Natalee Fisher is a Wellington babe.
She oozes rock ’n’ roll sophistication. She has tattoos, life experience and humour for miles. Natalee has an easy-going attitude that makes you want to party with her from dusk til’ dawn. Known around Wellington for her make-up artistry Natalee has worked with Capital Magazine, Black Magazine, WoW, Fashion Week and many of New Zealand’s top fashion photographers. However, I first knew Natalee as the hairdresser to my 16 year-old self at Buoy Hairdressing. I fell in love with her razor-sharp personality and the flawless haircuts she delivered. Having bumped into her at iconic ex-bar Mighty Mighty one night a few years back we linked up again. More recently I asked Natalee to share her Wellington journey for the readers of The Residents. So, over a bottle of Rose she told me about how she came to be working independently while being the mother of two gorgeous young children and still remaining an all around good b**ch.
"I was a horrible teenager - I did all the drugs, and all the boys and missed all of the classes"
Natalee was born in Wanganui - or as she calls it “Wanga-Vegas”. Her family moved to Auckland, where they lived until Natalee was 5 and then moved back to Wanganui. When she was 12, the family moved to Wellington. After that, she started to Wellington High and found herself in her teens making a statement, although not through fashion alone. “I was a very very rebellious teenager”, Natalee admits. “Wellington High School was a whole new experience. I did all of the drugs and all of the boys and missed all of the classes. Mum and Dad didn’t like that much.”
After a year, it was suggested young Natalee Fisher might like to find another school. From there she went to Paraparaumu High School for a year. “I really didn’t like it there” she recalls. “At High, I wore 18 up Doc Martins, petticoats and had a shaved head. At Pram College, they were all wearing Rip Curl and had long pretty blonde hair - I didn’t fit in.” After a year, Natalee went to Onslow College in Wellington. After another year (at 16) she finished school and studied tourism and hospitality, completing the course. “I never worked in tourism and hospitality”, she laughs “I worked at New World for quite a while - a huge career highlight for me”. It was at this stage that Natalee decided to move Auckland, and got the job at VTNZ at 18. “I was a horrible teenager - I was more interested in doing the partying” she grins, apologetically,“and I eventually grew out of that stage”.
“When I got a job at Buoy, I was working at VTNZ in Auckland. Buoy in Wellington was the first place I applied for as an apprentice hairdresser. I was 20 and had done a bit of modelling so I think I got the job because I looked the part.”
One day, while visiting Wellington, Natalee saw an advertisement for apprentices at Buoy hairdressing in Wellington. “I had always loved beauty. I was that teenager doing my friends makeup for balls - and this is before YouTube tutorials. I just made it all up. I thought getting into hairdressing would be the same as doing makeup. I never realised being a makeup artist was a job so I did the next best thing - hairdressing.”
“I knew Buoy was a good salon.” Natalee says, “It was the first place I applied for. I interviewed with founder, Derek Elvy. I was 20.” Natalee had done some modelling, she tells me “so I think I got the job because I looked the part of a pretty young hairdresser.” she jokes, cackling.
Buoy marked a new beginning for Natalee. It was her first encounter (apart from modelling) with the beauty and fashion industry. “Buoy was awesome” Natalee remembers. “It was fun”. Natalee loved doing the hair of her clients and carved out a niche doing colours. “I loved the young girls like you because you would do something more than a blonde bob”, she remembers.
Mum Life: "I don't think I stayed sane"
At twenty-five, Natalee had her first baby, Israel (now eight). “Israel was a surprise baby” Natalee smiles. She admits he was easy and “just slotted into life”. Natalee returned to Buoy part time after that until he was one and a half. Natalee then left Buoy to pursue her first makeup job at the Dior Counter in Farmers until she had her second child Scarlett (now five and a half). She then returned to Buoy in 2012 for another couple of years,
The second time round the road to motherhood did not run as smoothly. Natalee, like many mums, struggled with postnatal depression after Scarlett’s birth. “With Scarlett...” says Natalee, hesitantly “...a second baby, that was a huge thing for me. Having to juggle two little people was a bit of a… it was a struggle for me for a while. When you have two kids they both need attention and you are so divided. It is a whole lot more to deal with.” I ask Natalee how she stayed sane.
“I didn’t!” she responds. “No, I truly didn’t. I mean, I had postnatal depression. It definitely wasn’t easy. I don’t think I stayed sane. My marriage ended around the same time. It’s a hormonal imbalance. You get a whole RUSH of hormones after you give birth. It’s really hard to figure out whether it is circumstance and sleep deprivation or hormones”, she says. “Too much information, but at 3 o’clock in the morning, while breastfeeding Scarlett I would be sobbing, crying thinking I had made the biggest mistake - and that’s not what you should be feeling about a baby at any point. It was after weeks of doing that I realised - it’s not normal.”
Natalee Fisher Makeup: "I like hair - but I always LOVED makeup"
Natalee credits herself with finding the strength to get out of a rut with the help of her mother “who has been a constant babysitter and friend, and all of my super amazing supportive pals”.
She then took on two days a week back at Buoy when Scarlett was a toddler.
Natalee had always enjoyed makeup but now while back working at Buoy, Natalee took it to the next level. “I like hair” Natalee admits “but I always LOVED makeup.” She started doing occasional freelance work for friends’ weddings and photoshoots. “Gradually, I built up my time and experience and gained more freelance work. It worked for me too because of my two young children” she says.
She started work at the Bobbi Brown counter at Kirkaldie and Stains, the former Wellington department store on Lambton Quay. When the demands of Bobbi Brown and freelance work started to get too busy, Natalee left Buoy altogether to focus on the makeup.
After a time, she became busy doing full-time freelance makeup, doing photoshoots, weddings, commercial work and fashion editorial work and now purely works for herself doing makeup and hair. “I do all sorts - this weekend I’m doing makeup touchups for the Cleo Model Search” she says “I’ve done it for bodybuilders. I do work for Capital Magazine, fashion shoots, I teach woman how to use their own makeup. Every day is different and it’s always fun”.
“I don’t know if I would have any glowing words of wisdom to give my 16 year old self. I’ve never had a plan,”
Natalee feels like she knows lots of people in Wellington and has lots of creative friends in Wellington. She doesn’t have to sell herself to people. Natalee knows many people around Wellington - many doing their own thing. Freelance work came naturally to Natalee likely in part because of her warm personality that makes her clients keep on wanting to come back. Natalee works with friends, people she knows, former clients and people she clicks with. “Most of my referrals come through word of mouth - and this season I am doing 22 weddings.”
Now working for herself, with two beautiful children, and living life at her own pace and on her own terms, I ask Natalee what she would say to her 16 year old self “I don’t know if I would have any glowing words of wisdom to give my 16 year old self. I’ve never had a plan,” Natalee laughs. “I just kind of cruise - and whatever happens, happens. It all seems to work out. So I don’t know what I would say, other than “Do what you’re doing - it’s fine! It will all work out”.