I want to tell you a story… about 18 years ago I started hand making jewellery at home. Beads, feathers, shells. People started asking me to make them for them and I even got to stock in some stores. At the time, you and I were the only 2 people doing that.. I loved it! I worked at Pieno in Chapel Street in Melbourne and you stocked in there and I’d talk up all your designs. The double loop long beaded ones with chain hanging off were my favs. I got glandular fever 3 years later that put me out for months and I lost all motivation for it and stopped.
Over the years I’ve wanted to get back into it and I’ve tried but never know how to get it all to the next level. But next year I had planned to be my year to push it again. I have a new baby and my passion and love for it is coming back.
You closing Samantha Wills feels so emotional for me as I admired you and your journey as though I knew you. I was you, I just took the wrong path! You have been a constant inspiration And source of motivation for me. I wish you all the best in the next chapter of your journey. I’ll be barracking for you from afar. Xx
Dear Wrong Path,
Thank you for the kind words, and thank you for supporting the SAMANTHA WILLS Jewellery brand with so much heart all the way back in those early days.
I know that feeling of thinking you are on the wrong path, oh God, I know it well.
When I was 11 years old, my mum put me into beading classes in our little home town of Port Macquarie. The classes were $8 an hour, and it gave my mother an hour of solace in the school holidays. That Christmas she bought me a plastic fishing tackle box from Big W to keep all my beads, threads and crystals in. it was olive green and had removable tray with a heap of little compartments in it.
I barely finished high school and was not going to university, so I stayed in Port Macquarie and got a job at Prouds The Jewellers in our local shopping centre, Port Central. I also worked at Hogs Breath Café every other weekend servingprime rib and hog tail curly fries.
By the time I had turned 20, I had been with my boyfriend for two years and I thought the rest of my life was to be spent in Port Macquarie, working at Prouds and serving steak.
One day not long after my 20th birthday, I remember thinking this just doesn’t feel like what my life is meant to be. I’m on the wrong path.
A month later I packed whatever would fit in my beat-up Toyota Corolla hatchback and drove down the Pacific Highway to live with my best girlfriend Melanie just off Anzac Pde in Sydney’s Kensington. Our little flat was behind a Video Ezy and Oportos chicken shop.
In Sydney I enrolled in a few TAFE courses, each of which I dropped out of. I had come to the realization that is was not my path to have a ‘career’ so I would just go through life having ‘jobs’.
I took a job at a retail store.
At that retail store some of the girls had a social basketball team, they played every Tuesday night and asked me to join. One night just as the game started, I caught the ball and went to turn but my foot stayed glue to the court while my knee and upper body pivoted. I hit the ground as a dead weight. My knee had exploded and the pain shooting through my leg was the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life. I vomited and passed out from how badly it hurt.
Not being able to work for a few months, I sat at home in mine and Melanie’s little flat feeling very sorry for myself and angry I had found myself on the wrong path that saw me on crutches and bored out of my mind.
After about a week of watching day time TV, I remembered that in the top of my wardrobe was that plastic fishing tackle box my mum had bought me all those years ago. I hoisted myself off the couch and hobbled down the hallway to find the olive box.
Half limping half hopping back down the hallway I opened the box and saw that all the beads and crystals were still in there waiting for me, where I had left them all those years ago. Grateful that I found something to pass the time until my knee healed, I sat down at the dining table and started making jewellery.
Do you know how much jewellery you can make with a broken knee and nothing else to do in 2 months, Wrong Path? A lot, as it turns out.
Like Forrest Gump just kept running, in my immobile state, I just kept making jewellery. It started to stock pile and when friends would come over to visit me they would see the small mountains of jewellery and ask “I love these, can I buy them?”
I started a jewellery making business and very modestly called it…SAMANTHA WILLS.
I started selling at Bondi Beach Markets and got offered a spot on a showroom wall at Australian Fashion Week to showcase to retailers. I took the spot and wrote $17,000 worth of orders. I was 22 years old.
By the time I was 25, I had waded myself into $80,000 worth of credit card debt. Fuck, I thought, when I would wake up at 4am in cold sweats and filled with anxiety, how did I get myself into this,I seriously took the wrong path.
I got a call one day from my ex-area manager from the retail job I had taken in Sydney four years prior - the job I had taken just to get by until I found what path I was meant to be on.
He was now working for a guy named Geoff Bainbridge who was looking for a jewellery designer to design a women’s retail collection for a company he had just acquired, and asked if I would interested in designing the collection.
I eventually convinced Geoff to go into partnership with me in the SAMANTHA WILLS jewellery business, and without putting a cent into it, with his business mind and my creative one, we didn’t have a loss making year from that point forward.
Over the course of the SAMANTHA WILLS jewellery journey, there have been countless times I have questioned whether I have taken the wrong path.
All my friends went on European sojourns in our early 20’s and I stayed home to put everything I had into building a business. Had I taken the wrong path? I though as all their Mykonos photos uploaded to Myspace.
When friends all around me started getting married and my Facebook feed was filled with “I said Yes!” engagement announcements, had I taken the wrong path? I thought, as I would click LIKE and offer my congratulations.
And then a few years after that when my Instagram feed streamed gender reveals and baby photos, had I taken the wrong path? I asked myself.
And then, almost 15 years in to the SAMANTHA WILLS jewellery journey, I realized I hadn’t taken the wrong path at any turn, because there is no such thing as a wrong path.
You see Wrong Path, everyone - including you and I – are on the exact path they are meant to be on, it’s the timeline we have the problem with.
I truly believe that the Universe only has three answers for us;
2. Not right now.
3. I have something better in store for you….(just be patient)
I really appreciated getting your letter. I appreciated it because it made me really look at my journey and revisit the times I remember thinking that I was so far down a wrong path that there was simply no way out, but the whole time it was exactly where I needed to be for where I was going.
I appreciate the sincere love and energy you gave the SAMANTHA WILLS brand while you were selling it at Pieno in Chapel St. Retailers were the cornerstone of our business and it is because of people like you it was a success.
I appreciate you letting me know that the closing of the SAMANTHA WILLS jewellery brand makes you emotional, because that means that what we did as a brand meant something to people, and that is something that I will hold with such care and delicacy in a part of my heart forever.
The last thing I want to suggest, Wrong Path, is don’t plan to revisit your passion of jewellery making to a future date on the calendar. If you still have any of your beads, feathers or shells laying around – maybe they are in an olive fishing tackle box – get them back out and start creating. Don’t worry about taking things to ‘the next level’, that will follow if it’s meant to, but I wholeheartedly believe it is so much more fulfilling to truly create, than be a creator.
I hope tonight, Wrong Path with your beautiful baby sound asleep, and your dining table covered in beads and crystals and shells you take a minute to look around and see that you have been on the right path the entire time.