I started my company Samantha Wills Designs when I was 21 years old. At the time, I didn’t know I was starting a company, it was more a hobby that progressed into a business. I was working full time in a retail job through the week, making jewellery in the evening, and selling my handmade jewellery at the local Bondi Beach markets, lining up from 3am every Sunday to get the same table.
After about a year of doing this, a friend had a showroom wall at Australian Fashion Week, and offered me the space of a door, for about AU$500. It was pretty much all I had in the bank at at the time, and I took the space, hoping to make at least one order back to cover some of the cost. At the end of the 4 day trade show, I had written AU$17,000 worth of orders. I quit my retail job the next day & decided on that day, that I was going to be a jewellery designer.
12 years on, we have offices in Sydney, NYC, LA, Japan & France, we have appeared in SATC & have dressed every A-list celebrity, with the New York Time declaring us as a Break Out Star in 2011.I am completely self taught, in both business & design. The design & branding came very naturally to me, so I sought out people who were good at my weaknesses. I have been very supported by the media, and as such, may look to some that the journey was an overnight success. But it has had some incredible hardships & moments of isolation. I often say, it took me 12 years, to be an overnight success. I wanted to ensure other young entrepreneurs did not feel the same isolation, so I started the Samantha Wills Foundation – a platform design to empower women in business.