No longer for the superrich: Personal assistants meld into mainstream

PA for a Day employee Jennie Wright picked up a package for a personal chef, delivering it to a Manhattan building. (Credit: Bess Adler)
PA for a Day employee Jennie Wright picked up a package for a personal chef, delivering it to a Williamsburg building. (Credit: Bess Adler)

Racing through Manhattan to deliver jewels for an evening gala? Accompanying a forgotten tie on the Jitney to rescue a boss’s wardrobe?

Not for the new era of personal assistants.

 

Now, say those who hire and help, regular New Yorkers are snapping up assistants when they are simply overwhelmed.

“I think there’s this misconception that having a personal assistant is for the really wealthy,” said Charell Star, who founded PA for a Day last year to dispel that myth. 

“We are not a luxury concierge,” she added. “We are really geared toward regular New Yorkers, regular people who are really busy and need an extra pair of hands.”

The business gets as many as 100 calls a week, for everything like a two-hour, $20-per-hour grocery shopping window to waiting at an apartment for Time Warner Cable to come by.

“I think the culture has changed,” Star said. “People are becoming a little more comfortable with that idea of asking for help.”

Dr. Jeannie Blaustein hired a personal assistant when tasks from filing to dropping off shoes for a repair ate up too much time. “I kept saying, ‘One day, I’m going to organize those 18,000 photographs.’ It reached a point where I felt like I needed help,” she said.

She hired Brooke Stone Lifestyle Management.

“Personal assistants are not just for the rich, famous and fancy anymore,” Stone told Metro. “They are really for everyone.”

Many of the requests they get right now are spring cleaning or summer moves, she said. Jim and Pam Allyn hired the company to help transition them from a spacious Westchester home to a comparatively cramped Manhattan apartment.

“The personal assistant business, you always think is someone helping a superrich person,” Jim said. “I always thought it was a personal shopper — if you were J.P. Morgan, you’d have something like that.”

Pam also uses Brooke for projects, as well as having her own personal assistant who coordinates her entire calendar, from speeches to dates with friends.

“She’s literally available 24 hours a day,” she said. “If I get to a hotel at 11 p.m. and the reservation is somehow lost, I can text her and she’ll be on the phone with them in a second.”

What makes a great personal assistant?

“The best personal assistants have the big picture in mind while paying very close attention to the small details,” Pam Allyn said.

An ideal assistant is not necessarily simply efficient at finishing tasks, she continued.

“I think it’s an intuitive person, someone who can anticipate people’s needs,” she said. “An excellent personal assistant is highly empathetic to that person’s experience. They’ll put themselves in your shoes over and over again.”

Cheri Mosley has been a P.A. for more than a decade. For Allyn, she schedules travel and fixes crises.

Once, Allyn arrived in Hawaii without her charger. Mosley frantically found a store in the vicinity and directed the cab to drop her off at a mall close to her hotel.

“Staying calm in a crisis, that’s always important,” Mosley said, adding, “Confidentiality is tremendous.”

Follow Alison Bowen on Twitter @reporteralison.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Drive charged in fatal hit and run, police…

The NYPD has arrested a man they say is responsible for a fatal hit and run in Manhattan last weekend. Doohee Cho, 33, was hit…

Local

Mayor de Blasio raises minimum wage for some…

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order Tuesday morning that will raise the minimum wage for workers employed by private companies that receive more…

National

3 myths about the working poor

Linda Tirado works to debunk some common stereotypes about the working poor in her new book, "Hand to Mouth."

Money

Lawsuit funding advances: friend or foe?

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article Many plaintiffs awaiting resolution of their lawsuit or legal claim often find themselves in a tricky financial…

Entertainment

Interview: Metro chats with filmmaker Meir Kalmanson, man…

A New York filmmaker hands out smiles to its residents.

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 30: 'Selfie,' 'Utopia'…

'Selfie' This modern day take on the "My Fair Lady" story stars John Cho in the Henry Higgins role. Perhaps instead of "the rain in…

Music

Can't-miss weekend events continue to attract the masses

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article Earlier this summer, the Firefly Music Festival drew crowds of tens of thousands of people to Dover, Delaware.…

Arts

Artist Laurent La Gamba uses cars to create…

An artist managed to make his friends and family ‘disappear’ – by blending them in with their surroundings using paint.

NFL

Ryan Quigley making a big impact for Jets…

Ryan Quigley, now in his second year as the Jets punter, had an exceptional afternoon with six punts for an average of 51.7 yards per punt.

NFL

3 positives to take from Jets loss to…

The Jets suffered another loss Sunday — 24-17 to the Lions — but the reason why it hurts so much for Jets fans is that…

MLB

Joe Girardi not confident David Robertson will return…

David Robertson was as seamless as anyone could be replacing Mariano Rivera as he converted 39 saves, with a 3.08 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony preaches patience with new coach, offense

While star forward Carmelo Anthony said he’s “enthusiastic” and “optimistic” for the upcoming season, he still wants everyone — from within the locker room and…

Education

At one university, college students get to study…

We all know that college students love coffee. Widener University is taking that love to a new level with its Cultivation to Cup program. Inside…

Travel

Top celebrity wedding spots from Cheapflights.com

Cheapflights.com picks the best places around the world to tie the knot like George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin. As George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin wed…

Education

How to ace your private school interview

Getting ready for a private school interview can be daunting for many, most of whom might never have been in an interview situation before. We’ve…

Education

5 questions parents should ask while visiting private…

It can be hard to know what to look for when searching for a new school for your child. Parents considering several different schools can…