No one should ever refer to this successful blonde as ‘lucky’ as she’s worked her bloody ass off to get where she is. Deriving from a small beach town very close to where I grew up (not that anyone cares 😂), Samantha started designing and creating her jewellery as a wee young lass, with no real training. Fast forward a few years of endless hustling, ridiculous hours, and harder work than most people can imagine – Samantha’s designs were developing a cult-like following and were being worn by some of the worlds most stylish and covetable celebs.
Now splitting her time between New York and Sydney, Samantha’s life is far from dull and if you follow her on social media, you’ll be both exhausted and envious of her glamorous, jet-setting life. Don’t let the shiny pics fool you though, she’s as warm, funny and real as they get, so I hope you enjoy my interview with her (almost) as much as you enjoy her marvellous creations….
What time do you normally wake up and how does your morning generally pan out?
Once I get the jetlag under control [from traveling so much], usually around 7:30am.
I do SoulCycle with Mantas Zvinas about 8 times a week, so if the schedule is a morning class, I will start the day there.
Then it’s ALWAYS coffee!
What does an average day or week look like for you?
My work plan is very project-based, so I could be in a SAMANTHA WILLS new collection design phase for a few weeks, I could be working on the SW Foundation, or with my role for YELLOWGLEN. I like the diversity of it all! So, depending what I am working on at any given time, I usually am at my desk in my apartment. I try to put all my external meetings on one day each week as I find it easier to run around the city all in one go, rather than stop and start the workflow.
What do you like most about your job?
I love telling stories, and as such communicating and connecting with our audience. Whether that be marketing of SAMANTHA WILLS collection or collabs, sharing things I’ve learned, or hurdles I’ve experienced on my journey through the SAMANTHA WILLS FOUNDATION.
I also like the diversity of being able to work on different projects. It not only inspires me but allows me to step away from a project, focus entirely on something else, then step back to the project with fresh eyes.
And you know I’m also going to ask what you dislike!
I don’t like being away from my family and friends due to the travel required. I constantly have to reconcile this with myself every time I am about to embark on a big trip.
What are your non-negotiables in maintaining work/life balance?
I don’t think I have any steadfast non-negotiables… I think I am in a good place to appreciate the privilege of running my own schedule. For so long, I felt guilty about that, but now, I appreciate that if I run it correctly, it makes me a better creative director, designer, daughter, friend etc…
For so long, we have been told to separate our professional and home life. Like when you finish at the office (or close the door on the home office) you switch from work mode to family mode. I think this is very difficult and almost more stressful. I try to fuse to the two as close together as possible – An example of this, is you might work through the entire weekend, but you might be traveling for work the following week, and you can add on an extra two days to the trip to see the city as a tourist.
Nothing is without sacrifice – I think that is also important to acknowledge. But at the end of the day, most things will still be waiting for you in your inbox tomorrow, so don’t miss out on the family and social moments for things that you may place greater urgency on that is actually required of the task.
What was the best piece of advice you ever got?
I have been given so much great advice over the years!
‘You cannot please everyone, you are not a jar of Nutella’; rates pretty highly for me because once you realise you cannot be everything to everyone, you approach things in life and business with a very different mindset.
I also recently got asked what advice I would give my younger self, so I said I would tell her;
To go out and explore. Travel. See the world. To questions things. Do not just simply accept what people tell you is the way. Challenge the status quo, have an opinion that is your own, but always have an open mind and open ears. Never stop learning, don’t be a bystander.
What qualities did/does your best employee have?
They all have similar values. Respect, empathy, drive, kindness.
I am often asked what I am most proud of in my career, the answer is without a doubt the team that makes the SAMANTHA WILLS brand. They are savvy, intelligent, empathic, incredible women.
Our team is always thinking about the consumer, and how what we are doing, from product to marketing, will impact them and empower them.
At what stage in your life did you really feel like a grown up?
This is a great question! Probably not til my early 30’s! HA! But even now, there are some days (actually most days!) I forget I am an actual grown up, I might get it tattooed on my wrist as a daily reminder!
What/where is on your bucket list?
I want to write a book, I am in the early planning phases of it, and its’ very confronting and there is so much that goes into it, so I have a bit of a journey ahead to get that done!
What is your favourite tv show of all time?
It has changed over time… Growing up it was FULL HOUSE, I would sit there and record every episode on the VHS, cutting out the ads! I had tapes and tapes full of all the episodes with big stickers on them ‘DO NOT TAPE OVER!’ I also loved BLOSSOM.
In more recent times… FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS had me hooked. SCANDAL. DOWNTON ABBEY… God – so many, I’m more a NETFLIX binge watcher now, I can’t wait a week to see what happens in the next episode! Who even has the time for that! Ha!
If you only could give young women one piece of advice about life and their career, what would it be?
Know what your personal values are. They will be a very powerful compass for decision making.
Interviewed by Kelly McCarren.