For the first time in my life, I am moving away from my hometown. I am a born and raised New Yorker, and though I have traveled the world, I have never moved away from my home. My family has lived here for 6 generations. New York is literally in my blood.
This week, I officially moved my family and my business to Miami for the year. Many of you have been wondering and asking why. So here goes.
There are many reasons. The primary reason is that NYC depressed the shit out of me during COVID. At first, I was actually loving it. I got extra time with my kids, I started cooking again all the time which I love and haven’t had proper time to do since I got divorced, and my business didn’t slow down. Maybe in the beginning, but that time actually gave me a chance to assess and evaluate my business in a way that I had never gotten a chance to do amidst all the hustle and bustle + catastrophic personal life incidents. My life full of instability prepared me really well for times like COVID, so when everybody else stopped, I didn’t slow down. Rather, I sped up but in a more focused on conscientious manner. The time ‘off’ was helpful. I had the fortune of living in my sister’s beautiful and spacious apartment, rent-free, with outdoor breathing space that contributed significantly to mine and my kids’ mental sanity. Life in an NYC box during COVID with 2 kids and a nanny would have been disastrous. I am forever grateful for my sister’s generosity. Each night, after work was done and my kids were asleep, I’d sit on my sister’s terrace around 11 pm, cocktail in hand, and I’d blast music and dance by myself. Moments to cherish. And last but not least, I didn’t have to go to work events which my life often demands that I do. I was enjoying life.
The challenge, though, was saving my business from going under while being a leader for my team so that we could all stay productive as well as mentally healthy. I did my best to boost spirits and to maintain a positive and strong mindset for everyone. But then the riots hit, and I was living in the midst of them. One by one, my team began to go down and my mental sanity – the positive outlook I always try to maintain even through the midst of shit – began to go down with them.
When the riots hit, every single store in my neighborhood and its extension put wood boards up in their windows to prevent from damage. I felt like I was living in a warzone, just without physical dead bodies in the street. For 2 weeks, they locked the elevators in my building as a preventative measure from 8 pm to 8 am as a precaution, just in case the rioters broke into the lobby. As a single mother home alone with 2 children, I felt mentally unsafe. It was traumatic. The 11 pm dance sessions turned into me looking up at the sky as helicopters circled above for 3 weeks. I’d hear screaming in the streets at all hours of the day and night. During this time, my nanny, who has been with my family since my son was born, got diagnosed with cancer. It was all too much to bear. Never in my entire life did I ever think I’d feel this unsafe living in NYC.
And so one night, as I was on the phone with one of my best friends discussing what her plans were for the year, I decided I needed to go. I needed a break from my home. New York City, which is one the greatest loves of my life, officially had broken my heart. My group of city friends had officially disbanded – everyone landing in a different place. I realized the year to come would continue to remain completely unstable and I wanted to do what I could to create as safe an environment as possible for my children. So I made the decision to do what I felt would be best for myself and for my family. As an artist, I am someone who functions on energy – I need good energy to continue to feel inspired, and as someone whose entire livelihood is contingent on inspiration, I needed to get the fuck away from all the bad vibes.
In the past 3.5 years since I got divorced, I’ve had many ups and downs. Most notably, I lost one of my closest friends and art assistant in a tragic car accident that changed who I am forever. I also got my heart broken by the same guy 5 times and I haven’t been able to open it back up. I put all my energy into my work and kids and have neglected my own personal life to protect myself from getting hurt again. But quarantine reminded me that’s not a complete picture of who I am. I realized during COVID that I miss that part of my life, and I want love to continue building my family. New York, for now, with all its bad energy, was not going to be the place to allow me to do so. Plus, if I am going to be stuck in my home for the next year, I need space, sunshine, and warmth so at the very least my kids can go outside, and the thought of quarantine during a New York winter is mentally traumatic.
For a long time, I’ve been wanting to grow my market down in Miami, as my art and designs are a perfect fit. Now, finally, this is my chance. I will be close to my best friend, Rea, and our kids, who are also best friends, will have each other. She and I will be able to work together, in person, which will allow for efficiency and productivity. Some members of my team will be flying back and forth, and others, who are staying in New York, will be staying on my team in a part-time capacity.
The struggle to get here has been REAL but I believe will be very fruitful once all is settled (for like 10 months before I have to come home…) It involved some challenging divorce navigation. It involved extremely hard work on behalf of my team, especially Tunie, who helped facilitate everything. It involved chaos, lots of packing, logistics, you name it. It involved serious expenses on many fronts. I never could’ve fathomed how much this move would cost me. But it was all time, money, and energy well spent as I believe I will be that much more productive and fruitful if my brain is in a happy place. The number of obstacles I faced getting here have been countless. They are not necessary to list, but trust me, the list was very long. BUT WE DID IT. I DID IT. I am forever grateful that God always continues to provide me with strength and the ability to be resilient. Whereas some people resist change, I embrace it with open arms as that is precisely what forces me to grow and learn.
I am nervous. I am a little scared. But mostly, I am excited. I am grateful. I feel inspired. I feel happy. And I feel STRONG AS SHIT, because I don’t know many other single mothers who would take this on, with no backing whatsoever. Yet here I am. Over the course of the next 3 days, I, along with an entire team of muscle, will be tasked with unpacking about 100 boxes and hanging all my artwork so when my mom flies down with my kids on Sunday, they walk into their new home with serenity as opposed to chaos. That is exactly how I handled my move when I first got divorced and I truly believe it helped keep my kids emotionally healthy. So I will work hard and handle this move like an absolute boss because my kids’ mental well being is my #1 priority in life.
So – I have to give many thank yous because I did not do this alone. First of all, thank you to all those who supported my business during these past few months. That support enabled my move. Please keep supporting. My team and I need it. Second, THANK YOU TO MY INCREDIBLE TEAM AND ART FAMILY FOR HELPING TO FACILITATE, BUT ALSO, FOR BEING SO INCREDIBLY UNDERSTANDING that this is something I needed to do for myself and my family. Tunie, Rachel, Rea, Pedro, Mike S, Mike B, Rashon, Jake, Vinnie, Dasha, Filip, Monika, and my interns, Emily, Talia, and Dina. Thank you to my amazing friends who are an extension of my family who supported this move unconditionally – specifically, Chelsea, Lauren, Mary (thanks for the idea to move), Ahuva, Rea, Tunie, Lisa, Tobi – you have all kept me strong and sane through this challenge. Thanks to my mom who will be flying my kids down and thanks to my nanny who has always been there to give them love. Thanks to the many who volunteered to help me with my live sale as well as my move – Talya Bendel & Dina Koutramanis. And thanks to my Instafam who is always so encouraging. I will never forget these past few months as I transitioned my life from New York to Miami, and the help I received during this time remains in my heart, with gratitude to be repaid for years to come.
To those of you who are afraid of change – my best advice, learn to embrace it. We become strongest from the moments that make us the most uncomfortable. Everyone is navigating these uncertain times together. Lean on those who make you feel good, cut out those who are toxic, and learn the lessons that God is trying to teach us.
New York City, I promise to be back. You are my heart and soul. Miami, are you ready for me??? Wooooooooohoooooooooo. Bienvenidos a Miami.