Last week Sam sat down with Melissa Hoyer, Miranda Westfield & the lovely Shire Business Woman to discuss her achievements & success in the industry, how to survive 20+ years in the business, Sam’s inspirations, favourite pieces from her new collection & so much more.
Check out her Interview below:
Melissa Hoyer: Congrats on reaching the 20 year milestone! Can you tell us about Sambag’s beginnings? Where did the inspiration to create Sambag originate from?
Sam: It all started with a trip to New York 20 years ago. The art scene, New York street fashion, architecture and Central Park is where I drew my inspiration from.
From then, I decided to create a small range of bags that I sold at Sydney’s Paddington Markets. I very quickly developed a strong and loyal customer base, which gave me the confidence to complement the brand by extending it to shoes and later apparel.
Melissa: Everyone knows Sambag is famous for their fabulous ballet flats. In 2017, why should we still choose ballet flats?
Sam: They are a classic shape which will never date. They are the type of flat which can be easily worn with your favourite pair of jeans or even with corporate outfits. Ballets can be worn by ladies of all ages; a versatile, classic & trans-seasonal staple, I feel that every woman needs to invest in.
Melissa: 20 years of not only surviving, but thriving, in the fashion industry is an amazing accomplishment. Do you have any advice you can pass onto anyone thinking of starting their own business, fashion or otherwise?
Sam: Never give up, always try to learn from your mistakes; positivity is definitely key to staying motivated. One piece of advice, which I have found to be extremely important, is to ensure you hire strong staff. Staff can really impact your business and its success.
Melissa: Can you pin point your proudest moment, over the course of 20 years?
Sam: Opening my first store in Woollahra was a huge accomplishment and one of my proudest moments. Of course, my 20 year anniversary also makes the list, as the industry today is so competitive – it is a huge achievement for a small boutique business to reach the 20 year milestone.
Melissa: What is the biggest challenge you had to face throughout your 20 years in the business?
Sam: The impact of international labels moving into the Australian market has definitely been a challenge for small retailers, as well as continually trying to stay relevant & fashion forward in this competitive industry.
Melissa: How has the label evolved over the years?
Sam: I started with bags & ballets and then eventually launched into apparel, as I wanted to provide my customer with a complete outfit rather than just accessories. This year I have decided to take things even further and launch my first ever diffusion line, India Grace by Sambag. India Grace is a collaboration between myself and my daughter, India Grace Wagner. We’re both shoe-a-holics and together, we have designed sandals to suit the younger Sambag woman. India selected fabrications, styles, prints & textures. The partnership helped me determine what the younger customer is truly looking for & I loved spending quality time with my daughter.
Melissa: What are, in your opinion as a successful business-woman, the most important aspects of running a successful business?
Sam: Like I previously mentioned, a strong team is extremely important and can really contribute to the success of your business. High quality products and exceptional customer service are two other aspects which will also lead you down the path to success.
Melissa: What are some decisions you’d now re-think, in retrospect?
Sam: I think I would take my time with certain decisions. At one point I was opening quite a lot of stores, which weren’t the best decision for the brand. I decided I wanted to ensure my brand was a boutique based business and not a chain store, hence the closure of a few stores over the past few years.
Melissa: What makes Sambag so unique?
Sam: We are the go–to for classic ballets flat, always have & always will be. It is what Sambag is known for.
Melissa: Tell us about the AW17 campaign? What is the theme for this season?
Sam: This season theme is “Sambag style at every age”, as I wanted to express how diverse the brand has become. I love the idea of mothers and daughters shopping together, such a beautiful experience in-store.
Melissa: Do you have a favourite piece from the new collection?
Sam: My favourite piece would have to be the Megan leather pant! They are super comfy and so warm, they look fantastic with heels or flats. Definitely an investment for this winter season.
Melissa: Tell us about the Sambag women of the season? Why did you feel they best suited the brand & the message you are trying to pass on?
Sam: All the women are so different, yet they all maintain a classic and elegant presence – everything which Sambag stands for.
Melissa: Last bit of advice?
Sam: Don’t be afraid to take risks, not all of them will be a good choice, though you will definitely learn from the experience which I feel is very valuable.