Indy to NYC
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Transcript of Indy to NYC
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I loaded my car to the brim and made the grueling 12 hour drive from Fort Wayne, Indiana to Brooklyn, New York. With only a dream and a ridiculously lucky deal on an apartment awaiting me, I set off to begin my career as a hopeful magazine journalist, just weeks after graduating from Indiana University. Now living in the city, Im reaching out to others who made the same risky move: Nikita MBouroukounda, designer for Diane Von Furstenberg; Nathan Hoeffel, art director for Trump Model Management; Tae Na, artist manager at DGI Management; and Travis James, furniture designer. All have drastically different stories, but we share similar roots as hometown Hoosiers.
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PHOTOGRAPHY BY ESTHER BOSTON, POLINA OSHEROV, AND KEVIN ARANIBAR + DESIGN BY KATHY DAVIS
Young Hoosiers doing it their way in New York City.
TEXT BY ASHLEY MINYARD +
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NIKITA MBOUROUKOUNDA AND I SIT TOGETHER IN BRYANT Park, munching on our lunches at little metal tables painted a deep green. Other midtown employees bustle around us, trying to squeeze in some fresh air and relax-ation while on their short lunch breaks. MBouroukounda is tall and slender with a sweet smile. Dressed casually in a tank top and flats with her hair slicked back into a neat bun, shes definitely fashion material.
MBouroukounda has lived in New York for about a year. After graduating from Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), she lived at home for a short time, but much like me, decided to pack up and make the move despite her lack of solid job prospects. She is now working her dream job as a designer at Diane Von Furstenberg thanks to her courage to approach Diane one on one.
I heard that Diane was doing a personal appearance at Bergdorfs for her resort collection, she says. For a long time she had been one of the only designers for whom I really wanted to work.
MBouroukounda wore a leather necklace she created as part of her collection at SCAD to the eventa green leather leaf cutout adorned with beaded beetles. The necklace grabbed Dianes attention and sparked a conversation that led to an invitation to her office.
IT TAKES ME QUITE A WHILE TO PIN DOWN NATHAN HOEFFEL, who is the embodiment of supercharged ambition. We speak on the phone as he hides in the archival closet at Trump Model Management, escaping from the action of his busy life for a quick interview. As art director he does everything revolving around the image of the company. Trump Models website, social media, portfolio images, archive, digital videos, and photos for models are all Hoeffels responsibility. He is clearly overjoyed by the constant bustle.
Hoeffel was one of the lucky ones with a job upon his arrival, starting out in the art department of an agency specializing in male models, he used his connections there to earn his current position at Trump. But between scouting trips, working on weekends without pay and the typical work-week, he admits he may have let his job take over his personal life.
Ive been sharing a bed for a while, jumping from place to place. That was the most difficult thing, trying to make a normal life here while trying to work so hard to get up the ladder in the work force, too. You have to let go of things. Sometimes you have to buy some socks instead of doing your laundry just because its easier; there are a lot of personal sacrifices I was forced to make.
After a year and four months in New York, hes finally moving to Williamsburg, but in Hoeffels words hes still busting his ass while keeping a positive attitude. His
cheerful demeanor and self-motivation are helping him climb to the top.
People always know Im from the Midwest because Im so nice. I think thats a huge factor to my success. Being approachable is important. You know someone is from the Midwest when theyre easy; you dont have to crack them open to get a true answer. Im just happy to be here, and I have everything to learn and grow fromIm not jaded yet.
It was a whirlwind. I couldnt believe it worked. She started out as concept research assistant
under the artistic director Michael Hearst. After about 10 months, she transitioned to her current position as ready-to-wear designer. Although her experience primarily lies in accessories, she takes on ready-to-wear as a learning position with the support of her coworkers at DVF, quickly catapulting her to a respected
piece of the DVF design team.It was really nerve wracking to move to New York
City without a job. Time was ticking and I had to get things done. But everyone is here to build something so everyone is open to making a connection and networking. You need to adjust, but once it starts happening its like a snowball effect.
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NEW YORK CITY IS A PLACE FOR DREAMERS. ACCORDING to the Harris Poll, New York was ranked as the U.S. city people would most likely want to live in or near from 1997 to 2013. On the other hand, it was also ranked the city U.S. adults would least like to live. There are certainly pros and cons to New York, and in many cases when comparing it to Indiana, some things just cant be beat when it comes to the Hoosier state.
The four young Hoosier transplants I spoke to all mention the lack of leisure time as the most jarring change from Indiana to New York. With the constant action of the city and endless to-do lists, its easy to get caught up in the movement. Soon you wake up and realize you have been living through a seven-day workweek without any time dedicated to yourself. Not only that, but it is difficult to find a space that is quiet, solitary and comfortable outside of your own home.
I always think about how your view is limited here, says Hoeffel. You cant look past 50 feet without a building in the way, which is why when we get on a rooftop were so taken aback. In Indiana you can see that far all the time. Even in everyday life its hard to not get caught up in how youre going to have time to get
TAE NAS STORY BEGINS AS A ROCKY ONE. BORN IN South Korea, his family moved to Orlando, Florida based on a scam promising a job and citizenship. They were poor after draining their funds for the move, and spoke little English. After finding second cousins in Carmel, Indiana, they traveled north where they landed permanently. Na grew up watching his parents work their hardest to keep the family afloat, putting him through college at Indiana University with a degree in exercise science. He used that example of hard work and ambition to make the career transition toward his other passion, music management.
Na now sits across from me in an empty conference room; his office is bare, as dGi Management is soon making the move from midtown Manhattan to a new location. He humbly relays his story, expressing the gratitude he feels towards those who helped him reach his goals.
I was working for a music festival on the side for fun. I asked the co-founder of the festival, Brandon Silverstein, if he thought I could make a career out of it. Brandon introduced me to my current boss at dGi management and I was offered a position, says Na. I deferred my acceptance to the IUPUI masters program and moved to New York. I have so many people to thank.
He manages artists and djs, taking their calls of crisis at 6 a.m. on a Saturday when they miss their plane, or making sure the club has the right equipment for a gig. He considers his colleagues his second family, and wishes nothing more than to grow within his current company.
Im lucky to be part of a team that manages such great artists, and I hope to make it in a very cutthroat industry. I would consider this as my dream job. I consider myself very blessed to be working in the music industry and making money.
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TRAVIS JAMES IS THE DESIGNER AND CRAFTER BEHIND May Furniture Co., his own company whose origins can be traced to various Indianapolis garages. His work began with custom orders, but when things werent quite paying off he made the transition to New York in order to grow his craft and expand his market. Hes now been living in New York for five years and his company thrives enough to allow the shift from customs to his own collection.
everything done. In Indiana there is time to just breathe and look into the future without worrying if the train is down. You get so caught up in things here.
The key is to set time aside from the busy life and remember your Indiana sensibilities. New York is an amazing city, and its important to take some time out to appreciate the surroundings, but when it comes down to it, Midwesterners do love to work. We prove our worth by dedicating ourselves fully to a cause, or just by offering help without expecting something in return. Despite the wear and tear of the city, its important to remember those Hoosier lessons.
If youre coming from Indiana keep your wits about you and keep your roots down, says Travis James. Work hard when you get here. Indiana people have great work ethic. If you apply that and an open mind about how to do business in New York, you can run circles around a lot of people. Be genuine and work hard.
When I asked for advice on my own transition to the city, I w