NATALIA ALLEN

Founder and Design Heavy

Natalia Allen, a native New Yorker, started designing and sewing as a teenager. Fostering her creativity through formal training and education at Parsons The New School, she graduated in 2004 as Designer of the Year, a title she shares with alumna Marc Jacobs.

In 2005, Natalia founded Design Futurist, an award winning design consultancy that has created innovative and sustainable textiles and clothing lines for multinational brands such as Saks, Calvin Klein and Donna Karan. She also worked as an adviser to non-apparel brands such as P&G, Dupont, and British Telecom, helping them to extend sustainability and modern design principles to a range of products. 

Called the “Conscientious Fashionista,” her designs, and her company have been covered by the BBC, NPR, and CNBC, and her work has been featured in periodicals including Women’s Wear Daily, Black Enterprise, New York Magazine and the Huffington Post.

For her ground-breaking work, Natalia has received numerous distinctions, including recognition as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, one of Fast Company's 100 Most Creative, and one of Utne Reader’s 25 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World.  A global advocate and speaker on environmentally and socially responsible design, she has presented at conferences in China, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, and at Davos. 

This year, Natalia has taken a hands-on approach with the debut of her eponymous line. She spent several months in factories learning about advancements in apparel manufacturing. With the freedom to choose how her garments are made she designed beautiful minimalist clothing made by robots that conserve energy and textiles.

 

CYNTHIA KIANG

Retail Maven

Cynthia Kiang is a first-year MBA student at Columbia Business School focusing on Retail & Luxury Goods.  A native of the Washington, DC area, she attended the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce where she majored in finance and accounting.  After college, Cynthia joined Accenture’s Management Consulting group, where she worked on a number of different projects to help guide businesses through important changes.  Cynthia is currently working as a Retail and Operations intern at Natalia, Inc. helping to define retail and distribution strategies for the company.  In the future, Cynthia hopes to combine her business background with her passion for the retail industry and is pursuing a career in fashion.

 

EZRA XIA

Artist-in-Residence

Ezra Xia is a native of Shenzhen, China and has lived in Yorktown, Virginia since 2005. Ezra's interest in design and fashion brought her to the New York City. She is currently a first-year BFA student at Parsons The New School for Design and will be majoring in fashion design in the fall. Ezra is interested in branding and integrating designs from multiple disciplines. In the past, her work has appeared on magazines, websites, newspaper, as well as television in both China and the United States. Currently, Ezra is working as a design intern for Natalia, Inc. to further her experience and help develop visuals for the company.

PRANG HANVONG

Design Industrialist

Prang Hanvong is currently pursing her master degree in MS Strategic Design and Management, Parsons the New School for Design while interning at Natalia, Inc. She’s a multidisciplinary designer and interested in futuristic design that fulfills the twenty-first-century lifestyle. Her designs are unconventional and innovative, particularly with respect to fashion, art, culture, and human behavior. Prang is currently exploring the linkage between fashion design and wearable technology. Her work has been seen on fashion shows, magazines as well as websites in Thailand. 

 

GRAHAM HILL

Special Advisor

Graham Hill is founder, CEO and all-around mastermind at LifeEdited. He has a B. Architecture and studied product design. In 95′, he founded early Internet consultancy SiteWerks with his cousin, built it to 60 people landing clients such as Microsoft and sold it in 98’. In 03′ he founded TreeHugger.com and wearehappytoserveyou.com, makers of ceramic cups that resemble NYC’s iconic paper coffee cups. TreeHugger was sold to Discovery in 07’ and remains one of the most trafficked green sites reaching more than 5M unique visitors per month. Other past venture areas include fashion, viral email and plant-based air filters. Graham speaks English, French, German and Spanish and loves kitesurfing, surfing, climbing, squash and snowboarding. From New York and Maui, he schemes daily about how he can help humanity avoid rapid extinction. Follow him at twitter.com/ghill. 

 

NEIL BLUMENTHAL

Special Advisor

Neil Blumenthal is one of the founders of a transformative eyewear brand that retails frames and prescription lenses for $95, a fraction of the cost of comparable glasses. And, for every pair sold, a pair of glasses is distributed to someone in need in the US or the developing world. Neil is currently in his second year in the MBA program at The Wharton School where he is a 2009-2010 Leadership Fellow and 2009-2010 Social Enterprise Fellow. Prior to Wharton, Neil led a non-profit social enterprise that sells affordable eyeglasses to underprivileged individuals in South Asia, Africa and Latin America. He was responsible for developing VisionSpring’s award-winning strategy (Fast Company Social Capitalist Award ‘08, ‘07 and ‘05) and expanding VisionSpring’s global presence from one to 10 countries.

In 2005, Neil was named a Fellow for Emerging Leaders in Public Service at NYU Robert F. Wagner School for Public Service. Prior to joining VisionSpring, he worked with the International Crisis Group and attended the Institute for International Mediation and Conflict Resolution in The Hague, Netherlands. Neil received his BA in International Relations and History from Tufts University. Neil is married to fashion jewelry designer Rachel Leigh.