Natalie and Dylana Suarez
Natalie and Dylana Suarez are soul mates when it comes to success and creativity, while shining as individuals through their own unique styles. We caught up with the sisters in their Dumbo pads to get a taste for what the other side of the bridge has to offer, and to talk all things fashion, travel and New York City.
How did you decide to start blogging?
N: I was modeling and Dylana asked to photograph me for her blog in college! I became addicted and so inspired by the whole community. It was so positive and the perfect platform to create and share your own vision and talent. I fell in love with having the creative freedom and a place that doubled as my portfolio. One summer in 2009, I decided I would start my own blog, completely inspired by everything “model off duty”. “Natalie Off Duty” was the first name I came up with and it just stuck, it felt right. The “model off duty” style is effortless and natural. It’s a style where you pickup pieces from all of your travels and become a chameleon both on-and-off set. Modeling really helped me find my own editorial vision. I learned so much working with top photographers, brands and designers. I’m so lucky I get to work with Dylana every single day. Since Day 1, our websites have been growing together. We shoot all of our own content. We inspire each other. We both get to be in front of and behind the lens. Together, I feel we grow and get better everyday in our content creation. Though it’s now our full-time business, it still feels fun and exciting.
D: I decided to start blogging my senior year of college - I was going to be graduating with a literature major, after switching from Biology. I loved to write, and I wanted to find a way where I could mix that passion with my love for style. Starting a blog seemed like the perfect outlet, and the best way for me to put my work out there. Starting my blog back then really opened doors for me, and helped me figure out my path.
It seems these days that sister duos are taking over the fashion world. How do you two differentiate yourselves?
N: Having a sister is like having someone you can rely on 100 percent, all the time, no matter what. We’re both so similar, yet so different and that’s what makes our bond so strong. We can be truly honest with one another, with no hurt feelings. I think most importantly, we’re always bringing out the best in each other and aren’t afraid to push each other to take things to the next level. We both love the same things, but can bring something to life in totally different ways through our writing, photography, and style. We love having our own platforms to get creative with and share, but I noticed our collaborations together are always very memorable and fun for our readers.
D: We differentiate ourselves by being ourselves. Natalie and I are super close and we are sisters, but that doesn’t mean that we are exactly the same. With my blog, I focus more on photography and writing, and Natalie’s is more fashion focused. I like to get more personal, treating my blog as a diary of sorts, where Natalie is more of the opposite of that. I like that we express ourselves in different ways, and we stay true to our strengths and support each other. I think we inspire each other in that way, as well. We are definitely a team and bring different things to the plate, while also being strong at quite a few of the same things. It’s the perfect sister-work balance.
What inspires you most about your sister?
N: Dylana is super thoughtful. She does what she believes in and will only do what she is passionate about. That’s a trait I really admire in her, and it inspires me to put my heart and soul into everything I do and go with my gut.
D: I am inspired by how she can pull off literally anything! Nat definitely thinks outside the box, and she’s not afraid to try something new.
How do you keep your brand as sisters strong while also maintaining your individual looks and style?
N: I think it comes really natural for us. I feel that all our lives we’ve had very strong and different personalities and as we’ve grown older, we’ve become closer. I always trust Dy’s opinion on what I’m wearing, what I’m shooting, or what project I take on. A lot of what we do overlaps from our style to our eye for photography. We always gravitate towards the same piece when we’re shopping, but we style it completely different.
D: We both have separate blogs, and always have since Day 1. That is our way of maintaining our individuality. Our personal styles overlap, and we love all the same things, but we wear them in different ways. It’s interesting to compare how we interpret the same things. I definitely think that our styles complement each other, and maybe that is a sister thing. We help each other with the blogs, shoot each other, and grew together as our industry grew. We both love to share the things we do together, along with what we have going on separately. Getting to work together is our biggest strength, and we like to let our readers know that.
How would you describe your sister’s style in one sentence?
N: Dylana’s style is modern vintage with an eclectic, worldly touch.
D: I would describe Natalie’s style as bold and innovative.
What is your fashion mantra?
N: Wear clothes that feel good on my skin and allow me to move.
