constantly keeping myself in check. To balance my drive to be financially successful with my desire to be spiritually successful. To always ask myself every time before I publish something – does this align with who I am and what I believe in? Am I posting this for self-serving reasons or so I can benefit or inspire someone today who might scroll past this? Am I using my platform to share the light that’s been given to me?

I mess up a lot and I’m not perfect, but I’m still trying. If we had all the answers laid out perfectly for how we’re supposed to live our lives, I wouldn’t be writing this post. I’m writing this because we don’t, but I’m doing a lot of soul searching during this season of my life to figure it out. I thought since I share so many other areas of my life with you guys, why not share more from my journey of faith and how I feel as a Christian woman pursuing a career in the fashion and beauty space in New York City.

Do any of you struggle with any of these things?  In what ways have you guys found more purpose in your careers? I’d love to hear more about how you incorporate your faith into what you do. And for those of you who are influencers, what are you thoughts on the topic of bringing Christianity in the blogging space?

I’m ending this post with one of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes that I think applies to anyone searching for more purpose and God’s will for their lives. “Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else.”

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2018: Advice and Thoughts

Happy ~almost~ new year!!  Hoping your 2018 has been transformative and fulfilling. It’s funny how we wish for a ‘smooth’ year, but those years aren’t the years that push us to grow. Opportunities come up that shift the course of our lives, people cross our paths that change things forever, and all the joys and hardships along the way direct every decision we make. Thank you so much for sending your questions on Instagram – it’s been nice to reminisce on 2018 and share some of my thoughts with you guys. I know how busy all of your lives are, so it means so much to me when you engage and comment on the things I create and post. I know so many of you have been following along for years (love y’all!) but for the newbies, I answered some of these first questions to let you know more about who I am outside of Instagram:

How old are you, where are you from, and where did you go to school:

I’m 27 and from a small town in northern Indiana called Granger. My parents, cousins, and grandma all still live there, so I go back all the time to visit. I went to the University of Kentucky on a cheerleading scholarship (one of the best decisions of my life!) where I majored in fashion merchandising. This was where I initially gained traction on Instagram thanks to all my UK followers and cheerleading fans around the country. After school, I eventually made my way to Chicago where I always wanted to live (it’s only about 1.5 hours from my hometown). After living there for about 2 years, I moved to New York City and I’ve been here for 4 months!

How did you get into blogging:

Right out of school, I worked as a bridal consultant and managed a bridal boutique in Kentucky. I LOVED this job so much, it was so fun working with brides and getting to manage the blog & social for the company. It was a cool way to start instantly working in the fashion industry, while getting a taste of how to run a business.  After that, I worked as a showroom stylist at an interior design firm. This was a dream job for me because I loved decorating + interiors. During this job was when I decided to start blogging. I loved sharing my journey on IG with my friends and family as a college cheerleader, bridal consultant, and interior stylist. I wanted a platform other than Instagram where I could share my outfits, thoughts, and ideas – so that’s when I decided to create a website. Being a gymnast and cheerleader for 20 years – I’d been surrounded by short girls, which was one of the main reasons I wanted to start the fashion side of my blog. I wanted to share outfit tips and inspiration for women under 5’3”, because clothes just DON’T fit us the way they’re supposed to. My family thought I was crazy in the beginning, but I knew this was something I’d love working on, building, and devoting my time to. I always had a vision for how I was going to build it into a career. This quote has always resonated with me “if you want to live a life you’ve never lived, you have to do things you’ve never done”.

How did you grow your blog & gain a following:

I worked my butt off, there really weren’t ever any shortcuts. I worked a full time job and then came home every night to moonlight my blog. I shared my heart, my ideas, and my creativity. I listened to my followers and figured out what they liked & what they didn’t like. I was extremely consistent – posting 4 times/week all year long. I aimed to be relatable through my post ideas and writing, while also tapping into the luxuries of life that make a career in the fashion so enticing. As my career as a blogger developed, I became more and more in love with creating photoshoot ideas that told a story and weren’t just about the clothing or the product. I loved the production side and creating styled images that combined color, emotion, movement, clothing, and beauty. I’m passionate about partnering with brands I believe in and finding ways to capture the attention of their target markets (my followers). At the end of 2017, things clicked when I met my now full-time photographer, Alicia (@aesthetiica). She’s so talented and we instantly became close friends – which gave me my first “co-worker”. She can instantly bring any idea we come up with to life through her photography. Honestly just having someone to be creative with has been the biggest blessing to me. Photography, relatability, consistency, storytelling, and engagement are all key to growing a following.

