Okay, I must admit: I write for New York Gal, but I have never been to New York — and it’s absolute blasphemy. And yes, I am counting down the days until I’m there, basking in all I’ve missed these last twenty-two years.
However, writing about it and watching an unhealthy amount of Sex and the City reruns have helped alleviate the wonder for now. (I’m a Carrie Sun, Miranda Rising, and Samantha moon for those curious.) And in addition, TikTok has, too. Lately, I’ve been living vicariosuly through real New York gals and TikTokers, Tiff Baira and Renata D’Agrella while getting a realistic look into everyday New York City.
New York TikToker, Renata D’Agrella
Born in Queens and raised in Long Island, Renata D’Agrella (rendagrella) has been a New York gal from the start. Though she studied in North Carolina, D’Agrella always knew she would return and settle in Manhattan. Today, she’s a production assistant at Coach and shares her everyday routine through her New York Minute series on TikTok.
D’Agrella’s New York Minute
The New York Minute mini vlogs share the fashion enthusiast’s outfits of the day — which are always brilliantly put together — and other everyday things like her commute, work, city aesthetics, and outings.
“I started my New York Minute vlogs as a way to help myself romanticize my life,” said D’Agrella. “I heard this TikTok audio about being the main character and cherishing the little things in life, which has always been a huge struggle for me.”
Though she romanticizes her life through the series, D’Agrella also tries to be extra transparent about city life through her other videos like New York Minute/Dollar Diaries vlogs.
“As a disclaimer, I want to put it out there that I do not want to portray an unrealistic lifestyle on an entry-level fashion salary,” said D’Agrella on one of her TikTok vlogs.
While some may see her as an influencer, D’Agrella doesn’t; she instead sees herself as just another girl trying to make it in the city — while inspiring others to do the same.
“What really motivates me to keep doing [the TikTok videos] is that I get to inspire younger girls who want to get into fashion, and I get to show an authentic side of NYC.”
She hopes to continue the series with new content on fashion, restaurant and bar recommendations, and more fashion career advice.
Aside from her New York Minute and Dollar Diaries vlogs, D’Agrella has also used her platform to share her fashion industry-related tips and advice with her 68.9k followers. She has shared her networking and internship advice through storytimes, along with how she became a production assistant at Coach.
Recently, D’Agrella started her own YouTube channel. She plans to share more New York vlogs, lifestyle content, and fashion-related content. She plans to post every Tuesday and Thursday.
New York Hour
D’Agrella has been keeping busy during the pandemic with her position at Coach and her TikTok and YouTube content; however, she still misses the old New York and all its vibrancy.
“I miss dancing my nights away on the Lower East Side. I miss going to the rooftops and having a drink with my friends after work. I miss the people. A lot of New Yorkers have fled the city, so it just feels so empty now,” said D’Agrella.
Still, she’s learned a lot about herself and strength during this time, which she’s channeled creatively. She’s also learned something quite extraordinary about New York, too.
“[During quarantine] I was able to see just how resilient this city is. I stayed in New York City the whole quarantine, which was eerie at times, but it made me realize how tough New Yorkers are.”
New York TikToker: Tiff Baira
Self-proclaimed New Orleans cowgirl and Manhattan dating tour guide, Tiff Baira (tiffanybaira27) has gained major popularity on TikTok for sharing big-sisterly dating advice. The TikToker shares personal dating stories and NYC-specific dating tips and tricks, hoping to make things a little easier for her followers’ quest for love.
“[These locations] are for my girls looking to meet celebs that are A-listers in public but also in the bed. Any night in New York you can always meet someone in their fifteen seconds of fame. However, let’s just hope when he goes home with you, he lasts longer than that,” said Baira in one of her TikTok videos.
New Orleans Cowgirl Goes New York
Growing up, Baira hoped to leave her small town in New Orleans to live in New York City. Aside from her TikTok content, Baira is also a podcaster, model, and singer-songwriter. Her creative pursuits and aspirations motivated her move.
“I got my ass in that Spirit airline, and I have not turned back yet. It’s been five years now, which is crazy. Five years New York Time is 120 years everywhere else,” said Baira in a FaceTime interview.
The city has been a space for Baira to become everything she’s hoped, and she has learned a lot along the way. Her experiences inspired her TikTok account and her podcast Take Me Out, where she invites friends and other New Yorkers to talk about their dating lives and advice.
“The podcast, a continuation of Tiff’s popular series, details the not-so-glamorous lives of twenty-something New Yorkers trying to find love one one-night-stand at a time,” states Take Me Out’s description.
To New York, With Love
Though she finds the city romantic, Baira knows New York City isn’t just all glamour and instant love — and wants to show her followers this reality. The twenty-three-year-old’s goal is to make the city tangible and understandable to those who are and aren’t from the city.
“I had to learn all that shit myself… [New York] isn’t Carrie Bradshaw and her Manolo Blahniks,” said Baira. “You’re going to be pulling up in your Doc Martens and hopefully get where you want to go. That’s what makes New York exciting.”
Making her TikTok and Take Me Out safe spaces has been a top priority. Because of this, she reminds her 72.5k TikTok followers and her podcast listeners that they’re not going through the dating scene alone.
“Would you say you’re a big sister/auntie figure?” I asked.
“I can be everything you need me to be,” said Baira. “I wish I had someone that could have done that for me when I was eighteen because when I moved to New York, everyone was like ‘Oh, it’s fabulous,’ and I was like ‘Oh, am I doing something wrong? What did I do?’”
To Baira, there’s no one way of dating or loving. She hopes her platforms kick shame off of what it means to be someone who doesn’t love the way society deems normal. She wants to normalize that women love sex, too.
“I want to create an environment that encourages love for yourself and confidence while also unapologetically loving who you want and doing what you want,” she said.
Baira’s New Normal
“What do you miss most about pre-pandemic New York City?” I asked.
“Sex,” she laughed and continued. “I miss the sweaty nightclubs; I miss being able to meet someone in a room and not know what’s going to happen and flirt. You know, just have that carefree, ready-to-go night. I’m hopeful we’re going to come back in a new and safe way.”
Despite her missing old NYC, she’s moving forward with her platforms and brainstorming post-pandemic content. Baira hopes to bring her TikTok audience through her dating experiences. She also wants to give more storytimes rather than just where-to-gos.
As far as her current and future podcast content, Baira looks forward to going beyond just talking about dating.
“There is so much going on in New York that your dating stories can really have a crossover to your everyday life,” said Baira. “We can talk about what it means to be young in New York, to be old in New York, to be anything in New York just getting through it and celebrating each other.”
Baira has invited her friends onto the podcast so far, including fellow New York-based TikToker, Serena Shahidi (@glamdemon2004). “She’s hilarious and so confident. I love seeing women online, speaking their truth.”
Baira is currently taking recommendations and reaching out to people. She’s also going to have some high profile guests in the near future; she couldn’t announce at the time of the interview.
From One Gal To Another
Just like I felt watching her content, speaking with Tiff Baira really touched and encouraged my New York gal heart. Though the city has made her into the person she is today, it was all in her before she touched the ground.
“It’s important for people to know that New York doesn’t make you cool or better,” said Baira. “It makes you have the space to reach the potential you already had. If you move to New York, and you have the desire to be something, you shouldn’t be intimidated by the city. You were that person, to begin with; this is just the place you can make it happen.”