Nigeria Ealey. Photo: Al J. Thompson
Dear New York City,
An elusive place I call home.
The love and gratitude I feel for you is boundless.
For raising me, I am thankful.
For nurturing me, I am thankful.
For inspiring me, I am thankful.
For shaping me into the person I am today, and all I will become, I am thankful.
I came into existence on Tuesday, February 23, 1993, at Long Island College Hospital in Downtown Brooklyn, an area that shaped who I’ve become. When I was a child, you always imbued me with a sense of uniqueness, confidence and abundance. I believe my “I can achieve anything” spirit is partly a gift from you, alongside my mother. Regardless of the situation, you made sure I never felt wanting or inferior. Through you, I learned that the circumstances one is born into doesn’t define people; it’s their actions that matter. You imparted the wisdom that true contentment emerges from transforming dreams into reality and helping others do the same.
Growing up, you never missed an opportunity to showcase your enduring beauty and resilience, even in the most trying moments. This, in a way, is what elevates you to the status of the world’s greatest city— your unwavering determination in the face of tragedies like 9/11, seen from my third-grade class window at PS 8 directly across the river. From a young age, you exposed me to diverse experiences that profoundly influenced my life. Hailing from Brooklyn provided me with a special perspective on New York City and the world. There’s immense pride and strength in originating from here; Brooklyn kick-started my journey and honed my character.
Nigeria Ealey. Photo: Al J. Thompson
I hold dear childhood memories of venturing into Downtown Brooklyn for sneaker releases; acquiring ringtones for my chirping cell phone on Fulton Street Mall; relishing bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches and Arizona beverages before school (even though, in hindsight, I’m not sure what we were thinking!); journeys to Marcy Houses, Red Hook, Bed-Stuy, Bushwick and the Polo Grounds Towers to share moments with my cousins; getting lite in hallways; strolls from Farragut Houses to Dumbo; team and school meetups at Atlantic Terminal Mall; teenage parties; train rides to Soho for snapback caps and graphic tees; and the excitement of Fashion’s Night Out. Little did I know that these moments connected to fashion, design and culture would shape my passions and eventually my career.
From a young age I knew I would be successful—that’s how this city will make you feel, from its inspiring views to the culture of its people. New York City will undoubtedly make you and break you at the same time. That is what makes a true New Yorker—it builds character, grit and a forward mindset. In moments of reflection I find myself in places like the piers and waterfronts in Dumbo. Having lived in the Farragut projects for the first 19 years of my life, I’ve always had a goal to purchase a penthouse in nearby Brooklyn Heights—to me that would be the ultimate full-circle moment. I still remember being that kid running to Brooklyn Heights for a sense of empowerment.
As I grew, I watched you grow in so many ways—from new construction projects replacing old stomping grounds to new arenas, businesses and even neighborhoods getting renamed. I still remember seeing the process of the Barclays Center being built during my freshman year of college at LIU Brooklyn (2011), right up to my attending the arena’s opening concert by Jay-Z in September 2012.
Those college years defined me the most. For eight years I attended LIU Brooklyn, where I received my BA in graphic design and an MA in media marketing and management. I also had experiences that will last a lifetime.
As a kid I remember going to LIU from time to time with my mom as she attended classes and school events. One of my most cherished memories is attending my mom’s graduation and watching her receive her master’s from LIU shortly after obtaining her BA. Watching her raise four kids while working full-time and excelling in school was inspiring to see and spoke to her hustler spirit, especially all the honor awards she’d bring home. This was partially the reason I stayed in NYC for school. At the beginning of my freshman year my mom passed away due to cancer and that changed my perspective on life. Living in the city of big dreams wasn’t enough. I had to make them big dreams become reality.
Life hit fast, and I realized that it was up to me to navigate my way in this city and as an older brother to three siblings. During college I dedicated much of my time to learning everything I could about what I wanted to achieve in life, as well as join clubs and organizations that aligned with who I was and what I wanted to become. I owe a lot of my growth and knowledge to the relationships I fostered by joining the student government and becoming a member of Kappa Alpha Psi—Delta Mu chapter. Many would be shocked to learn a university in the middle of Downtown Brooklyn had this much campus culture.
In 2014, I and two college friends/fraternity brothers created TIER, a fashion brand now known around the world and especially in New York City. Since a child I’ve always had the same dreams, one of which was to have a world-known and respected fashion brand.
Due to the love, support and belief of our family, friends and city, TIER has grown exponentially and is recognized today as a top brand out of New York City.
New York City, it is because of you I wake up every day to do what I love for a living. It is because of you I don’t believe in defeat, and it is because of you I know anything is possible when you put your mind and heart into it.
Truly yours, and forever Brooklyn,
To shop the full TIER x NYC Tourism collaboration, visit tiernewyorkcity.shop.