Meet our Founder (f.i.n.a.l.l.y.)
After almost 2 years with Friends and Partners telling me that I should start “appearing” on Behind the Scenes NYC’s feed, I finally decided to try. But! I won’t be here often…
I’m Brazilian (yes! Not a New Yorker!). Which is actually better, believe me. Most New Yorkers I know, are not really interested in exploring their own city, and are always going to the same-exact-eternal-places-they’ve-always-gone.
I always had this indescribable passion and curiosity for NY, so I was often here visiting, always UnCovering the best hidden spots and events. The city is just so dynamic, alive, full of novelties, so multi-cultural, beautiful, with an intense energy…the list can go on forever.
Initially I wanted to move right after college, I had a couple of ideas and plans, but then you start working and getting into serious relationships…then suddenly BOOM!…you’re over your 30’s and still back home. Bummer.
I tried desperately (and when I say this, I mean it to the extreme) to come to NYC back in 2011. I spent an entire year shooting emails, staying late hours on LinkedIn, researching every single MBA or 1-year-course in multiple schools in the most diverse fields that I was interested in, having crazy hours of Skype interviews, etc. It was c-r-a-z-y, and exhausting! But, I wanted to come.
Conclusion: Nothing worked. Something wasn’t quite right during the interviews - I missed the course applications dates for a few days (so I would have to wait another full year to apply), LinkedIn contacts simply faded away… I was devastated.
Everyone was always moving to NYC, and WHYYYY couldn’t I move too???
Years later, in April of 2014, I decided to come to NYC for 4 days, during Easter Holiday, with my sister. Then…one beautiful day when we were exploring Williamsburg, I decided to have lunch in a Polish place that had recently opened, called Dziupla. In the middle of a random conversation, I interrupted my sister, turned and said “You know what? In 1 year, I’ll be living here in NY. Write this down.” Obviously she looked stunned and asked "How" I was going to pull that off. I had no idea, but I just knew I was moving. So, we simply continued having lunch.
Just days before this trip, I was researching “hidden spots” I was going to visit, and I decided to create an Instagram account (it didn’t call Behind the Scenes NYC at first…I don’t remember the name…) and started shooting posts.
After a while working on it, a New Yorker, woman, around her 40’s send me a message saying: “Hi there! I was born in NYC, have lived here my entire life, and didn’t know about this restaurant you wrote about. I went to it last night, and simply loved it! Thank you for the tip!”…I was like: WOW! I’m in Brazil, in my room at my mom's house, giving tips to real New Yorkers which are actually enjoying them…and thanking me!!! There must be something right about what I'm doing…
One random day, I was back from work, in my room working on my countless posts….and I decided to really take this seriously. I just loved it so much! Every post I wrote, I could see myself in New York. I started thinking about the concept of what I wanted to write about and what I wanted to create…and really, out of nowhere, the name just struck me…Behind the Scenes NYC!
I wanted to write about the best hidden spots in the State of New York, far away from the crazy, touristy scene, teach people that New York is definitely not synonymous to Manhattan, talk about UpState NY, engage with the local community which is amazing disclosing about their stories, and disrupting the status quo of the NY tourism…the name couldn’t be better.
I wanted a very clean, catchy logo, obviously with the colors Yellow and Black which, for me, was an immediate reference to the numerous crazy yellow cabs in NYC. My brother and my sister-in-law, who are very experienced and amazing designers, helped me out a lot. Thanks guys!!!
I had, and still have, a huge group of friends that lived in NYC, so I reached out to them all, told about this new project and asked them to be my curious “eyes” in the City (until I was able to move here)…and work with me in their free time, feeding me with the best, updated places, events, secrets…while I was starting Behind the Scenes NYC from back home.
Back then, I used to wake up at 6am to be at work precisely at 8am (not 8:05am, 8am!), work 'till around 7pm, and then hit the gym (every.single.day - except Fridays!) from 7:30pm - 9:30pm, run home, have dinner…and not go to bed, hahaha! Around 11pm I would start checking the emails from my "contributor friends” and worked on writing the posts, up till 1-2am. At that time, I would post 4 posts a day - specifically 9am, 12pm, 5pm, 10pm! So, for a full year, I barely slept, working my ass off, but felt just so happy and certain I was moving to NY in 1 year.
