Feature on Creative – Sam from Isla Designs

We first met Sam and saw her funky, quirky and cute products at I heart Market in Durban.  I purchased a very handsome monkey from her stand – Isla Designs.  My little boy absolutely loves him, he was creatively named ‘monkey’ and we always get asked where he came from!  Sam joined us at our June Creative ‘In store’ workshop to help grow the wholesale side of her business.

Our order was hand delivered by Sam on Monday and is literally flying out!  We’ll be placing another order and expanding our range this week to ensure we have plenty of stock for Christmas!

We asked Sam some Questions about herself and her business… she’s a G&T girl… so she must be ok!!  Grab a cuppa and have a read…

1// How did your business begin? When / where / how did it all start? 

I had a semi-creative office job, but I felt my creativity wasn’t being expressed enough. I quit my job and in February 2010 I started making soft toys to sell at a few local Durban markets. I’ve always been a little bit creative but when I was in school going off to become an artist wasn’t the done thing! Eventually though art won over in the end – go where your talents lie and you’ll be happy!

 2// Why do you do what you do? 

Every day I wake up and look forward to work. I have never had that doing any other job, so I know I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing!

 3// When you were younger what did you want to be when you grew up?! 

I really wanted to be a game ranger! I love the bush and my best friend and I dreamed of moving to the bush and becoming game rangers. It nearly happened too, but I just so happened to spend a little time in the ranger accommodation at a game lodge and sharing my space with about 20 HUGE spiders put paid to the ranger idea! I am petrified of spiders and that phobia doesn’t gel well with the whole bush life!

 4// What inspires you when designing new products?

 I look to nature for inspiration and then add a little bit of my warped interpretation to it! I love simple things – Scandinavian design and style is me to a ‘T’.

 5// What are your hopes and dreams for your products?

That each person who buys or gets one of my pieces sees the love and attention that went into it, and loves it as much as I loved creating it.

 6// What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt so far in your business journey? 

It took a long time to build up my confidence that I was doing the right thing and creating something people wanted to own, but I have finally reached the point where I know that the product I make can not only compete with, but grace the same places and shops as other extremely talented local designers. Knowing that what you are doing is the right thing for you and your life, is in my opinion the greatest thing you can learn.

 7// Why should our customers buy your products?

They are fun, quirky and unique. I take pride in my making my pieces to be of the finest quality they can be, so they can be assured that they are getting excellent quality. Oh, and they will definitely bring a smile to their faces and what could be better than that?

 8// What’s your favourite product from your line?

Can I say all of them?! I would have to say my giraffe toy…I was always referred to as a bit of a giraffe at school because of my height, so I guess I can relate to them!

 9// About you? What’s your – Top Song? Top Food? Top beverage? Top Place? Top movie?

I have extremely varied taste in music…my work playlist includes Maroon 5, Eminem, One Republic, Katy Perry, Linkin Park amongst others.

Favourite food is definitely Thai especially Thai curries. Throw a bit of chocolate in and I’m a happy girl! 

Drink of choice is an ice cold G+T with lemon. Although coffee comes in a very close second!

In my early twenties I spent quite a bit of time living in Edinburgh and consider it my second home, so after good ol’ Durbs that would be my favourite place! The Royal Mile is still definitely my top place to visit – history and architecture all in one!

Fave movie is based on of my fave books –‘ Into the Wild’. I always envy the main character and his bravery to leave his comfortable life behind go in search of a simpler more meaningful life for himself.

 10// And lastly imagine you are heading out for dinner with a bunch of creative geniuses – who would be sitting around the table with you? 

 How big is the table?! My design icon is Heather Moore at Skinny LaMinx so she’ll definitely be there. Scandinavian designer Lotta Jansdotter for sure! Liz Stanley who is the creator of the blog ‘Say Yes’ http://sayyes.com/ – her style is awesome. I always love to pick local genius Nadia van der Mescht’s brain for advice and inspiration. Another clever lady at the table would be Denise Kiggan from Freshly Found (http://www.freshlyfound.com/) who has THE most creative mind I’ve come across. And last but not least I’ll throw in Quentin Tarantino…he’s a creative genius and his warped mind appeals to me!

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