September 1, 2017
Woman of many talents
You would be hard pressed to find a woman who is busier than Natalie Bassingthwaighte. The mum-of-two runs children’s clothing label Chi Khi, is a full time actress and continues performing with her band The Rogue Traders. Is there anything this woman can’t do?
In the 12 minutes I spent chatting with Natalie Bassingthwaighte, I caught but a glimpse into her wild and wonderful life.
“I’m running out the door as we speak,” she says, as we begin chatting about her upcoming appearance on the second season of The Wrong Girl.
“It’s been so amazing to be a part of this phenomenal cast – they’re very talented, so fun, I’ve never had so much fun in my life, we’re having a ball. It’s so challenging and inspiring as well, which I just love, it’s been a real thrill.”
Having spent the past few months filming in Melbourne, it is the first job Natalie has had in her hometown since she appeared on Neighbours a decade ago.
“It is great to come home to my family and it’s just such a different vibe, I’ve lived here for 12 years and this is my first job here, since Neighbours,” she says, pausing to say goodbye to her kids before hopping in the car.
This morning I was doing spreadsheets for Chi Khi, and now I’m doing an interview with you and I’m to do filming with The Living Room this afternoon, absolutely no day is the same and then Thursday I’ve got filming and photoshoots, so it’s always different which means I’m never bored!”
While she’s most well known for her skills as a Logie-nominated actress and presenter on the silver screen, Natalie launched her stage career on Australian productions of Grease, Rent, Footloose and Chicago. Natalie is also a celebrated musician, being one of 10 women to chart an Aria number one as a solo artist, as well as achieving multi-platinum sales with The Rogue Traders.
Interestingly, carving a multi-faceted career was never her intention.
“I just followed my heart and followed my instincts, the older I’m getting it’s really important what I say yes to and what I say no to. Early on I would say, ‘Yeah I’ll try that, I’ll try anything’, but I never set out to do that. I want to follow my heart and do what I love and what inspires me and challenges me and makes me smile, ultimately that’s my goal,” she says.
I’ve never felt more comfortable in my own shoes as I have on this set (Wrong Girl), it feels like I’ve come into my own and feels like I’m meant to be doing this on so many levels; so that’s a real buzz to find that.
“And I love performing on stage (with the Rogue Traders), it’s exhilarating being on stage and having people sing your songs back to you, that’s quite crazy, but right now I feel like this is where I’m supposed to be and exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.”
To add another string to her bow, Natalie also launched her children’s clothing line, Chi Khi two years ago.
“There are a couple of reasons why I started the business. One of them was to see what I’m capable of, I’ve been in the entertainment industry for a long time and I always like a challenge and my husband and I have invested in properties and things before, but I said, ‘What if we invested in something we creatively really enjoyed?”
“I really love design, architecture and fashion, so I thought, ‘Why not?’ And because I had two kids who did have sensitive skin and I was trying to look for these certain types of clothes for them and couldn’t find them, I knew that was it.”
Since starting as an e-business, Chi Khi has now stretched into wholesaling, and has also amassed quite the celebrity cult following.
We’ve been on celebrity kids all around the world, the Kardashian kids, Fergie, Rachel Zoe, Jessica Alba, Megan Gale, Kate Waterhouse and Cate Blanchett; I sent her some stuff and she wrote me a letter back saying how much she loved the product with a little card!,” Natalie says, beaming with pride.
“It’s hard work running your own business and trying to be a great mum at the same time, but I’m so proud of it. I dive into a lot of things, but this was a whole other level to start something I never experienced before, that I only had a love of and you can’t not be proud of yourself for that, and I am, but I’ve surrounded myself with some amazing people who have helped me make it a success.”
When it comes to designing the mini-garments, Natalie draws a lot of inspiration from her own wardrobe and style, adapting to be kid-friendly and still have room to play.
“I wear very urban clothes, a lot of drop-crotch pants and oversized tee’s and things like that, but I like my clothing to be very comfortable and wearable, so a lot of inspiration comes from my own wardrobe,” she says.
And I have added elements from myself, I have a star tattoo that’s very personal to me and I’ve utilised that in the next collection, the number 11 is my lucky number, so I’ve utilised that, so styling wise it’s more how I like to dress. I want kids to still look like kids and be able to play like kids, so nothing itchy or scratchy. We use primarily bamboo, we make all of our own fabrics, so it’s a really beautiful product.”
Natalie jokes Chi Khi is her third child, sharing she has often called on her six-year-old daughter Harper and four-year-old son Hendrix to model for the brand.
“There was a time when Harper was not having a bar of it and I put Hendrix in everything, including all the dresses, so I could do the samples and know exactly how I wanted them to look – now I’ve got some great pictures for his 21st!”
With her acting career hitting a new gear and Chi Khi set to expand more internationally, business is taking care of itself, leaving Natalie a little more time for her favourite job – being a mum and wife.