For all of you who may be new here; this is a great interview to come in on. This is our FIRST INTERNATIONAL INTERVIEW- reaching all the way to LONDON, UK!
Samata is an amazing woman and one who’s story definitely needs to be heard and shared. You do know that’s what we are all about. Eventually, the goal is to help every woman of color to feel and understand their worth! — Every woman is valuable and every woman is beautiful, with a devine purpose and duty to carry out here in life. We are about uniting the sisterhood and using our stories to empower and enlighten one another. We want to draw attention to the REAL behind things so that you’re reassured that imperfections are not only normal but essential to your journey!
Due to the distance, we could not conduct this interview in person, but we spoke with Samata and she was happy to talk to us and share some insight, along with a huge announcement that you MUST get in on!
Samata is the CEO & Creator of THE TRIBE™️ Women’s Empowerment Organization, as well as Vice President of Red Carpet Green Dress, sustainable fashion at the Oscars. She is also the published author of the Fashion Designers Resource Book! – AND SHE’S A MOMMY!!!!
SO excited to connect with this Queen.
Tell us about your journey. How did life begin for you? Where are you from and what was life like as a kid?
I am from Cambridge, UK although my parents are both Ghanaian. I grew up in a really fun and lively household with two sisters. If I were going to summarize my childhood I would simply say, fun and adventurous. My mum has always reinforced the idea that anything was possible if we gave our all, so I think we grew up feeling quite invincible.
How did you know that you loved fashion?
That’s quite hard to answer as I can’t remember a conscious memory of it? I’ve always been creative at heart – I used to write poetry and customize clothes all the time. So that is just really part of who I am to be honest. I can’t say when it started, but I do remember always liking the transformative power that fashion has. It arms and reveals all in one, and I think that is hypnotic. Even though I studied Economics and Finance at university (long story!) I always knew I would end up in a creative space. I used to work as PR in this stunning 3 floor boutique on the Kings Road, Chelsea and spent hours looking at the luxury gowns and marveling at them. I think if your mind keeps running to it, then you should do it!
What is it like being a woman CEO?
I think being a leader is hard, regardless of your gender but women do have a tougher journey if you ask me. We just have so much more layered into it when we are in charge. It’s a constant juggling act – if I am firm I am perceived as being demanding. If I am passionate, I am deemed too emotional. If I make a mistake, I am unable to cope. It’s a ridiculously fine line and so in the end I think you should just focus on being 100% yourself and letting people interpret things as they want to. It’s not my job to constantly explain myself, especially when I am just working hard to get a job done. I’ve walked into many meetings and had a chuckle at the expectation that I would not be in my role, or be able to command the room. I think you have to use any doubts as motivation, and not take it on board or doubt yourself.
How did you come around to creating THE TRIBE™?
I wanted to make a positive change. Women feeling good about who they already are is important to me because I feel so often we are reminded why we aren’t enough – it’s one thing after the other and keeping your head up is hard sometimes. I created THE TRIBE™ initially as a space for women to be reminded of who they already are and celebrated as such but it has grown into way more – we fundraiser, we develop empowering products, it’s growing. My vision is for it to become a global movement and brand, and also to bring together female warriors who support each and help each other to navigate challenges or problems – emotionally but also tangibly – with work.
What have been some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on?
Red Carpet Green Dress is my favourite project. We are approaching 10 years (though I have not been on board since the beginning) and it’s so exciting. Suzy Amis Cameron and her husband James Cameron (Director of Titanic and Avatar) have been involved in environmental causes, protecting the planet and its precious resources for a long time. Inspired by the global red carpet opportunity presented by her husbands’ blockbuster hit ‘Avatar’ in 2009, Suzy Amis Cameron founded the project. In a nutshell, we create ethical fashion for the Oscars red carpet each year. As Vice President, I lead the campaign and am involved in everything from talent selection to planning our Pre-Oscar celebration to walking the carpet at the Oscars.
What have been some of your biggest challenges, and how did you overcome them?
