In a place like Hudson County, there is an ever-growing variety of hardworking and passionate individuals. Whether it’s through songwriting or content creation, local residents in our area have made their presence known — and they work, inspire, and educate the community around them. The Hoboken Girl is back with its monthly series that highlights several local residents and the ways they are connecting with the community. Read on for a list of 10 Hoboken + Jersey City locals to watch this month.
Lindsey Zwiebach | Founder of Louey Lesigns
Hoboken resident Lindsey Zwiebach works in the day at a children’s company where she oversees the safety, quality, and sustainability of its products. After work hours, Lindsey can be found crafting and has since started her own Etsy shop called Louey Lesigns. The shop sells hair bows, pillows, earrings, and headbands.
Lindsey found herself “enjoying seeing the smiles on people’s faces when they get something that was made with love.” Prior to the launch of Louey Lesigns, Lindsey gifted crafted items to friends and family. Now, she’s expanding her clientele, hoping to “give others the inspiration to do what they love.”
Lindsey’s favorite Hoboken spots: “I enjoy a good meal and drink at Northern Soul. Also, I love the authenticity of the food at Mamoun’s. But, I will never get over the beautiful views we have. I’m reminded of that every time I go for a run.”
Melanie Murray | Singer + Songwriter
At just 17 years old, Melanie has been up to quite a lot. She created her own musical tour, Touring with Taylor (Almost), after being featured in The New York Times, where she was photographed performing Taylor Swift songs outside MetLife Stadium. This summer, Melanie traveled to eight different cities across the U.S. performing Taylor Swift covers and original music of her own outside of concert venues. Still, Hoboken is one of her favorite places to perform, and residents have probably seen her at The Ale House, Hudson Table, and other local spots. This past weekend, Melanie took the stage at Hoboken’s Fall Arts + Music Festival from 12:40PM to 1:10PM on the 7th Street stage.
Melaine is inspired by music and the community it generates — especially when she “shares her original songs with other people.” Melaine hopes she can “get over 10,000 followers on Instagram and release music on a streaming platform.”
Melaine’s favorite Hoboken spots: “My favorite local spots are Mojo Coffee Company (where I work as a barista) and Jungle Juice.”
Matt Malanowski | Pianist
Photo Credit: Miles Malanowski
With roots in Jersey City, Matt currently works as an on-site pianist at Hoboken University Medical Center, where he plays music for the staff and patients. For the last year and a half. Matt has previously played around the world in countries like Europe and Brazil and has performed alongside other notable musicians. Despite these shiny accolades, playing and working in the hospital has been Matt’s most meaningful experience thus far.
He told HG, “I have learned the true nature and power of music, and how it can directly affect people who are in need of some healing.”
Matt has provided the soundtrack to many momentous occasions in the hospital — from playing at the birth of a newborn baby or for a family that has just lost their loved one. Music empowers Matt to keep pursuing his goal of “making people happy and to help them connect to their emotions and to others.” Outside of his hospital pianist role, Matt has recently released his debut album titled, Solo, Volume 1, which can be checked out here.
Matt’s favorite Hoboken spots: “I have to shout out Northern Soul. I am absolutely a regular there and I love the folks that work there. As a vegan, to me, they have some of the best vegan options in all of Hoboken. I am also a huge fan of The Brick, the Italian place on 12th and Washington. They also make amazing vegan pizza and sandwiches. One more spot, I would like to definitely mention is Hoboken Barbershop. They have given me some great cuts throughout my time here.”
Renae Olivia Raos | Fashion + Beauty Influencer
Social media has been an important part of Renae’s life ever since she started posting content five years ago, and since then, she has expanded her career as an influencer. Her niches include fashion and beauty geared toward middle-aged women. With her content, she hopes to “help inspire other women to go after their passion in life, no matter your age.” She adds, “It’s about embracing our age and celebrating the privilege of growing older.”
Renae has received positive feedback from her followers who have sent her messages about “how she’s inspiring them to go after their dreams and rock their 50s.” Renae loves the fact that social media has helped with “really connecting with other women her age.” She also shared with HG, “We’re all going through the same things and it’s great to lean on others who can relate.”
Nikki Nelson | Band Member of Taylor Made
^ Nikki with her two other band members of Taylor Made
Nikki Nelson works by day in digital marketing, but when she’s not working, she has a gig on the side that any Swiftie would love. Taylor Made is a Taylor Swift acoustic tribute featuring Nikki and two other members, who play Taylor Swift hits.
Nikki shared, “We just love playing music and love how it brings people together to have a good time.” The band’s vision is to “become a staple in the local music scene.” They are also currently trying to get in touch with different children’s hospitals to play some potential shows for them.
Nikki’s favorite part of living in Hoboken: “I love having everything I could ever want right outside my door. Hoboken is such a great community. It has a small town feel but New York City excitement.”
Yasmin Kothari | Product Director at Bumble For Friends
If you have seen or heard of Bumble, which is one of the most popular online dating apps, Jersey City resident Yasmin Kothari happens to be a part of its affiliate brand Bumble For Friends team. She works as a product director for the Bumble For Friends app, which is a place for finding friendships in either New Jersey or other areas. Yasmin is “passionate about creating products that foster meaningful connection and community building.” Her professional resume also boasts popular brands like Airbnb, Asana, and PayPal — after all, she studied at Harvard Business School and Dartmouth College.
In her current role, Yasmin is “inspired by helping people connect — social connection is the most important thing we all need to live healthy and fulfilling lives.” The application has helped people meet like-minded others who share interests and want to hang out, as said by Yasmin. When not working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter.
