When I was starting out, I would follow these awards religiously, I would tear out the pages of the nominees, the glamorous event, and then the winners out of the magazine. I would pin them on a board above the dining table I was making jewellery from.
I was in my very early 20's, and seeing these incredible, accomplished and established women (specifically the Fashion and Business nominees) in the glossy pages proved equal parts inspiration, and intimidation.
Inspiration because it was the dream to have a brand that people loved, and at the very pinnacle, to have it recognized by the industry.
Intimidation because I would (in my young naivety and impatience) compare my Chapter 1 to their Chapter 20. Intimidation of how polished, and successful they were. A glitterati that would appear flawlessly and fabulously in every weekends social pages.
I felt like they were born into the fashion world Vs me trying to forge my way in. I didn't have a fashion degree that I could flash to at least give me some tertiary credence, I wasn't a cool fashion girl and definitely was not hanging out at any cool hot spots after dark. They were well travelled and probably spoke 17 different languages fluently, at the time I hadn't even been to Melbourne. I had absolutely no sense of style to speak of, and they were effortlessly stylish, and comfortably cool. I, to paraphrase Carrie Bradshaw, was Patchouli, and they CHANEL.
In a time before the internet held people's story, (+ your mothers maiden name, blood type and flat lay of your brunch pancakes), the information for aspirating designers was through magazine profiles, and without having to subject myself to the humiliation of trying to get into a world that was so far out of my league, and incredibly intimidating to me, I kept a comfortable distance from the industry, through the pages of magazines.
And then, one day, at no one particular point, but more so a seamless merging, and accumulation of time, experience, tears, wins, loses, accomplishments, failures. Lessons, awards, ego, humility, risks, regret, turmoil, excitement, boredom, anxiety, hindsight, darkness, celebration, dedication, defeat, love, heartbreak, forgiveness, growth, maturity, chaos, and calm, you turn around, and you're at your Chapter 13.
You're definitely not at Cool girl status, but you're most definitely Kind girl status, and your Kind girl squad both in life (Melanie Jane Yudibrata, Freya Grant, Sarah Kossew, Carolyn Brown, Michelle Funke, Elizabeth Studerus ) and our extended online community, is so much more powerful, then cool.
You're well travelled, and as such, could hold your own in any social situation, something that once gave you crippling anxiety. (You've still got a bit of work to do on the language front...)
Your sense of style is exactly that, Yours. It has grown with you, and you now wear it comfortably. You no longer care what people think of your style, because in a very freeing way, you no longer care.
Then one day your agent (because you have one of those now) calls you to tell you that you are a nominee in the INSTYLE Magazine Women of Style Awards, and you instantly picture awkward, impatient, little-patchouli-25 year old you, ripping the page out of the magazine and pinning it to her moodboard.
.....I see her looking at you. She comparing her Chapter 1, to your Chapter 13, and she feels so overwhelmed that she is a fraud in an industry of perfection. She will stare at your photo, thinking that she will never be as confident as you, have your style, or ever be capable of what you have done. She will think you are a cool girl, and she will be intimidated, and nervous that she will never fit in..... I wish you could tell little Patchouli, that she will be ok. Because she will. But she has to figure that out for herself, and she will over the coming 13 years ahead of her.
I started the Samantha Wills Foundation for all the little Patchouli's out there. It's designed as a forum that puts transparency around the journey, it's a sharing of vulnerabilities, and a place that encourages open networking of bringing together women who are all doing similar, incredible things.
As I hope you can gauge from this post, I am so truly humbled, and am in a state of surreal-ness for the opportunity of this nomination.
Because I have so modestly (ahem) named many of my ventures after myself, it is only by default that my picture is in the magazine, this nomination is because of the amazing people who are TEAM SW; Geoff, Lucinda Grice, Nadia Lotter, Kendyll Frielick, Rosalie Molloy, Katie Northwood, Adriana Tedaldi, Jess Roberts, Bettina Pham, Lucy, Rachel Powell, Jena Weir, Yvonne Reilly-Ayres, Rob, Tanya, Alli Vella, Kat Rose, Courtney Jane Bimba, Gabby Brugman, Dean Grimster, Lara Denovan, Sarah Lee, Kath L, Grady, Andy, Chelsea, Kath S, Mel, Bella, Glen, Pauly, Dan Hosking, Lilly, Sean, Julia, Renee & Grace (+ Tom Wishart, Jessica Hammond, Sarah Moore).
Thank to the esteemed panel of judges for this nomination, to INSTYLE Magazine for being my early gateway into this world where creative & business meet, and for spotlighting such a diverse industry of women. To all the truly incredible Women of Style nominated this year, what an absolute treat to be in your company.
And to anyone reading this post who might at times feel a little bit out if your depth, my advice is this;
Be you, know where you want to go, but embrace where you are. Grab every opportunity to add strings to your bow, build quality and consistent layers to what YOU have to offer, if you want what you do to have longevity, understand that this takes time.
Trust in the Universe. You are exactly where you need to be, at this very moment.
Fail often. Always show up tomorrow.
The girls who you think are the cool girls have the same internal-self doubting-dialogue as you.
On your most anxiety filled, world spinning out of control, doubt yourself days - Take a deep breath, and smell the Patchouli... it's not actually that bad. -SWx