Walking the Walk: An Interview with Natalia Martinez

True lifestyle brands embody their identity not only within their own company, but in who they choose to work with to develop the business and spread the word about their mission and products.



Conversations with a few of the people NuloZuke’s and P.L.A.Y. have chosen to partner with show how lifestyles shape pet owners’ choices, and how pets, in turn, shape their owners.


Natalia Martinez

@thelabsand.co, @willowthewildandco

P.L.A.Y. Designer Partner, Photographer


How did your love for companion animals and photography first converge? Have pets always been a part of your life?

Animals—dogs in particular—are embedded in my life as far back as I can remember. I was your typical introverted kid, better with crayons than numbers, and my dogs were always my subjects, whether I sculpted them out of Play-Doh, drew funny cartoons of them or started taking pictures of them with my father’s camera. But it wasn’t until many years later, when I suddenly became tired of working in the confines of a cubicle and a computer screen, and our then six-year-old “Labradork” Corbin got sick with cancer for the second time, that I went back to photography—the kind I loved when I was a kid, my original subjects and passion: dogs.


What role do your pets play in your creative life, both personally and professionally? Do they tend to take you in unexpected directions?

They play a huge role in my life. Professionally, our whole brand is centered around an honest and authentic shared experience, the life-altering power of that one dog, the one that changed the game for you. That was Corbin for us. He became the catalyst to design our life around what we value and work in a way that allowed us to spend our time how and wherever we wished. Years later, Willow came along and again flipped my world on its heels, opening a whole different space for me. They are our muses (our two cats included). Personally, they just make life better. They are the reason I get out of bed in the morning, and they are my daily reminder to never give up on this dream of writing our own story.


How does your passion for art and design impact your decisions when shopping for your pets?

For me, my dogs are family. I don’t call them my kids, but I raised them and I do my best to help them navigate comfortably through a human world. At the same time, I want them to be dogs (and cats), because that is a joyful thing that should never be taken away. I don’t mind saving up for and spending the money on a beautiful, well-designed product that takes into account the human that is buying it, the home it will be a part of, and especially the animal it will be serving—not to mention supporting a good brand with a message and a mission to give back. I would rather invest in something than fulfill a need in its most basic form.


How else do your pets influence you?

They have their ways of reminding me to be present, to be here now and not get caught up in yesterday and tomorrow. They remind me to be patient, kind and to savor the little things. Willow in particular has influenced me a great deal. Because of her, I got into dog behavior, body language, cognition, history, ethology, training, sport and even circus tricks! She got me hooked on hiking and camping and doing passion projects. She has helped form connections to new friends and a community of people I can’t imagine my life without now. She even got me to start an Instagram account and a blog, 365doghikes.com, dedicated to our shenanigans in the wild.


Link to full cover story: http://www.petbusiness.com/October-2017/A-Way-of-Life/


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