She’s the brain behind some of the most utterly gorgeous traditional African Wax print patterns and turns everyday homeware into colourful bursts of vibrant colour, celebrating Black History Month now and forever. She’s put her maker’s touch to Yogamatters essentials and has transformed our original Yogamatters bolsters into print-perfect must-haves for your home.
“When we first met Natalie, we immediately knew we wanted to collaborate. We love how Natalie combines her passion for homewares with her African heritage. The idea for this African Print collection had been in the making for a while, and it was vital to honour our values and be both respectful and authentic as we brought this range to life. This project has turned into something far more, a celebration of heritage, women supporting women, and a way to spread joy with these colourful African prints,” says Yogamatters Managing Director and CEO, Twanna Doherty.
So without further delay, we introduce you to the Yogamatters x Bespoke Binny Collection: four new limited-edition African-print yoga and mediation bolsters. We also sit down with Natalie, to find out more about her inspiration, what it’s like running a business and what makes her tick.
What does creativity mean to you? How do you define it? What inspires you to be creative?
Creativity can mean so many things and for me it’s what I make, it’s creativity of thought and everything in between. I’m inspired by making things I wish existed, combining things your wouldn’t usually think would go together.
Where do you live at the moment? How has this changed over the pandemic if at all? What does your city offer to you as a maker? Are there other places in the world that inspire you, why?
“I live in north London and always have – apart from whilst I was at uni. I love the vibrancy and multiculturalism of London. You can meet people from all over the world and see parts of their culture and for me that’s a constant source of inspiration An obvious source of inspiration for me is west Africa. I think it’s the combination of my African heritage and western upbringing that makes my brand (and me) what it is.”
How did you get into this industry? What was your first job?
“I got into the making industry by accident! I learned to see and make homeware products with African textiles as a hobby, I didn’t think I would ever be selling them or doing what I am doing now. So I’ve never had a job in the industry as such. My first job was at Waitrose! I used to work there as a Saturday job whilst I was studying for my A levels.”
Why is it important for consumers to continue to seek out mindful and inclusive brands? What can they do to further support?
“It’s important to seek these things out because the brands that are the least visible often have the most to offer, but usually aren’t even considered in peoples minds as somewhere to shop from. I completely understand how it happens, the bigger brands have the money and expertise to shout the loudest and get our attention whilst the smaller brands, particularly those from minority groups don’t even get a look in. I think ways that people can further support is to go out of their way to seek out businesses they wouldn’t naturally come across. There are platforms like Jamii and Black Pound Day they help people find black owned businesses and there are also places like Etsy that a dedicated to small and handmade businesses. So much can be found if we are open to seeking it out.”
Why is mindful and sustainable manufacturing important?
“I think we live in quite a throw away culture and I think bothered something really important about taking time to pause, and be more mindful about both how we consume and how we make that doesn’t continue to lend itself to the culture.”
Finish these sentences: “Always …” and “Never …”
“Always – trust your gut. Never – be too hard on yourself.”
What does yoga mean to you? What is your favourite pose? What are your other favourite ways to move or create movement on your own or with family/friends?
“I think yoga is the perfect combination of movement but also relaxation. My favourite yoga pose is Sun Salutation. I love how it moves so many parts of your body whilst being mindful of how you are breathing.”
Favourite Yogamatters product(s)? Why?
“The Yogamatters x Bespoke Binny bolsters of course, and all of the Yogamatters bolsters, really. They are what I love most – the perfect combination of practical, functional and beautiful.”
What’s your work uniform? What do you wear when you’re not at work?
“It’s not very glamorous! Usually leggings and a T-shirt or jumper. I like to be super comfortable when I’m working so I can concentrate on the tasks at hand. When I’m not at work I’m still pretty casual usually jeans and a jumper or a nice floaty dress.”
What gets you energised and keeps you recharged?
“I’m still looking for an answer to this! I’m feeling pretty tired at the moment, I think I need to re-start a good exercise routine.”
Favourite movie, book, app, podcast, game at the moment? You can list one or many!
“My favourite podcast at the moment is Steven Bartlett’s Diary of a CEO. He seems to be able to have a much deeper conversation with brand owners that I’ve never heard before and I love how vulnerable people are willing to be with him. My favourite book recently has been Company of One by Paul Jarvis.”