I had the pleasure to work with Natalie at Strut a while back. She was this goofy kid in a giant black tee with a bright smile and positive attitude. Working with her was never dull and I look back on that time fondly. I’m lucky to still count her as a friend.

Recently, she stopped by the store for a visit and I just had to snap a few pictures of her. At her core, Natalie is an individual. A rule-breaker. An activist. In her actions, her spirit, and her appearance.

We also got together via email for a short interview.

 Q: So, I know you like to take photos. What are your favorite moments to capture?

 A: Easy. Big laughs + Big smiles?!? That’s magic to me!

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 Q: You have a great sense of style in that you don’t really follow any rules, but you always look ridiculously cool. Do you ever feel the need to follow the rules when it comes to fashion?

 A: I’ve always been an embracer of individuality. Beauty to me is being your own character and then embracing it fully with all the prints, fabrics, and designs. If I like it, I’m going to wear it without needing validation from anyone. Once I let rules tell me what I should and shouldn’t wear because it’s not “fashionable” or the current trend, then I feel that’s the moment I stop being myself and let society win about what’s beautiful.

 

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Q: As a woman of color, do you feel like you are well represented when it comes to big brand campaigns? What would you like to see from brands in term of marketing and representation?

 A: The momentum for women of color is definitely growing, but I’m afraid the representation comes and goes as if our color is a trend. I want to see more commercials and ads honoring women of color from the lightest to the darkest shades of brown and black. It would be nice to see our bodies, shades, hair, and our different elements being admired and respected instead of degraded.

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 Q:Is there any person that you look to for inspiration?

 A: Three R’s, my friend. Rihanna. Rihanna. Rihanna. Our styles are completely different, but she wears what she wants and she KILLLSSSSS it!

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  Q: I’ve always loved how much of an individual you are and how comfortable you are with yourself. What advice would you offer to someone who wanted to embrace themselves more fully?

 A:It’s okay to be awkward and different! As cheesy as it sounds, there really is only one you so express yourself with your clothes. Let others know that you have your own mind. Wear that turtleneck with those overalls. Wear those ruffled socks with your heels. Mix your brown and black! Stop trying to impress others and wear what makes you feel comfortable and happy.

I think that the biggest lesson to learn from Natalie is to conform to nothing. Embrace yourself- flaws and all. Live your life for you. And wear whatever the hell you want.

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