Natascha Snellman of Hey Babe! is Owning the Custom Denim Jacket Scene
It’s been nearly a year since Natascha Snellman launched Hey Babe!, a collection of kids' patched, pinned, and custom-made denim jackets - and so far, she's garnered some serious happy hype from celebs and LA’s cooler-than-cool parents who want their children to have a wardrobe that's just as stylish as their own. In the past few months, Hey Babe! has been whipping up bespoke pieces for Miroslava Duma's younglings, Behati Prinsloo's new baby girl, and Calabasas royalty – North and Saint West. Breaking into the market at a time when personalizing your threads is bigger than ever, Hey Babe!’s presence goes beyond trends; it speaks to the authenticity of streetwear, and the street kids who see brands and music as the blueprints of their life. It’s not just the young ones who get to have all the fun, however - Natascha recently started customizing adult jackets, too. With Hey Babe! creating such a rad fan base, we wanted to find out what goes into each design, and what inspires Natascha’s one-of-a-kind creations.
Hey Babe! couldn't have come at better time, seeing as personalized jean jackets are so hot right now. How was the brand born?
It was actually my mom’s idea. She suggested it while she was making my son a jacket. She made them for my brother in the ‘80s, and thought it would be something creative for me to do while I was at home with my son.
After a few months of motherhood, I realized that I needed an artistic project. My boyfriend gave me a pile of Thrasher and Independent patches, and I decided to give it a go.
The jackets have a strong '80s vibe. What other influences from your childhood do you pull from creatively?
My mom, Heidi, exposed me to so much music, film, art and fashion. She took me to the Fiorucci store in Paris when I was young and that made an everlasting impression, as did a store in LA on Melrose called Let It Rock (my mom bought me my first pair of zebra Creepers there) and a store called Heaven in Century City, which I based my logo off of.
It rained a lot where I grew up, so I spent hours inside paging through my mom’s magazines (I.D., The Face, Interview and Details), listening to records, and drawing. I was obsessed with Madonna and saw Desperately Seeking Susan in the theatre three times. I was really young, but she was everything to me. When I was 11, I went on a date with one of her male dancers, Chris Finch (well, our families escorted us on a date to Du Parr’s, haha) and I remember Chris was wearing a Boy London shirt, and I was like, “He gets it!”
I was really into Neneh Cherry and the whole Buffalo vibe from London, which wasn’t just cool streetwear; it questioned gender and class. It mixed high and low in a fresh way.
Beauregard (my godparent) lives on St. Marks Place in NYC and when we visited, he would take me to all these cool little shops in the Village and mail me books about Hollywood starlets, cool dolls, and pictures of Grace Jones.
Can you dish any secrets on the jackets' design process?
Well, it’s a juggling act with my son, so I turn on some Yo Gabba Gabba and while my son plays and watches TV, I lay jackets out. I approach the design process as a collage, which is very zen for me. Although it’s a constant juggle, I am excited to see Hey Babe! grow and evolve, and have my son by my side so he can see that I’m not only his mom - but a doer and a maker, as well!
"I am excited to see Hey Babe! grow and evolve, and have my son by my side so he can see that I’m not only his mom - but a doer and a maker, as well!”
Tell me about your career leading up to Hey Babe! and how it's influenced what you're doing now...
My mom worked in the music industry in the ‘90s in Portland, and one of my first jobs was selling candy at a club called LaLuna. It’s fun to source band patches and quote songs on my Instagram. I’ve worked in fashion, film and art, and I think it all feeds into my taste and directly influences Hey Babe!
I moved to LA to attend the graduate program at Art Center, where I was lucky enough to study with Mike Kelley and have Diana Thater as my mentor.
What sets Hey Babe! apart from other kids' brands right now?
Custom Hey Babe! jackets are created with the parent and child in mind. I also do custom packaging for each child. Their jacket becomes an experience. I always try to get feedback about what the child thinks, and so far they really love their jackets and enjoy opening the packaging to see what’s inside!
What are some of the most surprising moments you've experienced with having your own brand?
I’ve had so much support from friends, which means a lot. I'm also humbled that Jaime King has given Hey Babe! so much love, it really helps my tiny brand gain exposure. I have a few jackets in the works for some performers that I can't name at the moment, but like I said, I am humbled and grateful for any and all support. It’s super cool!
Each jacket features your favorite brands and music. Who would you rep on your own personalized jean jacket?
My Hey Babe! jacket I am working on has one of my favorite patches, which is Margiela written in the Metallica script. I love the irony with that one. Music-wise, I am deciding between a Prince and Wu-Tang patch. I'm also into my tiny Stussy patches and the Gucci Snakes.
What are your 3 gems for kids in L.A., and 3 places you absolutely love for yourself in L.A.?
I love to take Indio to ride the ponies and train in Griffith Park. We are planning a trip to The Gentle Barn this fall (it’s just outside of LA and is a sanctuary for abused farm animals), and we go to LACMA.
What does MISSBISH mean to you?
I love that MISSBISH empowers women and girls - I wish it had been around when I was little! I like reading about other female entrepreneurs. It’s inspiring.
Photos by: Ja Tecson