Natalie Daemi is not just a designer she is an overcomer, she is a mentor, she is a walking inspiration. I met Natalie two years ago when I walked into a connect group (connect groups are the heartbeat of Hillsong NYC. They are small groups combined of liked minded individuals pursuing an all loving God.) The first thing that stood out to me was her long curly hair, but as she started speaking I felt the passion flow from her heart. She has an overwhelming passion for women and when you meet Natalie it shows. Now Natalie’s passion is showing through the custom made gowns that she makes for her special brides. Each gown giving back a portion of the proceeds to Restore NYC, an organization that rescues and houses victims of human trafficking. Shop 4 Play would like to present our Inside Out Series where we focus on creatives who not only inspire people with their work but they inspire people through their work.
S4P: You mention on your website www.nataliedaemi.com that moving from Iran, at a time of war, to Sweden led you to your calling. Can you tell us how that journey influenced your dreams of being a designer?
ND: Honestly I never thought I would be a designer. I thought I would be a doctor and join doctors without borders. Then I moved to LA to work with homeless youth through an organization called the Dream Center. I lived and worked there for several years. That's also where I learned that in order to help people, I didn't have to be a doctor. I had to do something I love, be the best at it and that in turn would give me a platform to influence others. After the Dream Center I moved to Norway to work so I could save up some money and to gather my thoughts and see what I should do next. While there I had a vision for my life: I saw a runway show. I was standing at the end of the runway. On the wall was projected: "In the beginning God created heaven and earth", at that moment, I saw models come down the runway. As they were walking down the runway, I saw heaven and earth be created on to them in shapes of beautiful garments. I KNEW I had designed that and that it was where I was going next in my life. I opened my bible and it opened to a scripture (exodus 28:2) "And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty" That's when I knew that I had found my calling in life. To make garments for beauty and for glory.
S4P: It seems that helping those in need is your mission statement. Was there a moment that was significant in you creating a business that helps others?
ND: Well I knew from the day I had the vision in Norway that I wanted to create a company that gives back. How much money do we really need? It wouldn't hurt by any means to give some of it away to others that don't have the same opportunities!
S4P: You give a portion of your tailor-made wedding gowns to Restore NYC, an organization in NYC that houses and focus to restore the lives of foreign national women who’ve been sex trafficked. How did this partnership come together?
ND: I was having coffee with a friend who has an organization (10000 PB&J). I was frustrated with where I'm at in my life. Felt like there was no purpose to my day job. So I was meeting with him to see if we could do something together. We also talked about all kinds of other charity organizations that are interesting. He asked me: what's really something that is a burden on your heart and I immediately knew it was human trafficking! I'm always so shocked that it's 2015 and we have slaves!!!! How is this possible?!? So I wanted to partner up with an organization that is local as I'm in NYC. I know human trafficking is a huge problem in cities like NYC and LA.
S4P: On your blog you stated that “I believe there is a shift coming. I believe we live in a generation that is going back to caring.” Do you feel like we are coming out of a time where there were more takers then givers?
ND: I think we are. Honestly how many cars or houses does a person really need?!? I think there is great joy in giving back instead of just taking taking taking...
S4P: Your blog is so inspiring and motivational. You discuss many topics from love to living your dreams. How do you hope to encourage others through your blog?
ND: I think we live in a time where it's easy to pretend you have a different kind of life than everyone else. On social media you see a glimpse of what someone's life looks like. I think it can be quiet discouraging when you compare with your own mundane everyday life. I want to be real with people. I struggle, you struggle, we all struggle! I want to be open and share that DESPITE my struggles, I'm still standing. It's not important how you fall. What's important is what you do next and how you rise up again... I hope my words will speak life into your dreams. I hope my words will make you see yourself in a different and positive light.
S4P: In creating your blog was it your purpose to encourage others?
ND: Absolutely. I spend a lot of time mentoring amazing women. I figured that maybe putting some of those words on my blog would encourage more people that I can't reach on a daily basis.
S4P: You had a dream to become a designer. Did you see yourself making wedding gowns?
ND: Never for one second did I think I would do wedding gowns. I was again frustrated with where I was in my life. Praying and just trying to figure out what I needed to do next. I received a text in that moment from a girl who was getting married. She asked me if I could do her wedding gown. I thought if that's not a sign, I don't know what is! So I made her dress. Then one dress led to another and another.
S4P: Your journey as a designer has not been easy. How has your obstacles influenced you as a person and as a designer?
ND: Easy come, easy go... Sometimes I wish my life would have been easier and things would have been handed to me, but hardship builds character. For that reason, I am grateful that I have gone through many things and am still standing.
S4P: What advice would you give someone who has a dream of becoming a designer?
ND: You have to believe in yourself and your dream!!!! Make sure to meditate on that dream so it's as real as if it was happening right now because a lot of nae sayers will come around. It's not always ill will but people just don't understand the greater picture that is in your head. Those are the moments that you have to listen to the advice in one ear and out the other. In the end, no one else has to live your life other than you. Make sure that it's the kind of life that you want to live!
S4P: Where do you see yourself as a designer in the next five years?
ND: My hearts desire is to have a socially aware high end fashion house. I'm hoping that it's a full brand running and allows me to focus on what I love the most, which is people.
Stay Tuned… for more with designer Natalie Daemi. In Part II Natalie explains how her Iranian and Swedish backgrounds inspire her, and how she’s connected to Selena Gomez.
Want to know more about Natalie Daemi follow her on instagram @nataliedaemiofficial and check out her website www.nataliedaemi.com