A suitcase in hand and a dream on her mind, Natalie Koenig, creator of local brand Meraki and Nat, packed up her life in Wauseon, Ohio and came to the bustling city of Denver. Hoping to share her story and growth through fashion with others, Koenig created Meraki and Nat in February of 2021. Originating in modern Greek, Meraki means “the soul, creativity or love put into something; the essence of yourself that is put into your work.” Koenig felt a connection with this word when scrolling through her Pinterest feed and knew it was meant to be her brand.
Growing up, Koenig was very persistent when she played basketball in college. “I was never the strongest or tallest, so I had to work hard on other skill sets that would allow myself to stand out,” Koenig said. She attended Grand Valley State University in Michigan, where she played basketball and studied biomedical sciences in hopes of pursuing a career in the medical field.
By her senior year of college, she developed a new dream: to change her style and share her creative side, thus she found an outlet through thrifting. In April of 2020, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Koenig taught herself how to sew. “I never really knew what would come from teaching myself how to sew, I just knew that it was something I was passionate about, and something that brought me a lot of joy and peace,” said Koenig.
Once Koenig started thrifting, she embraced standing out and standing against trending clothing. “I went from basing my style on brand names [and] trends to basing it on what made me feel most comfortable, what allowed me to express myself,” Koenig said. She encourages others to find their unique style and stand out in the crowd.
In search of a fresh start, Koenig was lured to Denver’s environment. “Having both the downtown big city feel and an escape to be in nature really attracted me to Denver,” Koenig explained. She began thrift shopping in all areas and fell in love with becoming a reseller.
When it comes to creating the unique style of Meraki and Nat, Koenig focuses on finding “bright colors, pastel colors, crazy prints and patterns,” Koenig said. She also believes in not following fashion trends. Rather, she believes that fashion is meant to be unique and used to express yourself.
“If you feel good, feel confident in your outfit, you will always have the best outfit in the room,” Koenig said.
Since finding her passion, fashion has become Koenig’s emotional outlet, Meraki and Nat is “a brand for anyone who has ever felt unseen, unheard, or who battles with mental illnesses,” Koenig said. She hopes to create an environment for people to find their niche and feel comfortable in their skin. “I hope I can inspire at least one person to create something new, something that represents who they are while detaching from outside judgment,” Koenig said.
Being able to share who she is through colors, patterns and fabrics is the most important part of fashion to Koenig. “The fact that a piece I make means something to me, and will eventually mean something completely different to someone else is an indescribable feeling,” Koenig said.