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Natasha Collis: Origins
What is it that obliges the artist to create? Georgia O'Keefe believed it was courage. Pollock thought self-discovery was essential. Mondrian subscribed humility and almost every artist from the dawn of time knows that freedom of expression and hard work are fundamental. Often, the impetus to create is something profoundly anchored in the psyche and more often the creative person will require something or really, someone, who will either knowingly, or not, usher the burgeoning artist towards her creative destiny.
Natasha Collis' father, Harvey Collis, left school at 14 to become an apprentice with the newly hip Vidal Sassoon. It wasn't long before this charming young upstart was the hair styling maestro's top creative stylist. He locked eyes with Natasha's mother, Caroline Burstein, through the mirror as she sat in his chair waiting to be transformed into one of Sassoon's girls. Together the two branched out on their own, opening the Molton Brown hair salon and creating the now famous line of natural skin care products. Their philosophy was revolutionary at the time. Eschewing the trend for backcombing and hairspray, the Molton Brown salon relied on natural processes and exotic ingredients.
Natasha, along with her three siblings, worked after school and holidays at the salon, sometimes to the dismay of the clientele who wondered at the beaming ten year old manning the till and making tea. "I loved it,” reminisces Natasha. “It was really fun to be in the shop. The busyness, serving people, playing shop but for real." Christmas meant all hands on deck and the whole family would package up soaps, stick labels on bottles and wrap gift boxes filled with Molton Brown goodies ready for dispatch to the salon and other stores. Natasha remembers her parent's dedication. "They worked very hard. They were so excited at being successful, but they always made time for family. The weekends were always reserved for us."
Molton Brown went on to grow under the direction of others but those years were seminal in the mind of the young Natasha. She witnessed both her parents move successfully into other careers, to reinvent themselves time and again. Her mother joined her own family's business as a successful fashion buyer and at 50 Harvey Collis became a yoga teacher before retiring to a farmhouse in Sicily to raise organic olives. His inspiration is evident in Natasha's own trajectory. "He is a glass always full man," she says of her father. "He's a huge inspiration. He always says to us 'Just trust, trust your vision', it is the best advice a parent can give to any child". And indeed, that anyone could give to any artist. In many ways the dedication she witnessed as a child and this creed of her father’s is what laid the foundation for Natasha's own future.