Interview with Award Winning Designer Samata Angel and founder of Samatas's Muse
I’m sure everyone wants to know a bit more about you, can you please give a bit of background information about yourself?
I grew up in Cambridge and moved to London to study my undergraduate degree in Economics, Finance and Management. I basically used my time in London to get more involved in the creative industries namely music and fashion. I got involved in fashion shows backstage, assisted other designers and went to lots of networking parties. Graduating I worked as Head of PR for a Chelsea boutique and then Head of Marketing for a Japanese clothing label and it was these experiences that encouraged me to set up Samata’s Muse.
When did you start your business and what inspired you?
I think I was inspired to start my label after working for a boutique in Chelsea, London. I was surrounded by beautiful clothing and definitely got more of an understanding of how a boutique operated, how designers sold their clothing and the details buyers looked at. The shop was so beautiful and the clothing was so inspirational I knew I wanted to do something of my own.
You are some fantastic support from the likes of Jennifer Lopez, dawn (Danity kane) and Gwen Stefani, How did that happen and how does it feel?
I think that I am very passionate and hard-working so that definitely helped me network in the industry and create opportunities. I also had some great business mentors who give me the time of day so these elements combined create opportunities. Once your name starts getting out there people start coming to you too. Dawn Richards got in touch with me after seeing my label profiled on a popular website, others I met contacts for at industry parties. To be honest it is more important for me to get my brand out there and in communication with my target audience than with celebrities.
I mean your spring/summer 2008 collection was unveiled in September at the nolcha fashion week in New York, which is fantastic, how did that feel and when should we be expecting your next collection?
That was a really great and also stressful time as there was just so much to get done but it was all worth it – it got me connected with a global audience. I think I learnt a great deal from that experience and what it takes to be a global brand, which is what I am building up towards.
How did you raise money for your business?
I worked and got individual sponsors. Organisations like Business Link assisted with advice and direction too.
How do you promote your brand? And how effective has it been?
I create a good online presence and do what most designers do such as taking part in shows and events and being as active as possible. It has been effective in landing me interviews with the likes of LOOK, Big Issue and Pride magazine.
Do you read any books that you would to recommend to all the entrepreneurs out there?
I read autobiographies to keep me motivated and inspired and just to remind me of what goes into reaching a level of success. Right now I am reading Ander Leon Talley’s. Terry Mansfield gave me this great book called Moving On Up edited by Sarah Brown who collated inspirational real life stories by extraordinary men and women such as Richard Branson, Ridley Scott and Trevor McDonald. It’s fantastic.
Have you ever encountered any setbacks? How did you overcome it?
I think everyone does, it is just important to be able to stay focused and remember that anything worth having is worth working hard for. Not everything I do works out but I do my best and keep trying.
You wrote a book series called Fashioning your life, A clothing designer’s guide Volumes 1 & 2 last year, what inspired you to write a book? How is it going so far?
It was really whilst working in the fashion industry as a designer and doing various spots as a guest speaker at different business and enterprise events I noticed a need for a certain type of assistance for fashion designers. I wanted to share my experiences and knowledge in areas such as Marketing, PR and Trade Show participation. It is going really well, they sold out on Amazon in Canada and their success has definitely been helped by the contributions from the likes of photographer Nigel Barker (America’s Next Top Model), celebrity stylist Nick Ede (Project Catwalk ) and Jenny Holloway (Fashion Capital founder) who share brilliant advice in their relevant sectors
Can you tell us about how and why you got into “make your mark”?
In 2007 I was recommended for ambassadorship by Prime Minister Gordon Brown for national campaign Girls! Make Your Mark, a role which includes mentoring students and actively encouraging young people into enterprise through public speaking engagements. It is so rewarding!
Out of all the people you’ve met so far? Who’s your favourite?
I would say Dawn Richards from Making the Band’s Danity Kane. She is such a professional who is graceful under pressure and a genuine talent.
Who is your role model/influence?
I have lots! Oprah Winfrey, Terry Mansfield (Chairman of Graduate Fashion Week), Charles Thompson, my family, the list goes on!
Do you have any favourite young entrepreneur/designer at the moment?
I have a number of favourites, I love watching to see what is coming up so I attend the Graduate Fashion Week shows and end of year shows. I can’t name one favourite!
What would you say to young entrepreneurs out there, trying to start up their own business?
I would say be yourself, be open minded and learn how to create learning opportunities for yourself - be at the right events, have your own unique style and make an effort to talk to people! Too often designers get intimidated by the flashy events but people are just people.
Do you think recession is a bad time to start up a business?
I am not a huge fan of scaremongerers and I feel that the ‘current economic climate’ is a phrase which is starting to grate on me due to the hugely negative connotations it is given. My feeling is that particularly for entrepreneurs, the ability to think of solutions is not that impossible - the recession means a tough environment but one in which we can flourish nonetheless for a number of reasons including reduced competition and lower costs.
What do you think is key in starting a fashion company, or qualities needed to succeed in the fashion industry?
Success involves having a number of qualities including exceptional creative talent and ability, a keen eye for detail and good communication skills.
So what should be expecting from you in the future?
More clothing ranges, maybe branching into accessories, more educational projects and more creativity!
Finally, before you go can you tell us why you’ve been this successful, what’s your secret?
All the so-called "secrets of success" will not work unless you do.
Thank you so much Samata for your time.
Contact and Follow Samata
Blog with Samata: http://samatasmusings.blogspot.com
Twitter Samata Angel here: www.twitter.com/samataangel
Samata's guide book series has now launched! Visit http://stores.lulu.com/samataangel to pick one up and support Britain's Favourite Designer.
For further information about Samata's Muse visit: www.samatamuse.com