STORY BY + VIDEO EDITING RACHEL SCHWARTZMANN –Follow Natalie – PHOTOS + FILM FOOTAGE BY BRIDGET BADORE FOR THE STYLE LINE
Natalie Skoblow is at the intersection of two very
creative worlds: fashion and music. You could even say it’s a harmony that she’s built her life upon.
In fact, the Brooklyn-based creative has a rare gift for being able to bridge the divide between two entirely different industries. Case in point, her blog The Hidden Harmony which touches upon Natalie’s background in both fashion and music, and her work at Housing Works Thrift Shops, which enables shopping as a vehicle for good (and in doing so, offers assistance for those living with HIV/AIDS and homelessness). Coupling these ideas with Natalie’s home-base in Brooklyn, NY, we had a chance to witness these worlds collide when recently visiting Natalie at her gorgeous apartment in the heart of the coveted Williamsburg neighborhood.
Once entering Natalie’s sunlit apartment, we could immediately tell that her space was as lively and stylish as our featured interviewee herself. From the records, prints, and inspirational quotes that filled an impressive gallery wall above Natalie’s desk to the instruments which sat proudly waiting to be played (and luckily during our visit, they were!) to the plant-laden corners which tied together the otherwise neutral palette, we couldn’t wait to learn more about Natalie’s thoughts on the synergy between interior and personal style. As she mentioned in our interview below, “I want people to get a sense of my personality through my interior design approach. From the thrifted records on the wall to the books I have displayed, my bedroom is a visual representation of me, and I have so much fun creating it.”
Without giving too much away, we’re thrilled to share more from our inspiring conversation with this emerging change-maker. Discover Natalie’s story below along with her thoughts on sustainability, conscious consumption, and how she’s managed to find (and harness) the hidden harmony in her life. Also, enjoy exclusive photos (and footage!) from our morning captured by Bridget Badore for The Style Line.
I’m a creative storyteller and singer/songwriter with a
strong entrepreneurial spirit and passion for influencing people on how to curate a sustainable wardrobe and lifestyle. I have a deep-rooted love for local and ethical brands and enjoy networking with powerful and inspirational women. Collaboration over competition has always been a strong value of mine. I currently reside in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and I am falling more in love with this whimsical neighborhood every day!
Talk to us about your relationship to fashion. What role has it played in your life and how would you characterize it now?
When I look back on it, my relationship with fashion has evolved so much, but at the same time, there are many aspects of it that haven’t changed at all. Starting in high school, I always wanted to stand out. I wouldn’t ignore trends altogether, but I would put a unique twist on them.
To save money and to find these one-of-a-kind items, I started shopping at places that most high schoolers wouldn’t step foot in– thrift shops. It was here that my perspective on fashion changed, and my desire for stepping outside of the box with trends shape-shifted into me curating a unique style of my very own. People noticed (for better or for worse) and I kind of liked that! In college, my interest with secondhand fashion grew into a full-blown love affair with my starting a club on campus in SUNY New Paltz that focused on the benefits of thrifting, which ultimately led to a dream opportunity: opening up my own thrift shop – Hidden Harmony’s Closet. It was during this time that I realized this passion for sustainable style wasn’t just a hobby; it was a lifestyle – a lifestyle choice that I wanted absolutely everyone and anyone to know about.
Now, I work for Housing Works, a nonprofit organization that has 11 beloved Thrift Shops all throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan. All proceeds from these shops go towards our life-saving services we provide for people living with HIV/AIDS and homelessness. My obsession with sustainable fashion took on a whole other meaning when I started working at Housing Works. Now I was shopping not just for the affordable prices, not just for the environmental reasons, but also for the cause.
When was sustainability really introduced to you and how would you say you remain actively involved in the conversation?
Thrift shopping, specifically, was introduced to me in high school when I went into my first thrift shop, Buffalo Exchange. I fell in love with their business model of buying unwanted clothes for cash or credit. There was a thrill to it. Not only was I able to divert clothing from going into landfills; I was able to feed my incessant hunger to fill my wardrobe with cool, one-of-a-kind pieces. Housing Works Thrift Shops was one of the first discoveries of mine while exploring Manhattan, way before I even got a career there! With 11 Thrift Shops and one incredibly powerful mission, I loved leaving with a bag of gorgeous items and knowing that my money was going towards something bigger than myself.
Junior year of college, I took a job at this darling boutique in High Falls, New York called Shop Nectar, it was here that I learned more about conscious, eco-friendly and fair trade brands. Jewelry companies like Meyelo where they empower artisans with sustainable income, to skincare companies such as Hand in Hand where they donate soaps and one month of water to children in Haiti… Being surrounded by these products and learning about the history and mission of each brand was the catalyst for me seeking out clothing companies that had similar values. Another layer was added on to the reasons why I should shop sustainably. From paying employees fairly to using recycled fabrics and sustainable materials… I realized through buying and wearing these items, I was making a powerful decision: I was choosing to support brands that were making an impact socially and globally and as their customer, I was able to play a small role in that.
