She won't sit still. Literally! Natálie Kotková has her suitcase packed practically at all times. Three years ago she participated in the Miss Czech Republic beauty pageant, where she placed second, and thereby the title Miss World. Thanks to the pageant she caught the attention of even more people, making her blog The Nattiness gain many followers. You'd think she's living the dream - always travelling, at the sea and in luxury hotels. But Naty explains in her interview with Luxury Prague Life that her life isn't just glamour and spotlight. In order to be able to travel, she has to work hard...
How did your life change since the Miss beauty pageant three years ago?
It's hard to say, because I had been doing what I'm doing now even before that. I guess with Miss it really took off, but I can't say, how girls always say, that my life "took an X degree turn". I just took up more stuff, everything's been more intense since then for sure. My blog and Instagram gained people's attention and in general, the world of social media began to grow bigger, so it was good timing.
Did you expect to end up third or second back then?
Absolutely not, I was totally out of it. At first I almost didn't make it because I had other activities. I was a bit of a problematic person of sorts.
And you still won second place in the end.
Thanks to the people!
You had a lot of responsibilities after that. Went to an international beauty pageant...
The main reason why I signed up for the Miss pageant was wanting to make the international one. Ever since childhood, when I was watching them with my mom, the international pageants always looked stunning, it seemed impossible to make it there. The main thing about Miss is that they'll get you out there, to the international pageants. That was great.
It's been three years. Do you still get labeled "Miss"?
That's gonna be there forever, I think. And I'll always be proud of it. I won't ever want to "tear the label off", because in itself, it's a title. It will be a part of me and I think that's how people view it, because Miss is how they got to know me. People were getting to know me in these waves of sorts. When I was in California, it was a boom, then the Miss pageant, then more booms. Rather I think people remember me as the Miss contestant that dropped her crown (laughs).
I'll always be a Miss contestant, but I was never just the kind of "lady in heels". I'm not just a "beauty queen", I'm a bit of everything. I'm glad that's how people see me, because usually they respect Miss winners - as if they were real queens.
Do you still get asked to do photoshoots and fashion shows?
I never really walked in fashion shows, because I'm barely ever here. I'm always travelling and I can't say that I'll be here in half a year, because it'd get in the way of a different collaboration for me. Travelling is my job, so I rather do that than wait here for a chance of three minutes on the runway, albeit in a beautiful dress. It's not my priority. I do miss it from time to time, though, to be honest, I've had it in me since I was a child.
I like photoshoots more, but that is connected to my name and my Instagram. I can be the face of a brand or a product and stuff gets shot or filmed based on that. I keep getting contracts, so I'm glad people aren't like "Miss Czech Republic 2016, that one's already passe". I think I still have something to offer and the number of offers I get is increasing, which I'm happy about.
Are you still in contact with the girls that were in the finals with you?
After the finals we were always together, now we hang out from time to time. It's mostly at various events. But the girls went to my birthday party too, for example.
How many days a year do you tend to be away from home?
I'd like to count that sometime (laugh). On average I'm usually away at least once a month, this year I was gone almost all of January, for example.
Mauritius, mountains - twice, Italy and Austria, London and San Francisco. I always check my Instagram to see all the places I've been. I like staying somewhere for a longer time, this time I spent three weeks in the Dominican Republic, for example. I only spent four days in San Francisco, though, I went there with a brand.
Is it always projects or clients that invite you places? What is it exactly that you do there?
Each trip is different. For example I wanted to go surfing in the Dominican Republic, so we worked out a deal for me and my followers. I write a post, make a video or put pictures up on my Instagram. I show people what to do there, what I like and dislike. Other trips are press trips - I get invited by a brand I work with. And some trips are just "my" trips... It's a mixed bag.
How much of it do you finance yourself?
Depends, generally it works so that sometimes I only pay for plane tickets, sometimes I only have a discount, sometimes it's paid for by the client. When I go for a holiday once a year with my dad, I pay for that myself, of course, my personal trips too. I take pics of some products there that I know I have on the list of collaborations.
Don't you get it mixed up?
I try not to have too much going on. I have a few collabs, I have it spaced out into let's say year-long collaborations. I want to have a long-term collab with a brand that I trust, knowing how much output I want to give them. I don't want all of my photos to be ads. People watch me because they trust me, like me and enjoy my life - I'm a tireless, unrestrained entity, let's say. I want them to trust what I put out for them.
There's an ad every now and then, but it has a purpose and I believe in it and want to pass it on. I know how much time I have for the shoot or the video and I don't want my Instagram to just be one big ad. I started it six or seven years ago when this was just taking off. I love taking pictures, videos, writing elaborate posts and I want that to be reflected there. There can't be too many ads, that's why I turn many offers down.
Do you pay attention to the large number of young people that do this for a living these days? Do you feel any pressure or competition?
I do my own thing, I follow the rule that I don't want to compare myself to others. If I see that there's enough offers and clients and people are still with me... The world of the internet and social media is huge. People won't always just be following a single person, same as they won't be listening to just one band.