How do you plan ideas and get inspired for your content?

I wrote a blog post about this, read it here!

Conner:

My best friend Linds (who I cheered with in college) is from Kentucky and grew up in the same town as Conner. Throughout college she’d occasionally bring him up to me, talk about how cute he was, how he was quarter back at Harvard 🙄- blah, blah. Obviously I was extremely busy dating all the wrong guys at that time, and dating someone two years younger than me sounded like a disaster. Conner and I were both in long term relationships throughout college that lasted until a little over 2 years ago – when we both started over in new cities at the same time. Con in New York & me in Chicago. When Conner found out I was single, he got my number through the grapevine (Linds), and a cute/kinda awkward text eventually popped up on my phone. I was in that miserable stage of dating where you hate everyone and you’re depressed from your last failed relationship, so the thought of going on another date was the last thing I wanted to do.  *But* when I landed in NYC for my first New York Fashion Week, something possessed me to send him a snapchat of the plane landing with some stupid caption that said something like ‘helloooo Manhattan’ AKA ‘hi I’m here, let’s maybe go on a date’. I was in thee most dramatic stage of ‘dating is exhausting and I’m going to die alone’ when this cute Kentucky boy stopped me in my 6 inch heels (but really they were v tall that night bc I knew he was 6’2”) one night while I was in town. I literally remember thinking to myself “HOLYSH*T he’s cute AND normal, what’s happening”. Really-really long story short, Conner and I started developing a long distance relationship and friendship over the course of a year. Fast forward 2 years later, and now we’re both finally together living in New York City!

Long distance relationships:

Can be *very* challenging and is not for everyone. We definitely had our rough patches and times when we didn’t think it was going to work out. Flights are expensive, traveling gets exhausting, and sometimes you just want to be with someone who you can do normal things with – like sit on the couch next to each other and giggle at memes 😏.  My 21 year old self would have never been able to handle a long distance relationship. I was way too needy and unsure of myself back then. I think it’s true for all relationships in general, that you truly need to be so comfortable with yourself and your circumstances that adding someone else to the equation would just be the cherry on top. It’s no surprise that my business was the best it had ever been while we were doing long-distance – because all the time I would’ve been devoting to dating life or hanging out with him – was spent developing myself & my career. It gave me time and space to pursue my blog, travel with friends, see my family, all while slowly figuring out if things could really work out with us. It’s by far the most mature way I’ve ever entered a relationship. We FaceTimed, scheduled trips to see each other when we had free weekends, and made sure to visit each others families together as often as we could (since that’s such a big part of both of our lives). So yes, long distance is hard, but when you truly get along with someone and you are both willing to make it work, it’s possible and honestly can be so healthy for your individual lives. I think the key to making long distance work is having an end goal in sight. Without an end goal or idea of how the distance will officially be over, that’s where things can get really difficult.

On relationships:

Me writing this doesn’t mean I’ve figured it all out or that I’m doing everything perfectly. I have several friends that are still single and a lot who are married with kids. I’ve always been so interested in the dynamics of people’s relationships and what it really takes for a bond between two people to last, so I spend a lot of time talking to the people in my life about what they think really makes a relationship work. The older I get, the more clear things have become for me (and the more I realize my parents were probably right 🙄).

*Personality types matter.

You don’t have to be opposites and you don’t have to be the same, but you have to have complementing personalities that are willing to work together to solve problems and see things from each other’s perspective. If you’re with someone who likes to be constantly going somewhere and doing something, but you’re an introverted home body – that’s probably going to be an issue. If you’re both super passionate about things and have stubborn attitudes, *most* of the time that will create problems (and loud fights). When you’re looking for love, someone who’s personality that complements yours should definitely be on your radar. I can’t tell you how many times I think “wow, he handled my stubborn attitude so well” – and that’s when it hits you that you were with the wrong person before.