I was dating for over 2.5 years back then and he was a great guy all along. He always encouraged me to go after my dream. He has a beautiful daughter that I completely love, and at one point I realized that he wouldn't be able to do this big move with me. It was my dream, after all. We talked, he was a-m-a-z-i-n-g and we are still very very good friends. We're always in touch and I have a huge affection for his the entire family - his caring parents, amazing brothers, sisters in law that I adore and confide, the "gang" of nephews, his gorgeous daughter that I cared as my own, and his great group of friend, which eventually became my friends too....!
In September of 2014 I went back to NYC. Got off the plane and went directly to my first meeting with my (future) lawyer to talk about the work Visa I wanted. I told a bit about my career -- 2 years in 2 different Import/Export companies, 3 years in the Marketing department at Kimberly Clark, 3 years as an Executive Producer at Vogue Brazil, 2 years leading the startup in Brazil of a global concierge company called Quintessentially, and last, before moving to New York, as a Tenant Mix Manager at the biggest and most renowned luxury shopping center group, called Iguatemi (Jereissati Group).
I told my lawyer: “I want a work Visa, to work for any industry and company that wants to hire me in New York and legally earn money, declaring all of my taxes”. You might be laughing now, right? Well, so did he, of course (and every single person whom I told this to). He replied: “Every person coming to NY would love a Visa to work for any company and declare taxes accordingly.” I simply said: “Don’t laugh. I’m positive we’ll get it.”
So after going over all the different types of Visas I could apply for, we found the perfect one for me! I started working on it on October/14 through late November. Then I had a sudden health issue which put it on hold for almost 50 days - I was in bed for 50 days, not even going to work, so everything was on hold. Then, January 5th of 2015 I got back on it and back to my job. I handed all the paper work in the beginning of February.
Oh!! Around January 7th, I had already decided to buy my ticket to NYC - the ticket for the day I was officially moving here. “April 19th, to arrive there April 20th” just popped into my head and yes…I purchased it before even finishing up the Petition for my lawyers to review and then submit it to the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services).
When I handed all my paperwork, beginning of February, and told one of my lawyers that I had already a date of “departure”, she said: "We still need to review your paper work, finalize our part, then submit it. Then, it takes around 60 days for your approval to come. When it comes, you still have to schedule your interview, get your digital prints, etc…, so I would say….the earliest you’ll be in NY is around June/July.”
I simply told her: “Don’t worry, it’ll all work out, because I’m leaving Brazil on April 19th. I need to be there by the 20th.”
Guess what!? 780 pages later, my Petition was submitted, and my approval came in 10 days, instead of the default 60! This way, I had time to calmly organize myself to leave!
One of the toughest days for me, obviously after having to say “Good Bye” to my parents and friends, was asking to quit my job.
I L-O-V-E-D working at Iguatemi and I always dreamt of working with my VP back then, Erika Jereissati - definitely one of my female work role-models. I announced only 15 days before boarding and it was hard, very hard…and I cried a lot.
I had 2 big dreams in life: Working at Iguatemi with Erika and living in NYC. My Iguatemi “Era” had come to an end, so now, I was ready for NEW YORK CITY!
So, I arrived in NYC on April 20th, 2015 (OMG! My dream come true!)….so I just wrapped up my first year here!
Wanna know the most amazing thing??? The day that I was at Dziupla (and Chris, the owner still does not know about this…), and said that I was moving to NYC in 1 year…that was April 20th, 2014 - I just saw this because of Facebook's memories last week! So, I literally moved 365 days later. The power of words!!! I really believe in this...
Now, being a “New Yorker by choice”, things are clearly easier for me (work wise) and our team of Contributors continues to grow and grow!
We also recently launched this Website, which has become a beautiful database of the best places and events in NY, with a unique and special curation, that’s for sure! It’s pretty new, but we’re sure it’s going to be huge!
Thank you all for the love and support during the beginning of my breathtaking Journey and feel free to contact me or my team at any time!!! We’d love to hear more from you….really!
Kisses (in Brazil, we send “kisses”),
Fernanda Paronetto - or only, Fê
Photo Credit: @OYuxi