I recently took a trip to visit one of my very best girlfriends. She recently got a job working for Pat McGrath Cosmetics and is based out of NYC. So a trip to celebrate and spend time with her was necessary. I don’t know how to explain it fully, but being in New York does something to your soul. It makes you feel powerful, free and courageous. It could be the way the people move out there. They move with a purpose and intensity. It’s just a feeling, but maybe you can relate if you’ve been there. If not, it’s an experience everyone should have.
When I arrived, Kisha (that’s my super-talented bestie) was at work, so I caught a taxi to Harlem to meet up with Que, another friend of ours. Que is also from Nola and is doing big things! Can we pause for a quick second? I need to express to you all how PROUD I am of my friends. I have pretty awesome and incredibly talented friends and these two I’m most importantly proud off because they stepped out of their comfort zones and moved away to chase their dreams. Now, one is working for one of the most influential women in the beauty and fashion industry, and the other is creating and shooting campaigns for Shea Moisture, Mont Blanc, and Perrier to name a few, and I do mean a few! When you get a chance, check out his Instagram page @queduong. I promise, his page will give you life!
Ok, back to my story. I arrived at Que's apartment in Harlem. I walked into a home full of inspirational quotes, personal art, and photography. It was such a creative space. That’s when it hit me!!! I was in New York!!!! We drop my bags off and headed to The Edge, this cute little café where we talked, laughed and caught up over food and a carafe of mimosa. Along with an excellent selection of food, the ambiance felt smooth and airy. After that, Que & I walked around his neighborhood and he showed me some of his favorite eateries. He even showed me some Gossip Girl (remember that show?) worthy places to eat. We walked past the famed Apollo, Central Park, and the MET! Let me tell you; we WALKED that day. Sixty-five blocks to be exact!!!
When it was time to go back to his place I made sure he understood I was NOT walking back! Lol New Yorkers, I respect y’all cardio game! I was so tired! As soon as we got back in, we both plopped down! Ha! Que turned on his AMAZING Spotify playlist (that I’m currently listening to) and asked if I would mind if he worked a little on some photo edits from a recent photo shoot for Shea Moisture. Y’all, to watch my friend in his element is very inspirational. Although he would kill me if I shared the many stories about his determination to make it to the top, I want to acknowledge just how hard he has worked to get to this place. I am so proud of him! I watched Que create magic until his playlist put me to sleep, or was it that country mile we walked that did me in?
By the time I woke up, it was time to meet up with Kisha. Que and I said our goodbyes and I hopped in an Uber and headed to Penn Station to begin Kisha and Tracey Take New York. In true Kisha and Tracey form, it took about 30 mins for us to find one another. Lol, if you’ve been to Penn Station you already know it’s sooo big!! We walked around on the phone for 30 mins trying to figure out each of our locations. But cut us some slack here and remember we were transplants! Now that I think about it, we could have just dropped our location on our phone and bam! Oh well, lesson learned (Kanye shrug 🤷🏽♀️). Once we finally connected, we greeted each other with a big ole Southern bear hug! I missed my girl. Kisha has played a huge part of the journey to becoming a lifestyle blogger. It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for YEARS and she has been my biggest cheerleader. So here I am sharing everything about my life (to a degree). As a REMINDER I don't have this super fabulous life, but I love to bargain shop, work out, talk about my kids and eat out. Like Charlemagne Tha God says (yes, I’m quoting him) “act your wage,” and that is what I do. Everything I do and show you lovely readers is authentic. I will tell you about a deal in a second and highlight a sale like nobody’s business. Share a workout or two, fill your timeline with pictures of my kids, and remind you to keep chasing your dream. Ok, back to the story.
After our moment in Penn Station, we were both pretty hungry. We found this sushi spot close by, ate and chatted. She told me one of her makeup colleagues was throwing a holiday party and wanted her to swing through. Cool… a New York holiday party, but umm, I looked busted!! I didn’t have on a lick of makeup, had been up since 5am and damn near walked a marathon with Que. But hey, sure let’s do it. We walked into the party and it was FULL of industry folks. People who have touched the faces of some of the most famous people! Not to mention the party host has played a huge role in the industry too. Just Google Michael DeVellis and see for yourself. There I was standing next to L’Oreal executives looking a hot mess in my Nike sweatpants. Ha Ha! I mean she coulda told a sista to sketch on some brows! Lol anyway, it was all good! The people were super nice and there was enough liquor in there to be sure that no one noticed my travel attire. After staying there for an hour or so, we headed home to get rest for the next day.
