GET TO KNOW | Natasha Ndlovu
The early 00’s marked a shift in the fashion industry as fashion bloggers emerged from behind the screens of their blogspot domains and onto the front rows of international fashion weeks. The first wave of influencers (ahead of the Instagram era) had major campaigns with retailers and garnered invites to high-society’s most exclusive parties. Fashion’s elite insisted their time in the spotlight was limited but nearly a decade later, bloggers and the like are just as bigger or in many cases, bigger than the brands and publications that once tried to shut them out.
The newest edition to our Talent division, Natasha Ndlovu is an OG in the realm of fashion blogging, bringing her authentic style and experience as a model to her blog Bisous Natasha. With a strong sense for business and discerning creative eye, Ndlovu has worked with brands like Dior, Nars, and H&M – just to name a few. Get to know the girl you’ll soon be seeing around London Town!
M1: You’ve been tapped as having one of the best wardrobes in Britain but you’re originally from South Africa. How do you think your African heritage has influenced your style (if it has)?
NN: I wouldn’t say my African heritage has had much of an influence on my style. Most of what is now my way of dressing, is due to London’s multicultural influence and international position as a fashion capital. I have yet to tap into my African heritage in regards to my personal style.
M1: When you made the move to the U.K. did it take long to find your footing here?
NN: There was a lot of trial and error the first two to three years but after that, I feel like I found my footing .
M1: What’s one thing that you were taught growing up that you feel has added to your success thus far?
NN: I was taught to be independent and work hard because no one is going to do the work for you as much as you yourself. If you want something, do the work. Don’t rely on anyone else to make it happen for you.
M1: We hear that you speak five languages which is incredible. What inspired/motivated you to learn them? It must be a major advantage working internationally.
NN: I went to an international school where French and Spanish were part of the curriculum. I then also lived in several countries growing up, along with moving to London where I worked for a Russian art department, so naturally I picked up languages as I went. It helps with travelling to be able to communicate with people and I feel it makes people more open to help you with whatever work you are doing when travelling.
M1: Now as a certified London girl, what are some of your favourite places? To shop and dine?
NN: I still feel like there are so many hidden parts of London I have yet to discover. I am more of a west London girl so my favourite places are the cafes on Golborne Road, just off Potobello Road. I prefer online shopping at sites like Net-a-Porter and Asos but I do love to see what Topshop has to offer from time to time.
M1: It’ll come as no surprise to our readers that you started out as a model – what led to your transition as blogger?
NN: Modeling has always been something I loved doing but there were times when there was little to no work. I came across articles about bloggers on Grazia magazine and when I started reading other girls’ blogs, that’s when I decided to start my own. What started as a way to make up for the quiet times of not booking jobs turned into what is now a full time job.
M1: You’re what we consider one of the OG influencers, really coming from a time in fashion when bloggers were still, well, blogging. What are your thoughts on the shift away from traditional blogging to insta-bloggers?
NN: As I have been told, which hold true to anything that is not yours, Instagram may not always be forever. Even if that is to be the case, Instagram will dictate what features or ads it wants to put on the app and how that affects your interaction with your followers. Your blog / domain is your own. If Instagram shuts down tomorrow, I still have my own platform that I can continue to create content on. I just hope insta-bloggers have a back up plan or are only using Instagram as a short-term plan to something else that has longevity as we all get older and start losing interested in things we loved 5 or 10 years ago.
M1: There’s so much talk about the need for and eventual “end” to influencers – what role do you think influencers will play alongside fashion brands in the next five years?
NN: I think there needs to be a reshuffling of influencers, not so much an end to them. Some people really do influence and have something valuable to add to the table in the fashion industry. Those people can eventually take on permanent roles within fashion brands or go on to start their own, be it a product, online site or service within the industry.
M1: How would you define yourself, influencer, content creator, etc?
NN: I prefer the term content creator, because we all are creating content to a certain extent, whether it’s useful or not. I don’t think influencer is a bad word, I just feel like it applies to people who truly drive sales, set trends and actually influence the public. For me that is your top tier bloggers and celebrities.
M1: As an influencer of colour, specifically a Black woman, do you ever find it difficult to break into certain spaces or connect with brands?
NN: I honestly do feel that way. It was one thing as a model of color to feel that way but over the years ,as an influencer, I have come to realise that I have to prove to brands that I am just as valuable or worth investing in as, say, a white influencer or other non-black influencers of colour.
M1: Do you think the industry is really committed to change in regard to diversity or is it just a fad?
NN: I believe some people are committed while others don’t care if there is any change. This is why social media, especially Instagram, is a powerful tool because it is bringing out talented individuals from different backgrounds which the fashion industry cannot continue to ignore. We, the people, now have more power in deciding who the tastemakers will be, not what the magazines always dictated to us.
M1: If there was one thing you could change about the industry, what would it be?
NN: I feel like there is more than one thing that needs to seriously change. Of course, personally, diversity is still an on-going issue but we also need some kind of committee or alliance that protects the models, creatives, freelancers, etc from being taken advantage of. Everyone is scared of being black listed for speaking up or challenging someone who is clearly taking advantage of their powerful position and that needs to stop. Other work industries protect their employees, why can’t we have that same protection ?
M1: As your blog matures, what are some of the biggest changes you recognise in your content from when you first started to now?
NN: Over the years, I have made sure my content is diverse and shows more than just my outfits of the day. I have incorporated beauty and travel into the content, as well as more style guides. I would still like to have contributors to my site at some point in the near future.
M1: Are there any projects that you’ve done that you’re especially proud of?
NN: I am proud of my work with beauty brands so far. Earlier this year, I did a campaign with Estée Lauder which I never dreamed would happen. I have been pushing myself to do beauty content and I like the response that beauty brands have had towards me.
M1: Is there one trend you’ve tried and just realised it was totally not for you?
NN: I’ve tried prints and they just don’t work on me. I love them on other people, just not on me. They are great once in a blue moon for a shoot or when attending an event but for the most part, I am not a print person .
M1: Is there one item in your closet that you couldn’t part with?
NN: It would probably be my slip dress I bought on sale at Asos for £12. I haven’t seen it anywhere else (at least an affordable version of it with a racer back ) and a lot of people always compliment me on it. Everything else, I can always buy again.
M1: There are a ton of “it” bags and accessories out there but we want to know what you’ve currently got your eyes on?
NN: I’m going to be cliche and say the Dior saddle bag because that is one of the only Dior bags I genuinely love but I also have my eye on the Gucci Linea Cestino wicker shoulder bag in the classic red & green colors.
M1: Outside of fashion, what are some of your other passions?
NN: I started playing around with selling vintage pieces a few years ago and also making jewellery (I sold a few chokers to the girls at Net-a-Porter’s office) . I would love to dabble in creating one-off or limited edition pieces inspired by vintage looks but I will see if that’s something I want to pursue again properly in a year’s time.