This week we catch up with model, singer and editor, Natalie Lim Suarez. We talk about growing up in the world of fashion, how she boosts her confidence and coming out the other side of the pandemic.
Tell us about you and the journey of how you got to where you are today.
"The arts have been in my life ever since I was little. I was always singing, dancing, and performing. Style and fashion is something that just came naturally to me. I love the art of a photograph. My father gave my sister and I a camera and just like that, we taught ourselves, and began photographing one another in our own backyard. I like creating a mood through my photos that feel like an editorial and tell a story with a single image. I started modelling when I was 15, so I learned a lot creatively that way, too. I started my lifestyle blog, NatalieOffDuty.com, when I was 18, documenting my work as a model with a deeper look behind the scenes, sharing my personal stories, travels, and how I'd get dressed. I began my career in my hometown of Los Angeles and now I've been living and working in NYC for over 10 years. This special connection between fashion and I were meant to be!"
How has life changed for you since the onset of the pandemic, and how do you stay motivated in these uncertain times?
"I honestly had no idea what would happen in the social media, influencer space at the very beginning of the pandemic. It turns out, more people were online, creating, and sharing more from their daily lives! I happened to create a deeper love for my work and became super grateful for everywhere I had travelled, all the people I had once met, and places I've been. It's made me value my work, and really focus on quality projects. Projects with brands I truly love. I think everyone has become more selective with who we surround ourselves with, and how we spend our time. Focusing more on what is truly important to us. I kind of went into tunnel vision during the pandemic. It was a real growth period for me personally and professionally. Movement for me was my main way to stay motivated. I picked up Pilates and dance again and never stopped."
What makes you feel good or boosts your confidence when you need it most?
"Music for an instant mood lifter, because I love to blast something and just dance in my living room. And also, family. I love when I have family in town, or host dinners in my home. It's important to surround yourself with people you can totally be yourself with and who love you unconditionally. It reminds me to love myself exactly the way I am."
What can you tell us about your relationship with your body and how that has changed over the years?
"Modelling at a young age actually forced me to be in tune with my body, and portray myself as confident. And luckily, I had a pretty healthy outlook on my body. I had to quickly be comfortable in my own skin and kind of mentally separate the real me from the modelling me. I always had to feel my best and so I nourished my body, and took care of it. It was my job. I never tried to overanalyse the way I looked or compare myself to other models. What I loved about having a blog and a platform was that I could go beyond looks, and actually connect with other real women who had voices. With time, I've learned that looks have very little to do with confidence and feeling good. I have carried that importance of inner wellbeing into adulthood. I now embrace imperfections. Instead of shooting a bunch of "perfect" photos, I now want that one that feels a little off and imperfect. Because it's more real. There is no such thing as perfect and that's something I live by."
We love how you incorporate colour into your looks. Where do you get your inspiration from?
"I love the way Dora Larsen works with colour! Colour is like a mood for me. In this yellow lingerie set, I thought my yellow blazer would look fantastic with it, and sort of dress it up. That's what I love about lingerie, you can style it a million ways, even as outerwear. Most of my inspiration comes from travel. This yellow colour reminds me of summers in Italy and lemon trees."
Are you able to share anything you have coming up this year?
"I have a lot of travel coming up for some special projects and I feel a lot more energised and inspired this year. I used to travel every other week and feel exhausted prior to the pandemic. My mindset and outlook on travel and work has completely changed now for the better. I love any reason now to get on a plane and see each opportunity as an adventure."
Find Natalie here.