Natalie Zink has a trio of gardenia blooms tattooed on her left arm — one in full bloom, one budding and one wilting.
“To me, it serves as a reminder that things come and go in life,” she says. “There are different stages and different chapters, [and] we should celebrate them all.”
Gardenias, and their symbol of resilience and longevity, has been a longstanding motif in her life, Zink tells District Fray. Before Zink founded Wild Gardenia Boutique, she was a practicing attorney in international trade law, and always loved arranging outfits that made her feel empowered and confident. Today, she is the owner of Wild Gardenia Boutique, an online store that specializes in size-inclusive indie clothing and accessories.
The boutique is reimagining indie fashion through its curation of 1960s-inspired statement pieces that blend a vintage feel with a more glam, modern edge. Through her store, Zink wants to help her clients develop their unique personal style. “I want them to feel fierce, but in a way that matches who they are.”
Zink’s own style is a direct reflection of her brand. “I wear a lot of bright colors, and a lot of patterns. In fact, if I can mix two patterns together in one outfit, [that’s] the ideal outfit for me,” she exclaims. “I just think that’s a way of showing joy and being joyous.”
Whether it’s layering pattern-on-pattern or adding a chunky necklace to a look, Zink encourages her clients to experiment with different textures and styles. Adding accessories “will brighten up and liven up pretty much any outfit you wear, whether it be a really bold pattern coat like we have in our collection, or just like a simple everyday sweater.”
Through her boutique, Zink also wants to reduce stigma around size-inclusive fashion, she says. The shop owner primarily sources her inventory from size-inclusive, women-owned, independent labels that hold strong reputations in the fashion community, such as Mary Benson, Pissenlit and Nanda Jewelry.
Zink’s desire to stock Wild Gardenia Boutique with inclusive labels stems from her own experience shopping for clothes.
“I did notice that sometimes when I went into stores to shop for myself, that I was very much on the end of the straight sizes,” she says, and found it frustrating that “I [could] very easily be sized out and then I would no longer be able to shop at that store.”
Wild Gardenia wants to shift this narrative, and send a message that all body types should be represented in the fashion world. “I very much wanted to [create] an experience where customers are able to find a good they like, and they’re able to move up and down a size without worrying about being excluded,” she notes.
Ultimately, shopping at Wild Gardenia is “really about being quirky, being fun, celebrating the day and celebrating who you are as a person,” Zink says.