Meet Natalie Guevara

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Head of multi-platform and communications at Genius, the music media company centered on lyrics and music knowledge. Founder of The Afterglow, a forthcoming valentine to the classic New York City institutions and local haunts that are still with us. Born and raised in the tropics, but partial to cold weather. New Yorker for almost 15 years. Film lover for all her life.
 
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Dress: WinterSilks

Dress: WinterSilks

ON HER MORNING ROUTINE

I begin all of my days with a podcast, hot shower, and dry brush—that’s my one consistent sequence of events. I’m subscribed to about 50 podcasts, but my morning ones tend to be of the chat-show variety or anything that exposes me to a different line of work. I love The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter” podcast hosted by Scott Feinberg which features a career-spanning conversation with an actor or director. I’m also obsessed with Howard Stern, so I listen to SiriusXM whenever he has a new interview out. His Vincent Gallo interview lives in infamy. Post-shower and mid-podcast, I “put my face on” and take my supplements. My standby is OLLY The Perfect Women’s Multi. I’m sensitive to seasonal shifts, so when the weather starts turning I use the doTerra essential oil blend to ward off colds. I learned about it from reading an interview with RuPaul, who’s clearly superhuman.

on growing up between Miami and the Dominican republic

My dad was born in Cuba and my mom is a first-generation Cuban-American born in Florida. I went to international schools with kids from all over the world, which is something I took for granted at the time. I learned about different backgrounds, traditions, and creeds at an early age, which is a beautiful way to grow up. It’s difficult to articulate just how profoundly Santo Domingo shaped my sense of the world, and how unfair it can be and the responsibility you have to show up for others who aren’t born with access to shelter, education, and basic resources. It’s something that has never left me and a foundation that made my re-entry to American life in my late teens particularly disorienting.

Trench, Yang Li Men ; T-Shirt, Vintage ; Choker, Vintage YSL ; Pants, Sonia Rykiel
PR is a form of storytelling, and like any other form it can be done thoughtlessly or with great intention. When I was starting out, I took note of the PR duties I didn’t like or could be improved, like faxing press releases or sending long pitches. People tend to forget that journalists are some of the busiest, most discerning people in the world. You have to problem-solve and consider things from the journalist’s standpoint.

The best PR is thoughtful and strategic. It involves knowing who your client/brand is, when it’s the right time to create a moment around something, and showing the right people. At the end of the day, it’s about cultivating productive, respectful relationships with the press. You don’t want to exhaust those relationships or, god forbid, burn bridges over something as trite as a sloppy pitch. There will of course be challenges: someone will pass or won’t get back to you despite the most beautifully worded follow-up in the land. There will be talks about exclusives and embargos. You also have to think beyond traditional press. Are there things you can be doing in the podcast space? How about a real-world activation? Write-ups are great, but PR can encompass many different storytelling vehicles.
— on what makes great public relations

on breaking into public relations after college

I was always a reserved kid, albeit artistically inclined and prone to strong opinions, who yearned to live in New York and go into cultural criticism. I attended Barnard and majored in English and film studies. My original plan was to graduate and go into entertainment journalism. Every semester and in between, I held down internships and starter jobs—sometimes two at a time—that would expose me to media operations. VIBE, Rolling Stone, local papers in Miami, and The Strokes’ management team were some of my favorite internships. By the time I was 21, I wanted to stay in New York, but with the unstable media industry, I applied to all kinds of jobs around the city. I sent in my spartan résumé for an entry-level position at a boutique PR firm that specialized in luxury hospitality. It was a supportive place to hone my skills and understand what kind of “PR person” I wanted to be. There’s definitely that stereotype—like Samantha Jones on Sex and the City—and I knew I wasn’t that.

on the importance of cultivating relationships

The time spent in the office fretting about something fairly minuscule is better spent out in the world, meeting people, and having real-life conversations. There were so many nights I wasted obsessing over every email left in my inbox, or drafting and redrafting a press release. I could have been meeting with journalists, business contacts, mentors, or people doing things I want to learn more about. Relationships are important, and even though it doesn’t appear this way in the moment, the ones based in mutual respect and integrity can be life-altering in ways you never can predict.

on being honest from the jump

There were many times when I found myself backed into a corner, expected to deliver on something that just wasn’t feasible—all because there wasn’t an honest conversation from the beginning. Beware of “yes person” PR people. A PR person worth their weight in gold will spare you the bullshit and set you straight from the get-go.

