We had the good fortune of connecting with Samantha Black and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Samantha, how do you think about risk?
I now think of risk generally by Brené Brown’s description of ‘Daring Greatly’. There is a magical sweetness to the vulnerability and bravery needed to jump off the cliff toward the unknown. Through challenge after challenge I began to formulate my authentic design voice. My father a few years ago told me, citing a Psychology Today article, that, ‘resilience is my superpower’. And this to me is what daring greatly entails. I dared to change everything, I gave up all stability and ventured out into the world as a newly divorced single-parent almost 4 years ago, and I was reentering the workforce 10 years behind my peer group. Have there been challenges? Absolutely, too many to count, just ask any parent about homeschooling this year. Gray hairs, I have earned them all. Running toward your dreams takes guts, belief in yourself, your perspective and your abilities. I strive to live in multiplicity, all of my creative endeavors cross-pollinate and fuel each other. I am currently writing a book, while working on a dozen residential design projects from Los Angeles to San Francisco to Seattle, while working to launch a new company, while designing a large scale art installation piece, and all while being a mother, friend and daughter. Risk it, fail, get up, be vulnerable, let your voice be heard, it is worth it.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Please tell us more about your business. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others? I usually describe myself first as a translator, second as a relationship therapist, and third as designer. Often the language of design, and of art in general, can seem needlessly intimidating. I invite and challenge my clients and homeowners to investigate and find what they love, and then I co-create with them to make it a reality. Everyone knows what ‘feels good’ to them, I just help give them permission to live that way everyday. What you are most proud of or excited about? I am most excited about my new business venture, launching in early 2021. It has literally taken me 15 years to figure out how I can help artists, they are such a vital part of the thriving cultural heartbeat of society. Black Label Kollective collaborates with studio artists to create custom and curated collections of interior design integrated elements based on their artistic endeavors. My heart sings when I think about this. Stay tuned for new and inspiring ways to invite local and international artists into your home. How did you get to where you are today business-wise. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? ‘Nothing worth doing is ever easy’, this is one of my favorite quotes. And I don’t think any child says they are going to be a ‘bathroom design expert’ when they grow up. But this is where I am, I have designed over 120 bathrooms thus far in my career. Bidets for Days! I have a natural inclination towards more technical and challenging aspects of design, away from throw pillows and more toward plumbing. I love the challenge of bathrooms and kitchens with their mix of form, function and utility. What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way? The most valuable lesson is, to know yourself and your strengths and keep gaining new strengths by learning new skills. I would not understand how to navigate the numerous and common challenges of construction if I did not wield a hammer, use a nail gun, or cut and install natural stone tile myself. You cannot communicate to your team with empathy and understanding if you have no idea what they do or the limitations of a material. I love my power tools, I name them after strong women; my demolition hammer’s name is Joan of Arc. My advice, get your hands dirty! Don’t call a handyman (or woman), be one. You will be more fulfilled than you think, and who knows, you may be able to build your own house from the ground up someday. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story? Everyone loves ‘Before and After’ pictures, the transformation of a space, and the translation of a feeling and state-of-mind into a physical reality. My brand, company and story are really about a life partnership with creativity and creative outputs. A marriage I wholeheartedly dedicate my life to with absolute abandon. Come create with me, the time is now. Exciting things happen when you give yourself permission.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Actually, I just had a friend visit last weekend. Let me tell you, it is truly amazing to see LA through someone else’s eyes. Giddy with excitement, camera out, one mural at a time, you creep down Abbot Kinney. We are blessed to be surrounded by art at every turn and in every alley. With the current state of things, outdoor activities reign supreme. A morning hike on Los Leones Trail. Then, going out to brunch has honestly been replaced by home culinary adventures in Eggs Benedict after a quick visit to the Venice Farmers Market on a Friday morning. Late afternoon beach walks while mask-clad and avoiding crowds to watch the sunset, which is still as beautiful everyday despite Covid-19. And on Sunday’s at sundown watching Marcus Gladney lead the Venice Electric Light Parade, it really brings a smile to your face no matter your age.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
So is there a person, group, organization, book, etc that you want to dedicate your shoutout to? Honestly, my son Rainier. If one thing can engender perspective in life it is that we are the example for our children of how to navigate in this world with compassion, empathy, conviction, curiosity and imagination. It is a tall order to take stock of your life now that you are the example someone looks to for guidance. He is a beacon, a reminder and a strength of action that propels me forward. He is about to turn 7 years old, and the things we are building and designing together are only going to get more exciting.
Who else deserves a little credit and recognition in your story?
There are many influential people in my life that have charted the path to where I am today, from positive mentors to important lessons learned. One person can not be distinguished from the culmination of the present. From my family in Seattle and my Pacific Northwest do-it-yourself roots, to my beautiful and colorful tribe of friends in LA and beyond. They have all helped to hold me up, inspire me and encourage me. I would hug you all but that is not allowed right now.
Other: https://www.pinterest.com/SAMANTHABLACKDESIGN @SAMANTHABLACKDESIGN
Laura Grier @LauraGrierTravel