The entire process is extremely thrilling, but maybe the best part would be the very start. That moment when you have an idea and just start creating the entire scenario in your mind. There’s no real limit to what you can do and where you can go. Then, obviously, the final part of having it manifested is super rewarding too
Fernanda Paronetto + Behind the Scenes NYC
Creator: Fernanda Paronetto (Twitter: @)
Location: New York, New York
Words of Wisdom –
Resilience. I guess this is number 1. You will gets lots of no’s, but it’ll just make you rethink things around (Why the person gave you a negative response - learn from it! What and why is it not appealing to them, as it is to me? If I was seeing this for the first time, would I be in 'awe'?) - Create questions to yourself base on their big fat 'no'.
The media industry can be a tough business. Especially online.
It’s often characterized by critics with harsh reviews, “top 10” lists with the newest accolades, oligarchs of traffic and often a shortness of substance and depth.
Much like the reasons we at HDFMagazine (along with PRSUIT) set down a course to change the entire approach to online media publications by bringing purpose driven content, so too did Fernanda Paronetto, founder & editor-in-chief of the inspiring Behind the Scenes NYC – a platform dedicated to disrupting the status quo to New York tourism.
As Fernanda puts it:
“I want to share the best of the off the beaten track places, brands and events in the state of NY. I wanted people to see NY like I see it and feel what I feel when I’m here!”
Her caveat is simple, there’s too much focus on negative reviews and criticism, not to mention the newest “it” spots on all the latest trending lists, that it begs the questions:
What about all the spots people don’t know about?
What about all the unknown “stars” of their industry that are often overlooked or no longer being featured?
What about the places that make up the cultural essence of New York in the first place?
I want to write about the best hidden spots in the State of New York, far away from the crazy, touristy scene. I want to teach people that New York is definitely not synonymous to Manhattan, talk about UpState NY, engage with the local community and tell the story through the eyes of the owner.
Pretty inspiring for a woman who started this mission nearly 5,000 miles away from NYC in her home country of Brazil.
Fernanda had such a passion for the city that never sleeps, that she began to journal and visually express her experiences of New York by way of Instagram. So much so, that even residents of New York contacted her to thank her for revealing parts unknown to them.
With an extreme vision in mind and an unwillingness to compromise her soul, Fernanda set out to bring her project into a full fledged thriving business in New York.
What’s more is the story behind the storyteller herself.
Fernanda Paronetto’s home country of Brazil
If you dive deeper into Fernanda’s background, you’ll find that running an online publication is synchronistically the culmination of her 10 previous years of hard work and experience at Kimberly Clark, Vogue Brazil, Quintessentially & Iguatemi, covering just about every job you could possibly imagine. And I’m talking late hours, crazy deadlines, exorbitant projects and relentless hustle.
But it’s more than just her work experience that Fernanda stands out. She left everything behind because her soul needed to be fulfilled. She left her career, personal life and comfortable lifestyle behind to pursue her dreams in New York City amidst others telling her she’s crazy. That takes courage.
When I first spoke to Fernanda I knew she “got it”. She’s about more than just herself. She’s about serving others, helping local businesses grow and representing an entire movement. Fernanda and I sat down to talk about what it was like to leave it all behind, her amazing, supportive family, her journey to making her dreams a reality and the future of content and media.
Here’s what she had to say:
Fernanda Paronetto | Founder + Creator of BehindtheScenesNYC.com
HDF: Fernanda!! I’m excited for this!! When we first met, you relayed your story to me and I realized there’s a lot more to your journey then your company Behind the Scenes NYC, so that’s why we’re here!
So, before we get into it, can we start by diving in a little bit more about where you’re originally from and where you’re living now?
Fernanda: Different from what people might think, I was not born in NY. I was born in São Paulo, Brazil. It’s still ranked as the 3rd largest city in the world (yes, some people do not know that).
São Paulo is like New York…a city that never sleeps. You can literally have dinner in some places at 2 in the morning, it’s has everything for everyone: the artistic crowd, the night owls, the foodies, the healthy/fitness ones, etc.
It’s a City that will never let you get board. There is always something happening, new places opening, other reinventing themselves…and FOMO is surely a part of people’s lives.
Now, with the present economic and political situation of the Country, things are a bit slower and the number of places closing down are higher than the ones opening, but the Country is so rich that we, Brazilians, are certain that it will recuperate it’s strength in no time.
Anyway, I love it.
HDF: Wow! Well, I’ve made it to over 40 countries but I haven’t been to Brazil yet. I here there’s so much cultural diversity there too. Were you around a lot of different cultures from around the world?
Fernanda: Yeah, so, I studied in an International School from 1.5 years old till I graduated for College, at 18, hence my fluency in English. I was actually alphabetized in English, before Portuguese. During the holidays we would always spend 1-2 months in the US. We would have any type of Class in the morning with a tutor and in the afternoon, so we’d go out to have fun as well.
Being an International School, there was a maximum quota for Brazilians, so we had a huge range of nationalities and religions. This surely helped me become the person I am today.
In other words, one of my biggest pleasures in life is meeting new people, understanding their culture, experiencing their lifestyle, tirelessly talking to them, opening myself to new realities and ideas, exchanging teachings, helping people in any and every way possible (and sometimes, impossible), listening and learning.
Fernanda Paronetto with her friends | Age 18
When I was young, I once asked my mom
“Mom, what is my Gift?”
As for the gift of my brother, it was very evident, but for me my gift was never evident. My parents were very aware of it.
A while later, when this conversation came up again, my mom said:
“You still don’t know your Gift? You have the gift of Networking!”
It took me time to really understand how valuable this was and, today, I’m fully aware of it, making certain everything a more entertaining adventure.
This was something that I grew with and the International School I studied in helped shape and grow this in me.
HDF: That is awesome! Yeah, I realize that sometimes we take for granted the very things that come easy to us, but are not so easy for others. So, tell me more about your parents.
Fernanda: My parents were both born in the same city, Araraquara – around 3 hours drive from São Paulo. It’s a small town.
They had a very simple, humble start in life. My mom has 3 sisters and my dad has another 7 brothers/sisters. They’ve known each other since kids and they even dated back then (remembering that back then this meant only holding hands).
Fernanda with her mother
Fernanda with her father
My mom was the only sister that left Araraquara and my dad was the first one from his side to leave. My dad left before my mom and went to study Civil Engineering in the best College in São Paulo. My mom went to College in Araraquara, but spent 2 years in Chicago for a Masters. Years went by and my dad had already divorced his first wife, but not before my sister had been born. They found each other again and in no time were married.
Long story short, several years later they separated, but remained very good friends, which certainly made all the difference. They never said rude things of each other, were always aligned regarding our education, never fought (at least I never saw it…).
People said to me “Your family is weird”, because my parents stayed close friends after separating, but I actually I think we are a pretty healthy, stable type of family! Right!?
Fernanda with her parents as an infant
Fernanda and her family 2009
HDF: Amen! Who’s to say what is normal and what’s not these days.
Fernanda: (laughter). I’ve always wanted to live in NYC and the idea was to move to NY after College. It’s a city that always called for me…
“Fernanda…come live here! You’ll LOVE it…!”
Hahaha! Brooklyn was always the place I wanted to live, but time went by, and when I noticed, 10 years had passed, and I was still at my mom’s house!
I’ll talk about that in a bit, but NY is just like me: passionate about meeting new people.
It’s a place where life literally happens and your eyes need to be w-i-d-e open. I’m very into Energy, Meditation, Healing, etc…and I can say that the vibration of New York is certainly something hard to explain in simple words.
