At the tender age of 21 Samantha Wills founded her own jewellery company. An instant hit with media and customers alike, fast forward down the track and Samantha has been thrust onto the international stage with her appearance in the New York Times and her designs featuring in Sex And The City. As a true #BABESWITHBALLS she also started the Samantha Wills foundation: Empowering women in business so what a perfect time it is for us to pick her amazing brain!
- Do you believe in the concept of “overnight success”? No. I actually hate the term! An ‘overnight success’ is where preparation meets opportunity, and preparation is a timely process. The window of opportunity may present itself fleetingly, but the preparation is a longer process. I often rebuttal this by saying ‘it took me 12 years, to be an over night success.’
- You’ve mentioned in previous interviews you don’t believe in the traditional concept of work/life balance…how would you describe your approach to this? I think the age we live in, and utilizing digital so much, that the closer you fuse work & life together, the more out of life you get – one of the very best things about being an entrepreneur, is the freedom to manage & run your own diary, and that may mean you have to work every Sunday for a month, but the payout is you can take a week off the following month on the back end of a work trip. Work / life balance traditionally is 9 to 5 – we need to let go of that theory.
- Do you believe success is possible without sacrifice? Do you feel like you’ve had to make sacrifices along your own journey? It depends what your definition of success is, & its really important to define that, and at what level you want that success. I believe it all comes with sacrifice, its just a matter of what you are aiming for – there is no right or wrong level, I think it just needs to come with the understanding that there will be an equal or more amount of sacrifice given to achieve that.
What did you learn from being $80k in debt at 24, to turning over $1m two years later? SO MUCH! Everything! I don’t even know where to start. I think the main things I learnt, and I probably didn’t even know that at the time, was the power & payoff of resilience.
- You’ve had some incredible achievements in your 12 year career, is there one that stands out to you the most and really felt like you had “made it” in terms of your own vision of success? I think the New York Times ‘Break Out Star’ article was a definite a surreal moment – but I decided early on that I wasn’t going to rest my success on my good press coverage, because if I did, I also had to equally rest it on the bad – or on a bad season or bad feedback. Business & branding are evolutions, I don’t think you actually reach a ‘made it’ moment, and if you have, you may not have set your goals big enough.
- You are very passionate and active in supporting and empowering other women in business; did you have a female mentor that inspired you along your own journey? Not an official one – but I think that is just more of a testament to my business partner, Geoff Bainbridge. He is just as much about female empowerment in our business, and every business he works in, as I am. Female empowerment shouldn’t just come from females. I make it a personal value to surround myself with males who are feminists, the same as I choose to surround myself with women who believe in equal rights & opportunities.
- What’s one piece of advice you’d go back and give your 21-year-old self? You will not be defined by a single event. Not a huge amount of debt, not a broken relationship, not a rejection of your brand. Be resilient.
- Have you found it hard to maintain relationships whilst growing a global empire and brand? No in the sense of the true, core people in your life ‘your people’ will always be there, its not to say you don’t have to contribute to those relationships because you are so busy & consumed with building a brand, but those people will get you and they will support you, and they will have your back, and when your world falls around you – and it will – they will be there to help you rebuild. My advice is don’ take these people for granted. Thank them profusely, lookup from what you are doing often & check in with them. Ensure those who rode the bus with you have a seat in the limo with you.
- Has there ever been a moment where you’ve seriously considered giving up and walking away from it all? YES! Hundreds! Many, many times of the years… many times this year. I think people think with business, that it gets to a certain tipping point, and then its all smooth sailing, where you just kick back & reap the benefits. That is not the case – you continue to experience conflicts & hurdles – they just grow & chance as the business does. Starting a business is hard, and it’s a risk – but with great risk comes great reward.
- I believe maintaining a positive mindset is imperative to being an entrepreneur. Do you have any rituals that help you maintain your mindset? This is really true. And sometimes when everything rests on your shoulders, its hard to maintain that mindset. I think it is a really healthy to ensure to know when you need a break – if you are going around in circles on a project, know when you need to step away from your desk, step away from your office or step away from the business for a week or so. Perspective is powerful, and taking time away from the business should look like an investment in yourself, not a detriments.
- First thing you do every morning? Check my phone – bad habit.
- What’s your coffee order? Nespresso Rosa Baya Double Espresso
- Best way to switch off? Summer in Europe!
- Are you a morning riser or night owl? I’m both – depends on which way the jet lag is coming!
- Favorite way to exercise? SOUL CYCLE in NYC with Mantas Zvinas.
- Heels or flats? Always!