Many people spend their waking hours daydreaming about what their working lives would look like if they could spend their days doing what truly makes their heart sing. For Natalie, settling for any less was never an option. Upon leaving college, Natalie knew that working a 9-5 for a big corporation wasn’t the lifestyle for her and immediately began brainstorming a list of creative career options.
‘I wanted something exciting that challenged my creativity whilst exploring some of my passions. I'd always been so inspired by the textiles, prints, styles and patterns of the 60s and 70s and always wore what I felt was more "me" than wearing mainstream fast fashion brands. I'd buy all my clothes from vintage shops and charity shops. I loved putting looks together and realised that a lot of people would ask me for styling advice or ask for tips on how to be more expressive with their clothing and find "their" style.’ she says
A long standing advocate of circular fashion, Natalie had already been selling her vintage collections on eBay and Depop for years when the idea for Seventies Soul was born. Realising there was a market for the niche, she got to work setting up a website & social media pages and began treasure hunting for stock. Since then, Seventies Soul has evolved from selling exclusively preloved vintage pieces to producing beautiful and unique own label collections including recycled silk dresses and embroidered robes.
‘Since launching my own label collections a whole new world of opportunities have opened a whirlwind of creative possibilities and I honestly don't think any other job could offer me the same experience. It's personal, it's unique to me, it means something to me and it's something I've made on my own.’
Five years since launching the business, Natalie has to pinch herself when reminded that her passion is now her full time job. Alongside an enormous talent for creating stunning pieces that transport you to another era, it’s apparent that it’s Natalie’s passion for a more planet & people friendly approach to fashion that has driven her success to date.
‘Seeing mass produced, fast-fashion companies churning out billions and trillions of pieces of clothing each year - without paying their workers, whilst sending their deadstock to landfill, - and prioritising profits over people... it always made my fists clench and my belly fill with fire. I didn't want to create a clothing brand which followed suit, I wanted to do something for the people and for the planet, making eco-conscious decisions and trying to find better alternatives to plastics and harmful chemicals. Finding a solution to these issues wasn't always easy and above all else there was a huge lack in affordable eco options. I wanted to create something which meant less waste, more care. A low impact approach.’
With entire collections handmade from vintage and preloved materials, and others handmade using strictly natural and organically grown fibers and textiles, Natalie’s commitment to sustainability is clear, and it doesn’t stop at the pieces she creates.
‘I also began swapping out all of my wrapping and packing station with more sustainable options, such as ditching my plastic mailing bags and swapping them out for eco compostable mailers. Buying recycled tissue paper and self adhesive tape. Basically trying to abolish all the unnecessary plastic use in my studio space. There's still a lot to learn but I'm trying to implement more changes as my business grows. I have to keep reminding myself it's not about being perfectly zero waste and plastic free, it's about making those small changes which make a huge difference.’
Natalie loves to see small, independent businesses like hers playing their part in being the change they want to see.
‘My advice to anyone wanting to start their own small business journey... do it! If you believe in your gut and you know you deserve to fulfil your potential doing something you feel strongly passionate about, there's absolutely nothing stopping you. Don't ever think you're not good enough because you are enough and more.! We need more small independent businesses to shine through and take a step above the culture of big multi-million pound corporations who don't necessarily care about making a positive change!’