Sam Selby is an incredibly talented artiste who has managed to create not one, but two jewellery lines by the tender age of 32, ‘BoboStar’ and ‘The Sirena Collection’. She is also mum to a gorgeous two-year-old boy and has a vast branding, marketing and design background.
Photo credits: Sam Selby, photographed by Matthew B Spiteri at The Music Suite, The Palace, Sliema; Necklace: The Sirena Collection available at 202 Jewellery; Hair: Alfie’s Hair and Beauty Salon; ; Make-up: Francesca Scerri Rizzo at @Alfie’s Hair and Beauty Salon;
I had the pleasure of meeting with Sam over a coffee at Café Cuba to find out more about how she came about entering the fashion design business and how she balances being a mum and an entrepreneur.
This is the first time we meet, and Sam greets me with a delightful smile; I notice she is wearing one of her stunning necklaces from ‘The Sirena Collection’ which is even more gorgeous in person, as I had only seen it on images until now.
Proud moment: Sam Selby recently signed with 202 Jewellery to exclusively stock ‘The Sirena Collection’.
You are from the U.K., however you lived in India for a while right?
“That’s right, I grew up in the U.K, and before moving to Malta, I lived in India for two years”
Sam was there doing voluntary work in an orphanage. “While I was at the orphanage, I taught the kids about branding, design and merchandising, in fact the older kids opened their own shop. They made their own clothes and also worked there!” Sam goes on to explain how she taught them about mark-ups, coding, buying amongst other retail essentials.
I also have 2 kids out there which i support…I have paid for their education till the age of 18 after which they can come and find me…
“It was a really great experience and achievement and one that I am very proud of. I also have 2 kids out there which i support, Vishal and Sanita. I have paid for all of their education till the age of 18 after which they can come and find me, and I will have a home for them if they wish.”
I am totally in awe of this lovely, talented and selfless mama. Sam explains how one of the kids, Vishal’s father died of alcohol abuse and that his mother could not manage to support him. Sanita was found at a bus stop with her sister looking for food out of a dustbin; she was covered in burn scars and struggled with health issues due to drug and alcohol abuse by her mother during pregnancy.
I ask Sam whether she is still in touch with them, “Yes, but only a couple of times a year. I find it very emotional when I see them on SKYPE, and I can tell it is hard for them too. I have friends who go and visit them, taking gifts and photos.” Sam explains how she tried to leave India three times but each time she felt so heartbroken that she kept returning. “We were very attached. I have thought about visiting them many times. Each time my heart aches so much that I just don’t know if I could go back. Clearly at this very moment I am not ready.”
Evidently, India is very close to Sam’s heart and she has a deep connection with these children. I ask her what people can do from here in Malta to help the children in India. “People can donate, sponsor children and find ways to fund-raise via the website http://childrescue.net.
“Seeing the poverty there was not easy, I wanted to use my skills to help the people there as much as I could. I also travelled around India helping small family-run businesses to develop effective marketing strategies targeting tourists.”
How did you get involved in jewellery design in the first place?
“I have always had a love for jewellery; when I was little I used to make friendship bracelets for my friends, and as I grew older I found myself working in jewellery shops. In India I also learnt a lot about different stones and their various meanings, features and textures.”
Sam Selby, photographed by Matthew B Spiteri at The Music Suite, The Palace, Sliema; Necklace and earrings: The Sirena Collection available at 202 Jewellery; Hair: Alfie’s Hair and Beauty Salon; Make-up: Francesca Scerri Rizzo at @Alfie’s Hair and Beauty Salon; Dress: ‘Butik by Karen’.
Sam continues to tell me how she never felt it was the right time to actually take jewellery design more seriously. “It was not until I met my now husband Darko, who encouraged me to take the leap and focus fully on my designs, that I actually found the courage to go for it.”
How did you and Darko meet?
She laughs, “Our first date was disastrous and I honestly did not think the relationship would go much further. However I realised there was something more, when I visited the U.K whilst we were seeing each other and I really missed him. As soon as I came to Malta he asked me to move in with him. At first I said no, since it was so early in our relationship but eventually I agreed to move in and when we did start living together, we realised how we were meant for each other.
Five days later, I was pregnant. It was a BIG surprise. Darko was great through it all and I waddled down the aisle 5 months later
We actually planned to get married the following year and also wanted to eventually start a family. I suffer from endometriosis and my doctor had advised me that, after I stop taking the pill, it would take at least one and a half years to get pregnant. So I stopped taking the pill a few months before our wedding. Five days later, I was pregnant. It was a BIG surprise. Darko was great through it all and I waddled down the aisle 5 months later.” she chuckles saying that she was already quite ‘big’ already at the time.
Sam Selby, photographed by Matthew B Spiteri at The Music Suite, The Palace, Sliema; Necklace: The Sirena Collection available at 202 Jewellery; Hair: Alfie’s Hair and Beauty Salon; Make-up: Francesca Scerri Rizzo at @Alfie’s Hair and Beauty Salon; White shirt: ‘Butik by Karen’
Sam tells me how her pregnancy was not an easy one. “I have battled with hormone-caused depression in the past and I really wanted to make sure I had as much support as possible, in fact since I have no family here, I made sure that the hospital team were aware of my past.
