TWELV DIARY #10: NATALIE SUAREZ
MODEL: NATALIE SUAREZ
AGENCY: Photogenics Los Angeles, and Fenton Model Management
MODEL/FASHION BLOGGER with STYLE
Where are you from and what is your name:
My name is Natalie Suarez. I'm from Los Angeles, California and live in NYC.
How were you scouted to model:
I was 15 when I started modeling. My friends in high school always thought I was so tall, and knew I liked to get dressed every morning. They encouraged me to be a model. At the time, I was already fascinated by the fashion world. I knew all about the fashion magazines, and was very interested in personal style. I walked into Ford Models (my first modeling agency) and the only one I knew about at the time, and was signed on the spot. From there, I've been working for over 8 years.
Which agencies are you associated with:
Fenton Moon and my mother agency is Photogenics. And my management is, Digital Brand Architects.
What is the name of your blog and the link:
Natalie Off Duty www.natalieoffduty.blogspot.com
What are the challenges you have experienced during your modeling and blog career:
Starting so young, at first, I wasn't at all that comfortable with my body, and image. I mean, I LOOKED so young as well. Never wore makeup, never wore heels. Modeling really did make me grow up fast, and act like an adult...because I was constantly surrounded by an older crowd, and I was always the youngest model on set. Plus, you learn to be a really strong and independent person. Starting out modeling isn't as easy as it looks. It may take some time just to get your first real job. You can easily get discouraged. But once you get the ball rolling, it can be an incredible thing. I've been super lucky. I started working regularly once I gained the confidence, and started believing in myself. I then started my blog, "Natalie Off Duty" when I was 18. I wanted to stand out. I loved having my own personal style. I would wear a lot of vintage and color, and I LOVED to accessorize. I think that's what really made me stand out in the crowd of models at a casting. Plus, I would talk a lot. I loved showing my personality. With my blog, I got to show my whole creative side...THE REAL ME. My music, my life as a model, my travels, behind the scenes to my work. But most importantly was the photography...I liked having that editorial feel to all my photos. With the blog, having my sister photograph me, I started getting extremely comfortable in front of the camera. Suddenly, modeling felt like a piece of cake. I started working a lot with brands that identified with my own style, and also followed my blog. It lead to really amazing work as a model. I was then seen as a person, not just another model. I started doing design collaborations, and becoming an ambassador to top brands around the world. I got to choose what projects and shoots I wanted to work on. With that of course, there are challenges. You have to stay true to who you are...and do what you believe in. I have always stuck with my gut in anything I've done in my career.
What do you love about the industry:
Every single day is different. There may be a day where I'm modeling for a shoot, and I get to be the object...and play a character. Then there are days where I'm working in design...or styling a project. I love how there are endless possibilites of expression...and you get to meet incredibly awesome people along the way. There is so much that goes into a brand, a photoshoot, a piece of clothing. I love getting to be a part of the big picture, and dig deep into my work, and work closely with the people around me.
Singing with my guitar, dancing with friends, biking, and traveling for inspiration, going to rock gigs, taking photos, making videos, and watching endless amount of movies on a weekend.
So hard to choose. I love, love Miucca Prada. Miu Miu is one of my favorite brands. It's so classicly chic, yet it is still retro and has that vintage element. Plus, I love that she plays with a lot of colors and interesting shapes.
What would you tell anyone who want to discover modeling…advice to break it in the industry:
Just be yourself. You never know who is going to like you, or believe in you. You'll come across good people and bad people. The main thing is to be true to yourself. Do something out of the box. Show your style, tell them about your talents. Visit a modeling agency, work on your own book in the process. The industry can feel so closed and shut out, and "exclusive." Just getting an agency may be a lot of work for some, but it's all about timing and luck really. Just show your natural beauty, inside and out. Sometimes, it's not all about your outer looks, but your personality as a whole. I'd rather hire a girl with an incredible vibe, than a gorgeous girl with a horrible personality. But once you get an agency, you've got a whole other world to tackle. It's a lot of work, but has lots of amazing perks and comes with many incredible experiences.
Who is your role model:
So hard for me to choose. Is it cheesy to say my Mom? She's guided me all throughout my career, and she's always right. She's Chinese...believes in Feng Shui, and really does have this weird psychic "intuition" so she says. She's the strongest and smartest woman I know. She could have been anything she wanted to be if she didn't decide to dedicate her time to my sister and I full-time...a doctor, a model, a designer. She was the first to teach me to draw. She isn't afraid to voice her opinion. Coming to this the USA from Malaysia made her very thick skinned. She's taught me so much about how to be independent, and stand my own ground. I love her. There's never a day I don't talk to her on the phone.
What is the inspiration behind your blog:
"Natalie Off Duty" is very much inspired by the "model off duty" style. That effortless, throw on anything, and go, type of vibe. I was so inspired by the brands I've worked with, editorials I'd see in a magazine, photographers and stylists I've worked it, and the incredible places I'd get to travel. With that, I got to capture intimate parts of my life. From behind the scenes of a photoshoot...to what I was wearing the next day. I love taking photos. My sister, Dylana, had her blog Color Me Nana, before me. She taught me everything I know...from photography, to writing, to taking creative control of a picture, a moment. Working on my blog is so relaxing to me. I love coming home after a long day of work, and sitting down and writing. Reflecting on the images I've taken on my camera. It's not just a style blog on my clothes...it's about my life as a whole. How you can achieve your dreams if you continue to work hard and believe in what you do. My career has evolved so much with my blog. It's about being passionate about life and not following the traditional path in your career.
