So tell a little bit about yourself, Samarah, what is your connection to all your beautiful art? How did you learn to do all of this?
I learned to do all of this through my mum actually. Well not the ceramics, but my mum is an artist and dad is a musician so that’s all we’ve ever really known and when I went to art school in London I just thought I was going to do something like graphics but I ended up doing spacial design and hated it. My teacher ended up telling me I would be better off working in a more hands-on area so that’s when I went into ceramics. I remember leaving community college and actually telling myself that I was never going to touch ceramics again because I hated the class so much.
That’s really interesting that you never planned on doing what you love!! So how long has Something Samarah been going on for now?
Just about 5 years now.
So how many people are actually present in the whole process of creating each of your pieces?
I have a seamstress that has been working with me for the past 5 years, two friends of mine that do all the stringing, and two girls helping me roll the beads in their spare time.
Please tell us about the materials that you use to work with?
It’s all porcelain and some local clay but the local clay tends to be very soft so I have to mix it with porcelain clay which is stronger to get the right consistency for the necklaces. I prefer more natural materials but then there’s the Gemini in me that sometimes wants a bit of velvet haha! Unfortunately, almost all materials on the island are imported, but if I can do it as natural as possible that is the goal.
When you choose the materials, is the end of life stage something that you consider?
Yes. The clay on the jewelry definitely does break down eventually but when it comes to end of life stages of breaking down like the clutches and stuff like that, I haven’t figured out the best way to recycle the water-resistant lining on the inside and all of that needs to be thought of but I have some amazing clients that bring it back to me after they have used it to its last days and allowed me to create another clutch for them using the same lining.
And how long does the process take to make one of your beaded heart necklaces?
I can roll beads in half an hour if I am really stressed on time but at an easier pace I would say 45 minutes. Then it takes about an hour to make all the components of it and then it goes into the kiln for 5 hours which you can’t open until the next day because it needs to cool overnight. You then take it out for stringing and that takes the girls about an hour when they are really working fast. It’s A LOT of work, this is why we are a non-stop process because we always need to be stocking up on beads especially because we aren’t a huge business that can just turn stock over multiple times a day.
That’s crazy to think. That is a perfect explanation to lead to the next question - Do you ever feel like giving up?
Yes, sometimes I do, especially this week! I get this feeling because my business isn’t one that makes a whole lot of money and at some point, you have to be OK with that and really choose your happiness over monetary values. I haven’t changed my prices since the beginning, which is also hard because materials are more expensive now and at some point you have to sit back and understand this is a business and you are 1 out of a small team and we do need to have a separation from work at some point. Having a separation from constantly working is just as important for me as working because that’s when I really start to get creative. Without that rest, It’s hard to achieve much.
How would someone know a Something Samarah piece when they see it? What characteristic stands out to you the most?
I think the fact that my products are all handmade is what makes them distinct to others. You can always see the imperfections and what not. I am more of an accessories kind of person whereas, with clothing, I am very minimal and simple, so my jewelry tends to be more chunky, to create a statement, and not like fine jewelry.
How do you stay inspired in your work process?
I guess just the environment around me. Things that you don’t usually see get to me such as colours and patterns in nature and that’s what I am really good with because I would always see my mum paint so I knew what colours looked good next to each other and which ones didn’t. It’s more or less my environment around me.
So if you weren’t doing this what would you be doing?
I have no idea. I have tried to think about this but it really scares me that I have no idea what else I would do. I would probably do something similar to this or anything in the same stream of work. Maybe something like interiors.
What’s the best part about what you do?
The best part of what I do could also be the worst part and that is that there are no rules. I can do whatever I would like when I would like. I love the fact that I can set my own hours. Some days I can go to yoga at 9 o’clock and start my day at 10 and work until 6… and on the other hand, I can work from morning to night all day without any breaks.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
When I’m not working all day, I would say yoga, playing with my puppy and cooking are my hobbies. I have been on a risotto kick for the past couple weeks and I love to do it with a pumpkin broth – it’s so good!
What would you tell others that are interested in getting into the art industry or jewelry making because it must be quite a tight industry?
It's hard because there are so many brands that make it such an oversaturated industry, especially in Barbados. That’s why I refuse to make the same thing that others are making. All my beads are handmade and I think that makes a big difference. You kind of just have to find your own unique way to make it different than somebody else’s and once you do that, there’s no reason why it won’t work.
Well thank you so much for your time Samarah! All of your hard work is truly inspiring. Wishing you all the best in the future!