Ever wondered what it would be like to live and run a business in New York City? Here we chat with Jacqui Rosshandler who shares with us her story of a girl from Melbourne who dreamed of living in NYC and made it happen.
Jo Corrigan: What prompted the decision to move to New York City?
Jacqui Rosshandler: I wanted to live in a different city and experience life as a student somewhere new. I had visited NY as a 16 year old and just loved it. So I chose to come to NY to do some of my university course and I was accepted into NYU’s TISCH Musical Theatre program. Once I arrived in NY, I was hooked. I knew I would live here permanently one day. So 2.5 years later, I was back in NY for good.
JC: What was life like when you first moved there?
JR: As a student it was daunting but exhilarating. I didn’t know many people and I just walked and walked and walked, discovering different neighborhoods and meeting strangers. When I moved back 2.5 years later, it was a little different. I was a bit older and wasn’t as alone but it still took about 2 years to make life long friends, find my favorite spots and make NY feel like home.
JC: How did you go navigating the US visa process?
JR: I have been on every visa there is! I was first on a student visa, then a diplomatic visa, an E3 dependent visa, an E3 visa and now I am a green card holder. Every visa tells a story! Basically if you have the drive (and a few extra bucks doesn’t hurt) you can make it happen.
JC: You launched your business in NY. How did you come upon the idea to start Eatwhatever?
JR: I wanted to start my own company and create something that would improve people’s lives. I had always felt that there was a need for a breath freshener that worked from within the stomach to combat bad breath from foods like onion and garlic. It just made sense!
JC: How did you get it off the ground – was financing it difficult, particularly being an Aussie?
JR: I self financed at the beginning with the help of my parents and some savings I had put aside. A few years later when I needed some more serious equity I found it easier to approach individuals opposed to venture capital funds. I did look into small business loans and was rejected by all of them as a non US citizen, non-green card holder.
JC: Do you have any plans to expand your business?
JR: Yes! We just launched Woofmints – an incredible breath freshener for dogs and are creating a line of all natural, American made doggy care products, including Woofmints cologne which will launch in July 2016.
JC: How do you get through those times where it all seems too hard?
JR: I remember that every day is different. Like life, you’re up one day and down the next. You just have to keep at it. If it was easy, everyone would do it.
JC: What advice would you give someone starting out in business or in a new direction?
JR: Don’t spend years on business plans, go get started! Don’t spend a fortune at the beginning. The beginning is for making mistakes – the more expensive the mistake the tougher it is to keep going. Don’t be afraid to ask people for their feedback. Everyone worries that others will steal their idea but if it was that easy to do, someone would be doing it already. At the same time, go with your gut. You will get lots of different opinions. At some point you have to just do what you think is best.
JC: What about for someone wanting to move to NYC?
JR: If you’re strong, it’ll embrace you and make you tougher than you ever thought possible. If you’re soft, you better harden up! It’s the most incredible, vibrant, energetic place but it will test you. People here are open and welcoming. You need to be friendly and approachable and you’ll find yourself with lots of friendships fast. It’s a transient place so don’t limit yourself to one friendship group or a gaggle of ex-pats. Be open and you’ll be embraced. And just say yes. When I first moved here I went to the opening of every envelope and I don’t regret that for one second.
JC: And finally, tell us what life is really like being an Aussie in New York City!
JR: It’s wonderful. When I first came here in 2003, there were very few Aussies and we stuck together. Now with the E3, there’s an Aussie around every corner. New Yorkers appreciate us for our easy going natures and excellent coffee shops.
To find out more about Eatwhatever and where you can buy it click here.