I am Natalie,
Founder of Natalie Rae New York based in upstate New York.
Our aim is to bring the handmade, the rare, unique, dying arts and crafts of the tribes people and artisans of Vietnam to the rest of the world.
We hope in our own small way it can help to keep alive some of the traditions and crafts of these enduring people. All the materials and products are handmade, the majority of textiles are repurposed coming from used hill tribe garments. I work together with several women from the Black Hmong ethnic group. We currently trade with a small number of the Hmong and Dzao tribes, and our jewelry maker is also from the Black Hmong.
The materials we use are naturally cultivated and handmade using traditional methods. These materials are sourced from predominantly the Hmong and Dzao ethnic groups of Northern Vietnam. We visit the small hamlets and villages of these rural areas to insure we are buying authentic materials. Buying in this way we can also be sure the full and fair price is going directly to the producer and back in to these impoverished communities.
How it began:
During the second month of a five month journey through Southeast Asia I landed in Vietnam and immediately felt a connection. I was in the city of Hanoi and I was obsessed; taking the advice of a fellow backpacker, I traveled up north into the mountainous region of Vietnam. Looking around I found myself in a completely different terrain, and culture. I trekked through the mountains and met many Hmong women along the way. They were all similarly dressed in mesmerizing vibrant clothing. Once I learned that the clothing were all handmade by the women I became fascinated with the trade and inspired by their skill and hard work. Handmade. Organic. Sustainable. Durable. Vibrant. Fashionable. I was hooked on the undeniably unique outfits, the hard work, and the centuries old techniques used to create them!
As my travels continued I could not stop thinking about Vietnam. At the end of my journey I knew what I wanted to do. I flew back to Hanoi and traveled back to the villages in the northern mountains. I stayed with a Black Hmong family in their village. The family was very kind and despite the language barrier taught me the textile trade: hemp cultivation, batik making, cross stitch, indigo dying, and fabric trading. Over time the idea of sharing this unique art with the world manifested. I soon started working with a woman named Lan, my now translator, and six other Hmong women. Together we have created Natalie Rae New York.