This Art Teacher Turned Her Passion Into A Business While Living Overseas
By DeAnna Taylor
Natalie hails from Miami, Florida. She currently lives overseas, working in Abu Dhabi. She’s lived there for six years and teaches art in schools.
We spoke with her about life abroad and growing her art business in the process.
Travel Noire: What inspired you to move abroad?
Natalie: After studying art in France and China, I knew that traveling abroad was for me. That experience opened up my eyes and gave me a whole new perspective on the world and life.
People were asking me why I would want to move away from the Miami lifestyle. It had the art scene, diversity, sunny beaches, celebrities, and most importantly great food. Miami is a culture of its own. I have lived a good life there, but it became redundant, so I needed a new experience both professionally and culturally.
TN: How did you secure your position as an art teacher?
Natalie: In 2013, A few friends told me about teaching abroad and recommended several resources. After further research and many discussions with family, I took a chance and applied that May. I interviewed in June, got hired in July, and moved to Dubai in August. My family was fearful. My mom thought I was moving to the war zone in Iraq and my grandmother thought I was moving to Africa. No one knew or had ever heard of Dubai or UAE until I moved there.
TN: How were you able to get your personal art brand going overseas?
Natalie: It all started with teaching. The students that I teach have not been exposed to a lot of art or techniques, and resources are nonexistent. As a teacher, I make sure to be resourceful and bring my passion into class so the students can see how much I enjoy painting and fashion designing in hopes to inspire them to want to learn more.
My students began to love my work so much they wanted to buy it, which inspired and motivated me to turn my passion into a business. They wanted to see my work published, so I began branding simply by displaying my work and students’ work on social media. This action turned into a business when followers inquired about commissioned work. I named my brand DeziredDezgns.
TN: Tell us about your time teaching in Ghana?
Natalie: Traveling to Ghana was one of the most humbling experiences I’ve had by far. I met some good people who guided me around the country throughout my entire trip. I had a mission to give back to the community by visiting a school in Accra, studying the education system, donating art supplies, and volunteering to teach for a day.
The feeling was magical. I felt welcomed by the principal, staff and children. I even received a welcome chant as I entered the classrooms. I felt at home. I taught lessons in a P3 class along with an art lesson where I surprised the students with the art supplies. They were very thankful to have received them.
TN: What’s next for your brand?
Natalie: While making a purchase in Ghana, I had an epiphany to bring business to the region by combining my talents with a manufacturer there. I have printed my artwork on fabric made into handmade bags in Ghana which are currently on sale. I am currently working on swimwear and head wraps made from my Afrocentric prints as well. I want to incorporate more cultural diversity in my art and fashion lines and bring awareness and business to other countries. In other words, cultural awareness through art.
TN: Where can we find you online?
DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel blogger, author, and writer. While Charlotte, NC (her hometown) is her base, she's always somewhere on a plane. Catch her on IG: @brokeandabroadlife.