CLOSE UP: Samaria Smith
I met Samaria the summer before the 9th grade. She had moved from the east coast to LA, and our mothers had arranged our meeting as she was going to be enrolled at Campbell Hall High School. I remember I was excited simply knowing another bomb Black girl was going to be attending our private Los Angeles school, however once meeting her I knew we were going to be instant, and lifelong friends. Samaria is one of the funniest people I know, don't let her shy exterior fool you, because once you get to know her it is truthfully all jokes. We spent our after school days making photo-booth videos, making up raps and choreographed dances.
As we've grown older Samaria and I's paths have continued to stay aligned, from rooming together at The Fashion Institute of Technology, traveling together, and beyond. Now living on different coasts of the country, it has been so rewarding seeing her grow now into the young business woman she is. Samaria launched Samaria Leah Denim less than one year ago, and she has already achieved so much success. From her denim being featured in music videos, to owning her own office in LA, the brand has truly seen so much growth and success since launching. I was so excited to sit down with Sam in her LA office to discuss her brand, and her goals moving forward.
EJ: Sam! First off I want to say, how proud I am of you for envisioning your own brand and witnessing it come to fruition! How Crazy it is that 10 years ago, we were running around Campbell Hall High School, doing the absolute most, cut to us being freshman roommates in Fashion school, and now we are here as young women, to discuss our very own professional endeavors.
So let’s get to the serious stuff you business woman!! Shop Samaria Leah is literally a little less than a year old, and we’re currently sitting in your new office space in LA! How amazing has this past year been, and have you exceeded your own expectations?
SS: This past year has definitely been a crazy, busy, and blessed ride so far. I’ve always expected to succeed and knew my brand would do well but I did not expect to be having an office space within my first year of launching. I’m extremely proud and honored for it to be doing as well as it is, and how much everyone is loving it.
EJ: Ever since I’ve known you, you’ve always been personalizing and reworking the clothing in your closet, especially your denim! How did you use what you were doing to your own personal pieces, to decide the designs for your own line?
SS: I used to be obsessed with vintage T-shirts and I started distressing those and that eventually carried over into vintage denim. I would cut and distress all of my jeans and everyone would always ask where I got them from. I knew that this would be my perfect introduction into the industry that I’ve always wanted to be a part of. Vintage reconstruction is something that is so authentic and natural to me. As I was finishing my last year of college, I was slowly working on all of the designs and ideas you see here.
EJ: What are some of your main inspirations, when designing your pieces?
SS: I love comfort, I love classics, and I love clothing to be sexy and to fit well. Denim is a classic staple that is never going away. It was important for me to reconstruct the denim in a way to be sexy, fun, innovative and classic. Adding intricate embellishments, hand distressing and customizing the fit to each customer for that extra personal touch.
EJ: Do you have any plans to move beyond denim?
SS: I have a lot of plans beyond denim and quite a few things that are already in the works. I have some cool accessories releasing very soon and also working on my fall collection. I definitely have plans to get into swim and athleisure/active-wear. I also plan to do my own personal line of denim alongside the current reconstructed vintage.
EJ: What have been your biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome in being a young woman with a new business?
SS: I think the hardest thing so far is building a team and getting the right people on board with your business. I quickly had to seek and hire several seamstresses and interns as my demand and volume has sky-rocketed. It’s important to have people on your team who see and share the same vision as you and want to grow with you and see your brand and succeed as much as you do. Teamwork makes the dreamwork!
EJ: As you know, I am currently developing my own line and over the last few months, we’ve seen such a community of supporting Black creators and businesses. What has that been like for you, and what advice do you have for other young Black entrepreneurs like myself?
SS: A lot of light has definitely been shed on my brand recently. I’ve been featured in several magazines and blogs highlighting new and upcoming black businesses right now. The support has been amazing and it’s given my brand even more of a platform and to reach a bigger audience. The best advice I would give would be to always do what is AUTHENTIC TO YOU and do what you love. Believe in yourself and your vision and know that you can and will be successful if you put in the work!
EJ: I just want to end by saying I love you so much, and thank you so much for taking the time to speak with Selected, I know you will ONLY continue to inspire!
SS: I LOVE YOU SO MUCH! I’m so proud of everything you are doing with Selected and providing a platform and voice for black creatives and businesses. I can’t wait to see all of your hard work and dreams continue to come to fruition.