That’s one of the ways I remain actively involved in the conversation, by purchasing from these brands, talking about them, and writing about them on my blog and Instagram account, The Hidden Harmony.
Regarding your role at Housing Works, how have you learned to think about fashion as a medium for good and what is the most unexpected change you’ve made about yourself and your style as a result of being in this role?
We’ve got the power. Our buying habits are powerful. On the surface level, you’re getting a beautiful new dress or pair of shoes, but on a deeper level, by making that purchase, what or who are you impacting? From working at Housing Works, I have seen how much good can come just from donating a bag of clothing or shopping at our Thrift Shops. I have seen what those funds go towards – our various life-saving services such as healthcare, housing, and youth programs. When you see the full effect and impact of your purchase, it really changes your perspective on how you shop.
Outside of Housing Works, shopping local and sustainable brands is another recipe for goodness. You are giving back to your community and helping save the environment at the same time. Knowing I’m making a difference through my purchases is more important to me than it ever has been. There has definitely been a significant change in both my personal growth and style as a result of being in this role. I now value quality over quantity when it comes to fashion, and thanks to Housing Works, I’m able to get just that. I’ve found many designer gems in our Thrift Shops along with clothing made by sustainable and local companies.
Overall, I have become a lot more conscious about my buying habits, and have become a stronger advocate for not only sustainable living but also human rights and policy. My voice is louder than it ever has been within this community, and I’m going to continue to speak up!
With the above questions in mind, how does your love of sustainable/vintage fashion translate into how you approach interior design? Would you say your tastes are similar when it comes to both?
When it comes to interior design, I have to give a majority of the credit to my mother. When I was younger, we would drive down the streets of our neighborhood seeing if anyone was throwing away any furniture. She had a knack for finding some amazing stuff and then upcycling it by painting or putting new knobs on the doors.
When I moved to my first Brooklyn apartment, I took a similar approach to hers and combined it with my love for sustainable/vintage fashion. Almost all the furniture in my room minus a side table and shelves are secondhand. Same with the décor outside the copious amount of plants I have hanging and sitting on my shelves. I love when someone walks into the room and says, “oh my god, it’s so YOU.” I want people to get a sense of my personality through my interior design approach. From the thrifted records on the wall to the books I have displayed, my bedroom is a visual representation of me, and I have so much fun creating it.
How has being based in Brooklyn inspired you in both fashion and interiors and are there are any local brands you’re particularly excited about lately?
There’s so much creativity here. Brooklyn definitely beats to its own drum and has the kind of vibe that’s conducive to having independent brands, unique shops and fun events in the area. I also really like the fact that there are many sustainable/eco-friendly events that seem to happen on a weekly basis. It’s easy to meet like-minded people around here! I love walking around my neighborhood and seeing people’s take on the current trends and styles, popping into local coffee shops and bakeries, and exploring the different flea markets. I have so many different places to go for inspiration right at my fingertips.
Especially with Instagram making it so easy to search for, I’m constantly discovering local designers and sustainable brands and am always excited to talk about them! Two brands I’ve recently discovered and love right now are Calhoun & Co. and they’re adorable locally made décor, and Maiyet, an ethical fashion brand carrying locally made products that are sourced globally. Their jewelry is breathtaking!
What is one question you wish people asked you more often?
What does “The Hidden Harmony” mean? “Find the hidden harmony” is a personal mantra and phrase that I came up with in college. I also have it tattooed on my back!
I grew up surrounded by music and being a singer/songwriter myself, music has always played a special role in my life. Just like finding harmonies in music, finding your purpose or meaning takes patience and self-awareness. It requires you to take a step back and listen. There’s dissonance in music, the notes that clash together, and there’s consonance in music, the notes that sound beautiful together, just like there are in life. Finding your hidden harmony is finding the balance between the two. It’s finding a note that feels good and resonates throughout your mind, body, and spirit. It relates to fashion as well, too. Curating your own personal style takes that kind of patience and consciousness. It’s taking chances, it’s being vulnerable, it’s a lot of digging, treasure hunting, and finding what makes you feel good in your own skin.
But I’ll tell you when you find that note – that harmony… it’s the most beautiful sound you’ll ever hear.
How would you advise the next generation of style mavens to leave an imprint in the world, simply by doing what they love?
If you are passionate enough about something, it will illuminate and infiltrate everything around you. That light will shine wherever you go, because you are doing what you love, and being who you are. That combination is powerful, and people are naturally drawn to it. It also inspires others to go out and find their purpose, whatever it may be. So don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, to “fake it until you make it”, to reach out to people that inspire you…you’ll be surprised by the amount of opportunity that will come your way once you start investing in yourself and what you believe in.