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Interview with Award Winning Designer Samata Angel and founder of  Samatas’s Muse

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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.

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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!

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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

Samata’s Muse
www.samatasmuse.com

Blog with Samata: http://samatasmusings.blogspot.com
Twitter Samata Angel here: www.twitter.com/samataangel

www.youtube.com/user/samatasmuse
www.myspace.com/samatas_muse

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

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Leanna Archer on FOX BUSINESS
Leanna has been running her all-natural hair products business since the age of nine, Yes, Nine.
Listen to this, This is just amazing!!!

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Ismilewear is a London based clothing company, providing a range of casual clothing for all ages.

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They said:

The clothes you wear are a form of expression, and to each who expresses himself, carry along a message. Ismilewear message is simple… Smile. After all, it takes fewer muscles to smile, and then it does to frown. Their belief in conserving energy.

How are you today?

I’m all good, just tired, but it’s all for hard work

Can you give us a bit more information about yourself?

My name is Styla; I’m 21years old studying marketing at Uni. I’m an entertainer/entrepreneur who likes to smile.

What is the concept behind your brand?

A simple positive message: smile. I’m a person who has always got a smile on his face, so I decided to make it into a way of expression, like clothing and badges.

Do you think your line is effective?

It matters how you measure effectiveness. In terms of profit and money making, it keeps me going, but that’s not why I started the line. As for pushing the image and promoting a message about smiling, it has become more and more effective. The logo is an animated version of my face, which makes it fun to push and promote.

What makes your clothing line relevant to today’s society?

It doesn’t and that’s the point. Too much negativity is advertised and praised amongst our community. Gun crime, knife crime, domestic problems, etc, is always glorified in the media. I believe it takes something as simple as a smile to change someone’s perspective on things.

What’s the most unique thing about your line, so much people doing what you’re doing, what will make me buy your designs?

The most unique thing about iSmileWear is that it’s not just an image or design, it’s an idea. When I wear one of my t-shirts to an event I’m performing at, or a party, if I see someone who looks uneasy, I tend to point to the word ‘Smile’ on my top, and they react in kind. It becomes a positing icebreaker. A lot of people have got into clothing lines for the ‘buzz’ of having a clothing line, without thinking ‘what does this mean to whoever is wearing it?’ or ‘how does this express me?’ Realistically, not everyone feels like wearing a top with a big smile on it, but the target market for iSmileWear may appreciate a top with a difference in its message, not one of self praise, or negativity, but of positivity.

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Have you done any shows, how have they been? They cost, the planning, did you have a budget, and did you go over your budget?

As iSmileWear, I’ve been involved with several shows and events, including are Bare Jokes, V.I.P. Room, Dress In White and more, and they seem to go very well. I try not to stick to the stigma of having a clothing line only allowed to be in a fashion show, so iSmileWear has liaised with several companies that do raves, youth events, magazine launches, music videos and more. As for money and budget, there’s always one involved depending on the show I’m involved in either helping run, or making from scratch.

How did you raise money for your business?

Hard working and hard grafting (and a touch of the student loan, I’m not going to lie).

Did you get any buyers at your shows?

Yes, but I usually do a few giveaways at shows.

Who are your competitors? (Customer profile)

I don’t like to say competitors, it seems like it’s a battle of the fashion lines. I’ve seen many similar companies work together to get things accomplished. iSmileWear & Fourtees have often worked together behind the scenes to aid each other. iSmileWear & ‘Where’s Your Chick?’ are part of the same entertainment company and are always pushing each other’s lines. Upshot, Benjart, Yipe, Pandemonium, all have their target market, which may coincide with one another’s, but with clothes, I’ve learned that once someone has bought a top from one shop, there is nothing stopping them from buying from another.

Who are your target markets?

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Age: 10 – 32year olds, tradition & contemporary casual clothing style… I really am trying to avoid using the word ‘Urban’

What are your advertising strategies? (Do you use any social networking sites to promote your brand)?

iSmileWear has its own website (http://www.ismilewear.com), but also use social networks such as Facebook, Fashion Space, Blogspot and more. Also, at events run by MiddleGround Entertainment, iSmileWear is promoted. Magazine & online interviews are always a good way of promoting the product.

What does your range consist of?

T-shirts, Hoodies, Polo shirts, Jumpers, Denim Shorts (ladies), Vest, Jackets… Badges… I hope to look into more as time progresses.

What fabrics do you mostly deal with?

