COOL FACES OF BASTET NOIR: Meet Natalie Hughes, the founder of The Fashion Digital
As human beings, we’re defined by the setbacks we endure in life. The countless rejections you get thrown at your feet, the endless bumps on the road you have to bypass and hollow holes you have to leap or crawl your way out of, have their own way of showing you just exactly what you’re made of. The way you respond to these challenges determines just how powerful your voice gets and how tall your figure rises at the end of the road. These seemingly annoying events are what gives strength to your spine, builds resiliency and shapes up your character. Trust me, I know, as I’ve experienced it first hand. Being rejected 398 times and counting (yes, I’m documenting my failures and wear them as badges of honor), I know just how stressful the whole rejection process can be, but I also know just how much satisfaction you get out of each riddle decoded and every problem solved and so does our next cool face of Bastet Noir, Natalie Hughes, the founder of The Fashion Digital.
When she was rejected by her dream university, Natalie’s world was shaken to its core and with it her entire belief system, which turned out to be a good thing. It led her on a quest of self discovery and what she discovered was a series of lessons that prepared her to spearhead one of the world’s most successful social media agencies, The Fashion Digital which works with clients ranging from Christian Louboutin,J.W.Anderson and The British Fashion Council. Through the devastation, she found a way to persevere and come at the other side of it, a winner. I bet Oxford regrets not accepting her now. The self proclaimed cat lover is the type of person who never takes no for an answer, humble, hard working and driven, she’s just the type of woman whose achievements inspire and motivate. There’s no doubt in my mind that this woman is on her way to conquer the fashion world, if she hasn’t already. For this instalment of Cool Faces of Bastet Noir, it’s an honor to present you the woman behind the social media profiles of some of the most beloved fashion labels, Natalie Hughes. Enjoy.
BASTET NOIR: Who is Natalie Hughes?
“I’M ANGLO-INDIAN, LIVE IN A 60S HOUSE AND I REALLY LIKE CATS, TOKYO AND GIRL BANDS”
NATALIE HUGHES: I’m the Founding Director of The Fashion Digital, an agency specialising in social media, content, design and copywriting. In between running the agency, I still try to find time to write, and in my spare time, I like to illustrate serious-looking girls in exceedingly nice outfits. I’m a typical Aries — driven, perfectionistic, loyal and emotional (my husband might say fiery…). I’m a Type A with a lot of feelings, ha. I also really like cats, shouty girl bands, true crime documentaries and crafting (right now, I’m building a tiny vignette of a ’60s house).
BASTET NOIR: What’s your morning routine like?
NATALIE HUGHES: I wake up at around 7:30 or 8 am, depending on how late I’ve worked the night before (I’m a night owl). I check my phone immediately, which is a terrible habit. Then I cuddle my cat Fashion, who always sleeps at the foot of the bed, and jump in the shower — I’d much prefer to luxuriate in a bath but that is a ritual enjoyed only at weekends. I don’t eat breakfast (another terrible habit), instead opting for a (very large) cup of tea at my desk, where I check emails and my to-do list for the day. I catch up with my team every day at 10am, unless I’m at a breakfast meeting. Then it’s work, work, coffee, work, until I emerge for a (usually late) lunch.
BASTET NOIR: Prior to founding your own social media agency, you were working as a fashion journalist for publications like VICE. Could you tell us a bit more about your beginnings?
NATALIE HUGHES: I always loved fashion and I always loved writing — I knew I wanted to combine the two from a fairly young age. I studied English Literature at Warwick University but interned at magazines and newspapers (includingVogue, Harper’s Bazaar and The Guardian) in the holidays — by the time I’d graduated, I’d completed six internships! My first job was at a small online magazine, at which time I also started my blog. This led me into a role at Net-a-Porter.com, as their first ever Social Media Editor — it was an incredible few years, working closely with NAP’s founder Natalie Massenet, and travelling all over the world. I left to pursue a freelance career, during which time I started consulting and creating content for brands including Christian Louboutin, LK Bennett and Sophie Hulme, as well as joining MatchesFashion.com as their part-time Features Editor. I decided to turn my one-woman consultancy into an agency, The Fashion Digital, in 2016.
BASTET NOIR: We’re fascinated by what you’ve managed to achieve with The Fashion Digital. Signing clients like Christian Louboutin, J.W.Anderson and The British Fashion Council is a pretty big deal. Since our audience is primarily strong independent women with their own businesses, it would be amazing if you could share tips and tricks on how you built your business from the grounds up.
NATALIE HUGHES: Thank you! I’d say it’s important to work in the industry, in a relevant role, for a number of years before going it alone. For me, my first few jobs in fashion were invaluable — I built a community of people who I ended up working with years later through my agency. I also met several mentors who have been so supportive throughout my career. This way, you also get to hone your craft and develop an innate knowledge of your industry — this will stand you in good stead when you finally set up on your own.
BASTET NOIR: What was the most challenging and most exciting project you’ve worked on?
NATALIE HUGHES: I’ll always remember the first client I took on as The Fashion Digital — it was Roland Mouret, which was a dream come true. We hit the ground running by developing a social media strategy around Roland’s 20th anniversary show — the first in London in many years — commissioning some incredible creators to shoot live content, backstage and front-of-house. It was a dreamy first job to have, and the photos and videos we created are still some of my favourite work of ours.
BASTET NOIR: Three things you wish you knew before starting out…
NATALIE HUGHES: It’s always best to trust your instinct. Getting to grips with commercial law and contract writing will be invaluable at every stage of the business. And you get tougher with every challenge.
BASTET NOIR: Biggest failure/setback in life and what you’ve learnt from it?
NATALIE HUGHES: As a teenager, all I ever wanted was to go to Oxford University. I interviewed there and was subsequently rejected — it sounds a little dramatic now but at the time, this failure really rocked my world. On reflection, it was the first in a series of lessons that taught me self-worth oughtn’t be wrapped up in achievements, academic, work-centric or otherwise. You need to separate your ego from your worth. It’s something I’m still figuring out, but I’m getting there!
BASTET NOIR: Favorite female empowerment speech
NATALIE HUGHES: Not strictly a ‘speech’, but the poem Lady Lazarus by Sylvia Plath is pretty bad-ass: ‘Out of the ash / I rise with my red hair / And I eat men like air.’
BASTET NOIR: What’s in your Bastet Noir cart?
NATALIE HUGHES: I just adore the Bianca dress and its namesake — I hope to channel Ms Jagger in the buttermilk version. I also love the Maiara — it’s the perfect blend of sexy and elegant. And the Franca dress! Its soft take on power dressing is just divine.
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