CORK ladies Tara Marzuki and Ruth Walsh grew up in neighbouring villages but only become friends when they moved to New York, where Tara works as a blogger and influencer and Ruth in PR.
They both have a large online following who get a daily insight into their lives in the Big Apple and here they share their tips on getting a start in a notoriously tough city...
New York is fantastic for driven young individuals with ambition; the opportunities in every sector are great and you get noticed if you are a diligent worker.
That’s according to Tara Marzuki who made the move to the city on New Year’s Eve, 2015, describing it as a massive leap in the dark.
But it’s one that’s paid off hugely for her, and the 25-year-old now works full time across multi-social media platforms with leading beauty, fashion, travel and tech brands and with a YouTube following alone of 114,000. She describes her job as to “essentially entertain people and make them feel good”.
Originally from Passage West, where her parents still live, she moved to Northern Ireland to attend Ulster University for fashion design.
“I moved to New York then less than a year after graduating and once I found out about the J1 one year grad visa, it seemed too good of an opportunity to pass up with so little ways to legally live in the US.
“I got a fashion job at a high end design house, Gabriela Hearst, and enjoyed learning about how the fashion industry operates in New York!”
She had zero connections when she arrived and at one point almost caved and went home: “I actually arrived at one of the worst times, it seemed like not one fashion company in New York needed an intern or employee! I came very close to having to come home but I had gotten everything else sorted, like my own apartment in the Upper East Side and was determined to get situated. It’s a bit hard to get off the ground but you’ve got to persevere night and day and make it happen.”
Tara started out making money on YouTube when she was just 18, but says she’s had to work incredibly hard to build her brand and network stateside.
“I have a pretty good work life balance now (I have started taking weekends off) but for at least two years it was a non-stop slog of making ends meet while trying to pursue something I loved. However, if you really are passionate about something you’re much more likely to persevere and make it work.
“As somebody that loves working for themselves, I found that to be my biggest motivator to get out of bed. The opportunities in New York are beyond what I could achieve in Ireland or the UK so for now it’s great.”
Tara creates her content around everyday aspects of her life and says she finds it pretty easy to monetise it for beauty, fashion, travel and tech brands.
“However, a big reason why I make it work is because I only work with already reputable brands for the most part or genuinely good products or services I would buy myself, and brands come to me because they feel how I do things is a right fit for their product.
“They essentially place advertisements I’ve tailored to suit my audience instead of placing it in a magazine or on TV. I would say 25% of what I do is sponsored and the other 75% is completely free for people to consume and I try to maintain that balance as I never want people to feel attacked by any of my sponsored content. For the most part people are happy to support my work as they know how much of my week is spent producing photo, video and written content for free!
“Every week is different but I try to do meetings and admin emails on Mondays and Tuesdays, shoot content on Wednesdays and Thursdays and edit all day on Fridays, but work often spills over into the weekend.”
She works a lot with fellow Cork girl Ruth Walsh.
“It’s great to know somebody who I can work with in so many different ways (we bounce ideas off each other all the time) but also have a laugh!”
Her plans for 2019 are mostly about work as she only intends spending one more year, making it four in total, in New York.
“I want to take every opportunity to work and build my savings. I also want to try and squeeze in more travel this year to places like Canada and South America before I leave.
“Even though I don’t intend on going back to fashion or continue making social media my forever career, I know whatever I end up doing, all of that experience will assist me.”
Her advice to anyone thinking of making the move like her is that ‘home isn’t going anywhere.’
“There are so many people scared of failing before they even start and I think that a lot of young people are terrified of leaving or are worried they are going to waste a lot of money if things don’t work out. Money will always come back around and if you have the intense, unshakable desire for something completely new you have to at least know that you tried!”
MOVING to New York was the best thing I have ever done — I’ve blossomed both personally and professionally and am very happy.
A convincing endorsement from 25-year-old Ruth Walsh from Monkstown who moved to the Big Apple on September 1, 2018.
“The move was based on finding myself and getting experience in my field of public relations, communications and marketing, which New York is a hub for. If you get in with the right company here and work hard, you really can tackle anything professionally.”
Having completing a masters in New Media in CIT, Ruth was offered a PR internship role with L’Oreal in Dublin.
“I worked hard and made great connections for just over a year. Then it was time for more. A fellow intern mentioned she was thinking about making the move to NYC with her best friend and I hopped on the idea. It was really last minute for us. We started to plan everything at the end of January, 2018, and we had our visas by May.”
But so far the young creative said her move across the Atlantic has been relatively seamless — except for finding a job.
“Finding a job in New York is one thing but finding a job when you are on the J-1 Graduate visa is another. You have 120 days to find a job in your field of study or else you have to leave.
“It took 12 weeks of relentless applying and interviews but I put the work in and got exactly what I wanted. I really believe that those weeks of applying and interviewing are very formative and really set up a very needed can- do attitude that is required to survive over here. I networked and blogged a lot during this time. I’ve met some really interesting people that have helped me out a lot. Everyone wants you to do well there. It’s really very positive.”
That’s her favourite thing about New York — the fact that anything is possible: “It’s so diverse and people are just so open to try new things. I love that there is a great community of mid-20-year-olds with this go-getter attitude over here. It’s really motivating. I don’t like the rats or roaches. But, I mean, I’ll take the bad with the good.”
Ruth, who lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, says her social media audience has grown since making the move, and feels it’s because she is “sharing the real deal”.
“I’m not glossing over anything and I think people really love to see and connect with someone that has gone across the pond to better themselves and chase their dreams.
“Of course, shooting content with Tara (Marzuki) has helped this. We work together a lot and have grown super close. She is amazing and such an energy to be around.
“My approach on social media is that I just want to share my life and inspirations. People seem to be very interested in what I am doing/ wearing and what make-up I use.
“I used to have cystic acne which is gone now and that’s another interesting angle people follow me for: what my skincare routine is and what my skincare journey is.
“I also think Instagram is an incredible app. I hear so often that people hate it, etc, but it’s such a huge source of motivation and inspiration for me. My motto is: if you don’t like someone, if what they post has a negative effect on you, then just unfollow them. Edit your life the way you want it to be.”
And for Ruth right now, it’s all good.
“I sort of feel like everything in my life so far has prepared me for the move. I’m really happy. My advice to anyone thinking of moving over is to just go for it. I think what holds people back is themselves. You can always come back if it doesn’t work out but why not give it a go? It shapes you as a person and like Frank Sinatra says ‘If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere’.”
You can follow Tara at http://tarmarz.com/ and on Instagram: armarz
You can follow Ruth on Instagram at ruthruby.