We had the good fortune of connecting with Natalie Dunbar and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Natalie, can you share a quote or affirmation with us?
My favorite quote is, “Do the thing you fear, and the death of fear is certain.” It’s been attributed to both Ralph Waldo Emerson and Mark Twain. No matter who said it, these words have been my North Star for more that a few decades now. Truth is, there are many things that scare me: the usual suspects, like heights and spiders; or things like swimming (still). And there’s the social stuff, like speaking in public, owning my truth and sharing my feelings, openly and honestly. Yet, I’ve toed the line at many road races, from 5Ks to 200-mile relays with this quote either pinned to my race jersey or written on my arms just to remind me how powerful and how freeing it is to stare down what I fear most. And you can bet that this quote certainly had a role in my decision to become yoga teacher and start my own part time business as a private yoga teacher. There are still situations that unsettle me. But I’m more likely to hold my head up high and face those situations rather than dip my head and run away.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
As I’ve alluded to previously, I work in technology by day, and teach private yoga on a part time basis. For many years I’ve kept these parts of my professional life separate. And then on an occasion where I was booked to speak about content strategy, somehow my yoga Twitter handle was included in the slides instead of my content strategy handle. And while it was corrected before the talk started, a few early bird attendees caught the mixup. So I opened with a breathing exercise to acknowledge the change (and to calm my nerves!), and I’ve made this a practice regular part of my content strategy talks ever since. I have a passion for accessibility and inclusivity in all places and spaces, whether it be a yoga studio or a digital information space. And in May of this year, I’ll be giving a talk titled “Yoga, UX and Content Strategy: What Yoga Accessibility Can Teach Us About Creating Inclusive Digital Spaces” at a huge content strategy conference called Confab. Things have come full circle and I’m excited to use yoga as a metaphor to teaching about inclusion.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Assuming COVID restrictions have been lifted, and it was safe to move about again, I would start with a hike at Eaton Canyon, which is about a five minute drive from where I live. We’d take a leisurely hike to whatever elevation my guest was most comfortable with, enjoy the views from high above the San Gabriel Valley, then make our way down to grab coffee and brunch. My favorite local independent coffee spot is Lavender & Honey® Espresso Bar in Pasadena for some delicious lattes, and maybe some toast or a sandwich. If we wanted to venture further, I’d head for Habitat Coffee & Tea in Glassell Park. After a much-deserved rest, we’d venture into Downtown LA to visit any number of museums in the area: The Broad; The Grammy Museum at LA Live; FIDM Museum & Galleries; or further south to the California African American Museum in Exposition Park. There are any number of night spots in DTLA that I love to visit, but my favorite is the El Dorado bar on 4th and Spring, where I’d hope to catch my favorite DJ collective, La Junta LA, on the ones and twos. There would be much dancing for sure, along with some delicious cocktails served up by the bar’s wonderful staff. There would of course be a visit to Venice Beach and the Santa Monica pier; the obligatory drive along PCH, likely kicked off with a favorite route of mine, a cruise from the start of Sunset Blvd. from Alameda Street near Union Station (also a visit-worthy spot) all the way to where it terminates at PCH. And back in the beautiful San Gabriel Valley city of Pasadena that I call home, we’d enjoy dinner and drinks at my favorite haunts: Magnolia House on S. Lake. Granville, also on S. Lake; and for something a bit outside of the city, we’d head to South Pasadena for a visit to Nicole’s Market & Cafe on Meridian & El Molino, or if a bit later in the afternoon or evening, Communal Food & Drink (if still open for business).
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
It’s truly hard to choose just one person, group, book, or organization to dedicate my shoutout to. I can say without a doubt that my son Dakota has been my biggest fan, from the time I announced – somewhat reluctantly – that I was going to embark on training for my first half marathon back when he was a senior in high school, through the time when I shared my intention to embark on yoga teacher training over six years ago, to the present time, when my “day job” persona as a content strategist working in civic tech finds me teaching, writing and speaking frequently. To all of this my son says, “This isn’t about luck. This is about you putting in the work, and I’m proud of you.” And of course my beautiful mom Joyce has been a source of prayer and strength as well, as have many dear friends too. numerous to mention here. I’ve also been quite lucky to have been taught by some amazing teachers on my own teaching journey: Anna Guest-Jelley, Amber Karnes, Dianne Bondy, Hala Khouri, and Jivana Heyman. Collectively they have given me a solid base of knowledge upon which to find my own voice as a teacher, as well as a multitude of modalities to share my teachings. As for my career as a content strategist…wow, There are so many, many people who come to mind, but someone who really helped me make a pivot into establishing content strategy as a practice at the agency level, and later at the enterprise level, would be creative director Polly Beale, who is also owner and partner of A Very Good Agency and A Very Good Space, both in Van Nuys. Polly hired me as the first-ever content strategist at Sensis, a DTLA multicultural advertising agency with a robust digital experience team, and my career has been leveling up ever since. Lastly, I’d like to thank Danielle Barnes, CEO of Women Talk Design, for creating a platform that elevates women and gender non-binary speakers, empowers event organizers with resources to engage more diverse speakers, and offers training and support for new speakers. Not only has being a part of WTD led to my visibility as a speaker and writer, but Danielle introduced me to Lou Rosenfeld of Rosenfeld Media at the end of 2020, and I’ve just signed with Rosenfeld to publish my first book on building sustainable content strategy practices!
Sarit Z Rogers Rosemary Borland Jessica Hinkle