Fernanda Paronetto visiting NYC as a tourist
Visiting the City is always amazing, but living in it can be literally surreal. No day is the same as another and when you stop to see the synchronicity of events, it will definitely “Wow” you!
This is the place to grow, learn, teach, laugh, cry, be scared, train your courage, mingle, relax, breath (yes, you can breath in NY!), Live.
I walk along the streets observing everything, being kind to people, helping who ever I can reach out to. I stop at the lights and my body literally dances in the rhythm of the music I’m listening to on my iphone, I smile…and people sometime have that weird face of “Why is she SO happy?”…My answer?
“I’M IN F*CKING NEW YORK CITY!!!!!!!!!”
I always tell people:
Be kind to the City and it will open it’s arms wide open to welcome you in. Mistreat it, and you’ll be kicked out hard and in no time.
New York City
HDF: Behind the Scenes NYC is bringing some major light to a city of grandeur, but you do it in such a positive way. However, before we get into that, can you tell me a little bit more about your backstory and what you were doing before BTSNYC?
Fernanda: Well, I never had a professional life that kept me in the same Industry. Back in College, my classes were at night, so I had full days “free”. I had 2 years of just enjoying it, but then I started getting tremendously bored of waking up late and not really doing anything worthwhile, so I asked my dad to hire me. He’s in the Import/Export business in the Medical Industry.
I worked with him a bit over 1 year. I wasn’t sure if I liked it, so I decided trying the same type of work, but not in the Medical Industry, but the Food Industry.
After 9 months of “suffering”, I quit. I really didn’t like the work.
After that, everything started to unroll.
HDF: (laughter) “Suffering”. What started to unroll?
Fernanda: See, I was still in College. In Brazil we do Internships during the College years, different than here in the U.S. So, when we graduate, we are already prepared for the “real life”.
I was hired as a Marketing Intern at Kimberly Clark, where I worked for 3 years. During these 3 years, I was promoted to a full time job as a Marketing Assistant, even before graduating College.
Fernanda Paronetto | Kimberly Clark Team
I loved my work, by boss, my team, the company, but I was in my early 20’s, so as every young 20 years old girl, I had the dream of working in Fashion. Little did I know (laughter).
HDF: Ah, the fashion industry is a whole other beast.
Fernanda: Well, my networking techniques catapulted from there.
I was hired as a full time Executive Producer at Vogue Magazine. Yeah…the job every girl dreams, right? It was right around the time of when “The Devil Wears Prada” was launched, so it was quite interesting to work there. I was there for 3 full years too.
Fernanda Paronetto | Her Desk at Vogue Brazil
I had mentioned to my mom, prior getting the job at Vogue, that I wanted to work for them.
My mom asked if I shouldn’t try in another magazine that was not as renowned and hard to get it….but I just said:
“If I’m going to work for a magazine, I’m going to work at THE BEST magazine.That was true for all the companies I worked for. They were always the best in their Industry. I never settle for‘The Second Runner Up’. I don’t aim for ‘Seconds’! Ever!”
HDF: That’s a bold statement Fernanda! I love it! ‘I don’t aim for seconds ever!! (laughter)
Fernanda: Well, it was definitely one of the jobs that helped shape my professional life and skills. Daniela Falcão, the Editor-in-Chief, of course, was very very very tough to work with, but on the other hand, she was (and certainly still is) the best editor in the country and one of the best bosses I’ve had.
We did have rough times working together, but one of the several teachings I live by today, “No is not an option”, I learned with her. I really respect Dani as a person and also as an amazing professional, strong woman.
Dani knew that I loved Marketing and that my time at Vogue would be temporary. My Interview with her was interesting…and quick.
She asked if I had any idea of how a magazine worked, and after replying “no” to almost every question, but reinforcing that if I don’t know something, I simply go after the answer making it work…I got the job! The main reason I accepted the job, having a 50% salary downgrade, was because of the networking possibilities.
I needed to know people and people needed to know me - and that takes time.
HDF: So you were very strategic in your approach. Almost as if you were preparing yourself for a future vision?
Fernanda: In my head, I had a strategy. I had a huge salary downgrade, but I was going to make contacts, that would bring me faster to the jobs and companies I wanted to work for, with a better position.
Fernanda Paronetto (Modeling in Blue) | Vogue Brazil
Fernanda Paronetto | Vogue Brazil Party
Fernanda: After the first week there, I cried myself back home asking “WHY IN THE WORLD I HAD ACCEPTED THE JOB?!” Hahaha…but I held in there for the 3 years. Networking doesn’t happen over night, right?
One of the best projects I worked with was the 1st Edition of the Global event “Fashion’s Night Out”, created by Anna Wintour (and sponsored by Vogue), to support the Fashion Industry during the tough economic crises world wide.
Besides the crazy daily routine of producing the magazine, I accepted this project to help organize it in Brazil. Dani knew I would love this work! She was right!
This was when I met the Marketing Manger and the Team at Iguatemi – the biggest luxury shopping center group in the Country. It was one of the places I dreamt of working one day. During the organization of the Fashion’s Night Out, one of the Marketing Managers asked if I would consider a position with them! I was obviously thrilled, but I said:
“Soon…soon! I still need to work my way through other companies to come back here.”
HDF: How come you thought that?
Fernanda: For some reason, I thought I needed more experience to work there (and I was right). I wanted a manager position right off the bat. I didn’t want to get in as an assistant.
During the last few months at Vogue, a friend of mine contacted me saying that she had signed the representation and was an Investor for a global luxury concierge company, and she wanted me to lead the start up for her in Brazil. HURRAY! I was so happy!
My days at Vogue were consuming me and I was wanting more. I wanted to get back to Excel spreadsheets, analysis, etc. After 3 years, I accomplished what I wanted, networking. It is a constant, eternal work, but I had done enough to move on!
HDF: So then what happened?
Fernanda: The company I went to was called Quintessentially and it was everything that I, once, had the dream of founding. They are a worldwide private member’s club offering unlimited concierge services in countless segments. It’s all based in networking, contacts, creating the impossible, and designing amazing experiences of any type.
HDF: So, not surprising another step to what would become a part of your future company, but go on . . .
Fernanda: I was hired as a Corporate Marketing & Business Development Manager.
I was SOOO excited! It was exactly what I wanted – to lead a start up. Plus, I had the “luck” (I don’t believe in luck, by the way…) of being in the Travel/Luxury/Experience world that I enjoy.
As every start up, the team was very small. My work consisted of:
- Building up the partnerships with brands (fashion, hotels, restaurants, events, etc) for the members
- Organizing events (with absolutely no budget)
- Doing all their social media strategy and management
- Work on the newsletters that were sent globally to all members.
- The website content
- Cross marketing projects & press relations
- Luxury market studies and analysis
- The monthly reports to the headquarters in London and even Membership Sales.
HDF: So, basically you did everything?
Fernanda: Yup, I did it all. I worked late hours. Friday nights I was there alone, but I loved it! It was a great opportunity that certainly gave me great experience in the start up world. I had a long distance relationship that “allowed” me to have this lifestyle temporarily.
HDF: And you were there for about 2 years, correct?
Fernanda: (laughter) Yeah, after 2 years, I left. Why?
Well, after a while, I started to conflict with the CEO regarding how they were running the company.
HDF: That happens. I mean, you were building out your projects one way and the CEO might have tried doing it another way. That’s sometimes the conflict in building someone else’s vision.
Fernanda: My business management model and values was different from theirs and interests started to clash.
I was already projecting what I wanted. I wanted to go back to a huge, renowned company.
