I recently worked with Samantha Wills on an intimate event for the Business Chicks Power Players network and felt compelled to share the awe-inspiring journey of this creative genius who became her own boss at the age of 21!
Samantha Wills is known by most for her stunning jewellery and accessories. I can look back to my 14 / 15-year-old self and distinctly remember being SO obsessed! Collecting what I could with my pocket money and stacking those beautiful wooden carved boxes that her jewellery was always so elegantly packaged in all around my room (one has actually survived my many moves in Sydney and makes for a great candle holder on my office desk!).
Since developing my creative career, my obsession with Samantha only grew fonder as I learned not only of her success, but also her struggle. Nobody really talks openly and honestly about ALL the struggles we as creatives face which is why I wanted to share her journey. During this intimate luncheon, I was fascinated to learn that Samantha Wills began her journey with not a cent or asset to her name and $80,000 worth of credit card debt… funnily enough, it was mostly due to her incredibly expensive packaging. Something that she was adamant needed to happen and also believed was a game changer for her brand. This was most definitely true as it was something that I felt so special receiving, I felt like the box was personally made for me and I truly cherished them as if they were heirlooms.
Samantha hustled her first collection in Bondi Beach Market Stalls and with any boutique who allowed her whilst slinging samples to any PR company she could. Her so-called ‘over-night’ success (as most media falsely document) was a 12 year process and something that she poured her blood, sweat, tears and years of her life into. Her success was often described by journalists as some sort of ‘minute miracle’ when truth be told, she experienced many of the same hardships and heartbreak that most creatives do when they transition into the business world. This is, in fact, one of the reasons why I launched Influence with Impact back in November 2018!
So as the story goes, there she was at age 21, working retail by day and designing jewellery by night. A close friend offered her a spot at Australian Fashion Week and her only expectation was to make enough to cover the $500 stall fee… Samantha made $18,000 of orders in that one day and then quit her job the next.
15 years later and Samantha has designed approx 10,000 pieces turning over $10 million annually and completely exhausted herself creatively. When asked by an attendee of this luncheon “Why she sold her $12 million dollar empire” her response; “Because I didn’t want to sell out and see someone destroy my brand”. And that was that!
Her insight and advice on business lit a fire within every woman in that room and her authenticity, upmost rawness and realness gave me chills to the core that someone so successful started out in the same shit-fight that most of us start up in. When asked what she hates she said: “I don’t hate anything apart from being called fucking Sam” gotta love a Woman who avidly uses f-bomb…. as if I wasn’t girl-crushing on SW enough!! And lastly, another one of my favourite learnings as said by Samantha Wills: “I think millennials are a generation of ‘slashies’. They’re a DJ/entrepreneur/fashion designer. With all those slashes between your job titles, you lose depth and integrity” – I really hope that this translates to our generation because it could not be more true!!
I am super proud and absolutely thrilled to have been involved in this event. I was not expecting to feel so empowered or fulfilled and I strongly suggest that any female who is pursuing business get behind this AMAZING woman and be inspired. Samantha has since launched The Samantha Wills Foundation giving so many powerful resources to young entrepreneurs and personal insight from her journey over the years. She is someone who has helped me through my own journey and at times when I wanted to throw in the towel she would show up in my inbox throwing it right back with a powerful message that I could have sworn was meant for solely for me. xx