A Cambridge education can prepare you for a whole lot but it didn't prepare Trinidad-born author Natalie Jobity for the leap of faith she took; from corporate America to an entrepreneur; from the world of finance to life as an image consultant. Jobity, who recently released her first book Frumpy to Fabulous, Flaunting It, Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style; shocked herself and her inner-circle when she walked away from 15 years of crunching numbers until her fingers hurt and analysing market research data until her eyes crossed to delicately draping fabric, mixing and matching colours, playing with textures and tones and applying the seasons to the undertones of the skin. "When I left corporate American, I knew I wanted to do something creative but I always thought it was going to be interior design." She knew she wanted to own her own business but in what was the question. "I just didn't know what it would be." It took her about seven years to figure it out. "But I've now realised that everything in my life prepared me for this moment."
The epiphany came, on a trip to Barbados, to visit her sister; what she called her A Ha! moment! "It was like the heavens opened up." She overheard a woman taking about her colours. "A ping went off in my head. All I wanted to know is where I could learn about it. I had never heard about image consulting." When she returned to the US, the research began and she enrolled in the top image consulting programme in New York City and got certified. There and then, she realised that all these years she was fashioning a new style and a fierce sensibility when it came to understanding the power of personal appearance.
"The book is about transformations," she said reflecting, for a minute or two, on the word and how it is also the theme of her own life."I really wanted to study psychology." But her very Trinidadian father wouldn't have it. "He would always say, lawyer, doctor or account." In a roundabout kind of way, she's now practicing psychology. Using some of the guiding principles of personal psychology, she helps her clients "realign the inner with the outer." She explained that her life philosophy is also her style philosophy. "I encourage people to realign the inner with the outer. I always ask them: What are you trying to project to others? What do you want them to know and say about you?" For Jobity, it is about rebranding a person's image. "This book is not about dressing for success. It is about aligning your personal goals with your sense of style. Presence with a purpose," she said. "Everything has to be aligned for it to be credible and effective. The inside has to be congruent with the outside. I believe where you are in the image journey or style sensibility, this book is empowering, motivating and fun."
Jobity, who now lives in Columbia, Maryland, came home for her mother's birthday. She grew up in Tacarigua. A former student of Maria Regina Prep School and St. Joseph's Convent, Port of Spain she recounted life as a lanky girl unsure of how she looked and uncertain about her place in the world. Standing 6ft 1, she was quite an oddity. "I was a rare sight, in this country. I was also the tallest girl at Convent." Although her height offered her a unique vantage point it wasn't one with which she was very comfortable. It took a trip to New York City just before her last year of Form Six to wake her up to the possibilities that sometimes being different could be exciting. "I really didn't start to grow into my own beauty until that trip." Growing up, she would often dread special occasions such as weddings and other formal events. It was almost impossible to find shoes, in Trinidad, to fit her long skinny feet. "All I could find were sandals," she laughed. Her mother would sew some of her clothes and extend the rest; jeans would get an additional piece of fabric, from just under the calves to past the ankle.
She was months out of Form Six when she wrote the SATS and secured a place at Rutgers University, in New Jersey. She was amused by how well she did on the exam. Not achieving her personal best at A' Levels had put a bit of a damper on her youthful spirit. "I knew I was a good student but just not good enough to get into UWI," she laughed. News that she had aced the SATS and was assured a place at an American university made her walk tall; something she rarely did, uncomfortable with her height.
There was one obstacle, though; would her overprotective father agree? "We had never had any discussion about me ever going away. I thought he was going to say no." She had only applied to one university because that's where her friend was going. At Rutgers, she graduated magna cum laude, majoring in accounting and economics. Cambridge offered her a full one-year scholarship and she was on her way to obtain a Masters in Finance. When she returned to the United States, she completed an MBA, at Baruch, in Manhattan, and found a job, off-books, in Brooklyn. "Everywhere I went in the US people asked me if I was a model." Quite a shock from being an awkward adolescent, she affirmed. "The US validated who I was as opposed to feeling goofy all those years in Trinidad."
From a shy girl to a style guru, what a leap she has made; reinventing herself, reclaiming her space; following her own advice; realigning the inner with the outer. "Express your highest version of yourself. Open your heart, stand tall in our power and own your strength."