Natasha Spedalle
Astoria, NY
Wink & Flip
NFTE Class of 2005

At 8 years-old, Natasha watched the Academy Awards on TV and drew the red carpet fashions she saw, changing them to suit her own ideas. At 13, she enrolled in a pre-college design class at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

At 14, armed with a work permit, she discovered that New York City stores were only hiring 16 and 18 year olds. She put her experience of reading over a dozen fashion and design magazines each month with her knowledge that fashion jewelry coming into the country made its first stop at NYC's wholesale district, and decided to start her own business.

With a $200 investment, she sold her first pairs of earrings and necklaces at holiday flea markets in churches around Queens, N.Y. Choosing to name the company after a newly coined word, “bling bling,” she deeply discounted the jewelry. By spring of the following year she was looking for larger markets and began selling at street fairs around Manhattan and Queens. By 15 and interested in college herself, she used school vacations to sell at Barnard, Sarah Lawrence, and Vassar Colleges.

Natasha founded a charity called The Pearl Project; donating faux pearl necklaces to Dress for Success Worldwide, a national program helping women-in-need accessorize gently-worn business suits in order to land a good job. Since its inception, The Pearl Project has donated more than 6,000 pearl necklace sets to needy women across the country. A percentage of the proceeds from your purchase will also go toward The Pearl Project.

Natasha attended NFTE’s Summer BizCamp, Business Incubator program, and is active in the Foundation's alumni group. She was named NFTE “Entrepreneur of the Year” in 2005. She is a two-time winner of the Citizens for NYC Youth Entrepreneur Award, and is a Bank of America “Student Leader.” She twice attended the “Growing Up CEO” program at Harvard Business School, sponsored by Inc. magazine and Merill Lynch.

Natasha majored in Literary Studies at Eugene Lang College, The New School. As the owner of Wink & Flip, the new name of “Bling Bling”, she can be found Saturdays at the Hester Street Fair and weekdays on college campuses such as Barnard, Vassar and F.I.T. Natasha interned at Teen Vogue and reported from backstage at New York Fashion Week. She recently graduated with her Masters in Liberal Studies.