Travelling with a true heart
This week, we sat down with Natalie Glebova, a remarkable woman whose name needs no introduction in our city. Travelling the world, becoming a mother and spearheading humanitarian causes that give back to communities are among some of the things she's been up to lately.
Where has life taken you since 2005 when you were named Miss Universe? How has this changed your view on life, people and places?
I've travelled all over the world since winning the crown, visiting 49 countries so far. I've also had some pretty incredible experiences -- participating in Dancing With The Stars Thailand, working with WWF and Habitat for Humanity as a goodwill ambassador, starting my own company in Thailand, writing a book, launching a line of perfumes called Beauty Icon by Natalie Glebova, and of course, finding my soul mate, Dean Kelly, and having our beautiful daughter Maya. I feel I've grown very much as a person as a result of all my travels and experiences, becoming more understanding of other cultures and people, as well as becoming more open-minded, willing to experiment and more able to take myself out of my comfort zone. Being based in Thailand has also made me a more patient, grateful and compassionate person.
Will Thailand forever be your home?
I think I will always have a home here in Thailand, whether it's permanent or me periodically coming and going. I think Thailand is one of the best places in the world to live, for comfort and ease of life, variety, fantastic food and service and world-class accommodation and amenities. I also feel that this is my home now, and I'm like an adopted daughter of Thailand, so I could never leave for good.
What do you recommend to people wanting to pursue a similar path to yours?
I recommend to set and write out your goals on paper, develop a step-by-step plan for each goal, make a check-list, and then become obsessed with your dreams and do everything you can to make them happen. Always work towards your goals by being committed, focused, and disciplined. Spend time on working towards your goal every single day, as much as possible. That's how I achieved my dream of taking part in the Miss Universe contest.
How are you settling into married life and being a mother?
Maya is already nine months old and as of now things are running pretty smoothly! I really enjoy being a mother, and my husband Dean is a great father and helps me out with every aspect of parenthood. I make taking care of Maya my priority and I make sure she gets the best of everything we can give her. We want Maya to be a world traveller like her parents, so she can grow up educated, informed and open-minded.
What's your absolute favourite thing to do to unwind?
I have a few things I do to unwind. Exercise is one of those things. I dedicate between 20-60 minutes every day towards doing something active, whether it's a class, a home workout, or an outdoor family activity. The other thing that makes me unwind is music. I started DJ-ing before Maya was even in the picture, but I took a long break while I was pregnant. Now I'm back at it, and enjoying it very much! I love putting together awesome beach/sunset sets and playing for people who have a similar taste in music as me -- deep house, club house, nu disco and funky styles of music.
What have you been up to in the last year?
Besides immersing myself in motherhood, I've also found a new agent, Natt Kawinrachadaprida from YSIS Entertainment, and together we are focused on bringing me back into the spotlight in Southeast Asia, so I've been booking jobs as an MC, speaker, and a celebrity all over the region. I'm continuing to be an endorser and brand ambassador to various companies, and now even my baby Maya is doing an ad campaign for Enfant apparel, a kids' clothing line. I'm still the face for BSC Cosmetology and BSC International after almost 8 years in a row. I'm also excited to announce that I'm an ambassador for Traveliko – a new generation online hotel booking engine that focuses on giving back to communities worldwide.
Please tell us more about Traveliko and why you think it will benefit users and the world at large.
I have been working with Traveliko from the start and I'm very excited about its official launch this year. Traveliko is an online hotel booking engine that offers hotels and travellers a supportive, inexpensive and socially conscious alternative to the corporate giants that dominate the online travel industry. For every booking, Traveliko donates 20% of the net commission it earns to project-oriented charities selected by guests in the country where their hotel is located, so part of what you spend goes directly to projects that make effective change and help those in need. I'm very proud of this concept because as a person who lives a humanitarian lifestyle, it is a perfect platform for me to promote charitable causes to the world. There are other benefits for people using Traveliko, of course, like extra freebies from our partner hotels, thanks to our low commission rates, and we even have a "Karma Points" system that actually rewards travellers for using the engine to give back to the people, animals or the planet. That's why our tagline is "Travel with your Heart".