NATASHA CACHO

PORTRAITS BY CHUN-LI 'KEN' HUANG

 
 
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Growing up in the radiant and colorful city of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Natasha Cacho spent her days similar to most lighthearted and whimsical children- tanning on the beach, swimming with friends, snorkeling to discover exotic sea creatures and idolizing her older sister, Niko. However, Natasha was also mapping out her professional future and signed her first business contract in the fifth grade, which transformed her from a typical neighborhood kid into a local inspiration and star.

Calling herself a “lone wolf” and expressing how she always appreciated time spent by herself, Natasha continues to focus on her well-being and search for exactly what drives her. She values her friendships, but she doesn't mind sitting alone on the train, gazing out the window and reflecting on what will be.

'I AM MY OWN WOMAN'—At the age of 11, Natasha told her mom she wanted to start modeling and soon after, she started acquiring contracts with good agencies, appearing in various types of magazines and newspapers and being recognized by people across her hometown. “It was a surprising feeling at first. I would leave school early to work,” she leaned in and smirked. “Everyone in class would wonder what happened, and then a couple of weeks later my pictures would be printed everywhere.”

Even though working as a model forced Natasha to become more self-sufficient and mature than others her age, she welcomed the feeling. “It made me feel confident. I was finding out who I was.”

She continues, “Modeling is not just about looks. I can transform myself with any photo shoot. It feels like acting—it feels like the big screen. It makes me feel like I am my own woman.”

By the time Natasha was a senior in high school, she participated in Puerto Rico's Vanidades Top Couture Model, where she placed as a finalist. Since then, she has been featured for three consecutive years at the Puerto Rico's San Juan Moda and Fashion Week.

Considering her establishment in the industry, Natasha was forced to consider her future plans and actions. “I wanted to get my degree. Modeling could be put to the side. Modeling could wait,” she said. “I knew college would be the most important years of my life.”

Natasha shares that from the beginning of her career,  Audrey Hepburn has been a symbol of motivation for her because she proved that modeling is much more than simply posing for pictures. “She had a voice. She was an actress, a humanitarian, she made a difference. I have always admired that.”

Keeping in mind both her parents attended college in Puerto Rico and her sister chose to remain close by home to study art and design, Natasha was unsure if she wanted to leave the place where she was raised. She explains that she mostly applied to colleges in Boston, but she was still wary about the final decision.

“I never really planned to come to New York,” said Natasha. “I didn't like the idea of it being so crowded. And of course, there is much more cold and rain than I am used to. I was not excited, but when I visited the Marist campus, I was sure I wanted to go there.”  

Natasha had only traveled to New York one time before studying at Marist and she admits she was too young to be interested in the trip.

Considering Natasha was the first in her family to move so far, her father was hesitant for her to go away. However, with some additional convincing and the help of her mother’s encouragement, Natasha made her second, yet much more memorable trip to New York.

Despite being fearless in her actions, Natasha received some criticism and careful warnings from individuals back home. “Everybody told me if I went outside of Puerto Rico, I would have to start from zero because nobody knows who I am.” Nevertheless, with a hardworking and businesswoman-like demeanor, she chose to continue her own pursuit.

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Natasha Cacho's Childhood Image

Natasha Cacho has established her own modeling career and humble vision of owning her own textile company, so that she can pursue her passions and use her power to become a devoted humanitarian. By the time Natasha was a senior in high school, she participated in Puerto Rico's Vanidades Top Couture Model, where she placed as a finalist. In addition, since then, she has been featured for three consecutive years at the Puerto Rico's San Juan Moda and Fashion Week and was featured on the first cover of Marist Business Review. She is currently traveling the world with the Asia Study Abroad Program and hopes to recieve a summer internship in California when she returns. 
 

Being so far from home, Natasha admits the beginning of college was difficult because most people on campus already knew each other from home or had some source of mutual connection. Even though, she notes, “At times, I did feel like an outsider, but the people I have met appreciate others for who they are, regardless of culture or language barrier.”

Natasha adjusted like any typical college student, except she continued to crave adventure and knew there was more her new home had to offer. She states, “I always wanted to escape the reality of Marist, so I took the train to Manhattan alone. Just like that, I fell in love.”

Natasha decided to study Human Resources with a minor in Fashion Merchandise. “Right now, I want to attend graduate school for textiles. I want to one day own my own garment factory.”

“I think it was my grandfather who made me interested. He spent time working at a mill and was always around different types of fabric. He would take me shopping and show me which material he used and prefered and which ones he thought were of less quality and cheap,” she said.

As her years at Marist continued, Natasha began to look forward to the fast-paced New York atmosphere, one that differed from the more laid-back and mellow nature of her hometown, a place where, she explains, it is common for most people to spend an entire week finishing a task, completing an errand or purchasing a gift.

Natasha is currently spending time learning the fundamentals of international business and leadership through the Asia Study Abroad Program.

“I don’t think most people know enough about Asia and I don’t want to assume things, I want to see them and experience them first hand,” said Natasha. “I am not sure what to imagine. I know nothing else in the world will be like this.”

After Natasha and her classmates were awarded second place at the International Business Case Competition at San Diego State University last year, she feels ready to start planning her next mission .

“It was the first award I ever won. It was exciting and there was pressure—an exciting kind of pressure.”

She explains how the support and kind affection she continuously receives from her family and friends influences her to aspire and become whoever she wants, runway model or entrepreneur.

Natasha is trying to build her own voice, in the same way as Hepburn. This year, she was asked to be featured on the cover of Marist Business Review and admits that she is proud to be noticed and appreciated for her work. Nastasha currently models in both New York and Puerto Rico either independently or through G Models by Gretchen Capó and this summer, she hopes to intern for a fashion merchandising company in California.

“As I accomplish more, I want to use my platform for good use. I could never be happy if it was all about me,” she concludes.

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