Natalie Paziotopoulos is Associate Director for Guess’ Men’s Division.
Meet Natalie Paziotopoulos
Chicago native Natalie Paziotopoulos comes from a family of successful professionals — her father, James is retired Superintendent of Schools for the Oak Lawn-Hometown School District 123, and was an education professional for 45 years; her mother, Ann is a retired Reading Specialist from Palos Hills East Elementary School, and co-author of a book called Literature Circles, which provides practical ideas for teachers to help children respond to literature; sister Pam is a distinguished attorney and anti-domestic violence advocate, who was recently appointed by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner to serve on the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority; and brother Alex is a well-known integrative medicine physician in Chicago. With a pedigree like that, surely she’d do something great. But she didn’t know what that could be.
“I attended the University of Kansas, earning a degree in Communications. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I thought all I could do was follow in my sister’s footsteps into law. I’d interned at the Cook County State’s’ Attorney’s office where Pam worked, and it was a fun summer gig, but not something I was passionate about. I told my dad I’d study for the LSAT, but he knew, and asked me if I was sure. I did some investigating and decided against that. I really loved art. And I loved fashion. So I looked at what I could do that combined both.”
“I interned in the showroom, repping her line. I realized fashion was what I loved, and that’s where I wanted to be.”
Natalie promptly assembled her portfolio and sent it to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. She was accepted, and packed her bags for LA, where she’s lived ever since. Natalie completed the program in one year, since she already had a Bachelor’s Degree. Right after graduation, she scored an interview with Guess — her first interview.
Dream career at Guess
Natalie has been with Guess since 2001.
“It’s been a crazy but amazing ride, being at Guess and climbing the ladder.”
She is currently the Associate Director for the Men’s Division. Together with the senior director, they determine the mood, colors, and essence of the men’s collection, for each season, including active wear, and denim. Of her craft, Natalie said that nothing is hand-sketched anymore, because it’s quicker to do it on computer. We can see her work in Guess stores, and at local department stores,.
In this capacity, Natalie gets to travel the world. She goes to Asia as well as Europe two times a year for work and design inspiration.
Guess has an intern mentorship program that Natalie has actively participated throughout her tenure. Along with other department heads, she speaks on panels about her role in the company, her contributions to the fashion world, and how she got into the industry.
“It’s important for interns to hear success stories, and to help them have opportunities to become successful as well.”
Guess is philanthropy-focused, and through the many charities they sponsor, Natalie has been able to give back. She’s designed a line of t-shirts for the charity Invisible Children, of which proceeds benefited kids in Africa.
Advice to kids dreaming of the fashion world
Natalie says there are great opportunities in the fashion world. If it’s your dream, you should pursue it.
“It’s creative, you get to travel the world. I wouldn’t have been able to travel as much if this wasn’t my career. Many people don’t think of it as a ‘big career’, but it is corporate-driven, and has many benefits. If you’re passionate about fashion,it’s a great career. It’s hard work, but if you love what you do, it’s worth it.”
She lives in LA, but she’s still a Chicago girl. Her family lives here, and she often comes to visit, though the family recently joined her for a warm-weather Thanksgiving in LA. The family remains close, and continues to encourage, and cheer each other on. Perhaps that’s the secret to their collective success.