So there I was....
Totally kidding! haha.
Hi, I'm Natalie Rathman. The founder of SOUKi RATHMAN, and I want to share with you my background and story that led me here today and to my amazing shop SOUKi RATHMAN.
It all started back in 2018. Really... 2014 when my husband took his first international job in the Congo. It put us on track to trot to globe in ways we never dreamed with 3 week roadtrips through middle-of-nowhere Africa, dining in Colombia, literally sliding down into salt mines in Germany.
Inspired by the incredibly talented Kara Rosenlund, a collection of photos of memories on instagram turned into a dream of selling my photography... and well it really spiraled from there.
Actually, let's back up even further. Here's a little more background. The whole story. ...and with old pictures too! LMFAO.
I've always had an entrepreneurial spirit and a strong creative energy. In college (college Natalie to the left), I began studying architecture and interior design, and even though I enjoyed it... I decided it wasn't the right path. I switched schools and took a variety of courses which included fashion. LOVED IT! Maybe it was the drab school uniforms of my past that made me love fashion more, I'm not fully sure. ...but being able to draw and create my own collection of cute outfits really lit a fire in me. Throughout my college journey, I was working in retail, and absolutely thriving. I loved styling customers, helping people shop for events, and getting to know customer on a more personal level.
Long story short, I dropped out of college. I abandoned my long stint of fashion retail jobs, got a 9-5 and started my own e-commerce boutique called 'Hint Boutique' at the vibrant age of 22. I knew absolutely nothing about running an online business, and thankfully my mom helped me get things started which included building my website, and heading out to Vegas for 'Magic', the big fashion trade show. ...at that point social media was still fairly new.. In fact, Instagram had just rolled out... and their string of filters were the coolest thing!
I did the 9-5 and ran my business as long as I could. Eventually, I knew I had to quit my full time gig and put everything into my small business. I was doing pretty well selling the cult favorite brand Wildfox. It was my bread and butter. I sold other brands like Rebel Yell (still love seeing it pop up in shows like 'How I Met Your Mother'), David, Lerner, Eugenia Kim, Lovers & Friends, etc. I sold the coolest clothes. All the 'it girls' like Vanessa Hudgens were wearing it. I was lending things out for models in photoshoots, and acting as a creative director on some of my own shoots for the website too. However, eventually business started to struggle. My sales took a massive hit just a little ways before my wedding in 2013, and on top of that Wildfox, my best selling brand, was dropping smaller boutiques as they moved into bigger box stores like Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, etc... and I was at a complete loss. I knew I wouldn't be able to come back from that. As I was heading into a new marriage and moving to a new town, I was ready to cut ties, alleviate the stress and move forward. So, I closed up shop that December.
I never lost my dream of owning my own business again. I still wanted a beautiful brick and mortar boutique featuring gorgeous home decor, fashionable clothing, and whatever else I deemed on brand.
In 2014 things to a massive turn. Brad was presented an opportunity to take his first role in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I knew he had to do it. We were both on board and eager to make it happen. It warranted a pay bump for him, and opportunity for travel for us.
I worked for a desiccant company called AGM at the time. I HATED my job. I am not exaggerating when I say that I am/was too smart and capable to work for this company. In a sense it felt degrading. When I went to tell the big boss that I was going to be leaving because my husband would be taking a job overseas & I would be moving back to Scottsdale. I told her that he would be going for a minimum of 6 months (2 rotations), but it would likely be 9 months (3 rotations). When I said this she asked me "How do you know that?", and I replied "Because he is great at what he does". I kid you not, she scoffed and laughed at me.
Well... guess what... He did 3 rotations. He has risen through the ranks quickly, and is probably one of the youngest mining engineers to be in his current role. I might be proud of my husband, but I'm not unrealistic about his potential and talent. haha.
After those 3 rotations, we were back in Tucson. Brad was back at his previous job bored, and I took on a job for Sunglass Hut. ...another job I hated. I was in management and oversaw the store, the kiosk, and partner shop in Macy's. I had and still have so many feeling about the company and my former job. While, I'd love to deep dive into that, I will spare you the details!
Just under 3 months in, things began to change. Copper was tanking on the market, Freeport was talking about closing Brad's mine, and they wanted to send him to Baghdad, AZ which would have been a demotion and a pay drop. It wasn't because he wasn't performing.. It's because it was what they had to offer. Brad & I were not thrilled about the option. We were trying to figure out a way around us moving to the Podunk middle of nowhere, Arizona.
Praise the Lord because he opens doors!
Thankfully, Brad knew a guy that had begun working for another company at a mine in the DRC. After several interviews, Brad was offered the job. However, it was really touch and go considering the price of copper. We were not 100% certain if it would stick, but eventually we got the green light and just before my 90 day review at Sunglass Hut, I gave my two weeks notice. We packed up our house in Tucson, rented it out, I moved back home, and Brad shipped out.
TO BE CONTINUED.