MOM CRUSH: SAMANTHA
INTERVIEW BY KARIN HESSELVIK
PHOTOS BY MARISSA KAISER
Stepping inside Samantha Pleet's house feels a little bit like visiting Alice in Wonderland for tea. The dreamy aesthetic that her indie label design creations have become so known for is in full force in this busy Bedstuy home/workspace/showroom where Samantha shares her time with her husband and co-worker Patrick and their daughter Valentine. Soft tones of peach and cotton candy create a hyper feminine atmosphere and there is an air of whimsy and playfulness with toys strewn across the floor and various hand made creations contrasted by the stark evidence of a very busy work studio: packages ready to ship out, shoe sketches for an upcoming season tacked on the wall, and samples waiting to be reviewed for Samantha's brand new kid's line, Dear Valentine. Somehow, this new mama exudes an air of calmness and confidence amidst the creative chaos. Maybe it's because she believes in magic, like really believes in it. Maybe it's because she's just too busy to worry about the big stuff. Or maybe it's because her mommy motto is "just have fun." Read on to learn more of her story.
What’s the first thing you remember creating?
I remember tying fabric together playing dress up as a young child. We would create these magical little plays and we needed costumes, so that became my job.
What’s the most recent thing you created?
A jumpsuit for my upcoming Fall 18 collection, now I do know how to sew and I love being able to whip up whatever I imagine.
Are you a kid or a grown up?
I still feel between both worlds, I never want to leave the kid part of me behind.
What does freedom mean to you?
To be able to choose what I want to create.
What’s something that energizes you?
What are you most proud of?
My Daughter Valentine
When are you your most creative self?
Late at night when Valentine is asleep and I can get into my work without any distractions.
how did your parents NURTURE your creativity GROWING UP?
My mother had a wood shop in the garage and would make our own furniture and surreal creations like lion shaped coffee tables and sponge painted mirrors, very 90's craft show meets Nakashima. When I had friends over we would paint blocks of wood and she would cut them into all sorts of shapes for puzzles with her table saw. We were always working on some sort of art project, from making jewelry to sewing costumes. I was also lucky to have her help for all my school projects too. I ended up studying fashion design at Pratt. I was very lucky to have parents that were supportive in my artistic endeavors.
Who is your female spirit animal
Lady Morgana from Arthurian Legend, because she was a magical wizardess who had amazing style with her lovely cloaks.
Three words that describe your take on motherhood
Just have fun
What have you learned about yourself since becoming a mother?
That I have more patience than I think.
what has been the most humbling part of motherhood so far?
That I must be on call 24/7, there is no such thing as checking out completely. I have to have a new seance or responsibility that I am happy to give.
What was your ORIGINAL vision for starting your fashion line 'Samantha Pleet'?
I was striving to make something more magical, mysterious and aspirational in fashion that did not exist at the time. Everything seemed to be trending towards the utilitarian, so my friends and I gravitated to vintage clothes because there was something about those garments from past eras that was intangible and went beyond simply the materials that they were made from.
How has it evolved over the years?
I am still very true to that original ethos of striving to make fashion that has something magical beyond the sum of its component parts. My skills and knowledge as a designer and businesswoman have definitely improved with the thousands of hours of work put in, so I do feel that I am constantly improving the quality of the products and being smarter about how I run the business side of it. I am also constantly setting the bar higher so I am always challenging myself to push the designs to the next level.
RUNNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS, how do you balance your workload while also being a NEW mom?
My husband Patrick and I work together running the business and take turns during work time to take care of ViVi. We are also very lucky to have her Grandparents nearby. They come by on a weekly basis to help take care of her so Patrick and I have some time together to focus on our work.
How has motherhood has affected the way you work?
Out of the blue I developed a much greater efficiency. Although I may have less time to dedicate to work, when I do have the time it has been much more fruitful. These days, I am also spending more of my time reflecting on the work so that when it's time to execute it comes together very quickly.
How do you define success?
If I am able to make a decent living and provide what is needed from my family by doing the work that I love, I couldn't ask for anything more.
How do you stay inspired?
I think I have an opposite problem of being 'over-inspired' and not always being able to focus and edit what is important. The wonders of the natural world and the multitude of cultures contained within are endlessly inspiring to me, the hard part is choosing what to focus on at a given time.
What’s your biggest struggle right now?
Juggling many projects at the same time. In the past year and a half I have had a baby, bought a house, launched a new baby and children’s clothing line (Dear Valentine), started a new shoe line, all while still maintaining the workload that comes along with designing and operating my Samantha Pleet business.
How do you make room for magic in your life?
Magic exists and is happening all of the time, all around us. I just need to make sure I slow down enough to recognize it.
What would you do with more time?
What’s a question you wish more people asked?
How about a cup of coffee?
What’s one thing you would still like to do?
I dream of working on architectural projects and designing furniture one day.
Why do you think being part of a female community important?
It is important to be supported by women and support other women as well. This world has been run by men for too long and we are seeing the dangers of that coming into focus now more than ever before. It's so important that women get more opportunities to take on leadership roles as we move into the future and the only way we can make that happen is by lifting each other up.
In this current political landscape, what role do you think we can play as creatives and as mothers in affecting change?
In our country just being an independent, powerful woman who won’t stand for injustice sends a strong message and if more and more of us can step into that role things will inevitably change for the better.
One lesson from 2017?
Don’t take anything for granted.
One dream for 2018?
A democratic congress
One thing you’d like to tell another pom pom mom trying to figure it all out.
Don’t worry about figuring it all out. Take time to smell the roses and acknowledge the great things in your life.
this is our first ever NYC based mom crush shoot. we were very lucky to work with the talented photographer and single mama Marissa Kaiser on this shoot (check out her website for some of her work) who brought her daughter Eloise along (featured in the playroom photo with ViVi above). both kiddos are wearing pieces from Samantha's brand new line Dear Valentine.