Enter: Natalie Suarez. A jack-ess of all trades: model, blogger, photographer, stylist, brand developer, shoe designer… oh, and musician. Even typing this makes me shake my head in awe. While this Chinese/Spanish beauty is an obvious juggler of many creative endeavors, this woman doesn’t plan on stopping just there, she is full to the brim of endless dreams and a creative spirit that keeps her thinking big and wide. Her style is eclectic and cool, never contrived; everything she puts on seems to be made just for her, just for that very moment in time. Her blog Natalie Off Duty oozes style in unique way… not the run of the mill blog with hundreds of selfies that seem to dominate the internet these days. She truly owns her style through and through, no dress up here. It’s not a question why she is so coveted by brands far and wide (Mango, Kenneth Cole, Volcom, Rebecca Minkoff… to name a few…) for her ease and beauty, and the personal touch she brings to each shoot. Each of her posts ignites a desire to go play in your closet, put something amazing on… and explore anything and everything around you. Meet the beautiful Natalie…
Hi Natalie! Where are you originally from? You now live in New York… but you were born in LA? Yes, I was born and raised in LA, and now I’ve lived in NYC for about 3 years.
What are your parents like? How would you say they raised you? My parents are the nicest people you’ll ever meet, and also the most supportive. My mom is super independent and intuitive. She seems to always tell the future! She’s Chinese, from Malaysia, and moved to London, then LA, where she met my father. For her, it’s all about feng shui and living happily. Oh, and she’s a total fashionista. Her closet is just as crazy as mine! My dad is a total LA guy. He was born and raised in east LA. He never plans on leaving California, and having LA as his home is his pride and joy. He only began traveling the world after he met my mother in Santa Monica, where we were raised. From there, we’ve taken huge trips to Singapore, Bali, and Thailand. They are both super outspoken and have strong personalities. Never extravagant, but their home was their one place where they allowed themselves to be over-the-top. They’ll do anything to stick up for their daughters. And they are the ones to really encourage me to live my dream…and never told me to follow the traditional path. If I wanted to play music, they’d get me a used piano and guitar to start with…all things they were never really familiar with. When I began modeling in high school, they allowed me to do independent study and go to college early. They’re dreamers, and always think big. They’ve always wanted me to live a life out of the ordinary. I love them so much!
If you could invite one designer, one artist, one musician and one writer to put in a room and have a meal with… who would come? Who would be eating what? I’d put Karl Lagerfeld, Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac, and Andy Warhol all into one room. It’d be so epic. All people I wish I’ve met already. Karl would eat grilled asparagus, Bob Dylan would eat a simple skirt steak, Jack would have a beer, and Andy Warhol would eat soup! I’d have grilled chicken of course.
What is the greatest piece of advice you have received… by whom did you receive it? My dad would always say, “There’s nothing to fear but fear itself.” A quote from FDR he’d always tell my sister and me. He was all about taking risks, catching your dreams, and being daring in life. He always wanted us to do what he wasn’t given the opportunity to do when he was young.
Tell me a day in the life of Natalie… Every single day is different for me. One day I could be traveling for a shoot…and the next, I’ll be back in NYC for meetings. Now, I get to work more closely with brands…as me and not “just another model.” I was always into so many different things so now I work in design, styling, as well as still being a face to a brand. I also spend a lot of time in my boyfriend’s NYC shoe factory…my second home, where I’ll work with him in design. The night is when I update my blog for the next day. Writing keeps me grounded and helps me unwind after a busy day. Playing music on my guitar is what else I’ll fit into my downtime. I like playing a variety of roles. Model, blogger, designer, musician, stylist. I never ever get bored and always have something going on in my head.
In your next life… you’ll be happy coming back as: Janis Joplin.
Favorite meal… My mom’s homemade curry. I love spice.
Best place in LA to chill? On a chair in the Malibu hills just off the PCH, overlooking the water and the sunset. With friends and some food, it’s the best way to just chill out.
What you love most about LA and New York, the greatest differences… and, which do you prefer? What I love most about LA is the sun. No matter how busy and crazy your day is, I know I can just step outside and chill out in the sun. It totally relaxes me. And honestly, I love driving my car and miss it when I’m in NYC. That and blasting music on the road is ultimate relaxation to me. What I love about NYC is how it’s so quaint and how every street looks like a post card. The parks, the buildings, everything is so beautiful. And the energy is indescribable. It’s always go, go, go…the excitement never stops. There’s every type of person in NYC. You never know who you’ll run into when you’re walking down the street. Plus, the fashion here is incredible and inspiring. I love the mix of street wear and designer clothing that you see downtown.
Favorite band/artist? So hard for me to choose. I will always love The Doors. I grew up listening to them on repeat on the radio in LA.
Live anywhere in the world… where would that be? Besides LA and NYC, my next favorite city is London. It’s got that rock n’ roll, punk vibe that’s so rad. It’s got such a cool vibe and it’s a gorgeous place. I can see myself living there.
Your greatest dream? To have a house in all of my favorite cities and work from wherever I want whenever I want. And if I ever need an escape, there’s always a place my family and friends can go to and be together. I love being able to travel. Right now, I’m very bi-coastal, but I’d love to have a base overseas and in other countries as well. Traveling keeps me motivated in work and everything.
You have a beautiful relationship with your sister Dylana. Has it always been flawless and easy? What kind of projects do you two most enjoy tackling together? We are very, very similar so sometimes we do butt heads, but we’ve totally outgrown fighting or being competitive in any way. We both grew up being creative and into the arts. I kind of always followed in her footsteps as the younger sister. We both sing, play music, dance, and of course, we then both became so in love with fashion and style. Some people can’t even tell our voices apart on the phone! We’re best friends and I always feel better when we’re together or living in the same city! We work together now in design, and of course, also on the blogs….but what we love most is working on photoshoots and creating an image. Whether I’m styling or she’s the photographer, or we’re working on a catalog/lookbook shoot for a brand we believe in, we always work best when we’re together. Some of my proudest work is what I’ve done with Dylana.
One thing you wish every woman would take home as far as body image goes? If you show that you care for your body and your health, it makes you that much more attractive.
Chasing your dreams and believing that you can do ANYTHING… What does it take? It takes a lot of time, dedication, and patience. When I do something, I do it to the max and put my heart and soul into it. You can’t just do something halfway. And you have to believe in yourself. No matter how many people tell you no or put you down, you have to rise above it.
How would you describe your style? My style is a bit rock n’ roll yet bohemian. It’s classic but has that tough, yet earthy, element to it. I always look to the style of boys in bands. I love those tailored blazers, scuffed up tapered jeans, and boots. And I love to accessorize. I love a good hat, a good necklace. To me, it’s all about the little details and sticking with what works for me.
One style you wish you could pull off, but would never try… I love that colorful, Japanese, extra quirky…allllmooost harajuku style. It’s so cute! It’s not really for me, but I love incorporating tiny bits of it into my life.
Three of your favorite current Free People items? I love everything Free People so it’s so hard to choose. I could live off just FP in my life, but these are my favorites!
1. Bow & Arrow Henley Dress: I love a flirtly little printed dress. It’s the perfect party piece…day or night.
2. FP New Romantics High Neck Victorian Top: The New Romantics collection is my new love. This Victorian lace blouse, with its perfectly high neckline, reminds me of a vintage piece I wish I still had. Timeless.
3. Chili Painted Suede Jacket: I love a statement piece, and this jacket just oozes cool. The bell sleeves, and rich suede. I’d wear this forever.
More from our About A Girl series.