D: “Imperfection is beauty!” I think perfection is something we all strive for so much in the fashion industry, especially in the digital realm. I like to remind others that there is no such thing as perfection. Fashion is a way for us to be our best selves, but it is in no way a gateway to perfection. I’ve come to be very happy with my flaws, because they make me unique. We are all too hard on ourselves most of the time, and this mantra is a good reminder to sit back and give ourselves more love!
Who do you look to for fashion inspiration?
N: Effortless women like Jane Birkin, Erin Wasson, and the Olsen Twins. They have been some of my favorites for as long as I can remember.
D: I look to so many people and I don’t even know their names! Many are on Instagram that I follow because I love their aesthetic, and just seeing little pieces of their days gives me instant inspiration to be creative or try something new. I love how easy it is to find inspiration now because of social media. But really, my favorite way to find inspiration is through the books I read and the films I watch - especially old films. I love time traveling through books and movies, and finding ways to bring that time period back to life in my own way today.
If you weren’t blogging, what would you pursue as a career?
N: Something in entertainment. Singing. Dancing. Acting. Producing. I always studied performing arts and it’ll always be a passion of mine. I’m lucky I can intertwine this into the projects I do now.
D: If I wasn’t blogging, I think I would be a creative director of sorts. I’m a very visual person, and I love storytelling and producing. And I really love being behind the camera and bringing my visions to life. A creative director in the fashion realm, or the film realm, or a mix of both, would be really interesting for me.
Being that you are California natives, now living in NY, which place would you say your personal style reflects more?
N: I really do become a chameleon with wherever I go. I feel I’m a complete mix of both. NYC is now my home and I certainly dress like a New Yorker, but one who wears a lot more color thanks to my California upbringing!
D: That’s a hard question. I think I would have to say it a pretty equal balance of both West Coast and East Coast. I don’t like to take my style too seriously, or try too hard, so maybe more West Coast style. However, most days I like to try things that are outside of the box, very playful and more avante garde, and that feels more NYC. In the end, something more sophisticated and edgy always needs to have a certain touch of relaxed effortlessness about it, or else it doesn’t feel like me.
How long have you been living in NY? What do you love most about your neighborhood?
N: Nearly 8 years. Dylana and I are close neighbors in Dumbo, Brooklyn. It’s one of the most gorgeous places in Brooklyn, just one subway stop from Manhattan. You get the most amazing views of the city on the waterfront. This little artist hub is now super chic and sophisticated while still staying true to its artistic, industrial roots. Because of its beauty, weekends bring in tourists from all over the world. Luckily, on a normal weekday, Dumbo feels very quiet and neighborhood-y which is hard to come by in NYC. It’s amazing.
D: I have lived in NYC since May of 2013. And I’ve always lived in Brooklyn . . . East Williamsburg, Bushwick and now Dumbo. I love my neighborhood because it has this charming old school NYC vibe about it. And it doesn’t have too much foot traffic, so it feels peaceful at night. I am just a few blocks away from the action at the park by the river. In the spring and summer, going for runs along the river is my favorite thing to do. It feels like an escape right in my own backyard.
How would you describe your different approaches (or similarities!) to decorating?
N: I like to keep things very minimal and neutral. I don’t like anything too overwhelming and I don’t like having too many things. My loft is very industrial with bright red pipes, but with warm, cozy accents in wood and concrete and sliding glass doors. I like my space to feel very open! Dylana’s home definitely has a lot a more color. She has pale pink walls in her dining room and a bold yellow couch, with a lot more plants and vases. She loves those little accents.
D: I would say that I am more driven by color and mid-century furniture. There are retro throwbacks, and touches of quirky pieces like a silver metal side table in my living room. It feels super 70s and I’m obsessed with it. At the same time, I like the bohemian, earthy feel. Natalie definitely likes the more modern and industrial look, but with a soft touch of bohemian.
Do you have any favorite pieces in the apartment?
N: My pink velvet chair. It was made in and shipped from Lake Como, Italy. It’s so heavy and well made. The shade of pink is so bright and vibrant. It’s become a star in so many of my photo shoots!
