Hey city starlets! It’s time for another poast in which I toast FIT’s Precollege Program for opening me up to a world of coexisting creativity and focus that I didn’t know existed, let alone could enter before college!
I had high hopes in signing up for my Product Development class this fall. After five weeks of immersing myself in the program, the school, and the surrounding culture of Chelsea, I can say with all honesty that my experiences have exceeded even the highest of my expectations.
Stepping off of the LIRR train and onto the Penn Station platform, my first day began a little astray from schedule, but nonetheless in an Average Alivia fashion: Immediately after finding my way out of Penn (harder than you’d think, considering there’s literally hundreds of directory signs) into the hustling-bustling habitat that New York City is so renowned for, I walked a full two blocks in the opposite direction from FIT. The only unfortunate unexpected part of my experience at FIT thus far? Navigating the city without a sense of direction!
Entering the concrete, blue business building (poetry is alive) into class, I anticipated entering a community of like-minded artists and up-and-coming enterprisers. I wanted to view these potential friendships as networking opportunities, with equal parts potential for creative collaborations and business collaborations. Within minutes of starting the class and meeting my peers who I would be spending the next 11 weeks with, I knew my anticipation proved accurate!
While I expected to value these classmates from a business standpoint, I did not expect to form such natural friendships so quickly and easily. These friendships are not just all-business; they are honest and fun as well. It wasn’t even two classes in before I started having kinds of conversations with these girls that I don’t even have with friends at school who I’ve known for years. I went out after class to stores with these girls without any prior plans, so fluidly and without any initial awkwardness. There is a natural kinship: we are all one tribe. Even apart from the amazing girls in my class, I’ve had inspiring and promising interactions with many other millennials in the area, from store clerks to fellow shoppers. I don’t make friends nearly as easily and quickly with people in the suburbs as I do with city people. Such a refreshing vibe that I didn’t even know I needed. My (cliché) advice for anyone in the precollege program? Don’t be afraid to talk to people!
Another thing I didn’t expect about the program was the time commitment. I knew it would be an all-day project once a week, but I did not expect the lingering influence it has in my life all week long, each week. I’m not just talking about assignments and projects; this class has honestly changed my worldview. I’m much more focused. I no longer let petty daily high school happenings weigh me down, because I have an inner drive that gives me strength. Now that I’ve been exposed to such a great environment, it is all I can concentrate on. I’m constantly working on posts for this blog, projects for my class, and seeking out opportunities to be in the city as much as possible. This concept is so important to me and many of the other girls in my class. The gift never leaves.
I think the most major part of my experience at FIT that I didn’t expect was the fun and fantasy-like adventures that I go on before and after, whether it be for food, shopping, or entertainment.
Generally, I don’t stray too far from seventh avenue (my route from Penn to FIT), partly because of convenience, partly because I have strict parents, and partly because I still have no sense of direction.
As far as shopping is concerned (and I know from personal experience that it is a major concern for many FIT students), there are literally tons of diverse options within walking distance. Listed below are some of my favorites, sorted into categories, and complete with the respective price ranges (according to Yelp). Also important to note is that these are not all clothing stores, but rather unique stores of all kinds that are hard to find dupes of outside of the city.
Buffalo Exchange – 114 W 26th St ($$)
(reposted from pinterest.com/buffaloexchange)
I’ve mentioned this store before, and I will mention it again. Buy, sell, and exchange unique, trendy, seasonal apparel. Must be 18 or older to sell/exchange, unless you are accompanied by an adult with ID.
Lasting Art – 110 W 28th St ($$)
(reposted from yelp.com)
I’ve recently discovered one of the most underrated, beautiful streets in Manhattan; West 28th Street, also known as the FLOWER DISTRICT! So lovely! This store in particular is known for their authentic artificial flowers.
New Dragon Toy Wholesale Inc. – 101 W 27th St ($)
One of my favorite things about the FIT area is the huge amount of specialized wholesale stores. This one is a toy store, so it’s a bit more niche-y. I went here to buy my ten year old sister some birthday presents just last week. (Thankfully, my economic choice was worth it, as she loved her new chachkis!) These stores may not be known for their quality, but they are great for quantity. When I took a class at FIT in eighth grade, I once got about five packs of printed leggings (all the rage at the time) in bulk for just twenty-something dollars. Sadly, I never took note of the specific name of that store, but if you take a quick stroll down this block alone there are several stores that can satisfy this purpose.
Rock Star Crystals – 146 W 26th St ($$)
(reposted from yelp.com)
Just a few stores down from Buffalo Exchange, this store sells exclusively crystals of all kinds, in both raw and jewelry form. The idea is that crystals possess certain healing powers. I literally gasped when I first walked past it, it is so strikingly beautiful. It is stores like this that remind me how much money I need in order to live out all my impractical whims.
Strand Bookstore (in Club Monaco) – 160 5th Ave ($$)
(reposted from pinterest.com/shienru)
Our class visited Club Monaco on a field trip a few weeks ago in an effort to study their floor plan and its relationship with product development. However, I was quickly whisked away by a strong fragrant scent toward the far side of the store. I’ve always loved and appreciated bookstores as a whole, and this one is easily my new favorite. It has such a vibe! Filled with rare collectible books all about art, feminism, fashion, and other liberal arts, I would be completely content living there for weeks on end with no outside interaction. It also had one of those wheely ladders like in Beauty and the Beast. Easily the most aesthetically pleasing bookstore I’ve ever been to. I’m in love!
Truemart Discount Fabrics – 261 7th Ave ($$)
(reposted from commonthreadupholstery.com)
What fashion student wouldn’t appreciate a fabric store? I have yet to go inside, but being directly across from the FIT campus, it is so tempting AND convenient.
Uniqlo – 31 W 34th St ($$)
A store specializing in basic clothing essentials ranging from t-shirts to leggings to socks. It’s one of my personal favorite stores because of its practicality, which has granted it locations all over the world. From a product development standpoint, I appreciate the business model.
Whole Body at Whole Foods Market – 260 7th Ave ($$)
(reposted from nytimes.com)
A whole store dedicated to carrying on Whole Foods’ value of the all-natural and organic, but with a focus on health, beauty, and homeopathy (another branch of liberal faux-science akin to crystals in which I am a sucker for)? Sign me UP!
In addition to shopping, there are also some sick local galleries that you need to visit. I could write a whole separate post about them, but for now I will just plant the seed.
Last Rites (325 W 38th St)
(reposted from art-nerd.com)
Popaganda NYC Pop-Up (72 Gansevoort St)
(reposted from streetartnews.net)
A long day of commuting, working hard in class, and navigating the city is tiring. Below I’ve listed some cool restaurants great for a pre-class startup, mid-class break, or post-class pick-me-up. I’ve bolded the places I’ve been to, and the others I frequently walk past and hope to stop at soon.
- Argo Tea Café – 275 7th Ave (at W 26th St)
- brgr – 287 7th Avenue
- Broadway Bites – Greeley Square, Broadway
- Cafe 27 – 250 W 27th St
- Fresh & Co – 363 7th Ave
- Gigi Cafe – 307 7th Ave (directly across from Pomerants Art & Design Building)
- Gregory’s Coffee – 356 7th Ave
- The Juice Shop – 7 Pennsylvania Avenue
- Just Salad – 291 7th Ave (They just sell bagels… just kidding. It’s just… salad.)
- Pret A Manger – 342 7th Ave
- RARE Bar & Grill – 152 W 26th St
- VLife NYC – 348 7th Ave
That’s the word on the street for this week! Check back next week as we continue to “Liv” The Dream in NYC, brought to you by FIT’s Precollege Program.