This is the start of a Lekker profile series where we’re getting personal with each member of the team. We hope you enjoy getting to know us.
The first thing you realize when you meet Natalie is that she listens.
She cocks her right shoulder a little higher, rests her glasses in-between her fingers, and wants to know what you have to say – and how you’ll say it.
She’ll be the first to tell you, it’s people that are the nucleus of both her life and her work.
Natalie has found herself in creative communities for as long as she could remember. Growing up in Amsterdam with parents that were both creatives, it was only natural that she was surrounded by those who were making, doing, and living effervescently.
She’s someone who is steadfast in her identity, but never gives up the opportunity to be affected by culture – she still remembers the first Caprese salad she had, at age twelve to be exact: “I thought it was the best thing in the world,” she exclaims.
That curiosity only multiplied in her teen years, as it does for most, when a friend of the family in the photography world took her under her wing and brought her into a world of sensory living: the best fashion, nightlife, and music rushed into view.
Think Iggy Pop in Belgium, combing through racks of Levi 501s, and the wonder of being fifteen and having access to cultural capital you could have never fathomed in adolescence.
Her young adult years then progressed into becoming a part of the consortium of fresh-faced dreamers exploring New York when working around the clock and making no money seemed doable if you had enough heart. Living in a West Village apartment with a few friends, her community committed to making it, there was constant stimulation.
“You’re young enough that you’re open to everything – I always said yes.”
New York may still be one of her favorite places to visit for its irreplicable energy, but going back to Amsterdam she says, will always be like putting on your favorite sweater.
Putting trust into quality began with the foundation of her mother’s home, as it was rooted in the idea that furniture was all about longevity. Whether it was a conscious lesson or not, it was impossible to escape the culture of good furniture design in Europe.
Natalie simply thought: this is what everyone has.
“My mother has had the same sofa reupholstered somewhere between 10-15 times,” she says laughing.
From the beginning, she learned from her family that aesthetics on their own are a fleeting concept. She finds it more rewarding to fill a niche in the design community that shows people why design and quality are important on a functional level. Lekker to her has always been about providing someone a personal solution and staying away from being just another commodity.
“It’s better to help someone find a few pieces that are perfect – that are quality and align with their vision.”
This could be because her upbringing was less about hammering proper design principles and more about being enriched by the people and places around her. Natalie’s childhood was filled with traveling in the traditional way – no frilly resorts but instead a focus on plenty of museums, cultural relics, and adventures into worldviews different from her own.
For this reason, she doesn’t align any city or country with being the design mecca or having the perfect aesthetic, the power players of Paris, Copenhagen, and Amsterdam are important – but not the end-all-be-all.
If you aren’t testing new boundaries she says, you’ll always remain within the same framework of whatever city you’re in.
Natalie is dually inspired by the new – places, experiences, food, and pushed by the unknown – the everchanging macrocosms of design, retail, and the human experience.
This eagerness forces herself to constantly ask the question, “am I still relevant?”
Life and our place in it will always be uncertain, but above all, she desires to give the same experiences she craves personally to all who come to Lekker.
After 15 years this is personal, she has developed an acute sensitivity for understanding that the way you make people feel trumps everything a business could offer. “Someone asked me once, ‘if the store was on fire what would be one thing I would take?’ And I said nothing, this is all stuff. It’s the people inside it that make it what it is.”