FILIPINA FASHION ICON ADMITS EARLY STRUGGLES AS AN IMMIGRANT

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

February 27, 2013

NEW YORK–One of America’s most successful immigrants, according to the Kiplinger’s (not Forbes magazine, as reported on Balitang America-ed.) feature on “Seven Self Made Immigrant Millionaires” is a Filipina.

Fashion designer Josie Natori carved a niche of her own in the multi-billion-dollar fashion industry.

Her latest fall collection is a blend of east and west. She blended seventeenth century European artistic style with Philippine-made accessories.

“It’s so heart-warming to just see her blend where she comes from, she always bring in something from the Philippines, that makes every Filipino proud,” said fashion buyer Kathy Sio.

Natori came to the U.S. to earn an economics degree at Manhattanville College in the early 60s. She said she had a rough start as a new immigrant.

“In the beginning it was really not that easy. It’s a different culture when I came in the 60s. The sense of humor is different, the cold, the food is different. You just realize, it made you stronger, more independent,” said Natori.

With her economics degree, she worked at Wall Street for Bache and Company, then moved to Merril Lynch in the 70s.

She became a U.S citizen in 1974 as she started a family of her own.

By 1977, she shifted gears; and the Natori fashion brand was born.

Her high-end sleepwear collection became a big hit at Bloomingdale’s. Later, she expanded her business to include ready-to-wear fashion lines, home furnishings, perfumes and fashion accessories.

Now, her budget-friendly designs are available at mass retailers like Target which helped her company generate $150 million in retail sales in 2011.

“My biggest asset is number one, being a woman and secondly being a Filipino. Both of them I used to my advantage, so look, I’m in a business for women, creating things for women, who knows best what a woman wants than a woman, Trademark ng Natori is the Eastern, Philippine-inspired designs, so for me, it became an asset that’s what make Natori distinct,” added Natori.

As a successful immigrant, Natori said she believes America is the only place in the world where immigrants can fulfill their dreams.
“Kaya to this day so many people, everyone wants to come here because they know here, you have a fair chance to succeed,” concluded Natori.

Contact Don Tagala at

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