So, one afternoon I was leaving the office for lunch and a headhunter friend I know spotted me from his car. He remembered that his colleague was working on a placement for a role that would be perfect for me and he referred me to it.
HDF: I’m assuming you got it? (laughter)
Fernanda: After the first interview with the headhunter leading the project, I found out which company the position was for….IGUATEMI! It was the luxury shopping center group that I’ve always wanted to work for and that I had that experience with while working at Vogue!
Fernanda Paronetto with members of Iguatami
During the interview with their HR person, the marketing manager that I had met years back and that had asked me if I’d consider a position at the company, passed by the hall way. She was now the Marketing Director!
HDF: No coincidences!
Fernanda: None! When she spotted me through the glass window, she burst into the room (note: in the middle of my interview), and asked for what position I was there for.
When I said to work in the Mix & Retail department, with Erika Jereissati (one of the stakeholders and also VP of Mix & Retail), she turned to the RH person and said “If Erika doesn’t want her, I do!”…Well, I got the job with Erika! Hahaha!
Erika had been one of the business women I’ve always wanted to work with…and now, I was one of the 4 managers on her team! As I had said, I wanted to work at Iguatemi as a manager, not an assistant…and I got what I wanted.
HDF: Not surprised! You knew what you wanted and you were honest about getting it.
Fernanda Paronetto with her boss Satomi Nanba | Iguatami
Absolutely! I do believe that if you know what your end goal is and it’s clear in your head, you shouldn’t worry about how to do it…as it has been taught in the past…that is “the job of the Universe and it’ll make it happen for you” - as long as you’re clear about it.
HDF: And how long were you there?
Fernanda Paronetto with Colleagues | Iguatami Workshop Mix
Fernanda Paronetto | Lounge One
Fernanda: I worked at Iguatemi for another 3 years as a Tenant Mix Manager.
In short, I managed the mix of stores in on-going malls; I planned and monitored the commercialization of malls that were expanding; I planned and monitored the commercialization of new developments (when the project is still only on paper); I studied the market trends and worked in developing new players, within other countless activities. All the strategic and secret projects in the Company were started and led by our Team!
I was very happy there. The company is great, the team was amazing, I was very happy working with Erika, the VP, and Satomi, the Diretor, the other Managers in the team were outstanding girls, plus…the company is the Number 1 in Brazil when we talk about Luxury Retail.
And again…after another cycle of 3 years, my ‘Iguatemi Era’ had come to an end. I was aiming for something much bigger now! Not in Company size…but in Life Experience.
I WANTED TO MOVE TO NEW YORK… No, wait! I WAS GOING TO MOVE TO NEW YORK!
HDF: Fernanda, your “career” background is just awesome! It’s no surprise that you are doing what you’re doing now.
I do feel that one role stood out and it gave you a bit of your imagination for doing your own online media platform and publication now. The Executive Producer for Vogue Brazil! Can you tell me more about that job and what you types of roles you played there?
Fernanda: Yup, that’s correct! When I worked at Vogue, it was still represented by a small publishing house named Carta Editorial. Today, Condé Nast “merged” with Globo (a big publishing company in Brazil), and it became Globo Condé Nast.
Back then, there was basically the Art Department, the Editors and the Executive Producers. Each E.P. was partnered up with an Editor. My “partner” was Dani Falcão – the Editor-in-Chief. The articles she wrote or edited, I was responsible for the imagery.
HDF: And a million other things I’m sure.
Fernanda: Well, an Executive Producer can work in 3 different ways:
- You can buy images from specific image banks that have a very high quality photography.
- You can syndicate images from other Vogue or Condé Nast magazines, which means we still need to pay and/or at least get the approval of the photographer (and some times, models), to republish the images, or
- You can do the Production of a small or big photoshoot – casting models, photographers, make up artists, hair stylists, prop stylists (or we’d go after the props), scout for locations, etc. This work meant we’d do a photoshoot out of scratch.
We also covered the entire São Paulo Fashion Week event uploading on sight articles and photos. Plus, many times we could ask to write different articles for the magazine, or our Editor would ask us to write them.
Fernanda with members of her Vogue Brazil Team
Beside all of this, we didn’t only work on Vogue. We also worked on special editions signed by Vogue in partnership with brands like H.Stern, the Brazilian Jewelry brand and other issues.
Remember, magazines have a deadline to hit the printing machine since they have to arrive at magazine stands and bookstores and to the subscribers on a specific date. Hence the very late hours we worked during the “closing” week. It was crazy. No one left until we had every single article was wrapped up.
And as I mentioned previously, Dani was a very demanding boss. “No” was not an option. She expected nothing but the ultimate best of you and yes, she would drain your blood if it was needed.
HDF: But I’m sure you’re grateful. She gave you the training you needed?
Fernanda: Yup, my mom once told me:
“You will still thank her one day for everything”
And I surely did and do. She is a great person, if you need her as a friend, and an exceptional woman at work.
HDF: What were the most pivotal lessons you learned in business and about yourself from working with Vogue Brazil?
Fernanda: Wow! Where should I start? (laughter)
Every company or person I’ve worked for after Vogue, say that one of my most outstanding and valued qualities is my resiliency, and today, leading a start-up of my own (actually two – Behind the Scenes NYC and Behind the Scenes Consulting), this surely comes in handy!
Fernando Paronetto at a Vogue Brazil Event
I’m also an extremely organized person. We had simultaneous projects, we dealt with tight budgets that were never friendly and we were tolerant with the unexpected events that could happen during a photoshoot (increasing it’s costs). Plus, we managed big teams to make the magazine happen flawlessly.
Again, my networking and communication abilities stood out, since you do have to be able to talk to every type of person (from the Editor-in-Chief, to the Runners on set).
As I said, I love people, so regardless of their position, I do naturally treat them all the same – this is simply because of the way my parents raised me. Plus, the Universe is crazy and you never know if you’ll work for them some day, right? Being polite is easy, and FREE…so why not just do it?
HDF: Absolutely! My parents were the same. They always told me that you never know who you’re talking to and to always treat everyone with the utmost respect . . . ALWAYS!
Top lessons you learned?
Fernanda: Too many. (laughter)
- Commitment, being result oriented, not a conformist.
- Become an Influencer (so you can persuade people with your ideas).
- Be present (not only in person, but in mind).
- Be versatile and a “multitasker”, as well as studious (always be curious, there is always something to learn).
- Be adaptable so you can get through unexpected situations seamlessly.
- Be detailed oriented (it does make all the difference in the final result).
- Work your innovation skills and be a pioneer.
- Be a partner and help your colleagues at work (even if it means more work for you…the gratitude feeling is priceless).
- Be a simple person (elegant, polite, subtle, humble, discrete – there is no need for showing off).
- I worked on being “contagious” with my laughter and innate happiness and energy.
- Be passionate about what you do (let it be visible and unquestionable, others will follow).
- Learn how to self-manage your time, your focus, your needs, everything.
- Focus on the client (if you were him or her, would you be thrilled with the result of your work?).
- Prioritize (this is hard, but necessary).
- Manage people (great skill to learn, but maybe the most complex of them all).
- Understand hierarchy, but don’t ever be an “ass kisser” – the best bosses on the planet, hate them!).
- Risk management is a big one because everything can happen at a shoot and costs are high, so having a plan B/C/D will help things happen more smoothly, just in case.
- And one of the toughest for me is also delegating and empowering (which certainly only has benefits).
Wow…I guess I got a lot out if it, right?
