Natalie Hasty is the city director of Houndstooth Coffee’s three locations in Dallas, and she opens up about her past life as a graphic designer, pushing herself out of her comfort zone, and incorporating art and design into her life.
BY BEN WIESE
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE
Feature photo by Oodie Taliaferro
After working as a graphic designer in Austin, Texas, for the better part of a decade, Natalie Hasty felt she needed to make big changes in her life. She left her job, her city, and her comfort zone, and made her way up to her family in Dallas.
Nearly four years and four shops later, Natalie is the city director of three Dallas locations for the Austin-based café and roaster Houndstooth Coffee. She has worked herself into a nice groove of balancing the most important things in life: work, coffee, family, and drawing monsters that sort of look like her friends.
Ben Wiese: You didn’t know you were going to be a barista, you just wanted to leave Austin and leave graphic design—is that right?
Natalie Hasty: Yeah. I moved in with my family in Dallas and I was like, “I can’t do this, I need a job, let’s do something that’s completely different than sitting in front of a computer.”
BW: How long were you a graphic designer?
NH: Almost seven years, all in Austin.
BW: What made you want to be a graphic designer in the first place?
NH: I really wanted to be an artist, but was trying to be more realistic. I wanted to support myself, and in graphic design there’s a definite job there.
BW: Why did you originally get into coffee after deciding to leave graphic design?
NH: I spent most of my time staring at a screen, and I didn’t really interact with humans, and felt very lost and hesitant.
BW: So, you needed a social connection?
NH: I’m not a very social person, it’s very hard for me to make friends, so I tried to do something that made me uncomfortable. But it has been really cool because when behind the bar, you can interact with people and hide a little bit. Like you’re still protected.
BW: Are you still artistic and creative in your life? How has that changed since you’ve been in coffee?
NH: I think working in coffee has made me appreciate what I like doing instead of what other people appreciate. I really like to draw monsters and creatures, and instead of fighting that, I’ve run with it. I like to base a lot of my monsters and creatures off of people that I know and have experience with.
BW: Do you do any art or graphic design for Houndstooth?
NH: I do a lot of the merchandise and redesigned our bags for our roasting company, Tweed.
BW: You still get to do graphic design and things that you love, but have found a different outlet for it?
NH: Yeah. I never thought I’d do design again, but [Houndstooth owner] Sean Henry is really good at finding people’s talents and pushing them.
BW: That’s a nice segue. You’ve been at Houndstooth for about three and a half years; why do you think you’ve stuck around with them for so long?
NH: Because it’s constantly a challenge and there’s room for growth. I’m never bored, and there are lots of problems to solve. I really like solving problems, and I love interacting with the other baristas. Each shop is so different and has such different baristas, and there’s an emphasis on working well together and having fun together.
BW: If you went back in time, do you think you’d end up in coffee again?
NH: I don’t even think coffee was on my radar. I was kind of in a hard place when I left Austin, and I guess I was enjoying drinking coffee, so I thought, “I guess I could work here, I enjoy being at this place.”
BW: Do you think you’ll stick around in coffee?
NH: That’s a hard question because I really love what I do. I don’t know if there’s any other industry that can offer what I need. It’s a good balance of meeting needs.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ben Wiese is a freelance journalist based in Denver. He writes about coffee, booze, music, pop culture, and professional basketball for a handful of publications, and is also currently working on a movie script. He has never seen The Big Lebowski and in general hates being given recommendations, but his close friends do it anyway. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.