Cottons, Suede, Synthetics, Depends on the design I guess…

How did you make your profit, did you lose more than you made?

I don’t like to talk figures, but let’s say I do alright.

Describe your collection in ten words?

iSmileWear’s message is simple… Smile… & look good doing it.

Do you make your collection to season?

Yes, but I do throw in a few exclusives mid season if I feel best fit.

How do you get your primary research e.g. in the streets, internet, books, magazines?

Looking up on the internet what is around, and what is missing… Asking others of what they think, questionnaires do work… The most simple of them all is to open your eyes, watch what everyone is wearing right now, even analyse what you yourself wear… break it down, and you’ll start to see the pattern and psychology of what you wear and why… as opposed to the simple answer of ‘I like the top, so I bought it.’

Do you try to incorporate your customer’s personality to your clothing line?

In a way, yes. As I said before, the logo is an animated version of my smile, so I would say it’s more my personality incorporated into the logo of the clothing line. But fashion is a form of expression in itself, and rather than clothes making a person’s personality shine, their personality stands out in the way a person wears their clothes.

What is your mission statement? (What are your sayings that motivate you)?

iSmile Where Ever You Go…… No Pain, No Gain….. Keep It Moving…. I don’t think there is a particular few.

Did you ever thing to turn out to be as popular as it is?

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Am I popular? I don’t really see it from the customer’s perspective on how popular iSmileWear is; I’m too busy working to get the products out to them. I think hard work and serious grafting is how you get whatever you want to succeed, to succeed. I never doubted iSmileWear would do as well as it has been doing, or else I should not have put so much time into it. I’m just happy to see it get to where it is.

Do you have any favourite business related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?

Principals of Marketing. It was a book I read at university which gave me the fundamentals of how to package, advertise and sell my products.

What advice would you give to a Young Entrepreneur starting their first business today?

Research, plan and be patient… do not rush a good thing. It will succeed in time if the right amount of prep has gone into it. I spent about 7months doing the preparation work for iSmileWear because it required that amount of time in my eyes. Plan everything out properly, and also be open to advice from others.

Who are your favourite young entrepreneurs at this moment?

Ronald Cummings-John, a friend of mine and a great business minded character…
TMagic, a young individual involved in fashion, successful too…
Edwin Asamoah of J-Nissi Wear, a close friend of mine who has taken Christian Fashion way beyond a basic level…

What was the most important lesson you have learnt so far?

Work Hard, believe In Yourself, and Be Yourself/Original

Who is your role model/influence?

My mother, a marketing guru and as harsh/blunt as I need someone to be… I run anything through her, and she’ll make sure I’ve had all my bases covered…

What has been your greatest achievement so far?

I count all of the achievements great, none greater than the other. Offers to liase with companies, Middlesex University Support, RWD Magazine advertisement & article, Catch 22 advertisement, Gkidmusic.com interview, the list goes on….

So what’s next for Ismilewear?

Since being attached to MiddleGround Entertainment, there are so many projects in the line that I can’t discuss, but defiantly watch this space… on the clothing side of things, new range in 4weeks, keep your eyes peeled.

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Till next time

Thanks for your time.

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Today, we interview the founder of Bear Love clothing.

This is a unique clothing line providing a fun and affordable alternative to the usual brands on the market.

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Hello, how are you doing?

I’m good thanks, very tired but well, excited about this interview!

Nice Nice, So am I

Can you give us brief background information about yourself, what’s your name? How old are you? Where are you from?

 My names Ahjara
 24 years old
 Located in the South East of London
 I go to Brunel University (currently on a gap year)
 Studying Multimedia Technology and Design

When was Bear Love clothing born?

You could say it was born on the 1/1/09 as this is the day I started the public promotions for it. The concept actually came about some time last year.

Talk about starting off the year with a BANG!!!

What is Bear Love clothing about?

Bear Love is about LOVE (Laughter). It’s a line born out of love, I am a Christian and the foundation for this is love, the unconditional love of God and it is through this love we are able to find redemption. Christians strive to “be like Christ” and Christ is “love”. So the clothing is about portraying love.

At what age did you get into fashion?

Fashion is not a recent thought for me. When I was younger I was always drawing, writing etc. I have always been in the creative industry as a designer and recording artist (I am also a garage mc). Instead of fashion I decided to go into graphics and web design as this was a “safe” option(Laughter). Every now and then I would doodle ideas and concepts for a fashion range but nothing ever left the paper. When the concept for Bear Love came to me last year I decided to run with it because it was the first idea I had that actually looked like it could work and be successful. So hmm, you could say I’ve been into fashion for a while but only recently taken it seriously.

