There’s a reason (or three) so many Big Apple residents flock to upstate New York this time of year: Think autumnal leaves, crisp air, and blossoming apple orchards. But getting there can be a bit daunting, especially if you don’t have an insider to offer up a travel itinerary, not to mention that most New Yorkers don’t own vehicles. (Unfortunately it’s not just like riding a bike when it comes to muscle memory.) Luckily for us (and, by extension, you), we do have an expert serving as our willing guide to the region: Erica Choi, digital art director at Barneys New York and the blogger behind Egg Canvas.
Aside from her blog, Choi’s role at Barneys keeps her unthinkably busy, overseeing the iconic department store’s websites, apps, and social media accounts. So to unwind and escape the hustle and bustle of the big city, Choi often finds herself making the drive upstate, with her new beautiful aluminium TUMI suitcase in tow. And it’s not just a fall tradition, the New Jersey native explains: “In the summer, it’s a great place to take a short road trip to go hiking and explore a bit of the wilderness, but in the milder seasons and winter, it’s great to enjoy the numerous farms for apple picking, strawberry picking, and enjoying the quiet that you can’t really find in the city.” Sounds like the ultimate getaway to us.
Keep scrolling to learn more about Choi, her TUMI suitcase, her career, and her travel stops for the ultimate upstate getaway.
MYDOMAINE: So, tell us how you came to be the digital art director at Barneys.
ERICA CHOI: I went to art school to pursue a BFA in graphic design. I then delved into the design world by taking on numerous internships in the editorial, packaging, and digital industries throughout college. Upon graduation, I took on roles at several web agencies to gain experience. Working at so many places early on helped me to gain insight in the design process, as well as how different businesses are run, and how to be a team player. Each boss or mentor I had played a different role in my learning, and each taught me invaluable lessons. My latest position before Barneys worked with a great number of extraordinary clients in the fashion, beauty, and hospitality industries and this really helped me to build up my portfolio with rich content and work.
MD: How has that influenced your blog Egg Canvas?
EC: Having a full-time job in the industry allows me to have a different outlook and point of view. Having worked up from the bottom also gives me great insight, organizational skills, as well as patience to juggle numerous projects and manage projects and work as a team, even with the client.
MD: What are you most proud of about your career?
EC: In my design professional life and my content making life as an influencer, both have presented so many opportunities that have allowed me to work with brands I could only have imagined working with. Having redesigned Barneys.com, BarneysWarehouse.com, and TheWindow.Barneys.com has been my greatest accomplishment. However, I take every project and award, both small and large (and everything in between), into consideration and let it be a joy in forming my overall success.
MD: Do you ever hit creative roadblocks?
EC: Creative slumps and roadblocks usually just ride out naturally. Whether that is a new restaurant I’ve been meaning to try, seeing an interior that I am simply blown away with the moment I step into the room, or even buying a new fashion piece and thinking of ways to style it, it can be anything really. I admit it can be a little exhausting sometimes when your job and life really depends on [creativity], but it is so important to constantly push yourself and fuel your ambitions. Seek out new experiences, always read with both your eyes and emotion, and take nothing for granted. Always stay curious.
MYDOMAINE: I know you recently went to Stone Ridge. Is travel a source of creative inspiration for you?
EC: Yes, I need surges of inspiration time to time to get my creative juices flowing, and just to gain a fresher look as things do get a little dull. I am a creature of habit, but I don’t really enjoy going to a place I’ve already been. I feel that is an opportunity lost when you could have experienced and learned something new. Knowledge and curiosity are king, and trips like these allow for this to flourish.
MYDOMAINE: So we take it you haven’t been to Stone Ridge before. Why did you decide to go?
EC: No, I haven’t been before! It was a trip to visit the newly renovated Hasbrouck House. It was completely redone and finished this summer. Each room is unique and the property is stunning. The restaurant, Butterfield, is also by an Eleven Madison Park veteran, and the food was just joyful.
MYDOMAINE: What did you love most about Stone Ridge?
EC: The farms, orchards, and markets were particularly charming.
MYDOMAINE: Do you have any tips for the road trip up there?
EC: I always bring a book, as there’s usually poor reception on the highways or in more rural locations so I can’t do much on my phone. I also have a car USB charger for my phone so I can just charge it on the way to my destination. I think preparing better food and snacks for the road is also a good idea (unless you are absolutely craving fast food), as your options aren’t very good en route. Hard-boiled eggs and kimbab are my personal favorites.
MYDOMAINE: What suitcase do you recommend for the trip?
EC: I brought the TUMI 19 Degree suitcase. The four wheels make it so easy to transport, and the solid aluminum is really nice and it feels so sturdy. The latches (without having to struggle with zippers) makes it super easy to open and close, especially in those instances where I forget to pack or unpack 100 things. The compartments inside are also so smart and keep me organized.