HDF: You sure did! When we initially met, you were telling me that by all accounts, everyone thought you had a great life, but you felt you needed to go pursue other endeavors.
It was from there that you decided to leave behind your old life in discovery of a new one. Can you walk me through what was going on at that time and / or what had led up to that point?
Fort Greene, Brooklyn
Fernanda: Yeah, as I had previously mentioned, moving to NY was always one of my biggest dreams. When I was in College, I had a 2 year relationship and we discussed about moving together to NY after graduation. That didn’t happen.
Then, I had another 3 year long distance relationship. He was already in the U.S. and I was still back home. It was hard, but it was a very important relationship for me, so, of course, I tried coming to NYC.
I tried for an entire year, tirelessly. I used my countless contacts and started networking, but when things seamed to have worked out…contacts faded, people stopped responding to me, I lost the deadline of applications for MBAs I was interested in…and, nothing happened, again.
“NY was always on the back of my mind and taking up space of a big part of my heart.”
HDF: Given your character, nothing was going to stop you. (laughter)
Fernanda: Well, looking back now, it was literally in a change of second that I decided to go. There were two climaxes:
#1 – January 2014: During the first week of January, in a split second, I had decided to move. I was still at the beach I had been for New Years and I started working on a HUGE project for Iguatemi (the last company I worked for).
I was proposing extending our department and moving to NY as an International Retail Consultant for them. Iguatemi is a pioneer in countless projects related to shopping center and retail in Brazil. They are imitated by all other shopping center groups.
Nothing made more sense than having some one in NY as a Consultant for them, since NY is one of the Capitals of Retails and Innovation.
The project was amazing, but the conflict happened when I presented it to my VP, early April, and she had said that 6 months could be an option, but I wanted at least 2 years. That was not an option for her, 6 months was not an option for me, so I just let the project fade.
This was the FB post Fernanda did the day she said she was moving to NYC | April 20th, 2014
#2 – April 2014: After presenting the project to my VP and Director at Iguatemi, my hope of going through them vanished, so I booked a 4 day trip to NYC with my sister. She was living in London and we met from Thursday through Sunday, only for the Easter Holiday. She’s a half sister, from my dad’s first marriage, so we had never had the chance to have a sister’s trip, only the two of us. It was great!
I had recently started this Instagram account talking about “hidden gems” in NY off the touristy, beaten track. I don’t’ remember what it was called, but in no time, the real name just flew into my head:
“BEHIND THE SCENES NYC”!
It was just perfect, and it all just started. It’s funny to remember that my 1st follower was myself through my personal IG account, lmao!!! Well, we all have to start somewhere! I’m my biggest fan, for sure!
HDF: Look, it all starts and ends with you so you’ve got to be your biggest fan first. If you don’t believe in you, why should anyone else, right?
Fernanda: Exactly! So, on Saturday, already in NY, we were in Williamsburg at this cute Polish restaurant that had opened just a few days prior to that, called Dziupla.
We were talking about thousands of other things, and I remember looking out of the window where we were sitting, seeing people passing by, observing the local street merchant selling his stuff, and listening to every single sound around me.
The day was great, super sunny, but still pretty chilly (remembering I’m Brazilian, so 55ºF – 60ºF is already a bit chilly, lol), and my mind was teleported somewhere else, and in a second, I interrupted what my sister was saying and simply said,
In 1 year, I’ll be living in NY. I don’t know how, but I just know.
My sister was only staring at me. She thought it was amazing, but was wondering how in the world I would pull that off. Visas for Brazilians to work in the US is not something simple.
After that, we simply carried on.
Fernanda’s lunch at the Dziupla – when she said she was going to move to NY in 1 year
Arriving back in Brazil, I started moving some energy around! I started talking to people and I started saying “I’m moving to NY next year”.
I started contacting people here and I got the contact of the most amazing lawyers ever…and…booked another trip to NY for September, alone (my boyfriend that time, stayed in Brazil).
As soon as I landed in NY, I headed straight to a meeting I had scheduled with the main partner of a immigration lawyer firm on Broadway, close to Central Park. The building was one of these high rises and I just looked up, smiled and rushed in! So exciting!
I sat with the one of the partners of the company and said,
“Hi, I’m Fernanda, I live in Brazil, XXX referred you to me and I want a work Visa that will allow me to work for anyone that wants to hire me, in any Industry and legally earn money, declaring all my taxes.” (silence…..hahaha)
Well, after the silence, he laughed and said “Everyone wants a Visa like this…lets go over your options.”
After my 1 hour consultation with him, we settled the next steps. I flew to a wedding in Tuscany and couldn’t wait to get back to start to work on my Visa.
Getting back, I spent long nights working on the Visa, since I had a full time job. My routine back then was the following:
I woke up at 6-6:30am, got to work at 8am, worked like crazy till 6-7pm (may times I traveled for work too), went to the gym (everyday for 2 hours) from 7:30 – 9:30pm, got home, showered, had dinner and around 11pm, worked on Behind the Scenes NYC posts and also on my Visa!!!
HDF: See, I think it’s important to note several things here.
You structured yourself. You were given an opportunity and you didn’t waste it. Additionally, some people say they have no time to make their dreams come true. You had extremely full days and you still found time every night at 11pm!
Behind the Scenes NYC | Instagram
Fernanda: Well, I also had support. My parents supported me all the way. My brother was already in Melbourne for 5-6 years and my sister in London for the past 8-9 years, so I was the last to leave.
My mom lived in Chicago for 2 years before marrying my dad, so she knew the benefits of living abroad. My dad was amazing all the way through in every aspect you can imagine – I’m very close to him.
HDF: What about your friends?
Fernanda: My friends? Well, some were in ecstasy, like me and I knew they were truly rooting for me!
Others were like:
“You have an amazing job at one of the best companies to work for, with a high salary, you’re dating for almost 3 years (which meant for them getting married soon), you have a great group of friends,…a comfortable life . . .”
But, I needed more. I needed change. I wanted to go solo. I knew I was going to NY this time.
My friends today say: “Fê, back then, it was amazing…NOTHING and NOBODY could stop you.”
Yeah, I didn’t listen to what other people were saying. I couldn’t care less for people who were discouraging me. It’s as if I literally couldn’t understand what they were saying…and I was super grateful of the ones that were rooting for me and saying “New York is SO you!” I loved that comparison!
Fernanda exploring the Upper West Side
HDF: So, let’s talk about New York. Why New York? What does that city mean to you? I know you mentioned in a recent interview that you’ve had a thing for NYC since you graduated college, but what is it that attracts you to the city?
Fernanda: WOW!!! I can’t really put into words what I feel when talking about NY. It means thousands of different things to me, but I’ll try.
Self discovery – They say everyone should live in NY at least once and I have to agree. I can just be “Fê Paronetto” in NY. No masks, no shields, just me.
Possibilities – Everyone says this too, and it’s true. It’s what I said above: “Be kind to the City and it will open it’s arms wide open to welcome you in. Mistreat it, and you’ll be kicked out hard and in no time.” Countless possibilities just shower in when you’re true to you and to other people around you. Let the Universe present all it’s options, and accept!
Being able to work on my weaknesses. Yup, exactly that! We all have different weaknesses, in different intensities. I’ve been working on mine for over 6 years now (since I started a healing and meditation practice called Arhatic Yoga by an extremely important Grand Master called Grand Master Choa Kok Sui (GMCKS) – this is a topic for another full interview, but everything I learn there, led me to NYC too).