D: My favorite piece is my mustard yellow velvet couch. I’ve had it for almost two years, and it never feels old! It adds such a warm energy to my apartment. It’s definitely the highlight of my living room, and serves as the foundation for everything else I decorate with.
What would you consider NY’s best kept secret?
N: Cafe Usagi in Dumbo. They have the best matcha latte and it’s an awesome spot that integrates a cafe, gallery, and museum shop all in one.D: New York’s best-kept secrets are all the amazing escapes one can find upstate. I love Woodstock and the Catskills. It’s so lovely to know that there are adventurous places not too far away to visit.
If a first-timer were coming to visit, what would a perfect day in New York look like?
N: Brunch pancakes at Vinegar Hill House (it’s the coziest little neighborhood spot) followed by a walk through Brooklyn Bridge Park in Dumbo. It’s so beautiful you’ll want to lie on the grass and stare up and hear the sounds of the train go by. You can really take in the beauty and energy of the city in front of you. From there, I’d take one subway stop into the Lower East Side, and explore the city by foot. Making my way up diagonally through Chinatown for a boba tea, window-shopping in Soho, and into the gorgeous West Village. After a long day on your feet, stop into Redfarm for Chinese Fusion, it’s amazing. At night, there are endless possibilities - get a glass of wine at a jazz bar, see an off-Broadway show, or check out an indie theatre. NYC is most magical at night.
D: If I were a first-timer, I would start my morning in Nolita for some coffee or matcha, walk around the boutiques and have a really good brunch there. Then I would head to Soho to feel the energy there and people watch. Soho really embodies NYC – every first-timer must experience it! Then I would head to Chinatown for a boba tea and to take pictures because all the colors are beautiful. It’s interesting to see a part of NYC that feels like it is worlds away. Then I would walk downtown to the Brooklyn Bridge and walk across it during sunset. It’s one of my favorite things to do, even though it’s always a bit touristy feeling. The view is magic at this hour and a must see! Last stop would be to grab dinner somewhere by the water in Dumbo. Pizza!
What style are you most coveting for Spring?
N: The jumpsuit. Easy and necessary.
D: I definitely want a pair of white booties for spring, especially a taller white bootie. It’s something different for me to try, and feels really fresh. I’d love more denim jumpsuits with wider legs. They are retro and always timeless this time of the year.
You both are quite the travelers! What are your favorite places to visit and why?
N: For big adventures, I love visiting my family in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and hopping around Southeast Asia to places like Phuket and Bali. I love that tropical heat and all of the spicy food. For work, I love Paris and London. When I’m in Europe, I get so inspired to really dress up in the morning. They do luxury unlike anyone else!
D: My favorite places are Malaysia and Thailand. They are both such vibrant countries, the food is amazing and the energy pulsates non-stop in a different way than NYC does. I love how diverse it feels, and it’s always an adventure and feast for the eyes. I also love Nicaragua for complete relaxation and finding time to focus on my appreciation for nature. It’s a place you go to do absolutely nothing but enjoy the way your body feels under the sunshine.
Where is your next destination?
N: Los Angeles, my hometown! It’s festival season and I think my 6th or 7th Coachella!
D: Our next destination is California, but I think soon after we might be heading to Mexico with our family!
Where are you dying to go?
D: I am dying to go to India! I have been dreaming about it ever since I was a little girl. The food. The colors. The people. The culture. It is the dream exotic vacation. I’d love to do volunteer work there someday.
The best piece of advice you’ve received, or would give?
N: Put your heart and soul into everything you do and never be afraid to speak up and stand up for what you believe in.
D: The best piece of advice I’ve gotten was to never compare myself to anyone else, to stand up for my individuality, and to always trust my gut.
Shop Their Picks
Colissa Top$188.00 $75.20
Cirila Top$148.00 $59.20
Chesmu Skirt$228.00 $91.20
Deme Silk Dress$388.00 $232.80
Desmonda Silk Top$248.00 $148.80
Chisuzu Dress$328.00 $131.20
Gila Jacket$398.00 $159.20
Frodina Linen Jumpsuit$298.00
Briel Maxi Dress$348.00 $139.20
Hayfa Top$298.00 $119.20
Barlow Leather Bootie$325.00
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