Last month, I received a letter advising that I had been selected to be inducted into the Businesswomen’s Hall of Fame for 2017. And I am thrilled to be writing this today, on International Women’s Day.
If I was to describe what I do in my career, it would be Creative Director, or Founder, or Entrepreneur. For the longest time, (pretty much until I received that letter) I would not refer to myself as a ‘Business Woman’. I knew about design, and branding, and marketing, I barely finished high school (and lets face it, there where no awards, or blue ribbons on my Mum's fridge for my outstanding work in Maths in Society), what the fuck did I know about business?! In my company, you will not find me deep in a P+L statement, and the amount of ridiculous questions I have had to ask my Business Partner, or our CFO over the years should really have been prefaced with a NDA contract, or gag order so the sheer stupidity of my questions could never be repeated. I am the first to admit I not good at traditional business, but I have found myself to be good at surrounding myself with people who are great, at the things I am not – I am also good in the business of branding (using jewellery as the platform) & the business community building. So I guess, in a roundabout, non traditional way, they does make me a business woman.
The further I progress through my career, the more I realize that my career has very little to do with jewellery. I am fortunate enough to do a lot of public speaking about the journey of the SAMANTHA WILLS Brand – the ups, the downs, the wins & the fuck-ups (the latter all my own doing), the dust offs & the bounce backs. My overarching message in these presentations is that (in Fashion (usually the majority of the attending audience) there is no ‘need’ for what we do. The world doesn’t need another jewellery business (or whatever brand you are involved in), but what our jewellery business, or what your business / company allow you, is a platform to engage people, to bring people together, to open networks, to find ways how working together can create a positive change, how sharing your story & especially your vulnerabilities, can pioneer a path for those who are following your lead.
No matter where you are at in your career, never underestimate your impact. Your stage will grow as your career progresses, so even if you are starting out on your career journey today, your stage is every conversation you have. You get out of business what you put into it. Want to be surrounded by a community of incredible people? Be an incredible person yourself; Show up. Be present. Listen more then you talk. Show Empathy. Show vulnerability. Show kindness.
I am incredible grateful for this opportunity & honour, & it has further motivated my team & I to facilitate opportunities & initiatives for young women who are just starting out in their career, or looking at a career change, to empower them & create communities of support for them.
Thank you to HER Business & the panel for this honour, my business partner for enduring my often ridiculous questions over the years, to the incredible people who make up TEAM SW past & present, and to the incredible women who are the heart & soul of the @SamanthaWillsOfficial brand + the women who are out there doing what they love & pioneering paths, and breaking ceilings, and not talking about what they want to do, but actually fucking doing it. I salute you. - SWx
TO MY MUM:
Mum, I know that you had your doubts, when I was 11 years old & I told you that I wanted to be a Dolphin Trainer when I grew up (because you knew that was a far reach, given I was shit at science), or when I was 16 years old, got a hair wrap with shells & purple cottons, & said that I thought when I grew up I might want to move to the Gold Coast, & open a shop at Pacific Fair that only sold Mermaid inspired art & crafts products. I can also appreciate, that when I was 18 years old, that you weren't too thrilled when I came home after watching the movie Coyote Ugly, and told you that I wanted to travel the world as a 'Coyote' style bartender, that danced on the bars lit with alcohol and flames.....
So, on International Women's Day - I wanted to say thank you.
Thank you for putting me in to beading classes when I was 11 years old.
Thank you for buying me beads as Christmas gifts, & giving me a spot by the register at your clothing boutique so I could sell my designs, when I was 12 years old.
Thank you for putting up with my ideas, (admittedly, some better then others.)
Thank you to you (and Dad) for when I was growing up, allowing me the creative freedom to paint my bedroom however I wanted, with murals of suns & moons & angels (&, mermaids!) and allowing me to express myself through art.
Thank you for always loaning me 'just a little bit more' then I asked for, when I would call you with an empty bank account & an urgent need to buy more beads to make more stock in the early days of making jewelry, to sell at the Bondi Markets.
I am the woman I am today (and am not dancing on flaming bars, well, not for a living anyway) because of the woman you are. My induction into the Businesswomen's Hall of Fame today, is for you.
I love you. And thank you for loving me.
Your daughter, Samantha x