Josie Cruz Natori
While most known for her namesake iconic fashion brand, Josie Cruz Natori has navigated a variety of career paths throughout her life. As a child, she excelled at piano, performing with the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of nine. Despite her passion for the arts, she chose a business career, leaving her large, close-knit Filipino family to attend Manhattanville College in New York. After graduation, she worked on Wall Street where she eventually rose through the ranks to become the first female Vice President of investment banking at Merrill Lynch. Along the way, Josie met her husband Ken Natori, who was an Executive Managing Director at Shearson Lehman.
After nine years in corporate America, Natori started a business of her own. After exploring various opportunities including a car wash and a McDonald’s franchise, she landed in the fashion industry. What began with creating lingerie on her living room floor evolved into a lifestyle brand rooted in her Asian heritage and the craftsmanship of the Philippines.
Today, Natori’s headquarters are in New York, with a warehouse in New Jersey, and a family-owned factory in Manila. Over the past forty-six years, Natori has continued to bring art into life with an East meets West sensibility. Natori is proud to be Asian-founded, Asian-owned, and Asian-led with Natori as CEO & Chief Creative Officer, and her son Kenneth as President.
Natori is on the board of the Asian Cultural Council, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation. She is also a member of the CFDA, C200, and sits on the board of Westrock Coffee Company.
She is a recipient of the Galleon award, the Lakandula Award, considered the highest honor for a Filipino citizen, and Fashion Group International’s Humanitarian Award.
She credits her entrepreneurial spirit to the matriarchal society of the Philippines where she was inspired from a young age by her grandmother, an entrepreneur, and her mother, a musician and businesswoman. Her father, a self-made man in the construction industry, also played a significant role in inspiring her career. Josie continues to embrace, celebrate, and broadcast her Asian heritage through all that she does.