QVC HEADQUARTERS // Pennsylvania, USA
I decided very early on in my career, that I was a Commercial Creative. I loved to create, but I had no desire to be a starving artist; (beside the fact I love food), I also am a self-taught designer, with no college degree, no design diploma, and absolutely no right to call myself an artist. An 'amount' of money never (and still doesn’t) motivate me, I have turned down amounts of money I care not to think about, because the project would not have been in the interest of the longevity brand health. What DOES motivate me on the commercial side of the business, is the challenge, & the opportunities presented to a commercially successful business/brand.
An Artist is unwaveringly pure to his, or her art. No commercials are in the thought process, it is art first, nothing compromises that. And I respect that greatly.
A Commercial Creative (Exhibit A; Yours Truly), starts with the end in mind. I see a platform for a story, a marketing opportunity or a commercial outcome that may or may not be financially lucrative to the business, but is an investment in the brand bank. I then build a product/collection & marketing communications, backwards from that.
(FLASHBACK TO...) 2010 // Nearly 8 years ago, I was on one of my very first extended trips to NYC. It was February and freezing, I knew no one in the city, It was intimidating, and isolating, but incredibly eye opening and creatively inspiring.
Most nights I would sit in my little rented sublease on 27th & 6th, wearing a puffer jacket, two jumpers, three pairs of socks, a beanie & scarf & design jewellery till I couldn't stay awake any longer; always with the The Rachel Zoe Projectplaying in the background. It became white noise in a comfort ‘keeping me company’ kind of way & I was inspired as much by her style / brand lifestyle, as I was her growing empire & business savvy of expansion, licensing & building a digital world of RZ focus. On the show, she would take business meetings in LA & NYC, & would write down the names of the companies she was meeting with (profile opportunities, licensing opportunities etc), keeping them on file in the hope I would have enough brand pull, to one day take meetings with these companies also.
At the time I was in NYC, Rachel Zoe had just released her RZ for QVC line. I saw on social media that she was filming her QVC segment from New York Fashion Week, later that week. I had no interest in the designer shows at Fashion Week (don’t tell the industry), but was prepared to sell my first born (or a vital organ), to get onto that QVC set.
On the night she was scheduled to film, I walked in the snow, the 20 blocks uptown to Bryant Park, and somehow talked my way into the 6pm closed set filming.
I sat and watched the entire production, with the same notebook in hand that I would write her business collaborators company details (Single White Female, much?!), taking special notice of the interaction between Rachel and the QVC host, how they would cut to commercials. I watched what Rachel did when the camera wasn't on her, listened to how she naturally described the inspiration of her designs, and the style tips for her product. I was transfixed with it all, with the lifestyle business & brand that was Rachel Zoe, with the energy of live television, and with the link that brought a shopping experience with Rachel to life; QVC.
I remember sitting there & thinking ‘I really want to do this.’
(FLASH FORWARD TO NOW...) 2018 // I am not a patient person. Whatever I want, I want yesterday. But as I have gotten older, I have started to appreciate & apply the concept of surrender. Not giving up but surrendering that if something is meant to be, then it will find a way to be. My impatience is still there; alive & well! But what I have now learnt to do, is replace my old instant instinct to react & force an outcome through impatience, with a restrained surrendering a trusting of the timing.
Nearly 3 years ago, we received a call from ex-QVC buyer turned QVC-buyers agent, Sage Ladnier Christopher of LADNIER GROUP Inc, who watches the market for brands that she identifies that she thinks would be successful on QVC.
She wanted to meet with me about an opportunity to have me on QVC, telling me that other designers & personalities who have launched on there include Robert Lee Morris, Ellen DeGeneres, Heidi Klum…. And Rachel Zoe.
Had this opportunity come about any earlier, we would not have been in a position to execute it successfully, but that would not have stopped me going full steam ahead with it, but like most billion dollar (QVC turned over $9.37Billion in 2015) opportunities; you usually only get one chance… And the beauty of my newly found sweet surrender is that NOW, we are ready. Ready to have the opportunity to reach 166Million households across America, ready to through everything we have at an opportunity that many brands spend years trying to secure, ready to tell our story one of the biggest platforms in the world.
Reading up on all things QVC, one of the often-mentioned points is that viewers look at the QVC hosts as friends. People they invite into their homes, often at obscure times (QVC streams live 24/7) when they might not be able to sleep, when they are going through a rough time, or possibly just having the channel on as white noise, when they, oh I don’t know, have recently moved to a new city & don’t know anyone. There is a personal connection in the approach, and I think it is that that I am most excited about.
In the essence of reflection & gratitude, to have the opportunity in December 2016 at QVC headquarters, in Pennsylvania, USA & take a meeting that had been on my list for nearly 7 years now has made me add something to my definition of luck. To date, my definition has been: 'LUCK; where preparation meets opportunity'. I will be making a mental update to it today, in the SWUrban Dictionary, to…. 'LUCK; where preparation meets opportunity, and involves the surrender of not forcing outcomes, to fit your own timeline.'
So nearly two years on from that initial meeting & eight years on from my kamikaze sneak in on set to watch Rachel Zoe's launch on QVC, this Monday night I will be going live to anywhere between 5-8million viewers presenting the SAMANTHA WILLS brand. While the commercial outcome could be significant if it all goes to plan, the thing that excites me most is the audience reach. the possibility to reach people to show them the conscious kindness we implement in the SAMANTHA WILLS brand, and the work we do with women in business on this site, and have them hopefully take something from our story, or the stories of the incredible women we share on here.
Thank you to my amazing colleagues who flew in from Australia for the 2016 meeting (& showed no signs of jet lag), to the internal team that has worked tirelessly to get this collection, testing and logistic ready for this very moment.
This has been a dream of mine, almost a decade in the making…. Article in The Australian Business Review Section below, available on newstands nationally. ⠀⠀
I am slightly overwhelmed for what the week ahead holds, but am filled with gratitude to every single person (it truly took a village!) to get the collection prepared for our first show on QVC this Monday night (from 9pm, Eastern Time). ⠀⠀
Lets Magic Mop™ the floor with this thing. We’re ready. - SWx
(While I would give a vital organ to even be in the same room as Margot Robbie… The real question is; Who would play my Dad? ;)