DAMDAM

Conversations with

Natsu

BY GISELLE GO AND PHILIPPE TERRIEN

@lovebynatsu on Instagram

We first met Natsu at a photo shoot in Tokyo where we immediately bonded over a mutual love for traveling, self-growth books, and independent beauty brands. Natsu is a self-made woman in the age of Instagram – she was an early proponent of the digital medium in Japan and one of the rare few who managed to carve a career out of it.

Despite her growing popularity, she remains introspective and down to earth – traits further underscored by her unconventional decision to pull the shutters on her cult brand, Candi, and move to Zushi. The seaside residence fulfills a longtime dream for the Tokyo native: a need to be close to nature and have enough roaming space away from the city. Her Instagram feed @lovebynatsu is a feel-good manifesto of this seaside life – a tribute to turquoise waters and salty air. Here, she talks about why she prefers the slow life in Zushi and why she doesn’t pick up her phone before noon.

Hi Natsu! Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get your start as a digital entrepreneur?

I studied art and design in London. When I came back to Japan, I didn’t know what to do. I started blogging in 2008 when I was 27. I also started to create something with my hands, like bags and other small things. When I posted what I made on my blog, people wanted to buy it. Gradually, it became a business.

About one or two years later, I won a competition, Fashion Blogger of the Year, in Japan. My life completely changed from then on. I had a serial page in a fashion magazine, I did collaboration design work with a lot of big companies and fashion brands. I was a “fashion collaborator” for a couple of years. [laughs]

I wanted to make my own things just by myself so I opened my online shop to sell my products directly to my customers. I created a brand and I did that for 3 years. It became very popular quickly and I was overwhelmed. I always had to catch up and create new things. I was selling very well but the business structure was bad so it wasn’t working. I started to get confused, I talked to my colleagues for months, and I decided to close it down. I wanted to refocus. I felt like I had gone far beyond what I can control. Now I’m a freelance designer. I do a lot of things – I do graphic design, I do interior decoration, I do photography for brands… I’d like to do another brand in the future but I’d like to do it with a solid plan and only with good people.

Holidays in the South of France, one of Natsu’s favorite destinations.

“Becoming popular means becoming popular with the many sides of people – the positive side of people and the negative side of people… It used to happen often that negative people would try to attack me… But once you stop caring too much, those people disappear somehow. What I am thinking more now is how to use this media in the most effective way.”

What is it like to have a career built around social media?

I found that it’s difficult and confusing to have a career on social media because it’s now the main media for PR but it’s also very personal. It’s a personal platform but you can also do branding on it. I started to feel very uncomfortable with the gap between the image and my real self. It’s nearly impossible to show my true self in this media. I still struggle with it.

Do you get support or criticism on social media? How do you deal with negativity online?

I get both! It can be both support and negative attention. I have to accept both of them because becoming popular means becoming popular with the many sides of people – the positive side of people and the negative side of people. I have to focus on the positive but it’s sometimes difficult. It used to happen often that negative people would try to attack me, especially when I was less popular. But once you stop caring too much, those people disappear somehow. What I am thinking more now is how to use this media in the most effective way.

What is your daily ritual to start and end the day on a good note?

I have a lot of rituals. When I first wake up, I do a quick 10-minute yoga session on my bed followed by a 3-minute meditation. Then I drink a glass of warm water. I like to have 3 kinds of fruits for breakfast. I like to spend an hour on my breakfast to prepare very well and eat very well for the day. After that, it depends on my schedule, but I like to spend my mornings reading and cleaning. All the stuff that I like to do for myself. I’m almost finished reading the book, Return to Love. I never answer any emails, Line, or What’s App messages until noon. At noon, I start to connect with people. At night, I try to stop working after 10 p.m. I take baths from then and do stretching sessions for about 20 minutes before bed.

Waking up to breakfast at her cozy seaside home in Zushi.

What are your skincare essentials?

I always ask my friends and I follow their recommendations. I like to choose organic things. Once you start to use organic products, the artificial ones smell really strong, like ugh! I start to have headaches. So I like to use things that make me feel nice and are natural.

You currently live in Zushi. What made you move from Tokyo to the seaside?

It has always been my dream to live by the seaside. The other thing is that Tokyo started to feel very fake and I started to be really tired of it. I was depressed and I felt very sad. Especially in Shibuya and all those hustle-and-bustle places, I can’t breathe and I can only stay for 15 minutes. So I started to think, ‘Why do I live here?’ But at the time, I still had my brand, I still had my work, so I had people who would stop me from living in the seaside. When I closed my brand, it was the perfect time to move. I thought that maybe I can see Tokyo from a different perspective if I moved to another place – maybe I can love Tokyo more if I leave Tokyo! I wanted to be close to nature and live my dream life. When I was very busy 2-3 years ago, I didn’t even have time to cook! I wanted to focus on my life and life itself so I moved to Zushi.

Where are your favorite places to travel to?

I love to travel to different places but France is at the top. I love the south of France and Paris, of course. The last place I visited was the south of Italy. The next place? Paris – again! I really want to go to Byron Bay in Australia. It’s my dream place. I think you will like it there, too!

Endless summers in the South of France.

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