USA Graduate Visa: The Irish girls taking New York by storm

If you’re the type of person who eats sleeps and breathes fashion, living in New York is the ultimate dream. That dream just so happens to be a reality for these three ladies, who are making their mark on NYC both through their incredibly successful blogs and their day jobs on the 1 Year USA Graduate Visa Programme. What’s more is that they’re all friends, so we caught up with Lorna Ruane, Erika Fox and Louise Cooney to get the lowdown on what it’s like for them living, working & blogging in New York City.

Lorna Ruane



Lorna is originally from Mayo and graduated from NUIG in 2014 with a PhD in Marketing. She’s been living in New York on the Graduate Programme since 2014. Her blog ‘LC’s Closet’ documents her love of fashion and travel as well as heavenly baking recipes and insider tips on blogging. Follow Lorna’s NY adventure on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.





Erika Fox



Erika moved to New York in September 2014 having completed her Degree in Commerce (Marketing) in NUIG the previous year. Already one of Ireland’s best known fashion bloggers, Erika aka ‘Retro Flame’ is certainly making her mark on The Big Apple, having worked with Whitney Port, Olivia Palermo and the fashion department of The New York Times to date. When she’s not working, she’s exploring every inch of New York and sharing the most wanderlust-worthy pics and videos on her channels. Follow ‘Retro-Flame’ on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.



Louise Cooney



Louise hails from Limerick and completed her Masters in Marketing in DIT before moving to the USA in September 2014. Louise’s blog ( features fashion shoots around the city, to her top picks for the best spots in Manhattan for brunch, to dressing for work in the sweltering New York summer, to dealing with homesickness and everything in between! Follow Louise on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


How did you all meet eachother?

Erika:  We all met over here! It’s kind of a long story… Lorna & I met my second week here and then we didn’t meet Louise until January. Lorna mailed me through my blog suggesting that we should meet for coffee and because we have very similar interests, we hit it off straight away. Then just after Christmas, I received a Snapchat from a girl called Dearbhla (blog follower at the time – now one of my good friends) who suggested we should meet up at some stage too. When you move to a new place, more or less on your own, you’re always open to meeting new people. That’s one of my favourite things about this city. Dearbhla said she had a friend, Louise, who was also going to come along and I invited Lorna too. That particular night was probably one of my favorites from the whole year. Unfortunately, Dearbhla, had to return back to Ireland a few weeks later but of course, we stayed in touch with Louise. Honestly, I’d be lost without both of these girls! You really do make friends for life when you travel.

c/o Erika Fox
What are your day jobs in New York?

Louise:  I work with Tourism Ireland here in the US market, I work with two departments: PR & Business Tourism. It is our job to market Ireland in such a way that gets media wanting to talk and write about Ireland and on the Business Tourism side of things it is my job to assist providing any information companies may need with regards to travelling to Ireland for business (incentive trips, meetings, events, etc). For PR we send over 150 journalists to Ireland each year on media trips, on these trips they get to experience Ireland first hand and document their experiences – in my time here I’ve seen pieces written in some of the top tier media outlets in the US such as the NY Post, the Washington Post, The LA Times, USA Today, etc. For both PR and Business Tourism I’ve had the opportunity to travel around the states with trips to Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Washington DC, Philadelphia and Milwaukee for different events and trade shows. It’s great to be able to work on something from the office and see first-hand the results of your hard work. It’s a great thing to call marketing Ireland ‘work’ and it’s nice to see that the results have been so positive. So far this year we have a growth of 15% from 2014 – things are looking good for Ireland.

Erika:  I work as a social media manger at Camuto Group. At this company, I look after all the social media for one of their brands, Louise et Cie. My day-to-day tasks include social media strategic planning & photography, digital influencer outreach and event management. It’s a brand which is growing extremely fast so I’m very excited to be involved. Working for Olivia Palermo during fashion week is definitely up there at the top of my highlights but also a personal highlight is that I’ve recently just been signed to a blogger agency here in New York. Excited to see what’s ahead!

Lorna:  I work for a small digital marketing agency right on Gramercy Park. We specialise in web design and development, brand management and inbound marketing. Working for a small company has given me an amazing opportunity to learn and teach myself really valuable skills. It’s also given me a chance to be really hands on and involved with all our clients. As I work for a small company, my boss is very open to new ideas and ways to improve how we operate. This gives me great scope to strategize and put new practices in place. My day-to-day role tends to vary. My job involves project and account management, content creation, SEO, editing, generating new ideas, promotion, strategising, social media, and a lot of research (so my Ph.D. is coming in handy!). Working for a small company has been great for helping me build up my confidence in my own abilities.


c/o Lorna Ruane
What attracted you to New York as a destination for your grad visa?