Back to the weaknesses. Things like: Patience (yes, NY is perfect to practice it!), letting go of material things (which is also an indescribable feeling of freedom), releasing Fear from your mind, and, maybe the most important: exterminating E-G-O. It is actually liberating, and the most important to me, after all, as GMCKS has taught “Ego is what makes good people ‘fall’ ”. This is a constant work…life work.
Working on the strengths too: Gratitude, Faith, Willpower, Determination, Focus, Compassion, Happiness, Caring, Kindness, Awareness, etc.
The city is so dynamic, alive, multicultural, tireless, in constant evolution and change (I love change), the energy is SO unique, people are kind and beautiful (yup!!!), fast paced like me, open to the new…I mean…if I were a City, I would definitely be New York! Lol!
Courtesy of @behindthescenesnyc | Photography by @mamudsny
HDF: I’d say you nailed it! (laughter).
And then there’s Behind the Scenes NYC. Can you tell our readers what BTSNYC is, why you started it and the vision behind it?
Fernanda: So, it started simply from a humble little Instagram account, with myself as the 1st follower, sharing the best off the beaten track places, brands and events in the state of NY. I wanted people to see NY like I see it and feel what I feel when I’m here!
Since I studied in an International School, and we had several diplomat kids there, many were from New York and came back after a few years living in Brazil. Some graduated and came to study in NY (many never left, and others had a great time here, but moved back home or to some other Country).
I used all my contacts in New York to be my “eyes”. They would go to the best places, events, find out about the best brands, etc…and tell me all about it.
I had a Behind the Scenes NYC army spread around the City and on their spare time (because they all had full time jobs), they would WhatsApp or email me with their findings. It was crazy, but so cool! I always thank all of them. Today they say that I became their exclusive off-the-beaten-track Guide in NY.
Behind the Scenes NYC Instagram Account
After my trip in April 2014, things picked up fast. I had New Yorkers thanking me for the great tips I gave them and saying they loved the place I had referred. I had a huge number of Influencers writing about me back home, I started a weekly column at Glamour Brazil talking, of course, about NY.
HDF: And you had a few different objectives with it, no?
Fernanda: Yeah, I did/do.
HDF: Such as?
Fernanda: Well, first off, bloggers today tend to post mostly sponsored posts. You can pin point the posts that are organic, so the reader never knows if they are writing because they love the place/brand. Then you can pin point the ones that were paid chunky dollars to post about it.
I wanted something that didn’t mislead my readers. I don’t sell ads. The only reason I would do it, is if a brand I would naturally and truly write about reaches out offering to pay. Then, it’s just stupid business to say “no”.
But, there is a very thorough and strict curation behind this and I’ve done it less than a hand full of times anyway. I always say that I don’t want to monetize it through ads and sponsored posts.
People say “So, you want to recreate the dynamics of how Social Media monetizes today?”…and I say yes! It’s been working, so far, and I post true recommendations, not led by money. As of now, I monetize offline, not online.
HDF: We believe in the exact same thing! We only do what we know is an added value and benefit for our audience. You have to. Today’s standards have changed.
Fernanda: Yes! And I also wanted to engage with the local community. That was my second objective.
There are unlimited small businesses that have outstanding products and/or services, but do not have the money to have this online presence and “validation” by Influencers that seems so important today. I want to help them, as much as I can, to help bring awareness to them.
I want to tell their story, what is the cherry on the cake of the brand that can’t be found online, help them prosper.
Fernanda working on BTSNYC
HDF: Well if it’s one brand that understands you, it’s us. We do it for the creators worldwide and you’re one of them. That’s why we bring awareness to them through our online presence.
Fernanda: Well, that was another objective of mine. I wanted to have an online presence, with a significant audience, so I could work on Social and Charity projects that need attention. Use my influence and audience, to help those in need.
HDF: And that’s why you’ll be successful. What else did you have in mind for BTSNYC?
Fernanda: Well, I wanted to teach people that New York is NOT SYNONYMOUS TO MANHATTAN! Gees!!!
People visit New York and they just visit the perimeter between Central Park South and SoHo. Plus, many don’t even go into Brooklyn, let alone leave the City to visit other amazing places in the state of NY.
A huge number of visitors are not even aware that the State of New York is abundant in nature and outdoor adventurous activities. It’s so, so rich! I want to spread the word about it.
And it’s hard to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and really understand what they feel regarding something or someone, right? But, through images on Instagram (and now more Social Channels and my website), I can try and teleport people to NY and try and express to them how my heart feels when I talk about the it.
It’s an adrenaline feeling…maybe something similar to that film “Lucy”! LMAO! I mean, at each new dose of whatever that blue stuff was, she was more aware and she felt e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g around her. This is what I feel and want people to feel when they are here – New Yorkers and Visitors.
View from the window of Fernanda’s neighbor
New York City | Photo Courtesy of Vina Vilcina
HDF: And I know it was a journey to get to NYC to continue the brand as I had previously read from another interview. Can you talk to me about the power of intention; when you just know that you’re meant todo something and how the universe will reveal the “how”?
Fernanda: Yes!! After staring all the paper work with my amazing lawyers, I started moving things around, as if I was already prepping myself to leave. I always told people I was moving, as if everything was already right, even before my Visa was approved.
I started my many excel worksheets organizing myself. One had a precise budget of how much I would “cost” per month. Another had almost 100 apartments I was researching online – but only 1 stood out —— Long story short, there was this 1 apartment I was completely hypnotized by.
I wanted it so bad I called 6 months prior to moving to see it’s availability. Of course, the manager said that is was impossible to say what would be available 6 months from now and that I would have to call just a few weeks before moving in.
I had a mood board with only 2 pics: One of Manhattan with that gorgeous view of Central Park taken from a helicopter and a second with the apartment I wanted. I’m super into Feng Shui, so when I arrived in NY, that apartment was actually the only one that had the perfect Feng Shui.
Yes, I did reject all the others due to Feng Shui (laughter)
Photography Courtesy of Freddie Marriage
Another Excel worksheet listed all the names of the people I already knew that lived in NY (I had 54 contacts there already! If I saw 1 a week, I would be ok for 1 year, hahaha!). Another sheet listed all the Companies I would (or wanted) work for with precise description of the work, all my fees, etc.
As I said, I didn’t know how I would do it, but I knew what I wanted to do….and I just let things roll out.
I had said that day at Dziupla, in Williamsburg, that I would move to NY in 1 year, and amazingly this year (on April 20th, 2016), Facebook “Memories” showed me a few pictures: the picture I posted at Dziupla the day I said I would move to NY and the picture of NY I posted when I arrived in NYC…both, on April 20th! Therefore, I literally moved to NY 365 days after I really meant it.
Oh!! And of course, after finishing a “tiny” 750 page petition for my Visa!
Everything I did or said, already had NY in it.
Fernanda Paronetto | First Day in her NYC as a resident
HDF: Holy Shit! (laughter) – But I completely get it! I try to tell people all the time to be intentional about what they want. Prepare for it and it will come. That’s just how the universe works.
Transitioning a bit here, I have a question regarding your approach. With so many magazines, newspapers and guides to NYC, you seem to deliver the content in a different manner. What did you want to do differently than all the other media out there? How did you want to tell New York’s story?
Fernanda: Today people don’t have time to read negative reviews, we want something straight to the point with trustful information (not paid, sponsored posts). Many of the huge online media outlets have written about the places I write, but it’s lost in millions of other posts with good, medium and negative reviews.
Do you want a great Thai restaurant, an amazing Bread & Breakfast in Brooklyn, a cool wine spot in Greenpoint, a great show in a Bushwick, one the best Vegan restaurants in Harlem or a guide to nearby towns created exclusively for me by locals? That is what I do! Plus…they’ve all been already curated, offering the best option off the touristy, beaten track scene.
