PeopleThe sky is the limit: how three creatives relocated in the new normal

A photojournalist, content editor and a marketing manager share their journeys to Dallas, San Francisco and San Juan.
Karen Gail JavierMarch 8, 202114 min

Moving to a new place, like many other things, has become a lot harder if not almost impossible due to the pandemic. As challenging as 2020 was for most people, some still managed to relocate during this time and are actively looking to build, grow or maintain their businesses. They took the leap of faith to relocate during the Coronavirus outbreak in order to keep their endeavors intact and in one piece.

Proving that the sky–and not a pandemic–is the only limit when it comes to looking past the challenges to achieving goals, Marcom Weekly spoke with a photojournalist, content editor, and marketing manager about how they managed to relocate in the middle of these trying times.

Andy Hur, a Korean-American photographer from Flushing Queens, N.Y., moved to Dallas, Texas to avoid the skyrocketing costs of living in New York City. Some of his clients include Nike, Complex Media, and media agencies Victory and Forsman & Bodenfors. Inspired by his mother’s entrepreneurship, he got his start by photographing things that interest him such as street photography and candid moments. With time and experience, his paid projects followed.

“Being in any industry is difficult and owning your own business can be draining,” says Hur, “you gotta find your inspiration and keep moving towards your goal.”

Vicki Abary is a content writer and editor who moved from Manila, Philippines to San Francisco, California in 2020 to finally settle down with her long-distance husband of five years and their kids. A proud Filipina-American, she got her start by contributing articles for fashion magazine METRO and lifestyle magazines Lifestyle Asia and Tatler Philippines. She’s also worked with HSBC Philippines, Nutrivore Singapore, and contributed to People Asia, The Philippine Star, Philippine Daily Inquirer, and The New Standard.

Doing what she loves best and being ultimately inspired by people, Abary says, “I love to tell stories and share information. I love that something I’ve written can impact someone I don’t even know in a positive way.”

New Venture founder Cheryl Mann, a Latina from New York City, is a marketer and strategist who moved to San Juan, Puerto Rico in search of something new. She began her career at AT&T then earned a Master of Science in Integrated Marketing. Her work went on to include Amistad Research Center, Families First COACHES Program, and Karna, a Celerian Group subsidiary.

Mann is inspired to generate more representation of Black women in marketing.

“If more young Black girls see a Black woman like me in a chief marketing officer role or running a small business, and enjoying it, those young Black girls may think to themselves they can do it too,” Mann says.

Challenges while relocating
More than 15.9 million people have moved during the pandemic between February and July 2020 alone, according to USPS data gathered by Mymove. For some, it was no small feat.

Travel distance and Covid-19 restrictions were the primary challenges he faced during his move. Flying wasn’t an option due to lockdown and quarantine rules and required him to rely on virtual tours of living spaces. He made a difficult decision to sign for a new home without seeing it in person. Add to that the challenge of finding movers to do a cross-country move for a reasonable price and doing everything abruptly.

“A few of my clients had scaled back and/or changed plans to weather this unprecedented situation,” Hur reckons how he found himself with a rare opportunity. “I decided to take this time to restructure and put myself first.”

Manila’s strict quarantine made it that much harder for Abary to transition from Manila, spend precious time with her loved ones, and schedule flights and shipments. She and her husband even planned for a Bali wedding with loved ones in June 2020. Unfortunately, that, like many other events, had to be postponed as airlines canceled flights around the world.

“Many actually wondered if it was the right time to fly to America where Covid has been raging, and at first I was also paranoid about flying here,” Abary explains how this was the right time for her and her family to move, pandemic or not. “I always like to see the silver lining in situations and thanks to the thriving online business communities that have cropped up in Manila, I was still able to sell my stuff through private online groups.”

On the other hand, Mann and her husband knew no one when they moved to Puerto Rico. The biggest challenge was that they had no family around, no relatives. The closest support system they had was at least a 3.5-hour plane ride away. Another challenge she reckons was the language barrier as neither she nor her husband was fluent in Spanish when they made the move.

Good thing Mann looks challenges dead in the eyes with a “not today” outlook in life. “For those familiar with the ‘fight-or-flight response’, I always choose to fight,” she says.

A fresh, promising start
It might not feel like it right now, but this pandemic is temporary. Despite the challenges of moving during the pandemic, the three creative professionals are optimistic about the opportunities ahead and continuing to grow their businesses.

The fact that Dallas is an affordable and growing city was what made Hur choose the city. The deciding factor came down to the growing industries that are moving and starting there. What makes it better for him was although there were heavyweights established, the cost of doing business and living support him in being more competitive.

“What I do love about this area is the community,” says Hur. “We had just gone through one of the worst winter storms this state has seen in over ‘130 years’,” a local once told him. “Yet everyone in this area pulled together. We shared our supplies and we checked in on each other.”

Abary loves San Francisco’s diverse, multicultural neighborhoods. Another important thing for her is how people in San Francisco are really careful about Covid by wearing masks and practicing social distancing, making it that much easier to be there right now.

Mann talked about the overwhelming welcome and support many in Puerto Rico have shown her and her husband. “This is especially true when traveling outside of San Juan-proper to cities/towns/areas where more people look like me,” says Mann. “I also love The Black PR Trust community that is growing. It is a group I started in 2019 where I was looking to connect with other Black & Brown people who have located to the Island, primarily from the mainland.”

Growing their businesses
Hur currently offers photo/video production and brand development services to help clients better direct content to reach their audience. Over time, his goal is to help build a foundation for his clients to use their social media and analytic tools to better understand their reach and effectiveness.

“If I had to label my ideal clients, I would have to say as long as you’re kind and not profiting off of others’ misfortune, I am happy to work with your company.”

Abary conceptualizes content for clients based on their marketing needs, whether it’s for a corporate profile, writing their website pages, or helping them create posts for a social media calendar.

“I enjoy working with luxury retail brands and expressing their brand stories or women entrepreneurs just starting their business,” she says.

When not delivering for 9-to-5 commitments, Mann’s New Venture provides copywriting, graphic design, social media marketing, marketing & communications strategy, execution, web development, communications, and campaign execution services.

“New Venture’s ideal client tends to be a nonprofit or small-to-medium size business looking to rebrand themselves or grow a specific aspect of the business.”

Moving is a big deal and can be a little stressful even in the best of times. As the COVID-19 pandemic wears on, it is sure to even be more challenging and exhausting. Like everyone, 2020 put things into perspective while the industry and businesses try to navigate in this uncharted territory.

Whatever the drive is to start over elsewhere in the middle of a global crisis–whether to reevaluate life or career goals, loss of income, increased flexibility for remote work, or fear of infection–making such a huge change can be a brand new opportunity to rebuild what you truly want.

Karen Gail Javier

Karen is responsible for editorial support and covers agency, digital content, and D&I news.

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