Meet Nicole Cogan, the Gluten-Free Maven Behind @NOBREAD

Photo: Dave Krugman | @dave.krugman
Photo: Dave Krugman | @dave.krugman

“New York doesn’t understand creatives,” says Nicole Cogan, founder of the gluten free blog NOBREAD. “Okay, maybe that’s too harsh… but it has certainly become less accommodating to creatives.”

Like so many East Coasters, Cogan moved to California earlier this year. Her pursuit? Better weather, cheaper rent and sunnier dispositions. She’s part of a larger, New York Times-explored trend, wherein creatives “dump [their] furniture on Craigslist” and drive until they’ve “found a light-filled, two-bedroom cottage in Echo Park.” This is mostly caused by the city’s high cost of living and the fact that we just. can’t. date. another. banker.

“I meet so many New York transplants out here,” she explains. “It’s tough to say no when you can live in a beautiful two bedroom—one with views of palm trees and the Hollywood Hills—for a fraction of the price of a matchbox studio back home.”

Photo: Dave Krugman | @dave.krugman

Photo: Dave Krugman | @dave.krugman

Cogan’s background, you might say, is quintessentially New York. (Move aside, Woody.) She grew up on Long Island and attended an Ivy League college (Cornell) before starting a much-expected career in finance. (“When I tell Californians I used to work at JP Morgan, they literally assume I was a bank teller.”) But as soon as she quit her corporate job to pursue NOBREAD full-time, the city suddenly seemed a lot less…sparkly.

“I love New York and its energy—you can’t find that type of excitement anywhere else in the world,” Cogan details. “But everyone’s very Type A. It’s not just the cost of living—it’s also the expectations of success and what success means.”

One example she mentions are the baffled expressions that overtake New York faces when she explains full-time blogging as a career.

“They always look flabbergasted and ask, “And you make money?” she laughs. “But in LA, no one would ever question that. Everyone has alternative jobs—the general assumption is that you do your own thing and work for yourself.”

And while this all sounds about as irresistible as James Franco riding a chocolate unicorn, we have to ask: Is LA better for creatives? Is it really as good as it looks in all those Instagrammed backyard dinner parties?

In essence: When it comes to California, being abnormal is normal.

Cogan starts every day with a trip to the coffee shop—she tries a new one every day—where she settles in, opens her MacBook Pro and grinds on her website, Instagram feed or brand partnerships. In New York she would work with “glasses and headphones on,” but here she prefers to leave herself open to human communication and networking with other nearby creatives.

“A day rarely passes when I don’t meet someone new,” she says. “It’s amazing how different two cultures can be, even domestically.”

And while this all sounds about as irresistible as James Franco riding a chocolate unicorn, we have to ask: Is LA better for creatives? Is it really as good as it looks in all those Instagrammed backyard dinner parties? (To all our friends posting these: We know what you’re doing.)

“I’m happy here for the moment, but I probably will move back to New York in the long run,” Cogan confides. “As enticing as California is, there are some things that are just too difficult to accept.”

Whereas a New Yorker will respond to a work email within the hour—or at least that same day—Californians leave things lingering for up to a week. City sprawl and bad traffic make the city feel enormous, and it’s not common for plans, even business meetings, to be canceled. There’s just a general lack of urgency.

“It’s a welcome break from the New York rat race, but it can be difficult to adjust,” she says. “In addition to all the driving, LA just has so many distractions: the weather’s beautiful; everyone has flexible jobs that leave ample time to hang out; if you wake up at 8AM, the East Coast is already half a day ahead of you. It’s just a different world… you’re either New York or LA, and it’s hard to be both.”

But as you know, Whalebone is an East Coast magazine—one predicated on a love for Long Island. So what struck us most about Cogan’s interview?

“There’s no ‘Hamptons’ of California,” Cogan finishes. “When you live 20 minutes from the beach, and can go every day, it doesn’t feel as special. There isn’t the same level of excitement you get from a place like the Surf Lodge—a place you only get to visit once a year. I find myself really missing the culture of summer.”

Keep up with Ms. Cogan and her creative, gluten-free journey via her Instagram, @NOBREAD.