Interior designer Natasha Rocca Devine, founder of The Interiors NRD Studio, worked as an estate agent and interior designer in LA, staging and selling mansions in the Hollywood Hills and worked with former US Vice-President Al Gore on his Climate Reality project. Her mother is former Miss Ireland and model Michelle Rocca and her father is former Ireland and Arsenal footballer John Devine. Her new book, The Step-by-Step Guide to Designing and Styling Your Home, was recently published, and she will feature as a mentor on a new Virgin Media show called The Climate Challenge later this year. The 38-year-old lives in Dublin with her baby daughter Freya and her partner David.
What was your first ever job?
My first professional job was modelling and working at and managing PR for events, which I did in my teens and during college.
Have you been affected by the spike in inflation and energy prices?
Very much so. At home, we are very conscious of our spending and of working off a budget. Inflation has hit me the hardest at work.
With inflation and the housing crisis, (home) staging is not a necessity. Furthermore, with slower construction as a result of constant judicial reviews, delays and inflation, various projects and showhomes have been withheld, so my work in this area is very slow and overheads have increased for myself and the specialists I work with.
What’s the most expensive place you’ve ever visited?
Monaco. I was invited on a business trip to a property conference and it was incredibly expensive, as I had expected. Greenland and Iceland, which I recently visited with my boyfriend and daughter, were beautiful but hugely costly for a short break.
What did you learn about money while growing up?
Both of my parents had precarious careers in sport and fashion and media, so I witnessed the ups and downs of business. I learned that sacrifice is required to follow your dreams and while talent is important, truly hard work is the key to success. Naturally, I have an innate work ethic and I know that you have to work hard to earn money and that giving back is important, which is why philanthropy is something I am passionate about.
What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?
My Lexus Hybrid SUV. I bought it off Denis Mahony (a car dealer) when I moved home from LA. As a sustainability-conscious designer, it was hugely important for my car to have an eco-friendly element.
Do you still carry cash?
I do, but not too often.
Do you use any of the digital banks?
No. I like how efficient online banking is, but my bank account was subject to fraud this year and it reminded me how much I like in-person banking as it’s the safest.
What was your biggest ever financial mistake?
Not managing for unexpected risk. I had invested in warehouses full of furniture for my business before Covid for showhomes and design clients. Because (construction) sites were closed, I had limited access to work. Eventually, post-lockdown I sold (the furniture) for a fraction of the price and lost a large sum in my business overall.
In the end, I created my own sustainable Irish candles, called The Secret Garden, and diversified my business to suit the current market with my book and with consulting.
Are you a spender or a saver?
Both. At the moment, I’m a default spender: with having a business, a baby, and two dogs, most of my money is appraised as short-term spending, with both short-term and long-term gains.
What was your biggest career mistake?
Moving to London without a financial and career plan. In my early 20s, I had just recovered from a coma (she was in a serious car accident when she was 19) and I pushed on to complete my BA in economics and politics at UCD and then an MA in journalism at Griffith College Dublin. Noel Kelly (and his team at NK Management) was one my influential career mentors in Ireland and I was working hosting events, running my own channel, NRD TV, online and I was involved in media and philanthropy, so things were very exciting. I was offered some media opportunities in London and took a risk, hoping I could manage work in both places. I moved alone without any plan. But the first year or two was a challenging time for my career and it was quite lonely there without a network or family or friends. Although I try to not regret things, in hindsight, I would have moved to London a few years later with more work and life experience and contacts in place.
What was your best financial killing?
My Irish-made and sustainable candle line, The Secret Garden. I created it with perfumer Lucy Hagerty, founder of La Bougie, during lockdown. I was at a crossroads career-wise and decided to follow my dreams of having my own candle. Thankfully, both candles sold out and were a wonderful investment during a very challenging time.
What three things would you not be able to do without if you had to tighten your belt?
Travel, ordering food/dining out, and shopping.