Black Minimalists: Natalie Gillard

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When and why did you start your minimalist journey?

For far too long I had a love-lust-hate relationship with my “junk drawer.” I was plagued by the following frustrating repetitions:

  • Store a bunch of items that I "needed".
  • Forget about said needed items.
  • Open the drawer months later.
  • Reintegrate some of the items back into my rotation
  • And hold onto the rest… just “in case!”

Through this experience, I learned that we use 20% of our belongings 80% of the time. The contents of my dresser were definitely not inclusive of that 20%.  So one day, I opened the drawer, I shook all of the contents into the trash, and I vowed never to have a junk drawer again. I wanted my life to consist almost exclusively (nothing is perfect) of the things that I loved. This prompted the following promises to myself:

  1. Rid yourself of the people, places, things*, and beliefs that fuel your discomfort.
  2. Reconcile the 20/80 percent ratio in all aspects of your life.

Suddenly, minimalism had become a holistic journey for me. 

What lessons have you learned since going minimalist?

Do you know how much money you can save when you are a minimalist? There is a frugality component that naturally coincides with minimalism. I focus far less on quantity which then allows for the occasional splurge as it pertains to quality. I don't subscribe to trends but instead the things that I deem timeless. Ultimately I spend far less on things, allowing me to generously allocate funds to experiences, which I deem to be of the utmost importance. 

What are your goals in living simply?

Think of the frequency in which you feel completely fulfilled. The choices you make in life dictate your level of fulfillment and satisfaction which is why they should be executed with intentionality in the forefront of your mind. I believe that we, within reason, can create lives that are almost entirely fulfilling. And as a minimalist, it starts with surrounding oneself exclusively with feel goods. Practicing mindfulness as it pertains to the latter keeps me feeling really light, really often, which is key to living simply.  

Has minimalism impacted other areas of your life?

Taking that initial step to cleanse myself of perceived needs created a domino effect in my life to say the least. It began with my junk drawer, and then I visited the other drawers and then closets, and I began to purge clothing that was not in that 20% rotation. My wardrobe almost exclusively belongs to a neutral pallet which gives my days a lighter start and an insanely polished look. Then my home followed the trend of my wardrobe.

What if any surprises or challenges have you encountered?

I am amused by how easily saying no has become. Approaching minimalism holistically made me reflect deeply about my energy and what elements can occupy my space. Across the board, I feel so even-keeled. 

What mindset changes have you experienced?

The mantra I shared earlier has seriously become a guiding light:

 Rid yourself of the people, places, things, and beliefs that fuel your discomfort.

On the other side of that discomfort is total bliss and freedom. If it doesn’t make me feel good, I will unapologetically remove myself from “it” at any given moment. 

What advice do you have for someone interested in simplifying their life?

I would advise that person to approach minimalism holistically. The 20% that I referred to earlier, I now equate with love. My friendship circle, my possessions, and interests were all intentionally reduced until all that I felt was love for the remaining respective entities that I elected to maintain adherence to. For those who experience challenges with their mental health, minimalism is key! Fewer “things” = fewer preoccupations. Holistic minimalism is essentially a life overhaul. When you are almost exclusively surrounded by the people, places, things, and beliefs that fuel you, there’s only one way to live and that is simply. Minimalism aides in the maintenance of your mind, body, and spirit. 

What does being a black minimalist mean to you?

Being a black minimalist oddly feels like some sort of oxymoron. Black culture is the most influential entity to exist on this planet. What coincides with that, however, is tremendous consumerism. Despite having a complete and total infatuation with black culture, its very apparent rapport with consumerism/trend setting leaves me feeling as if I am going against the grain. Personally, I am more concerned with what is on the inside of a bank account than what is on the outside of it. Ultimately, I believe that black minimalism can create tremendous opportunities for growth for black people.

Where can we learn more about you?

I created a blog where I share my DIY projects which always have a frugal and minimal spin. I am doing so much better with posting to my IG (@natsconfessions). And if you want to get deep, visit which is the home of the best cultural competency training out there,  not just because I serve as the sole creator of it.