Behind the Scenes NYC Curating Some of the Hottest Spots in New York
Fernanda: I don’t get the point of why people write negative things about places. WHY would you denigrate someone’s business just because YOU didn’t like it. Or maybe you’ve been there only once, the waitress was on a bad day (after all, we all have bad days), and she wasn’t as “present” as you wanted her to be, so you never came back to see if that was a pattern, or if it was an isolated event.
I mean…I don’t like the idea of ruining someone’s life passion and business just because YOU think the almond croissant was too sweet, or the boutique hotel had smaller rooms than YOU expected. Come on! I’m sure your boss, or your clients are not 100% happy too.
Maybe, if you just give constructive feedback, you’d be amazed how venues enjoy it when it’s from the heart, and probably, when you go back, the “problem” will have been resolved. Voilá, everyone is happy!
HDF: Well said and appreciated!
Fernanda: I want to tell the story through the eyes of the owner. I want to know that Kate’s dad, owner of a charming restaurant called Concord Hill in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, was the one that helped out building the bar, the tables and the store front out of reclaimed wood;
Concord Hill in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn
or that Luca, from Epistrophy, an Italian restaurant at Mott Street, SoHo, plays Jazz for his clients every last Sunday of the month, for he was a musician back in Italy;
Epistrophy | Mott Street, SoHo
or even that Café Paulette, located in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, was named after Lionel’s (the french owner) grandma; and still, that one of the bartenders at Beco, a small Brazilian restaurant I’m always at – at least once a week – is an expert in doing one of the best Caipirinhas in the place…and is actually one of the owners!
Beco Bar | Brooklyn, NY
That is what I want. To share the real story behind these amazing businesses!
New York is much more than what all these guides talk about. There are beautiful people behind it all, that have put years of their lives, long nights with out sleep, countless dollars in these businesses. So, if there is something wrong…HELP THE IMPROVE IT, instead of bashing them and crushing their work.
Cafe Paulette | Brooklyn, NY
HDF: I like that! It’s about going into the layers behind the businesses and not just keeping things so surfaced. That, and you’re contributing to their journey in some way.
So, let’s talk about the photography. The photos are amazing on BTSNYC!! Who does all your photography, or is it both curated and original.
Fernanda: After working at Vogue, my eyes were trained to see each and every detail in a picture from resolution, to production/composition, to scenography, to contrast/saturation…all the details that makes a picture great!
This obviously gave me a good kickstart ahead of other IGs that write about NYC. I never really compare Behind the Scenes NYC to any other account. They all have their own value, of course, but I still haven’t seen one that can do it all…the way I do and I believe in. I have no problem sharing my “secrets”, because actually putting them in practice, is a complete different story…
Sorry, back to the photography!
Behind the Scenes NYC | Instagram Photos
HDF: No, it’s all good! That’s how I feel. I won’t take away value from any other account or publication, but we deliver things completely different than any other platform. We write the rules, just like you’re doing. Okay, that was my rant. Back to photos.
Fernanda: So, as of now, I mostly credit all of my pictures. I rather have shots by professional photographers, than doing it on my own because I don’t want to credit other people. You can’t be great at everything, so building up a great team, is the way I believe to work.
Also, I try, as much as possible, to find new, but A-M-A-Z-I-N-G photographers, that have very low number of followers on IG, use their pictures and help them grow their numbers! I mean…I do sometimes use pictures from photographers with 500k, but why would I promote them all the time?
As I do with the business I write about, helping them grow, I do that with photographers too. I want everyone to start following them and getting to know their work. I’m not “possessive” of my followers like many people are today. I want everyone to have millions of followers and have their business skyrocket! There is space for everyone to rock’n’roll!
Featured on @behindthescenesnyc | East Village | Photography courtesy of @rockmamanyc
HDF: When we first spoke, you told me a story that when you review a restaurant or location for your publication, if the experience was not as good as you know they could be, you’d rather give them advice and input on how they could improve so you can come back and write a great review a month or so later as opposed to writing a negative one.
First, I thought this was insanely powerful. You clearly aren’t out to be the critic as much as you are to be the “promoter”. Second, can you go a bit more in depth about this? That approach is not what you hear most publications behave like and I think that’s really noble what you’re doing.
Fernanda: Yeah, I explained it a bit previously, but I believe that every business, specially in New York, has their own clients that love them. Most of businesses start out of the passion of people behind them. No one remembers how hard it is to thrive in a city with so much competition, but the good news, it that there is space and customers for everyone! As long as you do a good work, of course…
I mean, come on! How many people are constantly visiting New York, how many new people are moving here. This greed and competition, can be seen in other terms, as lack! And as I’ve read in one of the countless books I read about the Universe, Meditation, teaching by extremely bright professors, etc…there is no lack. That is a false sensation. There is space for everyone!
I’ve given feedback on the food, on the diversity of the menu (sometimes it’s not vegetarian friendly…I’m vegetarian and so many other people are becoming too), I’ve given feedback on the service, feedback on the social media page on how to increase engagement, feedback on different projects that can be done with cross marketing, and even ideas on How to Work Your Networking Skills and WHO they should reach out too and collaborate with.
I really get into the business and, if they are open and give me the possibility, I will really dig deep to help. Why? I don’t know…I like to help people and share what I know. Plus, I always learn so much with each of them.
Featured on @behindthescenesnyc | Sunset from Williamsburg | Photography courtesy of @camillaguima
HDF: What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned about building a media company that you didn’t see coming into BTSNYC and what were some of the obstacles?
Fernanda: There is this picture that I always see floating around the internet. There are two lines that lead to success. One is a straight 90º line moving up (as seen through the eyes of outside people), and the other is a pretty messed up line, full of ups and downs (as seen through the eyes of the person that achieved Success).
I love it! It’s so true…and this comes back to my not believing in “luck”. I learned that one of my biggest advantages was my resilience and the innate passion (that is something that you can’t just learn). Entrepreneurs have this Passion in them. They fall and get up 100000 times, and they smile at it.
I’m a VERY positive person 99,9% of the time, and I forget who actually said this, but I read that real entrepreneurs don’t see mistakes as failure, they see it as a positive thing that happened because now they’ve learned another way that it won’t work to cross off the list. This is super valuable info we get while building a company!
And I’m good at learning through other people’s mistakes, but I also “enjoy” learning on my own many times. The truth is, it’s good to learn on your own, but it’s silly to only learn on your own…I mean…we don’t really have time to keep repeating things, that lead to mistakes that other have already done and we know, right? Living and Learning is great, but observing and learning is just as valuable, and smart!
HDF: True! Anything else? I’m sure you’ve come across quite a few things you weren’t aware of before. (laughter)
Fernanda: I guess the technology part of the process is a bit tricky for me. I enjoy tech and am always attending short courses to learn more and more. I mean, how can you tell someone what you want if you don’t get it, right? But, I have to confess it’s not my strength, and with the low budgets that start ups have to deal with, it’s hard to have a good tech person on board.
Obviously this short budget is an obstacle too. There is so much I want to do, but I get stuck sometimes. I’ve been talking to a friend I’ve known since 3 years old (amazing!) about joining me as a possible Co-Founder. Co-Founder are like husbands….they just don’t fall from the sky! It’s a serious relationship status and there are many things to figure out before assuming it.