Yasmin’s favorite Jersey City spots: “A day of my favorite spots would include — German Bakery for breakfast treats, spending the day at Liberty Science Center with my two-year-old daughter, Bobwhite for the best-fried chicken sandwiches, and ending the day with happy hour and nachos at Golden Cicada.”
Emma Durazzo | Founder of Anywhere Audiology
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The brain behind Anywhere Audiology, a mobile hearing aid service, Emma’s mission is to bring audiology care right to your doorstep without having to step out of the house. Emma chose an “in-home service because I believe that true healing and effective treatment happens in the comfort of your own space, where you’re most at ease.” She also added: “I can tailor my approach to better meet your unique needs.”
Her goal with Anywhere Audiology is to “make quality hearing care accessible and convenient for those who need it most, especially adults and seniors who may find it difficult to travel to a traditional clinic.” Emma wants “to break down the barriers that keep people from seeking help, whether those are physical, logistical, or emotional.”
Emma’s favorite part about living in North Jersey: “My favorite thing about living in the North Jersey area, particularly in Weehawken, is the incredible blend of community and accessibility. We have the close-knit feel of a small town but are just a stone’s throw away from the hustle and bustle of NYC. It’s the perfect balance for my family and me, especially with a baby on the way. The views of the Manhattan skyline never get old, and it’s inspiring to know that my work in audiology extends across such a diverse and dynamic region — from the heart of Philly to my own backyard in New Jersey, and even to where our families are from in Staten Island. It’s like having the best of all worlds wrapped into one.”
Madison Shapiro | Founder + Content Creator of Sistersnacking
Photo Credit: @daniellemariephotographyct
If you’re a foodie of any variety, Madison is probably a familiar face. With her three sisters — Sara, Carly, and Julia — she currently runs the highly popular social media brand @sistersnacking. On Instagram and TikTok, Madison and her sisters chronicle their foodie adventures on the East Coast, from restaurant recs to homemade recipes.
As a new Hoboken resident, Madison is looking forward to exploring the local food scene, but so far she says, “I am exploring all the nearby Italian delis and can’t wait to find my favorite one.”
As for sisters snacking, she hopes the brand will continue to “grow and expand its network of followers.” She also told HG, “In the community, I hope we bring additional business to some of the local restaurants by sharing them on our page.”
Like any social media venture, running Sisters Snacking is more than just eating good food (though that’s certainly an enviable benefit). Madison told HG: ”Good things take time and you need to work at things (and work hard) for that growth to happen. I hope people know that you have to start somewhere.”
Madison’s favorite Hoboken spots: “I am still new to the area and trying to find the best gems, but I have loved the cinnamon rolls from The Hive, Vito’s Deli, and O’Bagel so far! Also, I’m a big fan of Taqueria, Bread + Salt, and Corto in Jersey City. There’s a lot more for me to try.”
Yvonne Kwok | Pet Portrait Artist + Founder of DoggyDots
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Yvonne found a creative outlet by making custom artwork of pets and animals via her business, DoggyDots. Her method is anything but conventional: all of Yvonne’s portraits are an amalgamation of tiny dots on a page.
Hailing from Hong Kong, Yvonne lived in New York City but eventually settled in her “creative home,” Jersey City. She was a martial arts educator for nearly 18 years and “specialized in traditional Taekwon-do and Practical Wing Chun.” She made the switch to being a full-time artist during the pandemic in 2020.
Yvonne is a dog parent to her 10-year-old English Bulldog, Pang Pang. Her furry friend is both her inspiration and muse for DoggyDots — and it is through this special relationship that Yvonne has dedicated herself to “capturing the unique personalities, characters, and the very soul of each pet.” Yvonne says that it is a time-consuming process where she “hand-draws using only dots, entirely without the use of pencil or drafting.”
In the future, Yvonne hopes that DoggyDots can collaborate with an animal shelter, to “further combine my passion for art with my love for animals for a good cause.”
Yvonne’s local business owners she looks up to: “I admire business owners who not only turn their passion into their work but also share that passion with others. This includes Kerry from Love Locked and the sister duo at PLNTD — Lauren and Danielle. These ladies are very supportive of local women creatives! I recently had the pleasure of doing a pop-up at PLNTD, and I’m discussing potential collaborations with Kerry. I also want to give a shoutout to Alexandra from Nackies! Like myself, her business doesn’t require a physical location, and Alexandra has been instrumental in helping me find events to participate in and offering valuable tips on running a business solo in Jersey City, an area I am gradually becoming more familiar with.”
See More: 7 New Jersey Locals To Watch In October
Liana Wright | Founder of Dollhouse Xpress
Photo Credit: Ashley Jaklyn
Liana has been a part of the Hudson County community since the age of 12 and now has a permanent business home in Jersey City Heights. With a degree in fashion merchandising and psychology, she used her knowledge to open Dollhouse Xpress, a women’s boutique selling fashion-forward pieces like jean skirts, blazers, knit tops, as well as jewelry.
To curate the boutique, she uses “select styles made by women of color and collaborates with local designers.” When she’s not at the boutique, you can find her being the co-host of the podcast, Boss Babes + Bubbly, which is dedicated to women in business.
Through her various creative outlets, Liana’s inspiration comes largely from her mom. She told HG, “My mom is a big inspiration to me in my business. She gave a lot when it came to her personal dreams, just to ensure she was working hard to give me a good life.” Liana’s mom isn’t only someone she looks up to but works side by side with at Dollhouse Xpress.
Liana’s local business owners she looks up to: “718 Beauty Bar is an inspiration to me, it is also woman and Latina owned. Their space is small and cozy like mine, but they did so much with it, and the service and quality have always been great. Prior to opening my store, I did a lot of pop-ups and one of them was at their location. I love that the owner is also big on collaborating and showed me so much love when we met. That is the kind of quality and energy I always want to provide as well.”