2020 has been unprecedented in too many ways to count. When we met and began working with the multi-talented Suarez sisters back in April, Covid19 was hitting NYC hard and there was no way to foresee the roller-coaster that this year would become for the entire world. Here we are 9 months later and the uncertainty is still, unfortunately, in full force. As we collectively faced the unpredictability and anxiety that emerged this past Spring, Natalie and Dylana chose to channel their creative forces into designing their sunglasses and the full Suarez X APERÇU brand experience. They seized the opportunity to pour themselves into the project and didn't hold back, expressing the full spectrum of their moods in the vibrant color palette and a bold shared aesthetic in their richly personal designs.
As we all head into "the dark winter" here in NYC the undercurrent in Brooklyn is anxious and tinged with deep exhaustion. It was a welcome respite to connect with Nat and Dy to talk a bit about their roots, their influences, their designs and how they're coping with the back-to-back challenges of 2020. We still have a few months to go before we can bid this year goodbye and hopefully begin to turn the page. So let's dig in, look inward for another shred of strength and keep moving forward together. Oh, and don't forget to grab your shades so we can all get ready for some sunnier days ahead, because they ARE definitely coming : )
How did you both start in the fashion world?
DYLANA: "We both started out in California, where we grew up. I started my blog my last year of college as a creative outlet and because I knew I wanted to do something revolving around fashion, I just didn’t know what exactly yet. My blog helped land me an internship at Teen Magazine. I picked up a camera around the same time, and started to style and take pictures of Natalie who was modeling at the time, and this inspired Natalie to start her own blog not long afterwards. After college, I always worked in social media for brands, while running my blog for fun on the side, which helped me land a styling gig in-house at Free People in Philadelphia. It was then in 2011 that I really learned about photography and really developed my skills behind the camera and also in front of it. In 2013, I moved to NYC and that was when I started taking my blog more seriously and as more than just a hobby. Since then, it’s been history and I still pinch myself that I get to creative content every single day without sacrificing my personal style and ideas."
NATALIE: "I became a signed model when I was 15 in Los Angeles, and have been working ever since! I started Natalieoffduty.com when I was only 18 and honestly haven’t taken a day off! I love my job so much, so it never felt like a job even while I was working through school and college back in the day. It’s a passion that fully became my career. Dylana introduced me to the blogging community and I fell in love with having a space of my own digitally to create. I began taking my camera everywhere with me, storytelling my “model off duty” lifestyle. That laid-back, traveling, on-the-go look. As I was working with brands around the world, I made sure to have them follow my blog, or feature them on it. I began documenting myself at shoots, sharing stories behind-the-scenes from campaigns, and creating a personal diary based on my style. At the time, I may have been the only model turned blogger and my followers always want that inside scoop and realness of life as a young model. By starting my own blog, my aspirations really changed and I started to think more outside the box, and working with brands in new ways, not just as a model, but as me. I was so excited to be both in front of the camera, and behind it. It taught me everything I know about the art of style, photography, design, and creative direction. I really developed my own editorial eye and aesthetic through modeling and I am so grateful to have been able to jump into this world at an early age. From the start, Dylana and I have worked together, being self taught photographers. Throughout our careers, we always blogged. Now we are both based in NYC. We still photograph one another like we did since day 1 of beginning our blogs. We bounce ideas off each other. She’s my other half, my best friend, and best teammate."
How has your job evolved during this crazy year?
DYLANA: "My job has evolved into something more personal this year. I found myself wanting to share more parts of myself beyond just my personal style and the season trends. This year, I really wanted to get back to the reason why I started doing what I do 10 years ago, and that is to really connect on a deeper level with those who come to my page. World issues are so important right now, and I have grown to want to utilize my page to talk about these sort of things more, and spread awareness with the information that I do have. Mental health is also a topic that I like to incorporate into my content because it’s never been more relevant than right now. From a creative view, I have grown tremendously these past few months. Changing up my shooting style and taking concepts indoors at home more has really changed my creative eye and forced me to think outside the box, and I feel like the brands I work with appreciate this. I’ve also been delving more into self portraits and really learning to take full control of what I want to create. It’s been a rewarding feeling, and I just hope to continue to inspire those to get creative in their own unique ways, as well."
NATALIE: "We're normally traveling every other week, and having events every night of the week. Being safely in isolation during this year has allowed me to really focus on building a positive community online and a healthy lifestyle at home. I feel more connected than ever to my digital world. Supporting other communities, finding ways to help those in need, and also encourage others to vote in this upcoming election. I feel the need to be a positive role model to my followers. Health is something so important right now both physically and mentally. I like to encourage my readers to move or dance once a day. As an influencer, every single day is a time for me to create and come up with something new and original. Everyday brings a challenge to do something different. When I’m mentally and physically healthy, I am so much better at my job. I think I’ve finally found balance and life will never be the same!"
Have you introduced any new routines or rituals since staying home?
