721. A Part-time Job at Macy’s Opened Her Up to Her Passion for Fashion
“Whenever I get stuck in a place, and I can’t move forward, I love to travel to a new place and be in a completely different environment to get a totally fresh perspective. Seeing a problem or situation from a different point of view, I feel like I’m always able to get unstuck from that particular position.”
Natalia Castillo’s passion for fashion began at Macy’s department store, where she worked for 10 years before leaving to start her own business. Realizing that it was important to control her own destiny, she decided to launch an apparel brand, where she could further pursue her love of fashion, travel and business. In 2009 she created Escapada Living’s first collection of vibrant, effortless apparel. Her mission is to inspire happiness in women of all ages through building a timeless, global lifestyle brand.
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
“After I graduated from Emory University I took the summer off and travelled to Europe to take a break and spend some time reflecting on what I could do now that medical school was not an option. Macy’s department store had an opening for their training program in Atlanta. I got the job and figured I’d work there for a short time until I had a plan for what I wanted to do with my life. I never anticipated loving it as much as I did. I was a sales manager in a junior department and they gave you a huge amount of freedom and responsibility to run your own business. I also learned so much about working with people—buyers, other managers or employees—what it takes to be successful on every level. That first year at Macy’s was such an important foundation for the rest of my career.”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
“My father was a cardiologist and incredibly passionate about practicing medicine. He told me I’d be a doctor when I grew up. It seemed like a good career to pursue because I’d always enjoyed science and loved helping people. My junior year in college I was studying for my organic chemistry final exams and found one of the problems incredibly difficult. I called my dad and he quickly and eloquently explained the solution to me. I realized then that I did not begin to understand organic chemistry anywhere close to the level that he did and that I simply did not have what it was going to take to be a doctor. I liked science but did not have a modicum of the level of understanding and passion that my dad had. It was at this point that I began to truly reflect and think about what I really wanted to do with my life.”
The Most Powerful Lessons Learned?
“It is so easy to get trapped in the box of thinking you have to follow the career paths laid down by others. My dear dad wanted me to be a doctor like him, because he loved the profession dearly, loved me and thought I would, too. Well I did love science and helping people, but my talents and passions were in an entirely different field: Fashion. Once I decided medical school was not for me, I lucked into a position in the world of retail fashion and never looked back. The main factor during these early days of my education and career journey was that I listened to myself, and how I responded to the opportunities that presented themselves to me, and always, always trusted my instincts!”
Steps to Success from Natalia Castillo
1. Recognize that no one knows you even a fraction as well as you do.
2. Stay curious about the possibilities and never stop exploring your options.
3. Travel when you can to gain another perspective on yourself and your view of the world.
4. Be around people you can learn from—family, bosses, clients, co-workers—their different perspective might open doors you had not considered.
5. Create your own vision for the kind of life you want and keep refining it as you move along your journey.
6. Trust your instincts, always trust your instincts!
Connecting With Natalia Castillo
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Careers: Business Owner, Entrepreneur, Fashion, Retail