Talk about being multi-talented, Umm, I’m Jealous now (Laughter)
But Yeah, Timing for Everything is very Important and being able to spot an opportunity with timing is more important.

What makes your designs unique?

Wow, there are many clothing lines out there but Bear Love is one of the few with a fully marketable concept, name and branding that make sense together; although there is another clothing line with a bear (head) for their logo. Bear Love Clothing is currently the only line with a full blown mascot! Also Bear Love is not about just simply printing designs on a t-shirt and selling it… anyone can do this and it seems EVERYONE is doing this. We are actually a clothing line; planning to release a full range of clothing DESIGNED by us not just printed by us (Laughter). Our current range of kicks, due to be launched soon, is just the start of the MANY unique designs we have in store. These are NOT customised kicks. They are made from scratch in a factory.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

My inspiration comes from the visuals in life, sound and movement. It might sound funny but that’s how it is. I get mad ideas from the strangest situations and places. At the moment I am heavily inspired by street dance, the circus and cheerleading, hence why Bear Love has a mascot. I also get inspired by friends and family around me. My mother always said, show me your friends and I’ll show you who you are! I am lucky to have good and ambitious friends. Most of them would never know it, but they push me to succeed! When I see my friends passing their degree’s, getting good jobs, setting up businesses etc it excites me! I’m just like WOW, I can do this too.

Yes, I agree with you on that one, we should definitely surround ourselves with people that can motivate, inspire and assist us in our ambition.

When did you decide to go into the fashion business, now started your own fashion Line?

I decided last year when this concept came to me, so in 2008. I was always going to go into fashion at some point in my life but I didn’t want to just rush into it and be just another person printing t-shirts and calling it a clothing line. I wanted something that could last and grow and not something that was just for the moment. I never told anyone about my plans for a fashion range until I had a solid concept and vision.

Yes, Planning is key in business.

What makes your clothing line relevant to today’s society?

LOVE! EVERYONE needs love. If today’s society could just hold on to this for just one day, 24hours, there would be dramatic changes in all aspects of life; the world would be a better place! Bear Love Clothing is about making this statement.

LOVE, LOVE, That’s the word now, Hopefully your clothing line can make that change

Would you have done anything differently, if you could go back in time?

No, I have had a crazy life to say the least, crazy experiences, ups and downs. If I was to change anything I would not have the knowledge I have now. You learn from your mistakes and the people you come into contact with etc. It is up to the individual to use life’s lessons to their advantage.

Yes, we definitely learn from our mistakes.

How did you raise money for your business?

OVERTIME, OVERTIME & MORE OVERTIME! I have been, and am currently working some crazy hours in a call centre (Laughter). Some of my student loan is invested in the business and the rest is money earned through working for someone else. In order to get to the top you need to start at the bottom. I have also been approached by many investors (praise God!) I am currently working this out and plan to bring in these investors in the near future.

You Heard it, OVERTIME, OVERTIME, OVERTIME.
You know what i wouldn’t mind a hook-up for the call-centre job myself, but i warn you, i’m a workaholic, so beware, you might not have no overtime left(Laughter)

Who are your competitors? (Customer profile)

Hmm, I like to think big so I only see the BIG labels such as Baby Phat, Nike etc as ‘competition’. These brands are already established worldwide and have been for many years and have a lot of money behind them; I have my work cut out to make my label a ‘designer brand’. Many will say that ‘The Teddy Bear Club’ is my competition because they also use a bear. Unfortunately, my market research was not in-depth enough to know about these guys before I launched the marketing for Bear Love. I have not looked at this as a setback though as our brands and signatures are very different. It’s funny that you have previously interviewed them and are now interviewing ‘Bear Love Clothing’. I think people can see these brands are totally different which is why Bear Love is getting ALOT of positive feedback.

I’m excited haven interviewed two competitors, it’s  got my adrenaline pumping (Laughter)

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Who are your target markets?

Currently we target 12-25 year olds although older and younger can wear our clothes/footwear. We have a baby/kids range in the pipe line and are very excited about this.

What are your advertising strategies? (Do you use any social networking sites to promote your brand).

We currently do a lot of advertising on the internet. We are in full force on Facebook, our Myspace is currently being built, the Website is due to officially launch soon and we are building our mailing list. Our advertising will not be limited to this though. When we officially launch the brand we will release a press pack to various magazines and newspapers. Get posters and billboards put up, the full works. Obviously all this costs so it is a work in progress.