Simply put, I think creative people are hugely vulnerable or at least sensitive and if you bare that mind of course you will suffer the worst lows if things aren’t going your way or you can’t see a break happening in the immediate future – plus your resources are nearly always tight! There were times when I thought failure would hit me hard, but that’s when self-belief, getting away, talking to people who believe in you is crucial. You have to breathe and get your needs met so that you can bounce back full force. That’s what I do. Galleries, watching my favourite shows, reading, hanging out with friends or having a day in bed and getting up to face another day! Listen to your body and your quiet mind – don’t force anything (by all means push yourself), but don’t force it through or you actually might ruin it.
I am passionate but I can be reckless. Still, life is all about learning! The best thing I have done for myself is stop, count to ten and get a second opinion if I feel like my decision is far too impulsive or not well-thought out enough. It’s great to have a vision and plan, but it’s wise to seek some counsel if you feel you might be putting a little too much into something (or not enough).
Launching THE TRIBE™ was also really hard, the first solo project I have done outside of Red Carpet Green Dress for years. The biggest challenge was the negative self-talk telling me I shouldn’t even try. I overcame that by writing down why I should and that turned into something much bigger as you will see with THE TRIBE™ Empowerment Journal.
What is it like working Internationally?
I love travelling. It’s all about perspective. We think our worlds are bearing down on us sometimes, because we focus on what we can see and touch. Working internationally remind me how small I am, and how big the world is. Humbling. Also, you can’t help but feel a bit of a boss when you are working international time zones and interacting with people shaping the world of fashion and media. I love it.
What’s up next for you?
I am learning to not talk about things until they are done and ready to go. I want to keep things protected until they are a go. I have quite a few things ready to kick over the line, so all I can say is please stay tuned!
What’s up next for THE TRIBE™?
We have just launched THE TRIBE™ Empowerment Journal, and I am so excited about it! It’s such a positive concept and the ask is simple: Write down one thing about yourself to celebrate each day, acknowledge your past achievements, quieten your doubtful thoughts and be intentional about your day. My purpose with the journal is to change the way women around the world see and think about themselves, for the better. I have been working on it for the past year – including throughout my pregnancy and with my newborn, and I truly believe it will have a positive global impact.
I really poured a lot of heart and soul into creating this, and the process helped me along the way! There are daily celebration spaces, intentions, questions, quotes and mind-maps, plus plenty of space for reflections and ideas too. I wanted the women using it to journey through engaging stories and 19 empowering lists, and be inspired by extracts from 10 interviews with women from THE TRIBE™ global community, a diverse representation of ages, ethnicities and industries – including science, art, fashion, business and activism.
Advice for women of color looking to get into the fashion industry?
Seek validation from the people who matter! When I started, I wanted to be in VOGUE more than in ESSENCE but that is all wrong. One is not better than the other, but I think that too often we are looking to be accepted, when fashion is notorious from lifting inspiration from us without giving us credit. Seek validation and support from the people who are willing to invest in you, and spend their coins on you. If you do that, then you will start looking outside the narrow strip to success defined by a small in-crowd. Things are changing and as part of the culture, you have more on your side than you realize.
Also trust your gut/instincts and be business savvy.
Access to funding, securing PR, finding the right stockist…the list goes on. It’s hard, so no, you are not imagining it. It is challenging for emerging designers full stop – that’s why I wrote my book, the Fashion Designer’s Resource Book. Just keep going, be relentless and push your voice out there with a strategy in mind.
Advice for strengthening the sisterhood within the women of color community?
I think we could really do with accepting each other’s opinions and views, even if they differ. The idea of what it means to be a black woman is not one-dimensional, and for me, a set of ticked boxes does not make me less or more of a woman of colour. I love this quote, do not seek comfort in other women’s flaws. We should want a fellow woman of colour to be all of it, not be looking for what she is not. That’s quite hard to answer as I can’t remember a conscious memory of it? I’ve always been creative at heart – I used to write poetry and customize clothes all the time. So that is just really part of who I am to be honest. I can’t say when it started, but I do remember always liking the transformative power that fashion has. It arms and reveals all in one, and I think that is hypnotic. Even though I studied Economics and Finance at university (long story!) I always knew I would end up in a creative space. I used to work as PR in this stunning 3 floor boutique on the Kings Road, Chelsea and spent hours looking at the luxury gowns and marveling at them. I think if your mind keeps running to it, then you should do it!