As the owner of marketing and design agency The Creative Penny, Natasha Sen-Fizdale knows the power of a strong personal brand. She expresses her own through social media, where more than 30,000 followers keep up with her style, travels, professional ventures and, of course, fandom of the Memphis Grizzlies.
Since moving to Memphis last summer when her husband, David Fizdale, became head coach of the NBA’s Grizzlies, Natasha has become actively involved in the community as a volunteer, philanthropist and enthusiastic booster. Her easy transition to becoming a Memphian is due to a lifetime of mobility and adaptability. We sat down in her Germantown home — in between playing with her four rescue dogs — to talk about her fascinating path to Memphis and what lies ahead.
What percentage of the past year have you been in Memphis?
I’ve been in Memphis quite a bit — primarily in Memphis, really. I’ve probably missed one game at home, but other than that, the other times I’ve actually traveled are when the team has traveled. I just take off with my husband — thankfully my work allows me to do that. But Memphis is home for us now.
You went to college in Ontario, so may we assume you’re … Canadian?
I am Canadian; that’s right. My mom and stepdad live in Toronto, along with my mom’s side of grandparents. But I’ve lived in Australia; I lived in an island called Nauru, which is where my memories start; lived in India. Within India, my stepdad was in the army, so we moved around pretty much every year, and I’ve lived in some obscure places that even people back there don’t know about. A lot of people don’t know that every state in India is like a different country — you have a different language, worship a different god. Bengali is my mother tongue. When I moved every year, I had to learn to read and write a different language, so I learned Sanskrit, Gujarati, Marathi.
And then I lived in London, England, for about six months before we moved to Toronto. So, I call Toronto my home because that’s the longest I’ve ever lived in one city, over 10 years, until my husband came and kind of picked me up and took me away.
How did that upbringing shape you and your perspective of the world?
I think it made me extremely adaptable. So when this Memphis thing happened, everyone was like, “I don’t know — she’s going to want to move, because Memphis is a smaller city.” The only people who knew I’d be fine were my family, who know my background.
What does your company do?
I have a marketing and design agency. We do everything from basic logo design to building your brand, which includes all kinds of different marketing material, to possibly even developing your website. Social media is one of our main services that we provide. We also manage events. We had new companies coming to Miami, and an event is what they needed to gain that exposure and invite social influencers.
What’s the story behind The Creative Penny? Where did that name come from?
One, it’s named after my first dog, Penny. She’s so lovable and spunky and smart — she’s my only dog that does multiple tricks. I wanted that mix of smarts and fun and creative vibe to be what my company is all about. Second meaning is that we know how to spend your pennies well.
A brand is really great when it has some true meaning behind it that you can relate to and hold on to and get emotional about. I’m probably going to be a serial entrepreneur most of my life, but I don’t think The Creative Penny is something that I’m ever going to get rid of. It just holds true to my heart.
Was Penny your first rescue dog? Is that how you began advocating for dog rescue?
All my dogs are rescue dogs. I’ve had so many people who have dogs now ever since we’ve had dogs, because we’re all about that and I won’t stop talking about it. [My husband and I] are huge animal lovers; that’s one of the reasons why we connected.
Are you working with any rescues in Memphis?
When I came to Memphis, one of the first things that I did was start an Instagram page called Urgent Dogs of Memphis. I went to Memphis Animal Services, went to the Humane Society and met with Streetdog Foundation. I haven’t been able to keep it up as much as I’d like to because I’m in charge of 10 different things at any given time, so my hope is to find volunteers.
I got the Grizzlies involved. So for all these meetings that I did with these different shelters, I had people from our Community Services and the Grizzlies come with me. This year we did two puppy races [at Grizzlies games]. The first one — which is how I adopted Magic — was a rescue puppy race.
I’m going to continue to be an advocate for that as much as I can, because I can’t imagine my life without my dogs, and I know how much they’ve changed our lives.
You’ve been in Memphis almost a year now. What has had the biggest impact on your experience here?
We’ve had such a great experience, because Memphis is such a great city. I’ve been able to do so much that I care about. I met with the head of the Women’s Foundation, and we did something called the Grizz Women’s Summit at the end of March. We’re the first NBA team that’s ever done something like that. We had 18 different high school and middle school girls’ sports teams come in; we did drill sessions, workout sessions and had breakout sessions with huge WNBA stars, which is a big deal for these girls. I was in tears by the end of it. Every year, we’re just going to make it bigger and bigger.
There’s just so much heart and soul in this city, so it doesn’t matter what we got involved in. We still have a lot to do, but the community has just taken us in, and it’s felt like home from day one.
When you have guests in Memphis, where do you take them?
I love things that are unique, and that includes food. Andrew Michael is one of my favorites. I also go to Hog & Hominy all the time, always take everyone to brunch over there. I also love Flight and their sister restaurant, Southern Social. I love Kelly English’s restaurants. We did a little get-together before the playoffs started with the team and had him cater the food; he does a lot of stuff with the Grizzlies. So food is a big thing.
One of the first things I did in Memphis with my mother-in-law and stepson was — they set us up with this guy who has this pink Cadillac — and he drove us around town. It wasn’t like a tour; it’s like you’re driving around and really getting to know the city. He’d stop and say hi to people, and we went to this cool little café. So that’s one of the other things I’d have someone do.
Do you have favorite places to travel? Are there places you tend to go back to or wish you could get to?
One of our favorite travel experiences was a safari in South Africa. It was one of the best experiences of my life. I didn’t want to leave. You’re in the midst of animals, and you just get lost in nature.
I took a few of my friends from college back to India for my cousin’s wedding. We went down south, and they don’t speak any Hindi, which is like the national language, and their language and script are completely different, so I felt like a complete tourist and stranger. I still have more places within my own country that I want to see.
My husband lived and worked in San Diego for a combined 10 years. We got married over there. It’s one of my favorite cities. That’s probably where I would want to retire. I love California. Probably part of the reason I fell in love with my husband is he’s such a Cali guy — they’re laid-back and chill.
Spain was amazing. It wasn’t just about how beautiful it was. I remember when I first met Marc Gasol’s wife, Cristina, when we’d gone to their house in Barcelona, and she was explaining to me how progressive the country was, which was really cool to me. If I was a single woman moving to a country or wanting to go to school or just work in a different country, Spain is one of the countries I would do that, especially Barcelona. You’re by the water and have a beautiful city with a ton of history, design and architecture — that’s so me.
What is your best piece of advice?
Learn to be resourceful.
What are three things you can’t live without?
I can’t live without sweets. I would love to be that person that did not eat any sweets, but I love my chocolate cereal.
I’m not very high maintenance, but my nails? Once one person did my nails with a good look, a cool design, I got addicted. I can’t imagine having plain nails anymore.
I don’t wear makeup all the time, but when I do, my main thing is my winged eyeliner. L’Oreal black liquid liner with the brush, I can’t live without that.
And thanks to Micki Martin for the “pawfect” pics of Natasha and her pups!
Subscribe to StyleBlueprint, and meet more fascinating women of Memphis!