Suit: ASOS

Suit: ASOS

Read, read, read! Read every type of publication you can get your hands on, online and in print. Develop a feel for what they cover and who writes for them. Follow journalists you like on Twitter and ask them out for coffee or drinks. Develop relationships with those grounded in reality. Don’t be pushy and slide into people’s DMs to pitch them something.
— on her advice for getting into communications
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Suit: ASOS

Suit: ASOS

on music and her favorite albums

My mom taught me everything I know about great soul music, R&B, and classic rock. My dad holds it down on the disco, salsa, merengue, and standards fronts. I soaked in everything from the Spice Girls, Blondie, Luis Miguel, and Stevie Wonder. I love all the classic stuff—no one can front like I can’t go toe to toe with them on, like, Beach Boys deep cuts—but I do throw down for amazing bubblegum pop music. Ariana Grande’s Sweetener charmed the pants off me. She’s making incredibly thoughtful, nuanced pop music. Some of my evergreen favorites: Shuggie Otis’ Inspiration Information, which came out in the early ‘70s—my favorite era for music, period. “Island Letter” is so dreamy and tender. The Strokes’ Is This It is a perfect album and will always transport me to where I was when it came out. It’s no secret that I will ride or die for Mariah Carey. I grew up listening to her. I learned English by memorizing her lyrics. We go deep. Daydream features my all-time favorite MC song, Underneath the Stars.

on her style and shopping habits

I like Tokio 7 in the East Village. I’ve been finding gems there since college. Once in a blue moon you’ll spot someone like Chloë Sevigny browsing the racks. A New York style oracle! I love well-tailored, monochromatic looks. I look to Tracee Ellis Ross and Donald Glover for inspiration. COS in SoHo and Sandro on Bleecker are great for putting similar ensembles together. TheRealReal and ASOS are great for a specialized deep dive. Housing Works on Crosby Street is where I go when I want to feel like Kim Basinger in 9 ½ Weeks. I’ve found so many voluminous trench coats there.

on her favorite films

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial by Steven Spielberg, 9 ½ Weeks by Adrian Lyne, Clueless by Amy Heckerling, Buffalo ‘66 by Vincent Gallo.

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I like to run projects by making a plan (with set deadlines!), then having a kick-off meeting to review and get on the same page with the client. From there, I have check-in calls to review progress and give feedback on what’s working and what can be tweaked. During projects, I’m in campaign mode. I’m never surprised when problems pop up, but I’m relentless about moving on to plans B, C, and D. Seamless execution is a myth. There are curveballs and you have to grind it out. The light at the end of the tunnel is always envisioning the amazing portfolio of results you’ll have to show your client, not to mention the celebratory dinner to toast a job well done.
— on her process working with a client

on her beauty routine

I didn’t get into skincare until the last two years or so. All the clichés about it appealing to control freaks is true! It reminds me of the Clueless quote: “It gives her a sense of control in a world full of chaos.” One of the first things I was taught was to never rub my face or body with a towel, but to lightly pat until dry. You gotta preserve the supple skin, darling.

I’ve been getting into Korean beauty, and double-cleansing has been a game-changer. For the oil cleanser, DHC Deep Cleansing Oil and Rois On Camellia Deep Cleansing Oil leaves my skin feeling clean but well-moisturized. I’ve been using cleansing balms over foams, and Banila Co Clean It Zero smells delicious and gets everything off. If I’m feeling particularly indulgent, I exfoliate with either Biologique Recherche Lotion p50 or Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid. I use SRB Rice Bran Enzyme Powder when I need a physical exfoliant (it’s a great dupe for Tatcha’s $65 product).

I tone with whatever is around: apple cider vinegar, witch hazel, or Era Organics toner which smells rich and doubles as face mist. I put on a serum (The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid) or face oil (rosehip seed oil), then a moisturizer (Benton Snail Bee High Content Steam Cream or Angela Caglia Soufflé Moisturizer), and lastly a lip balm (Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask). Because I was born with a lot of beauty marks, sunscreen was drilled into me from an early age. I grew up using Oil of Olay, but now I love slightly lighter stuff (EltaMD UV Clear Facial Sunscreen) which doubles as my daytime moisturizer, or Glossier Invisible Shield. If my skin is mildly irritated, I mix in a touch of Dr. Jart + Cicapair Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment with my moisturizer or sunscreen, and the redness disappears like magic.

My favorite beauty product of all time is Weleda Skin Food. It combats burns and dry patches, and it’s the best aftershave moisturizer for your legs. I also add a touch to the cheek and brow bone area because it’s the best highlighter that doesn’t know it’s a highlighter. I’d be walking and people will ask, “Hey, is that Fenty Beauty?” I go, “Nope, it’s Weleda! Buy it at Whole Foods!”

