Creative (Networking) in New York City

My relocation from Malawi to New York (creatively) felt much like my move from Mangochi, my beach hometown (after undergrad) to Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital.

When I got the news that I had to move away from Malawi in March of 2022, I remember being deeply anxious about my creative community – having worked so hard to build and potentially rise to the top of one in Lilongwe. My creative dream in Malawi was to create a collective of like-minded creatives, set up a creative hub where we could cocreate, and establish a few communities.

Check me out on Instagram. Let’s stay in touch!

My plan was that I would work towards this over 5-10 years – work in areas where I could make some money, save up, and eventually invest in this ‘creative hub’ and then ‘retire’ to focus on writing and creating. Life happened very differently for me – I leaned in, and the Universe responded much faster and much differently from my wants, plans, and timelines.

In a space of 2 years, we had raised enough money to set up not one but two creative hubs; and the several communities I had just* created were already growing much faster than I could in my personal capacity ‘mother’ them. In true parenting nature, I got myself a village, and we gave/give our best to them to allow them to become whatever they wish to become.

And as if that was not enough of a whirlwind, almost immediately after I set up the hubs, I was yanked out of Malawi into a new reality I have neither experienced before, nor dreamt of experiencing in my lifetime: Manhattan, New York City.

Now, I have done this before… landed in a community, and rose to the top of it. I have done this several times, actually. I have spent most of my life as the underdog that always finds her way somehow (a little too quickly) to the top.

I got to Chancellor College (The University of Malawi), and within 6 months I was potentially the most famous Miss Chancellor College the University has witnessed. I spent the rest of my years in undergrad at the top of society.

I then moved to Lilongwe – again an underdog, at the time participating in Miss Malawi and with a growing network of creatives who were my friends, and also quickly rose to the top of society. When I am feeling less humble – I do tell people that even though I was first runner up, people followed Miss Malawi in my year because of me – I was the star of the show.

And speaking of life as a creative in Lilongwe – there were of course other factors (like dating an expat, something I had little to no knowledge re the politics therein until possibly our relationship was over), and having some wonderful mentors that set me on the right path. I lived privileges like being the face of the Sunbird Hotels (S/O to Alex and team), and a DSTV brand ambassador. I had some really good years in Lilongwe.

So here I was, 5 years in, living as good a life as you can have in Lilongwe, running about 4 businesses (2 of my own, and 2 of my partners) doing fairly okay, about to drop everything I had built and knew to move to an entirely new country where I knew a total of 0 people. I was definitely scared – scared about creating a new life, but also scared about starting over creatively. Community is everything to creatives, and losing community does feel like losing everything.

How does one do it – create a new community, you ask? I, like you, had no idea too.

A conversation with a friend / mentor – July, 2022

Being at the top of society means that you are always invited to events – and you get to say no. That was how I had spent the past few years of my life – mostly saying no. Now here I was, in a new city, where nobody who knows who I am, and with nobody to invite me to places and events, so I can say no.

I remember spending the first few weeks of my life in New York closed up in my apartment. My mother would beg me to go outside and live a little, so I tried. I had to get intentional about putting myself out there, and here is my story.

First was Azheen(a work colleague)’s birthday. I had just arrived in NYC, and she wanted a celebration in Central Park. Given all we knew was each other at the time in this very new city as we came as part of the same graduate programme, it made sense to hang out together. So we went to Central Park, and I met several people that day (a first) – and I met Tom.

Tom invited me to join him and his partner at Pride Parade that weekend. I have never been to pride, and I was absolutely up for a good time. Heading downtown to meet Tom, I was lost, and I couldn’t find my way around (or into) the train station. I had no idea which way the entrance was (I still struggle to find the entrances to this day).

I recall Aury (then a stranger, now a best friend) speaking to me, asking if I was lost. He offered me guidance on how to navigate the train station. We got on the train together, and we started having a conversation.

Aury is such a natural – incredible really at just connecting (with) people.

For some reason, the train did not stop at his stop (something to do with the doors – a not so strange thing to happen with the trains in NY I think), so we went a stop further. We exchanged instagram profiles (the most New York way of connecting), and I told him I was looking to explore the NYC night life. He just so happened to work in night life, and he then started inviting me to events around the city.

Through Aury I have met many people, and most importantly I met Heather.

Heather was supposed to be a professional connection (we both work in the digital space), but we quickly became the best of friends.

Heather and Rachel, indulging in Smurfo’s “Undertones”.

And through Heather I met Vero, and I met Zomely, and I met Smurfo, and I met Rachel, and I met David, and I met Gio. Through Gio I met Roger, and at Roger’s gallery launch I ran into Jerel.

Rachel and I.

That is how NYC happens.

This remains my favorite thing about New York City – a network that keeps on going. You meet some great people that stick, and a lot of people that fall away.

Art by Roger

11 months later – I find myself in the middle of a really gorgeous gallery, sitting on a couch around wonderful humans from all around the world… creatives and dreamchasers much like myself.

Gio (left), I, Roger (middle right), and David (right).

We are sitting in the middle of wonderful art – expressions of humans people only get to dream about interacting with, and I think I can confidently tell you that I am now a creative, and I am creating a community in New York City.

Roger Ridley, “Undertones” Gallery Launch, Manhattan, New York.

Connect with me on social media. Let’s stay in touch.

All my love,


Check out my YouTube channel, and tap a little bit further into my creative expression.

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