L.A. Designer Natalie Martin Brings Her Growing Bali Boho Chic Brand to Melrose

Los Angeles designer Natalie Martin is bringing her Bali boho chic brand to Melrose Avenue with a 900-square-foot store opening Friday, neighboring Paul Smith, Decades and Anine Bing.

The Aussie transplant’s breezy Balinese block print flowy Fiore maxidresses, Penny tops and drawstring Jasper shorts are the unofficial uniform of ease in L.A. and beyond, with Gwyneth Paltrow, Busy Philipps, Rihanna, January Jones, Kristen Bell, stylists Marnie Senofonte and Nicole Chavez, fashion strategist Ramya Giangola, influencer Marlien Rentmeester and many more in her fan club.

Martin founded her label in 2011, inspired to tap into the beauty of Bali by childhood vacations to the island. She has grown her brand through word of mouth, by selling online and at more than 250 wholesale partners worldwide, including Goop, Aerin, Vermillion, St. Bernard, TNT, Mother Denim, H. Audrey, Ounass in the United Arab Emirates and Trilogy stores in the U.K.

In the last year she hired her first company president, Louis Senofonte, who comes with sales and marketing experience from fine jeweler Adina Reyter, Tea Collection Kids Clothing, Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie.

They have been building momentum by expanding her range of women’s and children’s clothing, adding more silhouettes including wrap and minidresses, plus separates, and developing solids and cotton fabrications alongside her floral silks and rayons.

A view of the Natalie Martin Store

A view of the Natalie Martin Store.

Michael Buckner/WWD

“When I started, there was a real hole in the market for dresses, but shirts are a big new category for us,” said Martin, who came to designing from fashion marketing, putting in years at Italian leather goods brands Tod’s and Hogan. “We all wear jeans a lot and a nice cute top to put on in a print is great. And sometimes people are overwhelmed by wearing print head to toe, so it’s nice to just have a pop of it.”

Martin has also gone into men’s clothing with resorty button down shirts and lounge pants that have been brisk sellers. And she’s launched home, with tabletop and hand batik linens in store now, and a wallpaper collaboration with Wallshoppe in her chamomile, stripe, prairie and starflower prints on the way.

“It’s been a life changer to have someone come in and take over the whole management and running of things,” she said of Senofonte joining the business. “In the last nine months I have been able to get back to focusing on the creative, and working hand-to-hand with artisans. I’m really having fun again.”

“Natalie is an artist,” Senofonte said of what drew him to the brand. “So many people are chasing that homogenized look in fashion but she is authentic.”

Louis Senofonte and Natalie Martin

Louis Senofonte and Natalie Martin

Michael Buckner/WWD

“Her clothes make you feel good, her creative vision is a constant source of inspiration, and you feel her kind spirit when you wear Natalie Martin,” said Giancola, cofounder of creative agency Good Eggs, who met the designer shortly after moving to L.A. in 2016 and has been wearing her clothes ever since.

Created by British interior designer Amanda Masters, Martin’s new store replaces one she had in La Cienega’s interior design corridor that closed during COVID-19. The location at 8203 Melrose makes sense in more ways than one. Not only is the stretch just west of Crescent Heights becoming a walkable fashion retail zone, but Martin is opening up right next door to best friend Ariana Lambert Smeraldo’s new outpost of Lily Lodge, the go-to florist for Tom Ford, The Row, Carolina Herrera and more style setters in L.A. So it will be a good one-two stop.

“I love that she uses Balinese artisans to hand press or screen her prints and of course, I’m a sucker for a floral,” Smeraldo said. “I can’t imagine a better neighbor.”

The design of the Natalie Martin store is global eclectic with a side of rock ‘n’ roll, which is true to the designer’s heart; her husband Kevin Martin is a musician with Candlebox.

A view of the Natalie Martin Store

A view of the Natalie Martin store.

Michael Buckner/WWD

Martin sourced the red leather vintage bar that functions as the cash wrap, the Danish Modern wall display and tapestry print bench from Big Daddy’s Antiques in L.A. She found the teak lotus leaf-shaped bowls that she clustered into a fabulous wall decoration in Bali, and the Yves Saint Laurent Love art prints online.

All of home accessories are for sale, including ceramics by L.A. artist Sean Gin in addition to her own dishes made using her block printing techniques. Prices range from $30 for a carved wooden jewelry dish to $550 for chiffon and silk dresses.


Natalie Martin Collection dress

“I want to show our world, especially now with expanding into more home and men’s, and to have a place for people to try on. And I think people want that experience of going to a shop as well,” Martin said.

She is bringing in work by artists and designers who are friends, such as L.A. jeweler Sarah Hendler, whose heart-shaped necklaces, earrings and rings are in store now and L.A.-based Valerie Confections for chocolates. And through the summer, she’ll be hosting pop-ups for Busayo’s Made in Africa clothing; Left on Friday swimwear; Larroude shoes, and Bahamas-based Lulu de Kwiatkowski, whose art prints Martin will be putting on clothing.

The brand has been experiencing high-double-digit growth for e-commerce, and is getting close to double-digit growth with wholesalers, Senofonte said.

“What I noticed when I first started talking to Natalie was her returning customer rate and how dialed in the customer was, so it’s really an easy customer to communicate with and build upon,” he said, adding that they recently rolled out a retention program called The Collective, which will include rewards and perks.

As they continue to craft the image of the brand, they’re introducing more behind-the-scenes video content as well.

A view of the Natalie Martin Store

A view of the Natalie Martin store.

Michael Buckner/WWD

“The biggest thing has been communicating how much is involved with making the actual product from hand stamping and working with each artist,” Senofonte said.

Martin has 10 employees and financial backing from San Francisco 49ers heiress Lisa DeBartolo and musician Don Miggs, who are based in Tampa, Fla.

The brand releases six collections a year, with an additional two to three capsule drops. Everything is produced in Bali, where the designer has worked with the same factory for 12 years.

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Natalie Martin Collection set.

Lately she’s been exploring other elements of craft in different corners of Indonesia. “I have been carving out a bunch of time while I’m there to work on ceramics and teak in surrounding factories, and with artisans who can make whatever you have in your mind. It’s a lovely community of such incredible artists where you can dream things and they can come to life,” she said.

The brand has also been leaning into the hospitality, with a recent activation at Costa Palmas in Mexico and a capsule for Kona Village in Hawaii. “It makes sense for us being grounded in resort, vacation and summer. There’s a lot of of opportunities for us whether it’s a robe or tabletop,” she said.

“I see the Natalie Martin collection becoming a lifestyle, I see all the beautiful prints she’s creating becoming an archive that other brands can license out and that we can leverage and get into bedding agreements,” Senofonte said. “I can see her bringing on young designers and doing capsules with them and creating an incubator to help people create because that’s what she’s good at. It’s exciting because for years I was watching the brand and wanted to be in it. And now we’re making the world for everyone to be in.”

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