So let more people come in, the clients will notice who only does it for money and free products. That's no competition for me, because I'll always have "my Instagram", be it as a job or not. I'll always do my own thing and not worry about competition. I feel like it'd be better to connect and support each other. Myself, I like watching what others do, I like supporting them. There's a lot of talent out there (laugh).
There has been an incident recently where an owner of a hotel in the Philippines got angry when a blogger contacted him and wanted a free stay in his hotel. What is your opinion on this form of barter?
He talked about somebody e-mailing the hotel that they want everything covered for taking a few photos there in exchange. I'd never do that in my life. You can see that people work there, somebody's cleaning, somebody's cooking. In this he's right, it has to have some balance, the blogger or influencer should have something to offer. If somebody who has like 500 followers contacts them, demanding to get everything for free for taking a super original pic at the pool, I'm not surprised that pissed him off.
You said you broke your nose while surfing. How'd that happen?
It happened about two years ago. The basic rule of surfing is that once you're on the waves, you gotta guard your head. I was on the waves, in the foam where it's the wildest. And I didn't have a good enough grasp on everything yet, I took a breath and the surfboard hit me in the face. Suddenly there was blood everywhere, my nose was swollen, I was real pretty (laugh). It partially broke my nose, which healed up somehow, but I still can't breathe too well through one of my nostrils.
Do you plan to do something about it? But you'd probably have to get it re-broken...
I was there for two weeks. When I returned I went to an emergency room in Prague, because my nose was still swollen. The doctor said that it's healed, but that it's crooked. And that she can recommend plastic surgery. But I'm afraid that they'd change my nose. I don't know whether they can do a "normal" nose, not just the perfect one. I'm intimidated, but I keep thinking about it because of my health.
I hate that I breathe through my mouth when I run, my body cools down and it doesn't feel good. It messes with my yoga practice too, since it's based on breathing. It's kind of hard, sometimes I feel like I can't breathe. I'm considering it, but I probably don't have the balls to do it. I'll see how it turns out.
Do you have time for private life besides all the travelling?
It's possible, depends on the couple. We're very tolerant with each other and got everything set up in a way that works for us, and we're happy.
Would you even be able to spend a day or two without your phone?
Yeah. I know I can prepare my work in advance. I have a certain time when I post, so I schedule it, or just click the post button. At this point I can't separate my private and Instagram life. To keep it real, I don't want to only publish the perfect pictures. I keep sharing how I look, how I feel, it's still real. But I don't have photos of me and my boyfriend there, that's too personal. I don't have detailed pictures of our apartment there either. I always want people to know that I'm Naty, no queen or the opposite, too much of a "little girl", just a chill gal that wants to express something to them, share something with them. I don't just wanna base it on my private life.
What about fans, haters, and the Czech envy?
I don't even have haters, or I don't know about any. I had some at the beginning, but not anymore. I don't even know about it, it doesn't reach me. When I travel, I don't communicate like "Hi, I'm at the beach, where are you guys". I travel there and they know that this is my lifestyle. When I go somewhere, I don't just slack off. I may go surfing in the morning, but then I get on my laptop and work throughout the day, or I have something else on the agenda.
For example in Bali I sometimes barely slept two hours a day, because I was working there. I make content for other social media accounts too, not just myself, so I have to put that out. It's my job, thanks to that I can travel. I'm away, surfing, but I'm working at the same time.
I even show that to people, that it isn't all fun and games. It's great, but I don't brag about anything and I show them that this is what they can have too... I don't travel to any unreachable places or destinations; there's no hot water in Sri Lanka, I travel with an auto rickshaw, I eat for 25 CZK, or I don't eat, to save money. I show people how I live. Naturally, when I get invited by a company, we stay at a beautiful hotel, but then I show people how blown away I am. I don't fly first class, I fly the same as everyone else. Or I pay for expensive plane tickets because I don't know when I'll be able to go, I wait to get the date confirmed, so I can't get a good deal on cheap tickets. That's probably why I don't get messages like "You're just travelling and have no real job". They see how it is with me.
Which destination have you taken a liking to? And do you have a dream place you'd love to visit?
Probably Hawaii, where I haven't been and I'd love to go to. It's an expensive destination. I know I'll go there one day, I want to go more than once, but I have to prepare to most likely give up other destinations to save up for that. I have to look into it some more. But I mainly wanna go surfing there, so I have to wait, so that I can really enjoy surfing there and have enough practice.
It's a destination my boyfriend and I wanted to visit, in December or January already, but we picked Mauritius, which I also wanna go back to. You've got everything there, be it surfing, waterfalls, various activities, nature... It's beautiful, small, not so mainstream for tourists yet, and the locals are great too.
Right now I'm going back to Hossegor in France that's hosting the world championship of Czech and Slovak surfing. It's different every year, I always go back, even though the waves in Europe tend to be unpredictable, that's why the nose thing happened to me there. It's more about the people there, Hossegor is this California of Europe.
And California will always have a special place in my heart, because that's where I went surfing for the first time, it was the first long trip of my life, I started my blog there, I met amazing people there. There I also realized what my values in life were, because before then I'd only lived for good grades, buried in books. There I discovered surfing, longboarding, the people, the sunny state... But I could talk about each and every destination this way.