Hi! My name is Nataly Elian – Naftul is my nickname. I live in Tel Aviv, Israel, and I make clothes that I love and want to wear.
Designing is something I knew I would do ever since I was a child. I grew up with designer parents and learned to sew at the age of six. I am a bit obsessed with clothes and clean out my closet every three months or so (my girlfriends love that!). I produce clothes all the time and always wear my own.
Instead of expressing my thoughts verbally, I express myself through my clothes. My clothes represent me, or rather, the woman I want to dress. I always find myself chasing after the answer to the question “What is beautiful?” Who decides that? I came to understand that the answer is ever-changing, but I believe that comfort is the key to beauty.
For about six years I lived in Los Angeles, and my favorite thing to do was to go to the Rose Bowl flea market. I would find different unique items – like old money – which inspired my garment prints, vintage brooches, and special embroidered fabrics. My all-time favorite item was a huge good ol’ hand stitched and patched American flag (10 ft x 6 ½ ft)! It was quite stained and ripped, but I was able to fix it up and give it many different uses. I’ve had it for five years now and it’s currently hanging on my wall – covering the holes in my little office in Tel-Aviv.
Etsy opened a door to the international world for my business. I live in Israel, a really small country with great fashion culture and many talented designers, but I do feel that we are a bit isolated from the rest of the world. Etsy gave me an opportunity to extend my business overseas.
Before I started Naftul, I worked behind the scenes for other designers. Criticism –good or bad – was something I always wanted to avoid. As the creator and face of Naftul, I can no longer do that. My creative business has helped me realize that I need to stand up and learn how to accept varied evaluations.
All photographs by Yaeer Eldar.