Start ups demand great people with as much passion for the project as the founder himself (or herself). It will demand lots of hard work, nights of no sleep, repetition of processes, testing out different alternatives to grow, it’s a 24/7 conversation – everywhere you go and everyone you meet, you just want to talk about your company. A great team, with self-realized people is what I’m looking for. I love people! I need people!
It’s also tough because I really believe in the “Get Paid for your Work” type of job, but in the beginning that is not a reality. Time is money, right? And time in New York City is A LOT OF MONEY.
Thankfully, slowly I’ve been meeting great people that have become as passionate as me about Behind the Scenes NYC. My team of designers, my friend and possible co-founder, some of my freelance contributors, and so many other people that have specifically helped in different tasks.
Obstacles will always show up, and they are awesome, so just smile at them and politely say,
“Excuse me, cause I’m coming through!!!”
HDF: I know this is hard, but what are your top 5 favorite spots in NYC that you’ve been to for BTSNYC and that you recommend and/or have featured?
Fernanda: OH MY GOD!!! You just killed me now with this question, Matt! Hahahaha! Only five is like saying: Do you prefer your Dad or your Mom!?
Ok, lets try!
Beco Bar – I’m Brazilian. I am madly in love with New York, but I do miss Home, of course. I knew about Beco even before moving to NYC. It’s a small Brazilian Botequim (which translates to pub/tavern/bar). It’s small, but the food is literally authentic Brazilian, and the music? BRAZILIAN, of course…and some Latin sometimes. Brunch there is great, and it’s always full of the locals from Williamsburg/Greenpoint
Courtesy of Beco Bar
McCarren Park – Not a “behind the scenes” spot, but for some reason I have this uncontrollable passion for this Park. I read, I enjoy people watching (it’s beautiful!), I lay on the grass to release any energy I need to get rid of, I meditate, I talk to random people (why not, right?)…I know every single detail of the park! It relaxes me and reenergizes, for sure!
McCaren Park – Williamsburg
Seasoned Vegan – I’m Vegetarian, but I’m learning more and more about Veganism and I adore Vegan food. Their story is amazing, but making it short: The owner and her family went Vegan more or less in the 1980’s. Now imagine Harlem, in the 1980’s and this family going Vegan, when no one even knew what is really was? Surely, a challenge! The food is to die for, the mom (original founder) still works there and cooks one of the best Vegan dishes on the planet.
Courtesy of Seasoned Vegan
Greepoint – It’s hard to say only one place I love there, but places like an Italian restaurant called Milk & Roses, a super cool wine bar with a small friendly back yard called Troost. The Brooklyn Barge is maybe a bit touristy, but it has one of the best views of Manhattan and getting there is pretty much a “behind the scenes nyc” experience since you pass through a long, kinda deserted alley with abandoned cars.
From the Source is one of the coolest handcrafted furnishing shops with the most amazing hardwood from Indonesia. If you like some Rock’n’Roll, Saint Vitus Bar is a pretty cool place for hard rock…you might even get lucky and bump into bands like Nirvana that just walk in to play secret gigs! I mean…the neighborhood is amazing and the best??? Tourists still don’t really go there (many have no clue where it’s at! Good for us!)
Courtesy of Milk & Roses
New York State – Yeah…super vague, sorry. It’s just so gorgeous! One of my Goals with BTSNYC was to teach people that New York is not synonymous to Manhattan!
The State is so rich and beautiful. I’ve had great people helping me and collaborating with creating the best trips if you want to escape the City’s noise!
I love Woodstock (a bit clichê, but Cucina is a great restaurant, the town is cute and there are great outdoor activities close by. Cold Spring is also delicious. Great cute coffee shops, chocolate stores, antique boutiques, stores with local handcrafted work, etc.
Narrowsburg is a bit further up, but it’s perfect for a calm, romantic trip to relax, visit the local farmer’s market, small restaurants where the owner personally takes care of you. Also, I’m very into outdoor activities, and you can find everything from hiking and camping, to canoeing and picnicking…and many other activities, just 1-1.5h drive from the City.
I guess I have more than 5… (laughter)
Photo Courtesy of Cucina | Woodstock, NY
HDF: I’m sure that building BTSNYC has also led you to other opportunities, such as your adjacent consulting company. Can you tell me how that developed from its inception?
Fernanda: Well, my Business Model is not selling sponsored posts, so I use my Social Media accounts and my website as a portfolio of my work. It shows the concept of what Behind the Scenes NYC is and brands and companies start reaching out.
One of the works I do “offline” is corporate hosting for companies. These big companies are always sending executives and clients to NY for seminars, workshops, meetings, incentive programs, but they are tired of organizing tours to the top of the Empire State Building.
Since I do have a very unique and curated selection of places, brands and events, they hire me to organize lunches/brunches/dinners, organize weekend getaways, different off-the-beaten-track tours, etc, in the State of New York.
One of the most surprising opportunities was with HP (Hewlett Packard) and Avnet Germany. They were searching for “behind the scenes” places/events/programs to do in NYC, they typed in Google “behind the scenes new york city”, and BOOM….they fell directly on my website.
They hired me to host 24 executives/clients from the company that were coming to NYC for work during 4 days. They wanted me to organize their full agenda and itinerary.
At the end of the 4 days, we went to unexpected places they’d never been to and I’m happy to say that they loved everything we organized for them!
This is one of the ways I monetize the Company.
HDF: That’s how it always happens. The rest of the population says things like,
“How do you monetize? How are you going to make money?”
Sure enough, opportunities happen. So, where do you go from here with BTSNYC?
Fernanda: Well, I have a few things rolling, but are still in the initial stages or starting to take shape, but I can say that we will expand our presence online (on to different Channels), and we have a few projects with Offline too.
In the end, our objective(s) is to disrupt the status quo of NYC tourism, encourage more people to visit New York and come back multiple times, teach them about this unique community/lifestyle, showing the real NY scene, engage locally with the community writing and disclosing about their work and their behind the scenes NYC stories…so, ideas are literally endless!
Behind the Scenes NYC | Concierge Services
HDF: Speaking of endless, your Instagram stories for BTSNYC are endless. I feel like you live more of NYC than any other person in that city. Has that really elevated the mission of BTSNYC?
Fernanda: Definitely. When I was back home, I needed to work as best as I could during this first year of the Company, and partnered up with great Contributors/Friends. As I mentioned, they were my eyes in NY, while I was in the process of manifesting it! I didn’t want people to know I was based in Brazil.
When I arrived, I did start demanding more of myself, after all, I was here now! NY is the place where most people feel FOMO and maybe I feel a little bit more pressure than the usual. (laughter)
I receive questions/requests by friends, followers, companies, etc, wanting countless different things, so I need to be super updated. I remember when I celebrated my birthday this year, I felt a bit nervous choosing the place…I mean…I founded a company called “Behind the Scenes NYC”…my friends expect a lot, right?
My agenda is pretty crazy, since I’m always everywhere, tirelessly meeting new people, new brands, new companies, etc.
Plus, I do have my consultation company which demands a lot of work too, and I still have to find time for my Meditation Practices which are non-negotiable, my friends, going to the gym, I talk to my parents every.single.day…it’s a lot. Not complaining, though. I like it this way! I’m always plugged on 1000volts, so I do enjoy it a lot and do it without sacrifice and with a huge Colgate smile.
Behind the Scenes NYC Social Media
HDF: How much thought and attention do you put into the content that goes on Instagram and social? I ask because I think people need to understand how much time, energy an attention goes into our whole process.
Fernanda: Oh wow, I can’t reinforce enough the time spent on the curation we do and on the time I spend writing or editing texts that come in through Contributors.
