Living

Natalie Frenkel talks about going from dancer to artists agent

Ms Chatelaine for the month of February combines her passion and talent to put young up-and-coming photographers on the map

Natalie Frenkel

Mathew Guido

Age: 35
Occupation: Photography agent
Hometown: Toronto

Natalie Frenkel grew up immersed in the world of dance. She had the drive, the physique and the talent, and even performed with the New York City Ballet. But in high school, the scene got a bit Black Swan, so she hung up her slippers. Now, the 35-year-old has made it her job to put others in the spotlight: She’s an agent for designers, photographers and artists.

Natalie applies the steely determination she learned as a dancer to her business (albeit without the bleeding toes). She empathizes with young artists struggling for success and she’s coupled that with her passion for pictures. “I know where they’re coming from,” she says. In her Toronto home, Natalie sits beside her six-year-old Boston terrier, Maddox, beneath a photo by young, anime-influenced Mathew Guido, who’s also shot for Vogue. Working with Guido at a charity photography exhibition Natalie organized gave her the idea to start an artists agency. Also on her roster is Caitlin Cronenberg (daughter of filmmaker David Cronenberg), who self-published a book called Poser, a black-and-white collection of nudes.

“Caitlin and Mathew are both strong, talented and on the brink of success with a lot of buzz around them,” Natalie says. As their promoter, she arranges events to showcase their work, books jobs and blogs about them behind the scenes, too. It’s not Natalie’s first business. Back in 2002, she created her own line of leather accessories, then organized a shopping event called Virgin Thread Market in Toronto the following year to highlight independent designers and artists.

Fashion is in her blood, it turns out. “I’m blessed with a very stylish mother—I always raid her closet for vintage pieces,” says Natalie. “She’s a pocket rocket who’s always critiquing. Recently she told me: ‘Finally you’re dressing sexier!’” Natalie also shops at local boutiques (like Rac, in Yorkville, which is owned by her friends), and online at gilt.com and shopbop.com. She houses her finds in every woman’s dream wardrobe, complete with a chandelier, shelves, belt racks, scarf holders and enough room to twirl around in a full skirt.

For Natalie, fashion, like art, is subjective and emotional. “I know what I like, and what inspires me,” she says. This is perhaps why her closet is as well curated as the works of the artists she represents.

Natalie’s telling details:

My proudest moment is… still to come.

I define downtime as… good friends, delicious food and yummy wine.

I wish I was better at… not always saying what I’m thinking.

My favourite moment of the day is… when everything that needs to be done is done.

The biggest mistake I ever made was... beating myself up for making mistakes.

I’m currently reading…
Bossypants by Tina Fey.

My guiltiest pleasure is… using as many paper towels as I want.