How would you describe your street style:
My style has a rock n' roll yet bohemian vibe. I love classic pieces in fun, playful prints, and I love lots of texture. Velvet, lace, leather. I love to accessorize. I love my Jane Birkin, yet I love my Jimi Hendrix. I have more hats than you can image, and of course, so so many shoes. I love a good classic rock n' roll boot. I'm super inspired by the boys in the band...the button downs, the hats, the blazers, and super skinny cropped jean. Those are my go-tos. But I have a very feminine side as well. Knee-high socks and mini shift dresses with oversize sweaters. I love, love to layer. It's definitely an eclectic mix. You can go through my closet and find just about any style.
How would you describe your music style and any new music coming out?:
I always see my music as a bit folk, but a little bit rock n' roll. I love the electric guitar, but mostly I'm all about the vocals. I love a good strong, powerful voice. I seek inspiration from The Rolling Stones, Elton John, and Janis Joplin. Music I can listen to all day long. The classics. I've got loads of music to work on, and hopefully I'll get some more music out there sooner rather than later.
So tell me about the writing process?:
For me, I can only write if my heart aches for something. Whether it be love, happiness, hunger, or sadness. A lot of times, I like writing stories about other people. Other people's tales and twist it into a song. I can only take so much "me, me, me" I like writing about youth, and coming of age stories. I still have lots of little songs to share. I just have to put more of my time into it. That's my next goal.
Do you write the lyrics first or the music first?:
I always write the lyrics first. I like telling a story. It could be my own story...or a friend's story. I'm very inspired by the people in my life. Then I'll put some simple chords to go with it just to get started.
I love that effortless and thrown together look. But I mix many styles into my looks. I'm a bit rock n' roll, a bit bohemian, but still has that classic element. People always ask me where I'm from. I have been told my style's a bit British punk, gypsy, yet totally New York City tailored. It's true. I will wear a gothic choker, tapered jeans, and a super bohemian houndstooth coat and wide-brimmed hat. I like mixing styles, colors, and patterns. I am very much inspired by music. Classic rock with a bit of folk thrown in.
Earrings. I've got a silver triangle great pair from Ax + Apple. I love tiny little details.
I am traveling a lot between New York, my home, and LA for my modeling work at the moment. I've recently shot for brands like Timberland, DKNY, Uniqlo, W Concept, and more exciting campaigns are on the way. What I am most excited for this holiday is my Nordstrom campaign and film which will be in theatres beginning Thanksgiving! I have also been hosting a lot of events with top brands that I've once modeled for...and now, getting to work for in so many other ways! I just hosted the EXPRESS and J Brand events here in the city which always is a good time, getting to spend an evening with close friends and readers in the city. Of course, next to modeling, I design shoes with the Adoni brothers and my sister, Dylana Suarez at MODERN VICE (modernvice.com). We have our "Natalie + Dylana Suarez x MODERN VICE" JETT shoe collection (http://shop.modernvice.com/collections/women/products/the-electric-lady-collection) , now available at Anthropologie (http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/search/search.jsp?searchPhrase=modern+vice) and Urban Outfitters (http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/catalog/search.jsp?q=moern+vice) (and already in many boutiques). Design keeps me incredibly busy and of course, more and more inspired every season. The shoe industry and my boyfriend's NYC factory, definitely keeps me on my toes and allows me to get creative. With that, I've taken a lot of creative control not only on our photoshoots, but with other brands as well. I've begun spending more and more time as a stylist...traveling to LA this week to style a Spanish brand's campaign. Later this month, my boyfriend, sister and I will also be shooting a very exciting campaign all together for a brand we love. More to come on that soon! So yes, lots of traveling, and my mind is constantly going! Singing and music right now is another thing I'm trying to fit more time into my schedule. I miss performing and recording. I'm working on writing music of course at home. I'm a perfectionist, so I never stop tweaking and writing. I guess now, I'm not only a model, but also a designer, stylist, musician, photographer, and of course, a blogger...where I get to document all the crazy things happening in my life.
In NYC, it's important for me to go to the gym. In my hometown of LA, I was always outside biking, running, and I grew up dancing. And so being outdoors-y makes it easy to get your work out in. In NYC, the weather is so so crazy. I go to the gym in the mornings a few times a week, and do the elliptical (funny to imagine me at a gym), toning with a few weights, and of course, jumping rope. Jumping rope is probably the best thing for my body.
How do you balance everything:
I honestly feel like I don't really stop working. Though it's not bad as I love the hectic and crazy lifestyle though I do always find moments to breathe, play music, and have some down time. But i'm inspired all the time to do new things and create. I like being on the go! Luckily, my friends and family have very similar lifestyles. I have those handful of people that I can always be with anytime. I love having a really good, small group of friends that I can always count on. That's really all you need to stay grounded.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years:
In 5 years, I'd still love to be modeling...but of course, by that time, I feel like I would have built my brand, "Natalie Off Duty" into something even bigger. Maybe my own clothing line...my own album....traveling the world...who knows? I can't predict the future, but I think by then, I'll know what I want.
What is something you are unable to live without:
My camera. I use it all the time...photographing friends, my travels...there's a lot to the blog I still haven't posted. And so many memories. I'm going to have to make a giant scrapbook soon. I like telling little stories through my photos.
What is something everyone does not know about you:
I'm a Scorpioooooo
MANY THANKS TO NATALIE SUAREZ
INTERVIEWED BY: DENISE BOWEN