Part 2: New York Fashion Week’s on the horizon- but stranded in London…did I make it against the odds?
I had only a week’s time to try and get everything together, and while the numerous NY Fashion Week invites brought me close, the perpetual money situation brought me so far. I began asking friends and family for help but no one was able to give in time. NYFW would start on a Thursday, and so by Friday I decided to do something absolutely crazy- travel to London’s Heathrow airport with $25 in my bank account and try to “make it happen.”
What was the outcome? It surely took a lot of “bloodshed” to get to glory. I approached a couple of airlines to try and fly that day or the next day with a round trip ticket, and they’d all give me a price that was non-negotiable. Thankfully I never had to disclose how much I could give based on my bank account…for I surely would’ve been laughed at.
I had no access to Internet but for 20 minutes because of lack of funds (Wi-Fi at Heathrow cost a fortune). The phone booths ate up my money when I tried to call to New York to let family know what was going on. It was just one link of unfortunate lack after another…and I ended up staying over at night in an airport with no booked ticket and no money, trying to make it happen.
Make that 2 nights. I spent a total of two and a half days sitting (and laying) on uncomfortable seats, with only 1 Nutri-Grain bar, some cereal crumbs, some cookies, and one to-go pasta dish to eat during that entire time. And if you think I was not doubting or wavering I thought whether this was worth it or not, you’d be dead wrong. This seemed so stupid! There were so many times where I had just wanted to give in and just go back into London, at least resting on the fact that I’d be right there for London Fashion Week. Yet again, something in me, I cannot develop into words, would “tug” at me and just wouldn’t let me give up. Something was making me stay, and as “over it” as I was, I gave in. It was a silent strong force that would prove its miraculous reliability.
On my second night I texted a friend in London to see if he could look up fares and flights for me since I was away. Unexpectedly, my friend ended up offering to cover the round-trip flight they found for a very cheap price. We did the reservation booking right over the phone as they put the info in online, to fly out the next morning (February 14th) and coming back to London on February 17th (I had some immediate paid gigs to do for London Fashion Week which began on the 18th). My crazy faith actually paid off!
Happy, relieved, and excited, I flew in to Newark Airport and because of my bags decided to go to my family’s house first to at least drop my things off. Two and a half days without internet was no light matter and I was so behind in trying to organize things for NYFW (like which shows I’ve received an invite to shoot the day I arrived). I had to walk out into downtown Manhattan down a block to transfer to the proper train, and I spotted a Staples that said “free wi-fi.” I was definitely going in.
I plugged up the laptop I’ve been borrowing (still haven’t own my own computer since 2008) and checked my email for the first time in while. Some junk, some Facebook feeds, and- whoa, Oscar de la Renta’s PR team? They viewed my photos from my recent blog entry of my coverage from September’s Fashion Week, and wanted to purchase a wonderful photo I captured of de la Renta waving to his crowd of fashion’s elite. Could you imagine what type of reaction a guy like me would have, who started photography from scratch a year and a half ago, with Youtube as his primary education, with no expensive, super-pro equipment and receiving this email? Golden, golden, GOLDEN. Though I was sure nothing would top that email, I did reach an invite to shoot the Pamella Roland show at the Lincoln Center- which would start an hour. Bags or no bags I had to bounce over there!
I felt it everywhere- I fell back in love with New York City and everything was perfect, perfect, perfect. It was worth all of the waiting and suffering to get here in time (though Fashion Week was already four days in). The networking with key contacts were more powerful and moved quicker than I’ve ever experienced. As well received as I was in London (an American accent there doesn’t hurt), I was remarkably received in New York as well. In my heart I knew just four days in New York for Fashion Week wouldn’t be enough.
I guess my path deemed it so as well. After a perfect four days shooting, meeting, and exploring, I headed back to the airport to fly out to London in confidence that everything was done correctly for reservations. I get there in time, tried to check-in, only to find out they didn’t have my name at all in the system. This…CANNOT be happening. I tried and tried to no avail for them to try and relocate my reservation back to London. I had to step out of the line and try to call folks, especially my friend who booked the ticket, and see what happened. I cried twice in the airport; I was more hurt and distraught about being “stuck” in New York than my initial situation with being “stuck” in London. I think it was because I had some gigs and opportunities waiting for me right when I got off of the flight, and to not be there was truly crushing. But eventually I gave in, and went back to my family’s place.
A day or two later I found the reason- the ticket was booked for MARCH 17th instead of February 17th. Woooooow…. And the ticket had the highest restrictions for changes because of the great price, so it was totally non-changeable. Either I pay for a brand new ticket or wait until March 17th to fly back. I’m sure you knew what I had to choose.
The good thing is, besides those losses for missing London Fashion Week, I’m actually quite excited to be in New York City for a longer period of time. Not only do I have a much stronger support system here (most of my family’s in New York) I have a lot of stronger connections made here than in London that I need to tap into. I already have a powerful network of creatives who know the city and the people who run it, so it’s only a matter of time before something pops off here. I’m genuinely excited to see what is to come as I keep pushing and keep grinding in this magnificent city. Yet still, Paris Fashion Week is on the mind 😉
(Me in front of the Oscar de la Renta show Fall/Winter 2011. Second time shooting here!)
This you can count on for sure: pursuing your dreams against all odds is never a dull moment.