Unfortunately even though I did everything I could to avoid it, my post-natal depression kicked in during my pregnancy, yes it can happen” she adds. “It was hard because the way I felt was actually no feeling at all; not happy; not sad; just passive. It made me realise that post-natal depression has many forms and numbness was one of them. Unfortunately the feedback I got was a pat on the back and that I would feel better soon, I was offered medication.”
Sam refused to take any medication, so she looked for alternative therapies. “I finally discovered Neurofeedback therapy. It basically uses a system of monitoring brain waves that cause hormone changes in the body, and it worked incredibly for me.”
It was very intense. I created it all myself on my own steam and I am proud of that.
To have a baby and keep waiting for that feeling of elation that everyone talks about, and not feel anything is awful. It wasn’t what I had been told about. After the Neurofeedback therapy, which was around 9 months after I had my son, I finally started to feel emotions again.”
Following these challenges, you found the time and energy to create and launch your Sam Selby jewellery line. How did you manage it all?
“For three years I had been trying to get into ‘Malta Fashion Week’ with my jewellery line, ‘BoboStar’. Every time I got knocked back I would get up again and review what it would take to do better and get in next time. After three years I finally got the call from Adrian Mizzi that I was invited to feature BoboStar in Malta Fashion Week 2016.
Once I got accepted, I actually came up with the idea to create a new, more luxurious line, and in a period of 14 weeks I managed to complete ‘The Sirena Collection.’ I created the line as well as the branding, packaging, website and advertising campaign and all the displays for the show. It was very intense. I created it all myself on my own steam and I am proud of that.” And rightly so, the collection is a beautiful line of colourful statement pieces including necklaces and earrings.
Sam Selby, photographed by Matthew B Spiteri at The Music Suite, The Palace, Sliema; Necklace and earrings: The Sirena Collection available at 202 Jewellery; Hair: Alfie’s Hair and Beauty Salon;; Make-up: Francesca Scerri Rizzo at @Alfie’s Hair and Beauty Salon.
Can you tell us more about ‘The Sirena Collection’?
“The pieces are made of sea sediment which consists of solid fragments of material found at the bottom of the sea bed.” Sam explains that sourcing of this material is extremely time-consuming; “it can only be mined at low tide and compressed to the right consistency otherwise it would crumble. Because of the way the necklaces are assembled, and the way the stone absorbs the colour you will never have two pieces that are exactly the same.”
Sam goes on to add how thankful she is for the help and support of her family and friends, “I could not have created this line, without the incredible support given to me by my husband, family and my son’s childcare staff. They allowed me to focus on my work when I needed to, and did not make me feel guilty for doing so.”
The phone can be very distracting and I make sure I allocate some time every day when I do not look at my phone and my sole focus is my son.
Sam explains how she struggles a lot with ‘mummy guilt’. I tell her how we all struggle, it is part of being a mummy; no matter what we do, we will feel guilty for not doing more. I guess the fact that we strive to do more in itself means we want the best for our kids and that is what is most important. Sam tells me how she schedules and allocates quality time with her son, with no phone which is a great idea. “The phone can be very distracting and I make sure I allocate some time every day when I do not look at my phone and my sole focus is my son.” Well said!
“I think what surprised me the most was that my baby was such a good sleeper and slept through the night between 8pm and 8am.” Sam goes on to say how grateful she is of her relationship with her son. “I am incredibly thankful that he still loves me, even though I struggled to show feelings in those first months because of my post-natal depression.”
What was the best moment for you as a mother?
“The best moment for me is when my son runs towards me when I pick him up from nursery. It’s one of the greatest feelings in the world.”
What has been the most challenging aspect of motherhood?
“Other than the post-natal, the tantrums. They have started and I must say, they are really challenging times.”
What was your best purchase as a mum?
“I think my best buy was our breastfeeding chair; not necessarily because it helped me breastfeed but because it is so comfortable, everyone loves it.” She laughs “We actually bicker on who gets to sit on it now.”
What is your advice to new mums out there?
“My advice to new mums is that if they are feeling particularly low or numb and think they may be suffering from post-natal depression, which comes in many forms, to seek help and also look for alternatives in order to find what works best for them.”
Where do you see yourself in the future?
“My aim is to continue making beautiful jewellery and enjoy being a mum. I have also been elected to represent artisans in Malta for the Malta Arts Council for the development of other artists and craftsmen. There are always new projects on the horizon.”
The lovely photos you see here were taken in one of the designer suites at ‘The Palace Hotel‘ in Sliema – The MUSIC Suite. Photographer Matthew B Spiteri who himself loves music, managed to capture these stunning shots of Sam wearing her exquisite jewellery pieces.
A huge thanks goes to Francesca Scerri Rizzo and Bianca Caruana Curran from Alfie’s Hair and Beauty Salon for the stunning hair and makeup and ‘Butik by Karen’ for assistance with the outfits.
Article written by Davinia Mallia Pulé. Follow BuzyMummy Malta on FB to keep up to date with our articles, posts and giveaways.