Josie Natori, OLD (born Josefina Almeda Cruz) is a Filipina fashion designer and the CEO and founder of The Natori Company. Natori served as a commissioner on the White House Conference on Small Business. In March 2007 she was awarded the Order of Lakandula, one of the highest civilian awards in the Philippines. In April, 2007, Natori received the “Peopling of America” Award from the Statue of Liberty – Ellis Island Foundation.
Josefina Almeda Cruz was born in the Philippines in 1947. Her mother is Angelita Cruz. She was raised in a close-knit Filipino family, as one of six siblings. Her first love was the piano, and she performed solo with the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of nine.
Natori moved to the United States in 1964 to attend Manhattanville College. After graduating, she worked at Merrill Lynch, where she rose the ranks to become the first female Vice President in Investment Banking. On Wall Street, she also met her husband Ken Natori, who served as a Managing Director of Shearson Lehman. The couple married in 1972.
Professional Career/The Natori Company
Natori made the move from Wall Street to fashion full-time in 1977, after considering a number of other entrepreuneurial ventures from opening a McDonald’s franchise, to reproducing antique furniture. She settled on fashion after a buyer at Bloomingdale’s suggested she lengthen some peasant blouses sent to her from her native Philippines. The reworked garments were sold as nightshirts.
The Natori Company now sells lingerie, sleepwear, loungewear, underwear and other high-end women’s fashion to upscale department stores in the US, and to at least 15 countries internationally. In addition to women’s clothing, the company is also in the home furnishings industry, and in May, 2008 signed a licensing deal to sell Natori perfume. The perfume debuted in the US in September, 2009, with international distribution to follow. Natori also launched towel and eyewear lines in the Fall of 2009 as well.
The Natori x Target collaboration — which is themed “East Meets West” — will be Target’s first limited-edition lingerie and loungewear collection. Natori’s first installment will be available on October 30, 2011 to December 22. The second installment of Asia-inspired silk undies and other goodies will be available on News Year Day 2012 until February (just in time for Valentine’s Day)! The collection consists of 37 pieces, including bras, panties, robes, knits, leggings, cam is and chemises with prices ranging from $9.99 to $34.99.
On October 3, 2008, Bank of the Philippine Islands Director Zobel de Ayala and Labor Secretary Marianito Roque awarded the 2008 BPInoy Award for Natori at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel. In 2007, Natori celebrated her 30th year as the CEO-founder of The Natori Company. Natori also received the Galleon Award from Corazon Aquino in 1998.