After a night of regaining my beauty sleep, we got dressed to do what New Yorkers do on weekends, BRUNCH!!! We went to a super chic and adorable restaurant that Kisha found on Adrienne Bailon’s Instagram. This IG photo worthy cafe, While We Were Young, is now one of my new favorite spots in NYC! Y’all! If you are ever in New York, this place is a must! It’s cute and very cozy. Clears throat, I’m sorry, let’s just call it what it is, cute and SMALL!! The website and Instagram pics makes this 500sq ft place look huge! The power of photography, I tell ya. Despite the size, this spot is incredible. It could be the ultimate chill and relaxed hangout with your girls. It’s pink and pretty. The food and drinks were equally pretty. We had their signature drink, While We Were Young, a very girly purple drink topped with a single rosebud. It actually tasted like King Cake in a glass. As for our entrees, we ordered the chicken and kale waffle. Again, beyond amazing!!! It was light and cooked to perfection. I can’t wait to go back. After we left there, we walked around Union Square where we stumbled upon a holiday market full of local vendors. Y’all know how I love local vendors. So many talented people were selling homemade soaps, jewelry, washcloths and so much more.
After enjoying some time at the holiday market, Kisha took me on a mini beauty tour. Our first stop was NYX, one of our favorites. I see NYX in the beauty supply stores at home and Ulta, but in NYC there is a pretty big stand-alone store. I like their makeup because it’s budget friendly without skipping on quality. The eyeshadows are highly pigmented and the lipsticks give excellent coverage. Definitely a brand to try if you don’t want to spend a bunch on makeup. Our next stop was Innisfree, another budget-friendly shop. They are one of the most prominent leaders in the K-beauty world. Kisha put me onto them a few months ago and if you were at my sip n shop last month, you were gifted an Innisfree sheet mask (among other great stuff, bet u won’t miss the next one ). Innisfree specializes in skin care and has everything from firming lotions to body wash. Since I’ve been using their products, I like the way my skin is feeling. So don’t sleep on checking them out.
Our next stop was Sephora! Since we don’t carry Pat McGrath Labs in Nola, you know I had to check it out in real life. Not only did I want to see the products, I needed to see the makeup display drenched in her infamous gold sequins. But, I have to be honest. I knew nothing about “Mother” until Kisha gave me the rundown! I will inform you that Pat McGrath Labs is not budget friendly, but (yes, there is a but), I understand why! The lipsticks are $38.00 and the quality and packaging are very luxurious. The lipsticks melt into your lips, and they stay on ALL.DAY. I did not reapply once! Matter of fact, when we got to our last stop, Inglot (another fav), I wanted to try on a different color. However, it took quite a few wipes for my PMG Labs lipstick to come off. Even then, it did not come off completely. It’s such a unique and lavish brand and worth the money! Listening to Kisha rave about the culture of the company and how everyone is dedicated to providing consumers with quality pieces was inspiring. They do their job with pride and “Mother” makes everyone feel like they’re more than just an employee, but an actual asset. The Pat McGrath Labs values makes me feel good about purchasing.
As I slightly mentioned above, we finished up the beauty tour at Inglot in Times Square. Inglot is another brand that has super dope lip colors, shadows, and their infamous #77 Gel Eyeliner! Que is their former Digital Marketing Manager, so has also shot a few of their campaigns (with Kisha doing makeup). After taking a few pics in Time Square, our next move was Rockefeller Center to see the beautiful Christmas Tree. It was so packed down there! People were everywhere! Everyone wanted to take the perfect pic in front of the tree, which was damn near impossible due to the number of folks. Just being in New York for the holidays makes you feel a certain way inside. It truly puts you in the holiday spirit. From gazing at the beautifully decorated tree and watching folks skating around in the ice rink, to viewing the magnificence of the Saks Fifth Avenue’s window display and light show, there was no doubt in my mind it was Christmas.
We wrapped up our night at Serendipity, charming and whimsical restaurant that's best known for its frozen hot chocolate. I wasn’t in the mood for the frozen hot chocolate, so I opted for the hot fudge sundae Kisha and I ate every last drop! Yup, sure did. You can imagine we were pretty tired from our excursion and it was going on 10:30 pm at this point, so we called it a night.
On my very last day, our final café conversation was held at Toast, yet another delightful breakfast bistro in Jersey. After eating, we jumped on the train to the city because I couldn’t be in NYC without experiencing the Brooklyn Bridge. So 2 trains later, I found myself walking up and down the bridge, people watching, taking the most incredible photos, and just enjoying those last few moments before it was time for me to go.
I had the best time and Kisha made sure to give me a jam-packed NYC experience during the short time I was there. I know I didn’t see everything, but I feel good with everything that I captured this time around. I saw some important landmarks, ate at some fabulous places, visited some cool shops, but I feel like I saw so much more. I got a glimpse of how New Yorkers move and shake, the way they move with a purpose, with a no-nonsense approach to life. From the mom making sure all of her kids got on the train, to the bikers zooming through the city and the man praying on the train( not sure if he was in his right mind, nonetheless, he prayed with passion), they are moving.
That is the type of intensity I want to have with this blog. I want you to feel inspired to step out of your comfort zone and shake things up! Take a spontaneous trip to see a friend who has moved away. Ask to shadow someone you admire while they work. Dammit, have the sundae at Serendipity without any guilt! Just take the time and live so that you can inspire others to do the same. I want to say a special thank you to Que, Kisha, and NYC... you’ve just turned on the fire in my belly.