DYLANA: "Definitely wellness focused routines! I do cardio pilates almost every single day from home, and it’s one of the parts of my routine that really makes me feel balanced with my mind and body. I’ve also been cooking a lot with my husband, and he has really gotten into it and we are always looking up new recipes to try at home. This bonding time is so important for me. I’ve also been reading more, which is something that I sadly didn’t do as much last year, so I’ve made a point to read more these past few months at home, and it’s been a great source of inspiration. It’s also really helped me focus and stay off my phone more, which feels really good."
NATALIE: "I spend mornings and nights to reflect and journal. I write down my aspirations and dreams. I write about what I’m grateful for. I write about lessons I’ve learned. Changes I want to make. Throughout my career, I always spend a lot of time writing to reflect on all aspects of my life. It helps me stay focused. I find it’s the only way to grow, and it really benefits in my work life. I pulled out my ballet shoes for the first time in years. I do pilates daily. I’ve never felt stronger. These little things help me to de-stress and stay motivated and happy."
How do you both stay motivated during these uncertain times?
DYLANA: "I stay motivated by really giving myself space to be creative. I try to fill my days with inspiring images that get me excited to create imagery. I find myself watching a lot of classic and artsy movies, reading lots of books, creating boards from Pinterest, and clipping from indie magazines. I love the feeling I get when I find something that ignites a creative fire in me when I look at it truly makes each day worth it. I’ve also given myself a fresh set of eyes when it comes to my own city, finding the beauty in all the little things around me. Simplifying life and finding creativity through that simplicity has been very motivating for me."
NATALIE: "I surround myself with good people. It’s so important to surround yourself with those that believe in you and want to see you happy. Life it too short. I like to wake up knowing it’s going to be a good day no matter what. And if it’s a challenging day, just view it as an opportunity to grow. I also try to be in nature a lot more. Hiking and riding my bike are two things that have kept me sane. Fresh air!"
What was your inspiration behind your 2 sunglasses styles?
DYLANA: "Our inspiration was definitely nostalgic and retro. Our vision was a twist on classic 80’s/90’s sporty and a 70’s cat eye styles, reimagined in a way that still felt timeless. We pulled images from old Chanel runways from the 80’s and 90’s and Homme Girls editorials to bring to life how we would style out sunglasses, which is bold, a bit masculine yet still sophisticated. We really put a lot of thought into shapes that we felt were universally flattering, so of course, our other main inspiration was every woman!"
NATALIE: "Both of our sunglass styles are inspired by the bold, individual, and smart woman. She’s cool and unique. She’s unapologetically confident and fashion forward. Style SUAREZ is sporty. It’s chic, simple, and super flattering. Style SUAREZ II feels more feminine, with a beautiful oversize fit. Both styles are elegant."
What was your inspiration behind the color palette?
DYLANA: "Definitely earthy yet bold jewel tones, but we also wanted some classic neutrals thrown into the mix like the black licorice and the brown sweet tea color. We wanted the colors to feel rich so that it felt in tune with the warm and fuzzy feeling of fall, but that could also transition into the warmer months, since we want our sunglasses to be able to be worn year round. It was super fun to come up with our color combinations of frames and lenses, and I think we really nailed it with what we decided to go with."
NATALIE: "It’s a palette that can honestly be worn with everything. The translucent frames make them so versatile. I adore the stand-out colors like Tomato, Fern, and Aquatica. They are eclectic and really just shine in the sunlight. We have Sweet Tea and Licorice for those days you want to be more minimal!"
How would you describe each other’s personal style?
DYLANA: "I would describe Natalie’s personal style as more feminine since she wears more dresses than I do, but that she is also super bold, especially with the colors she chooses to wear. She’s timelessly chic."
NATALIE: "Dylana’s stye has a very tomboy edge. She loves anything with an oversize slouchy fit with sharp edges. She owns more vintage menswear blazers than I can count!"
What (or whom!) is inspiring you right now?
DYLANA: "Movies from the late 70’s and the 80’s are really inspiring me, especially for fall. When Harry Met Sally, Annie Hall, The Breakfast Club, Manhattan. Oversized jackets, big hair, chunky earrings, heavy textures. I love it all so much!"
NATALIE: "I’m inspired by anything and everything about Homme Girls. I love that effortless and boyish style like big jeans and men’s shirts paired with a big gold earring and baseball cap. It’s perfectly 90’s with a luxurious twist thanks to feminine accessories."
What are your Fall must haves (besides your sunnies of course)?
DYLANA: "Definitely chunky leather boots and also colorful tall boots to tuck all my high-waisted trousers in, my oversized vintage blazers, and my vintage leather Chanel backpack. It’s my favorite bag for fall for that faux back-to-school look. Hehe."
NATALIE: "I am loving tweed right now. Tweed sets. Tweed pantsuits. I’m all about really nubby, chic textures and bold gold jewelry."
Yes, yes and yes to all of the above! And don't forget your shades. I'll wrap up this deep dive by underlining what an intense pleasure it's been to work so closely with Natalie and Dylana this wild year and how thrilled we are with their luminous collection! The Suarez "sporty oval" and the Suarez II "cat eye" juxtapose one another gracefully to strike the perfect balance of glamour and down-to-earth practicality. Characteristics that bear a very close resemblance to a pair of gorgeous, multi-talented sisters rooted in Brooklyn but with a vibrant reach around the world.
Founder & Creative Director