*Family life and your upbringing matters.

I’m here to burst your bubble that sometimes love is not enough (my opinion!). After being in relationships in the past with people who’s backgrounds, beliefs, and families were completely different from mine – it just makes things hard 😞. And when it comes to men and women, things are already hard enough. So, my advice to you is to find someone who understands why you are the person you are today. Who loves your family, understands your past, and has very similar values. If things aren’t aligning in your current relationship and it always feels like you’re fighting to make things work, I really want you to take a step back and re-evaluate things.

*Look for someone who’s beliefs and life goals align with yours

Your beliefs form the person you are and pretty much every decision you make.  Humans don’t want to feel alone, which is why we put so much effort into finding a companion.  But when the person you think could be your life long companion’s world view doesn’t align with yours, this can make you feel even more alone. If you both don’t have very strong beliefs about your faith, this won’t be as big of an issue. But, coming from someone who tried to do everything to make a relationship work in the past, really think about this before entering into the relationship.

Breakups & transformations:

Ok – the last little bit about relationships because this is getting so long (if you’re still here, hi 😘). Breakups have been the most transformative life lessons I’ve gone through. They can be SO painful and hard to get through. I’ve had my heart broken to the point where every day I dreaded opening my eyes in the morning. But to be honest, heartbreak has been one of God’s best methods for building my character. I’m so much more resilient, confident, and way less emotional about little things because of the pain I’ve gone through in the past. So if you’re going through it now, take my word for it – you will be fine, you will find someone better, and you will be a better mother/wife/friend because of it.

My faith:

I could write for days about this, so I’m going to dedicated a post to this question within the next couple weeks – so be on the look out 🙂

Moving to New York:

Moving to New York had always been in the back of my mind ever since I started going twice a year for fashion week. Life in Chicago was perfect and I loved everything about it, but I didn’t have ‘my person’ and I was always wondering what it would be like to live in NY. Conner works in Times Square every day and has little flexibility when it comes to travel. So once I felt like we reached the breaking point of almost 2 years of long distance, I knew we had to make a decision. With me being the freelancer and having all of my brand contacts & PR connections in New York, the idea of moving didn’t seem so bad. I knew it would be so beneficial to my career and that we could not keep going on living such separate lives if we were serious about a life together. In September, Conner and I moved in together with one of my best friends – John. We are living in the coolest apartment in lower Manhattan that overlooks the Brooklyn & Manhattan bridge and the last 4 months of NYC life has been so awesome. The career opportunities are endless, the creative industry is so incredible, I have so many friends that live here already, and now I’m here with my two best guy friends. More to come about living in New York (meeting new people, apartment searching, how it compares to Chi).

(pants from Aritzia last year)

Best Career Moments of 2018:

  • Landing my year long long partnership with Tresemme
  • Signing with a management team that’s majorly helped me manage and grow my business
  • Traveling to Portugal & Paris for work
  • Attending the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show & working with them this year
  • Hiring my first assistant/intern over the summer
  • Partnering with Nike over the summer
  • Speaking on the panel at Create Cultivate Chicago
  • Working with West Elm to design our New York apartment (tour coming this month!)

Best Life Moments of 2018:

  • Finishing decorating my entire Chicago apartment after 2 years!
  • Watching my cousin, best friend from childhood, and best friend from high school become moms!
  • Our 90s house party in Chicago – one of my favorite days of 2018
  • Renting a boat on Lake Michigan for the 4th of July with my family and best friends
  • Moving to New York City in September
  • Having my parents visit Conner and I in New York for the first time
  • Cabo vacation with my family this week!

2019 goals:

Don’t take things too personally. Eat healthier. Create a better work/life balance. Do more things just for fun. Cultivate friendships. Learn how to get around NYC without a gps. Serve others. Ask more questions. Wake up earlier. Cook at home. Read more books. Happy new year!!!! As always, thank you so much for following along

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