What fabrics do you mostly deal with?

At the moment our main range are the kicks and t-shirts. So we are dealing in Canvas, Rubber and Cotton. We will then move into Denim and Satin for the female range due to release at the end of the year.

Describe your collection in ten words?

A fun and fresh alternative with a lot of LOVE.

Do you make your collection to season?

No, but we will do. When the line is grounded and established, our collection will become seasonal, Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter.

What was the most important lesson you have learnt so far?

The most important thing I have learned is patience. One of the members of the team keeps saying, ‘slow and steady wins the race’. There is no point in rushing. Make sure everything is on point and up to standards, don’t compromise. When you feel things are taking long, just pray and have faith. Pay attention to detail and cover all bases possible so when you finally pick up speed, you have a support system and you do not fall flat on your face! Also, ‘no man is an island’, any business is a risk. You cannot do it on your own; you need a team if you plan to expand. You need to bring in the right people and trust them.

I totally agree with you, I wouldn’t have said it any better (Laughter)

You start trading in June, how is the preparation going? You must be so excited and waiting for the date to arrive?

Yes! This is the planned release month for the line. If all goes according to plan, people can start buying from June. Preparation is tiring and scary but fun. We had a model recruitment in January and have some fantastic models! The photo shoot is going to be ‘off the chain’! We are building up our street team. The paper work is intense (Laughter) Making sure we don’t get fined as the company is officially registered, making sure we import correctly – there is a lot of behind the scene work going on.

When your suppliers are located across the other side of the world, are 8 hours ahead and speak basic English, it can be emotional. At the moment for me, it’s a bit nuts. I could be up all night researching and promoting and then have work the next morning. My eye bags are extreme but praise God for makeup (Laughter).

Umm…Even though i’m not a fan of make-up, but don’t worry you’re an exception (Laughter)

It’s all a lot of fun though and I love it, so I don’t complain too much. I’ll work hard now so I can relax later!

Who is your role model/influence?

I look up to people like Kimora Lee-Simmons, Kunle Oyedji, My friend Danielle Bianchi (another fashion designer), my mum who is always encouraging and supportive, but most of all I am influenced by what the bible says. I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

What has been your greatest achievement so far?

The samples! When you see something move from concept on paper to a real life prototype you really do feel proud! No one on the underground seems to have achieved this yet. Many people have customised kicks but to have my own kicks made fresh from scratch and to see my company branding on it is amazing! It makes me feel like I’m going places, it makes me feel like YES! I can contend with Converse and Nike! (Laughter)

YES, YOU CAN

What are your advices for Aspiring young entrepreneurs looking to break in the Fashion industry or other industries?

My advice would be, have patience, learn as much as you can before hand, watch others and gain tips, learn from their past mistakes as well as your own and make sure you come with a solid idea! Build good business relationships even if you do not yet have a business because they all come in handy at some point. Do as much research as possible about your chosen field and develop a solid business plan. Remember any business is a risk you need to be willing to take; you need to have faith in your ideas and believe it will be successful. Know your target audience.

YES, YES, I Always say Networking is key.

So what’s next for BEAR LOVE CLOTHING?

Next is the first release, look out for it! You can bookmark our website: www.bearloveclothing.com and sign up to our mailing list. Also join our Fan page on Facebook and stay up to date, search “Bear Love Clothing”. Our first release is going to be the kicks and they will be released alongside T-shirts and hoodies. We are still debating about the colour combination to release first. After this we will be working on the release of our female range.

So finally, before I leave you, I need to ask for your secret, come on, why have you been so successful, what’s your secret weapon?

The response has been amazing! I think this is because the brand is fun and appealing and the promotion and marketing have been on point! You need to have a solid team! My team currently consists of four members; Taffat Jama who is the assistant manager, Sarah Walsh who is promotions officer, Wande Alugo who is the marketing director and me. I oversee everything – I’m also the designer. A solid team + solid idea’s + faith + prayer = Success!

WOW, WHAT AN INTERVIEW !!!

We will definitely catch up with you to give everyone an update on your company.

Thank you for your time.

Thank you! It’s been a pleasure!

I wish you the best in the future.

Thank you and till next time.

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Another interview to inspire us to follow our goals

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What did you think?

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Two Inspirational videos of these young entrepreneurs, two different experiences
Hope you enjoy it, Let me know what you think?

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