Josie Natori is a New York based fashion designer and the CEO and founder of The Natori Company. Well known for their designer lingerie, which is how Josie Natori began the company (almost 40 years ago), Natori has since expanded to include ready-to-wear, evening wear, sleepwear, fragrance, home textiles, accessories, and coming soon, legwear!
We are big fans of the East meets West aesthetic of Natori, with its signature embroideries, rich textures, and intricate embellishments. If you missed it, check out yesterday’s post to see us in a few of our favorite Natori outfits from their current collection!
We traveled to the Pound Ridge, NY home of Ken Natori, President of the company, and his wife, Anika Yael Natori, blogger for Josie Girl, a blog that represents the Natori’s younger, ready-to-wear line, for our interview.
Ken, how did you and Anika meet?
We met at Stanford; I was getting my MBA and she was getting her Master’s in education…and I dragged her, kicking and screaming, to the East Coast. Anika’s from Oregon, and definitely didn’t think she’d end up living in a big city, and definitely didn’t think she’d be living on the East Coast. So we moved to New York [we all laugh]!
Like your mother, Josie Natori, you made the switch from finance to fashion, how different is that for you?
It’s definitely different. I worked on Wall Street for a couple of years after school and I had never thought at any point in my life that I was going to join the company…and then at some point in my career, I felt comfortable thinking about it. I’d never wanted to be someone in a business just because of who my parents were, but I felt like I’d worked hard enough and established a career, and it made sense. I was on Wall Street, which was fine, but I wanted to make a difference in a company.
It’s been a big change, I worked on a trading floor which was literally 99% men, and now at an office that’s 90% women. My mother and I spend way too much time together, but we try to make it work [laughs].
I read that you single-handedly launched e-commerce for the company, what did that entail?
My mother is a designer, but she’s not a “technology person”. She uses her iPad and Blackberry, but she certainly had never bought anything online. I came to the company in 2007, and we had a website, but no E-commerce possibilities. I initially joined to run the finance department, but got asked to run E-commerce, so we launched that in 2008.
Anika – For 4 years you have written the blog for the “Josie by Natori” collection, “The Josie Girl.” Who is the Josie Girl?
Natori is obviously represented by Ken’s mother, and they needed a voice for their younger contemporary line, so 4 years ago, the PR company approached me. It’s been highlighting the Josie by Natori lifestyle and what interests me…empowering women.
I often have my best post inspirations when I’m brushing my teeth in the morning. Anika, where or when do you get your inspiration?
I’m constantly thinking about it and keeping a running tally of what I want to write about. I sub-divide it in my head as Monday, Wednesday, Friday – we post 3 times a week. The good thing about doing the blog is that it keeps me thinking, because with the kids, and tutoring kid’s math after school, it makes me also stay current and looking; looking on the street, looking at magazines. I want to go to this restaurant because I heard this…it keeps me on my toes and thinking about other things than my kids and math [laughs].
Most of my blog work is done between 5:30 am and 6:15 am – that’s when I’m the most focused.
Anika, in your opinion, how important are blogs in today’s retail and consumer landscape?
Josie and Ken have always been so supportive. She follows the blog and always writes to me – “thank you so much”. She’s so appreciative and sweet. A consultant came in last year and analyzed all the data and she said the one social media that was having a positive effect was the Josie Girl blog and actually contributing to sales. So that was really great to hear. It kind of reinforced my belief in it.
I think it’s really important for businesses these days.
Ken, we heard that Natori is launching a legwear collection. Tell us about that!
We’re celebrating our 40th anniversary next year and it’s kind of still known in the marketplace for sleepwear, bras, and underwear. Since I’ve joined, we’ve really been trying to take that brand equity and make it more of a lifestyle brand across many categories as opposed to people thinking of Natori and just thinking gowns and robes. So, since I joined the company we’ve launched ready to wear, evening wear, bedding, towels, fragrance, and rugs. We’ve been looking for a hosiery department for a long time and I think we’ve found one that we’re really excited about. We just showed at market last week and the reception was really good, so it’ll be in stores this fall.
[Cashmere tights, sign us up!]
So that seems to be all the fields covered, or is there anything else on the horizon?
Well, we’re thinking shoes and handbags…
[Excited squeal from us]
How old are you?
Interview by Beverley Canepari, photos by Lora Karam.