Cesi Cohen, Founder of @ny_scene
We met Cesi through instagram - nothing new with our stalking habits. We were amazed at how her feed and curious to know how she discovered new places - if there is a method or more of a gut feeling.
Read more about today's #Girlboss - the creative behind insta-famous @ny_scene, Cesi:
We start our #GIRLBOSS Spotlight with the same question - what did you want to be when you grow up?
Super easy - An architect.
Can you tell us about what you do as your "day-job" and what inspired you to launch a notable lifestyle Instagram account? Do you take it seriously like a second job?
I'm an architectural designer so I guess you can say childhood dream accomplished. Check. I actually did not start with my Instagram account first. The concept of nyscene was born through a failed blog. For couple of months prior to taking Instagram seriously I was writing about New York City event life, everything from gallery openings to ticketed charity parties. From black tie to cocktail. It was an ambiguous time for me then because I didn't know where I would be due to my visa issues. I guess I needed something besides architecture that did not remind me of that visa struggle. At the time I was involved in attending art and charity related events so it only felt natural to start writing about that. In a way it was an extension of my life that fit in; I wasn't changing my habits whatsoever. Well, that blog failed.
Starting out, writing a blog is like shouting into darkness that is called internet. Just because you put something out there doesn't mean it reaches out to anyone. That's where social media kicked in. Over enthusiastically I made Instagram and Snapchat accounts, and a Facebook page. Wrong. Instagram by far has been my favorite social media platform. I know that I have always been an image oriented person, even through my path in architecture all I wanted to do was create beautiful things. Wether it's in the form of a 3D structure or 3x3 grid format, doesn't matter for me as long as it's pretty. I dropped the other two platforms short after. If I'm not loving it, I'm not doing it.
Long story short, knowing that I needed to post daily for my Instagram to work -I had done a little bit of research by this time about using Instagram as a blogging platform- and that I needed daylight for successful images, the concept behind my account shifted. I was no longer posting about charity events but more about New York City finds. In short, what my account is today started through a shift in focus determined by practicality and necessity for growth. No complaints here.
I definitely regard it as a second job. Thus take it as seriously. After a while I realized what I've been doing is more than just posting beautiful photos. It's about creating a brand. When I started posting about New York City finds, my growth trajectory took off. I found a 1000 followers within a month and 10,000 in four months. When you think about an account that's generating an audience from scratch, that's a steep trajectory.
The point is, because it was such a fast growth, I soon realized that because people were taking me seriously, I had to take what I'm doing extremely seriously as well. When people actually do what you recommend, it's a joyous responsibility that makes me feel like I need to come through with every uncovered spot. Otherwise, it tarnished the brand.
You just launched the dot net - did you originally had this idea when you started the Instagram account? To make it a lifestyle platform / editorial?
Haha, yes and no. I recently relaunched it with a different focus from what it used to be. I love writing, although writing is a lot harder and a lot more time consuming. There's a big jump from writing a couple sentence long captions to full blog posts. I think any lifestyle brand needs to be editorial Even businesses have blogs these days. It's the ultimate way of connecting with people who care enough to listen to you. In fact, my dream is to publish a coffee table book about New York City. Or guides for locals perhaps. TBD.
In running @nyscene and documenting places in the City - what is your favorite discovery and why?
Hmm that's hard to say -goes back and checks her feed- Honestly, I like the process more than the results. Every place I've been to was great in its own way which is why they made it to my feed. However, the process of doing research, having to go to new places (majority of my outings are before work so if it's a cafe shot, chances are I'm right there when they open) just experiencing the city in a very different light made it all worth while.
Are you able to share what's next for you and this growing platform of yours?
I definitely want to focus on my blog more. I also do social media consulting on the side so that might be another avenue to look into. I know when I have enough written content it'll be a smoother transition to creating the guides or writing an ebook. But before any of those ideas solidify, I want to spontaneously explore where this process will take me. All in due time.
Interviewed by Chary