Dress: WinterSilks

Dress: WinterSilks

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Top: ASOS, Skirt: Custom Print All Over Me

Top: ASOS, Skirt: Custom Print All Over Me

on her makeup routine

I love Clé de Peau concealer in Beige or Ocher. It’s definitely an investment concealer, but the tube lasts forever and the product itself truly doesn’t budge. Bite lipstick in every color but especially Kimchi and Persimmon, which double as my blush. Glossier Boy Brow in brown. I love sparkly makeup when I want to feel hot tamale. I go for an opalescent, holographic look more than anything. Stila Shimmer & Glow liquid eyeshadow in Perlina adds a subtle shimmer to the lid that works at a holiday party or when you simply want to be more festive around the office. My sparkle knows no boundaries.

on her favorite books

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton is the first time I remember falling in deep love with a book. People are more familiar with John Waters the movie director than John Waters the author. He’s a fantastic writer: witty, tart, but never nasty. In Role Models, he explores his own fascination with complicated public figures and iconoclasts like Tennessee Williams and Leslie Van Houten, the former Manson family member and his longtime friend. The Last Party: Studio 54, Disco, and the Culture of the Night by Anthony Haden-Guest belongs to cultural history, my favorite genre. New York in the 1970s captivates me. There was a lot going on, to say the least. It isn’t an oral history, but it reads like one. It’s dishy and there’s a lot of incredible insight into how disco came to be and what it represented for queer communities of color before it got co-opted by the mainstream. I obviously noticed A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara being Instagrammed a lot when it was published in 2015, but I was under the impression it was one of those books about four female friends embarking on their post-college lives. I was surprised to learn it renders the relationships among four men over the course of their lives. This book is dense in every way imaginable. It took me three weeks to read the first two chapters. But when it grabs you, it grabs you.

Dress: Vintage Céline, Earrings: Club Monaco

Dress: Vintage Céline, Earrings: Club Monaco

on her favorite places in nyc

Favorite places to go perfume shopping: Twisted Lily in Boerum Hill or Shen Beauty in Carroll Gardens. Favorite places to buy flowers: Les’ Blooms Floral in Prospect Lefferts Gardens. Emilio’s Ballato on East Houston Street is my favorite old-school, red-sauce Italian joint in New York. Victor's Café on West 52nd because it’s an institution. I grew up eating there, members of my family own and operate it with love, and it’s the best Cuban food in the city. Carbone on Thompson Street for special occasions and the best dining playlist in town (motown, doo-wop, hip-hop!). Raoul’s on Prince Street for a sexy ‘80s NYC atmosphere you can’t find anywhere else, complete with a fortune teller upstairs, and the secret burger with au poivre sauce at the bar. Pequeña in Fort Greene for the perfect frozen margaritas, no matter the season. Joe Allen in Hell’s Kitchen for its insider-y theater world dining experience. It’s lovingly adorned with posters of shows that flopped on Broadway. Black Mountain Wine House in Gowanus is where I go when I want to tuck into a three-hour conversation and enjoy cinnamon-spiked sangria in the process. The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in SoHo is my favorite visual art museum. Roxy Cinema in Tribeca for an always surprising selection of first-run movies and documentaries that fall on the independent-quirky side, as well as classics like Singin’ in the Rain. Cobble Hill Cinemas has an iconic pre-show sizzle that has achieved meme status with all of its patrons. It’s also just a fine neighborhood place to enjoy first-run movies. United Palace of Cultural Arts in Washington Heights for the most ornate movie-going experience imaginable and special Sunday movie outings occasionally MC’ed by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Alamo Drafthouse in Downtown Brooklyn because it’s never not fun to go there. People are scared of sitting in the front row, but pro tip: the front-row seats are the only ones that recline! City Cinemas Village East for old-school Manhattan movie house vibes. JINSoon in Tribeca for the best color selection, most professional staff, calm and clean atmosphere, and non-gel manicures that last two weeks. Friday nights at Frank’s Cocktail Lounge in Fort Greene is where you enjoy very strong cocktails and dance to Lou Rawls and the Mary Jane Girls. When I just want to dance to Crystal Waters and I don’t want to get hit on, I go to Industry in Hell’s Kitchen!

Coat: ASOS, Bag: Etienne Aigner, Earrings: LOÉIL

Coat: ASOS, Bag: Etienne Aigner, Earrings: LOÉIL