Who’s That Gal: Natalie Busby
We love simple, elegant apparel so featuring Boston designer, Natalie Busby, was a natural fit for us. We're also extra excited that Natalie was able to make time in her busy schedule to come speak at Ladies Lounge: Style Made in Boston. Here's a peek inside her brand story as well as a preview of what she'll be chatting about with our panel on Thursday.
Name: Natalie Busby
Occupation: Founder/Designer of the womenswear brand Natalie Busby
Hometown: Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Currently Reading: Re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Full disclosure, by “reading,” I mean listening. I love audio books while I sew.)
Favorite summer outing: All of them! Summer forever.
Your collection is beautiful. Can you tell us more about your background and what inspired you to start your brand, Natalie Busby?
Thanks! My education background is in fashion design. I have a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and then spent time working in the fashion retail industry in various sales, merchandising, and window design roles. It was great to learn some practicalities of running a retail business from other companies, but also a good time for me to reflect on the ways in which I wanted to do it differently.
On a more personal level, the line was born out of this desire to create modern wardrobe staples to inspire a versatile lifestyle. I have always been inspired by travel and was fortunate to have an opportunity to experience it from a young age. My grandmother was a school teacher. She would save up and rent an apartment in Paris during the summer. I started traveling with her in middle school. She taught me a lot about cultivating a personal sense of style. Our favorite thing to do on trips was to have a coffee and watch for great outfits. I loved to observe the many ways in which women could pluck something out of the world and make it into their own thing. I often think about this element of personal style in my design process.
Walk us through a typical work day, please. How do you balance the practical components of owning your own business with the fun design aspects like sourcing inspiration to create the timeless pieces that you do?
I am not a morning person. I have accepted that my most creative work just does not happen early in the day. I start my day from home and knock out my least favorite tasks before heading over to the studio. I use this time for the logistical tasks of owning a business. (emails, invoicing, shipping labels, etc). It is so helpful for my productivity and creativity if I can get to my bigger projects without the little ones hanging over my head.
Afternoons in the studio vary. They can entail anything from drafting patterns, design planning and sewing to fittings, photo shoots, shipping and quality control checks.
I have two busy sales/travel seasons a year. During these times my energy goes full-time into trade shows, trunk shows, pop-ups, and sales pitches. It is a good time to go out in the world to interact with customers, listen, and gather feedback for new collections.
We love that you approach your brand with a sustainability mindset. How do you communicate the value of your products to new potential customers who might not know the importance of things like slow fashion, small batch, and eco-friendly fabrics?
When I work with customers directly, I love to share the story about how their clothes came to be, (why I designed it, what solution it was solving, why I picked the fabric, how and where it is produced). It connects you more to your wardrobe and deepens your appreciation for the things you choose to carry with you.
For customers that shop online, there are pages on the site where you can learn more about fabrics and production methods. And for my retailers, each store gets a booklet outlining these values to share.
A lot of emerging brands are relying on WOM marketing through influencers. Is this something you do as well and if so, how has it been going for you?
Fall 2017 goals! I have worked with a couple of influencers and it is so much fun to watch them style the pieces and take them in directions I have never explored. I marvel at the ways other women rock their pieces, and I see why it is such a fun way for consumers to discover new products. I hope you will see more of this soon.
As for word-of-mouth marketing, my customers are great advocates. I am so appreciative of their enthusiasm and willingness to spread the word.
What challenges have you faced as an entrepreneur?
Balance. I am so blessed to have an opportunity to do something I am passionate about, but the line is so often blurred between work and personal time. I constantly have to remind myself to put things down and step away to recharge.
What’s your biggest piece of advice for a woman looking to simplify her wardrobe?
Many women wear about 20% of their wardrobe 80% of the time. Identify those pieces in your closet. Why do you always go for them? What do they have in common? Try an experiment for a while where you just work from those pieces and see how it feels.
When it comes to adding new items, I’m a fan of lists. We do it to shop efficiently and stop impulse buying at the grocery store. Why not for our clothes?
Building a good wardrobe is a long game. Visualizing your wardrobe and what you like before shopping helps me avoid distraction by things I don’t need. I keep an ongoing list of items I’d some day love to own or I make a note as identify pieces I’m missing when I get dressed. Over time as you come across things that check off a need on the list, you already know it’s a piece you’ve been looking forward to wearing. And ONLY buy things that make you feel really good. You should feel both physically and mentally comfortable in your clothes.
What’s next for Natalie Busby?
I can’t wait for the new Fall ‘17 collection. There will be rolling arrivals throughout the September and October. I’m excited to introduce new color-ways in best selling styles, and some sporty new sweaters and leggings for all those ladies toughing out these Boston winters with me. They are comfy, stylish, and so WARM!
Come meet Natalie at Ladies Lounge: Style Made in Boston this Thursday (7/27) at General Assembly Boston.