PR pro, Marielle Legair hails from Beckenham, which is just an itty bit on the outskirts of South London between Bromley and Croydon. Last November she moved to New York City in search of something new and a fresh scene. She is a global PR manager for a large accountancy firm based in Manhattan. Marielle is a keen traveler and budding photographer; with a knack for getting the right people together, in a room to create spectacular results.
1. How long have you been in NYC?
I moved to NYC from London six months ago.
2. What inspired you to move here?
There are so many things that inspired me to make the move to New York. I had been visiting the city for over 15 years but in 2012 I decided I wanted to live here. I needed something new. In fact, I remember one night, being up late, thinking of how I was going to get to New York. I stumbled across the NY-LONdoner blog. I sat up until the early hours (even though I had work the next morning) and read all the Q&As. I remember at the time saying to myself, ‘one day I will be featured on here,’ and look…here I am!
From a career standpoint; it’s very inspiring to see so many black successful women in the US in senior roles working across a range of industries; whether it is in a corporate environment or as entrepreneurs. Many of my friends have their own businesses in addition to their 9 to 5. It’s really inspiring and spurs me to work harder to achieve. I’m sure barriers exist; but people push through them and the success is clear to see.
3. Where do you live?
I have an apartment in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. I can see myself staying in Brooklyn for a while; it’s a very eclectic borough with so many cultural events taking place. I love it!
4. What keeps you busy in NYC?
By day, I work in financial PR. I still pinch myself sometimes as I walk down 5th Avenue to work or look out at the views of Manhattan from my office on the 42nd floor of 30 Rock.
In my free time I do a mix of things. Mainly, I go to as many networking events as possible as i’m still fairly new to the city and it’s a great way to meet interesting people.
I’m really looking forward to the summer as there will be so many free concerts and rooftop parties to go to. London is great for cultural events too; but there are not as many free events and traveling around London can be expensive. NYC is expensive in other ways but it still has lots to offer for free.
5. What do you miss about London?
Aside from the obvious, like family and friends; I miss M&S (Marks & Spencer) and Sainsbury’s. I’ve had to get used to shopping in several supermarkets to find what I want. I also miss UK fashion. People dress very well in London and it’s much more varied. There are the likes of Zara and TopShop here but their US price markup is steep.
6. What do you love about New York?
The energy of this city is like no other. I think it was John Steinbeck who said: “Once you have lived in New York and it has become your home, no other place is good enough.” That quote really resonates with me. I love the fast pace and the varied mix of people that live here. I wake up each day and have absolutely no idea how my day will end. It’s exciting! I felt stuck in a rut in London and needed this change. New York isn’t for everyone but this is where I want to be for the time being.
It really is the city that never sleeps. During the week, I get to my gym at 6:30am and it’s already packed! The fact that it opens at 5am says a lot about the NY lifestyle. I love the fact that I can pretty much do or go where I want whenever I want. It’s great that the subway runs 24 hours, and the trains run every 2 minutes. I don’t have to drive anywhere.
New Yorkers are less reserved than us Brits. We have that stiff upper lip thing, especially in London. I only really realized how reserved I had become until I moved to New York. I’ve had to quickly adapt to being more vocal; as being quiet is just not part of the culture. Strangers talk to each other here a lot and that’s totally acceptable.
7. If there is a dose of Britishness you would like to inject into NYC, what would it be?
Probably for New York City taxi drivers to take the equivalent of The London Knowledge. Hardly any of the taxi drivers know the streets of New York, so unless you know the exact location and the cross streets they will not know how to find it. I’ve often had to use the sat nav on my iPhone to direct taxi drivers to my destination which can be annoying.
8. How are you adjusting to the New York lifestyle, culture, and environment?
Everything has pretty much fallen into place for me. I’m very thankful. I have had to adapt to the pace of the city. People talk and walk faster here and that did take some getting used to. I’ve had to adjust to getting less sleep as there is always something going on. Back in London I own a large flat with a big dining table for all the cooking and entertaining I used to do. Here, I’m hardly home so I don’t need a big apartment and I hardly bake or cook like I used to.
9. Complete this sentence, ‘You know you’re a New Yorker when…’
• You party in the city during the week after work and do nothing but boozy brunches on the weekend to avoid the tourists that line the streets of Manhattan
• You know that when an empty subway carriage pulls into the station during rush hour NOT to board the carriage. It usually means there is an unsavory character in the carriage
• Saying: “fuck you mean?!” in a sentence becomes completely normal. For the most part, the New Yorkers I have encountered swear much more than Londoners
• When the subway kids get on the train and start busking and you don’t even look up to acknowledge them
10. Survival tip to living in New York City.
To get the best out of living in New York, I think it’s really important to be proactive and open to all possibilities. There’s an advert running on the subway at the moment that says: “You didn’t move to New York to stay at home,” and that is so true.
There are so many opportunities here but unless you are open to meeting new people and building your network you will stay in the same place. I guess that applies to anything in life but I find people in New York City to be much more open and accessible. I’ve been to some amazing events and met some influential people such as; Cornel West, Nas and June Ambrose (Jay Z’s stylist) in the short space of time I’ve been here.
People back home often ask me how I managed to settle in to NYC life so quickly. Before making the move, I did my due diligence by talking to people who had moved from London and asking my friends to put me in touch with people they knew who had moved. It was really valuable to get the perspectives of people who had gone through the same thing. So when people ask me for help and advice on relocating, I remember all the people who helped me get here and don’t hesitate to help them.
I feel like a small fish in a big pond and that’s a great feeling.
And there are plenty of rare breeds in this pond they call New York City. Thank you Marielle.
Keep up with Marielle’s adventures in NYC online at: