We had the good fortune of connecting with Samantha Handler and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Samantha, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
I think the three main factors behind the success of KicksBySammy is that we have built a community, provide transparency, and collaborate with other like minded brands.
If you want your brand to have longevity, you need to build strong relationships with your customers and followers by interacting with them daily, involving them in product development, and more. Show your customers that you care about them and their needs.
It is also important to be honest with your customers. The more your brand tells a story at every level of the business the more involved people will feel with your brand. I show my customers there is a real person behind the brand. I involve them in my entrepeneurship journey by showing day in the life videos, struggles, intern experiences, and more.
Lastly, by working with other brands through limited-edition collections, giveaways, live conversations, and more we are able to expand to a larger audience. It keeps your brand interesting and hip!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
KicksBySammy originally began with just a pair of shoes and sharpies.
The summer going into my Freshman year of college (2013), I was bored at home and found an old pair of white Keds in my closet. Eager for college and desperate for some cool tailgate outfits, I had the idea to draw on the sneakers with Maryland logos and fun doodles. I loved how they turned out (at the time) and decided to post my creation on Instagram. I began to receive numerous comments and requests from friends and family who wanted a pair of hand-painted shoes for their college. I decided this was a great way to make some extra cash and began to take orders all summer.
Fast forward to my first semester at the University of Maryland, I wore the shoes out and people constantly approached me asking who made my shoes. More inquiries started to roll in from people I didn’t even know. One night, while hanging with my college friends they all said, “Sammy, you are onto something big with the shoes. You should make a business account for it and take more orders.” Hesitant at first, I decided to go for it. My first question to my friends was, “What do I even name this business?” My friend shouted out “KicksBySammy.” Not thinking twice that this would turn into my full-time business by 2017, I immediately went with it and KicksBySammy was born.
Recognizing that painting on shoes was not scalable, Sammy pivoted the business in 2017.
KicksBySammy is now a made-to-order, e-commerce accessories company featuring artist and founder Samantha Handler’s hand-drawn, colorful, and whimsical designs on a variety of products. With collections centered on Baby, College, Camp, Bridal, Painted Kicks, Art, and more, KicksBySammy offers products that are perfect for both everyday life and life’s milestones. With the ability to request your own designs and feature your own name, phrase or initials, KicksBySammy products are truly one-of-a-kind. Samantha also creates artwork for events, invitations, promotional products, and murals, having partnered with companies such as NBCU, CBRE, and Hamilton Jewelers.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I currently live and work in New York City. It is truly the city that never sleeps. Let me try to narrow down some of my favorite spots!
310 Bowery Bar
Walk around the parks (Central Park, Madison Square Park, Bryant Park, Battery Park…)
Shop around Soho
Walk the west side highway and visit the piers
Walk the Brooklyn Bridge and explore Brooklyn
Highline and Chelsea Market
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My parents of course deserve a shoutout. Starting a business at only 18 years old my parents have been my biggest cheerleaders. They have instilled in me that anything is possible with hard work and as they would call it some “grit.” From a young age they taught me, “Hard work beats talent, when talent fails to work hard.” This quote has stuck with me for years and has made me the woman I am today.
Other: tik tok; kicksbysammy