Erika:  I don’t know why, but there was never any other option. I spent two summers here interning and just fell head over heels with the city. It’s probably the most addictive place I have ever been. I knew as soon as I finished college and had saved enough money, I would come straight back for a longer period of time. It’s a city full of opportunity, energy & like-minded people and of course, it’s one of the best places in the world to be for fashion.

Louise:  I had spent 3 summers here before moving this year. I have family nearby in Connecticut and I’ve always loved the energy in New York. There are so many opportunities here and there is always so much happening. I also like how easily accessible it is to Ireland – it’s a short 6 hour flight and the time difference is only 5 hours unlike many other places in the States. It makes keeping in contact with those at home less difficult.

c/o Louise Cooney (photo by Edelle Kenny – http://www.instagram/Edellecarmelkelly)

Lorna:  I’ve wanted to live in New York for years. I fell in love with the city the first time I came here (way back in 2001) and I made my mind up there and then. I’d been back a lot in the years between my first trip and moving here. I spent a summer interning here too and every time I came just fell more in love with the city. When I finished my Ph.D., I toyed with the idea of going into academia. I lectured in NUIG for a semester, and while I loved it, I felt it wasn’t right for me at this stage of my life. My Ph.D. researched fashion brand relationships, so I was looking to move to a fashion capital (either London or New York). I figured I can move to London anytime and I knew there was a time limit on the grad visa, so I just went for it. It was definitely the right decision.

c/o Lorna Ruane
What’s your favourite thing about living in New York?

Lorna:  I love that there is always something to do, especially in the summer! I did my Ph.D. predominantly from home. I had a base in NUIG but I found being in a room with 80 other Ph.D. student’s way too distracting, so I worked from home in Mayo and travelled to Galway when I needed to. As you can imagine, Mayo isn’t the most exciting place for a 20-something year old. It’s beautiful, but quiet. New York is so exciting and you never know what you can end up doing (or what celeb you might spot!) when you wake up in the morning.

Louise:  I love how there are so many different areas in New York and in each area you can expect something different. My favourite areas being the West Village, Meatpacking, Midtown and the Flat Iron district (where I live). But I have to say my favourite thing about living here is the opportunities, in every sense of the word. The opportunities I’ve had to start my career here, travel here, make friends and have so many different and cool experiences that I wouldn’t have had at home – that is definitely my favourite thing.

Erika:  I love the fact that you never know who you are going to meet or what amazing opportunity is right around the corner. Of course, there are bad days here but they never last too long. Hard work & good friends ensure there is never a dull moment!

c/o Erika Fox
Fashion and New York – the two go hand in hand; How do you feel that living in New York has influenced your blogs?

Erika:  Since I moved to New York, my style has definitely changed and so the outfit posts (including the backgrounds, of course) now have a different feel. As well as this, I now focus more on travel, lifestyle & NYC recommendation posts. Blogging here has allowed me to diversify my content. I absolutely loved blogging in Ireland but it definitely is nice to now have all my favourite brands & events right at my doorstep. Trying to grow your blog in a competitive place like New York definitely poses it’s challenges, but the opportunities which come from blogging here make it all worth while.

Louise:  When I lived in Ireland my blog was more of a college project that I had kept up. Now I feel like I have a purpose to my blog and I have definitely gotten more consistent with it. I’ve met a lot of inspiring people here and it’s been the perfect way to be able to document the things I’ve gotten up to. I’m excited to see how my blog will evolve again when I move back to Ireland in September.

Lorna:  New York has had a major impact on my blog. There are so much more topics I can write about here. There really is inspiration everywhere! I even find a real difference in my pictures. There is something about having New York in the background of outfit posts that just make them more interesting. I’ve definitely seen an increase in the interest in my blog since I moved here.


What’s the best piece of advice you would give to someone who is about to move to NY on the Grad Visa programme?

Lorna:  Save, save, SAVE! New York is expensive. It’s also (extremely!) competitive and it can take a while to get a job, so it won’t be too long before you really feel the pinch. You need money for a deposit and your first month’s rent, and you need money to live. So make sure you have enough money to get you through the first few weeks.

Erika:  Take the time to save up before you move here as there are a lot of initial set-up costs. Also, don’t be afraid to contact people who already live here, even if you might not know them very well. I can guarantee they have been in the exact same boat and will be more than willing to help and advise you.

Louise:  Make the most out of every day – keep a diary or photo log to ensure you are doing something (even if it’s nothing) every day. Keep your eyes open for opportunities but also be careful and mindful as NY is a big place, with a lot of people.


For more information on the 1 Year USA Graduate Programme/moving to New York visit our website or get Erika’s top tips in her blog post ‘Moving to New York.’

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