People follow my account for a reason…they want the best behind the scenes spots, events and brands in the State of New York.
People also ask me where I learned to write. I’m not a journalist. I studied business in college. The only writing experiences I had were at Vogue, where I occasionally wrote articles for the magazine (in 3 years there, it did of course add up), and at Quintessentially, since I was responsible for the newsletters, PR and social media content.
Everything we write, is based on experience, research, interviews, talking to other people that have been to these place, etc. This takes time…lots of time.
Each IG post can take up to 1 hour, just for the text write up and the picture selection. A bigger post on the website, can take up to 3-4 hours.
HDF: Believe me, I can relate. Everything I post has to be my best, period. And these interviews can take HOURS!!!
Can you walk our audience through how much time goes into the creation and curation of your content for BYSNYC? Again, I want people to know how full time this really is.
Fernanda: Well, imagine this: We (myself mostly, and my contributors), are constantly receiving pitches from brands and companies that want to be featured.
We are always around visiting these places, we need to schedule interviews with the founders or people from these companies, we need to do research to validate what we think about the place, we talk to other people that also know these places or brands….and sometimes, after all this work (because it’s impossible to know everything), we decide that a place is not a good match for us.
Lets say that this process takes a few days…do the math.
Back home I was able to post 4x a day (9am, 12pm, 5pm and 10pm). Here, because of my consultation company, sometimes I can’t do that. I do have a minimum post a day goal, so I’m working to adjust this.
I have 2 full time jobs – Behind the Scenes NYC and Behind the Scenes Consulting. It’s a challenge to manage both, but I do have to say that everybody and everything I work with is amazing, super pleasurable (for me!). I do it with so much love that I can’t see the negative side of it (ever).
I always joke and say that I left a 9-5 job, 5 times a week, to a 24/7 job, 7 times a week…but I can’t start describing how infinitely happier I am now! Hmm…I guess it’s already quite obvious!
HDF: Any possibilities for an actual magazine like Cereal, Trouve Magazine or High Snobiety?
Fernanda: Heck yes!!!! We have that project being analyzed/studied and a few other complimentary projects that will blow people off their feet!
HDF: Fernanda, you are a serious creator – in business, media and life. What’s the best part about “creating” for you?
Fernanda: The entire process is extremely thrilling, but maybe the best part would be the very start. That moment when you have an idea and just start creating the entire scenario in your mind.
There’s no real limit to what you can do and where you can go. Then, obviously, the final part of having it manifested is super rewarding too…specially because it always tends to unfold in an even better sequence of events that you didn’t really quite imagine.
As I said…with everything…you don’t need to know HOW to get there or do something…as long as you have super clear in your mind WHAT you want.
The process is limitless!
HDF: What’s the best advice you can give someone just starting out on their own company, brand or project? Or maybe about getting involved in building a media company?
Fernanda: There is not really only one best piece of advice I’d give and some will just look clichê…
I love talking to people about their work, goals, passions, etc…and many times I see myself spending 3-4 hours with them (not kidding!), and just going through their business plan, their projects, etc…and pitching them new ideas, modifications on current processes, other points of view, etc.
I talked about a few things earlier in the interview, which maybe I should highlight now.
Resilience. I guess this is number 1. You will gets lots of no’s, but it’ll just make you rethink things around (Why the person gave you a negative response – learn from it! What and why is it not appealing to them, as it is to me? If I was seeing this for the first time, would I be in “awe”?) – Create questions to yourself base on their big fat “no”.
Resilient by HDFMagazine.com
Do your Networking! A lot. All the time. Don’t stop. I know that for some people it’s not natural, but there are ways (pretty easy) to engage in a conversation with a stranger — specially if you are both at, for example, an event, or a meet up…You already have something in common…
Study. Study your competitors, your market, and your possibilities in making the company grow. But study other industries too and even things that seem so far away from your work or reality – meditation, gastronomy, Arhatic Yoga (the practice I do that changed my life completely), quantum physics, fashion, health, human behavior, travel, politics….go crazy.
Get on You Tube and just research interesting movies. Watch all of the amazing Ted Talks… This will not only bring you some unique insights and perspectives that might enlighten you on your Journey…but, this is one of the secrets of networking…you have to be able to talk a little bit about everything!
You never know who you might bump into, and then again…there are no coincidences in life.
HDF: If you could describe the essence of your brand or brands, how would you describe it/them?
Fernanda: Behind the Scenes NYC was born from the desire of finding out the best hidden spots in the state of New York, telling the story of these great entrepreneurs (despite the size of their company), sharing their life passion and work, fostering tourism to help the local economy prosper, and using my growing audience to share the work of great charities that do serious work.
In other words, it’s a way of using my strength and impact, as much as I can, to give to the community. I just do it out of love. I can see the beauty in so many different aspects, and I want everyone to see and experience NY the way I do! It’s BEAUTIFUL!
New York City
HDF: I always ask this, if you could meet any entrepreneur, media mogul, or cultural icon who contributed to the world (past or present), who would it be and why?
Fernanda: I have an entire book of names, Matt! Some are a bit obvious or clichê, but I don’t care if they are. It’s a mix & match of people that have passed and many that are still alive…
Grand Master Choa Kok Sui – He is the founder of Pranic Healing and Arhatic Yoga, two techniques that I have practiced for over 6 years now, and that changed C-O-M-P-L-E-T-E-L-Y my life and perspectives. I learned everything about Character Building, the ability of shifting negative emotions / thoughts and converting them into a virtue (fear into courage, pride into humbleness, etc).
Arianna Huffington – Maybe today she’s on the very top of my list. She was able to build an impressive media company, plus, she’s knows how to balance hard work and an intense professional life, with a gorgeous family and great healthy lifestyle. Arianna’s latest journey is called Thrive Global, where she will talk about “Changing the way we work and live.” The world has changed, a lot…and so have work places, work styles, aspirations, etc.
Steve Jobs – I would LOVE to have met him. I think he’s the type of person that or you loved or you hated, but I usually tend to see the good in people, so I’m very very fond of him. Come on…the guy created AN EMPIRE; an entire new world. He was definitely way ahead of his time. His mind was brilliant (and not all brilliant minds are people friendly…we know that. I believe that things are just so ‘default’ for them that, when questioned, they just can’t believe). He was certainly gifted in countless ways.
Jorge Paulo Lemann – Founder of AmBev and one of the most influential businessmen in Brazil and on the planet, for sure. One of his “best friends” is Warren Buffett. (laughter). I’ve read his story (I laughed, cried, stayed in an “awe” state, was amused, stunned, angry, you name it…I felt it all). I would just love to meet him to literally just listen and learn.
…and the list can go on:Stephen Hawking, Oprah Winfrey, Dalai Lama, Franz Bardon, Ayrton Senna, Walt Disney, Ellen DeGeneres, Malala Yousafzai, Steven Spielberg, Warren Buffet, Audrey Hepburn, Mahatma Gandhi, Coco Chanel, Anne Frank, Queen Elizabeth II…even great minds like Plato! Freud! Confucius! Pythagoras! Newton! Ralph Waldo Emerson! Da Vinci! Beethoven! Lord Buddha! Come on!!!! Imagine talking with them one-on-one!!!! Oh my God…
HDF: Wow! All incredible people and yes, I could imagine! (laughter)
Fernanda!!! This was incredible to hear the journey, and it’s been quite a journey for you! It’s amazing what you’re doing and why you’re doing it! I’m honored to be a part of your journey and for you to share yours with us.
Fernanda: Thank you so much once again! Truly!
Fernanda Paronetto | Photography by YuxiLiu