Meet SAMARA: The Brand Turning Apples In To Fashion
Start writing a post
Lifestyle

Meet The Sisters Of SAMARA: The Vegan Lifestyle Brand Spinning Apple Leather In To Fashion Gold

They make the bag that gets me compliments everywhere I go.

20618
Meet The Sisters Of SAMARA: The Vegan Lifestyle Brand Spinning Apple Leather In To Fashion Gold
SAMARA

Before launching cult-favorite lifestyle brand SAMARA, Founder and CEO Salima Visram founded The Soular Backpack — an initiative that provides solar-charged backpacks to children from her home of East Africa. The backpack charges a light so that children can do their homework without the damaging and detrimental effects of kerosene.

Today, sister Samara Visram, the namesake of SAMARA, is building a school in Kenya to support the village their family grew up in.

Those are only two of the many anecdotes that make Salima and Samara the powerhouse philanthropists and entrepreneurs they are, but the sentiment behind each is a pretty accurate summary of who they are.

Despite the massive amount of success they've had in the three years since their launch in December 2017, talking to the sisters feels like being welcomed into the Visram family itself. They text and befriend their SAMARA customers, leveraging their feedback to make products with pointed inspiration, each with a unique founder story of its own.

The duo weaves castor seeds into sunglasses, apples into chic totes, and recycled ocean plastics into backpacks. Their products are an elegant minimalist's dream — the chic tote and laptop sleeve get me compliments every single time I take them out.

Below, I talked to them about their challenges as female entrepreneurs, their philanthropic initiatives, and highlights from the past three years.

What is the story you hope to tell with SAMARA?

Salima: We use our community to design things for and with them. Everything we have keeps selling out because we know it's something people want and need. As we grow, we want to create a brand that is doing good from the factory to the way we're getting our raw materials, the way we get those materials, and how we treat our workers.

We would love to offer the people in Africa where we grew up a place to work that offers childcare one day.

The fashion industry is really bad right now, but we are always thinking about how can we take a few steps back to shift the narrative that fashion has to be a detrimental industry.

Samara: It's interesting to think about the story we want to share. I feel like every product carries a story — not just our story, but that of our community. We really take in customer feedback and use it as a basis to create literally every product we put out.

We have a call with our community every couple of weeks. They tell us about the colors and designs they want, and even the box they want their products to come in.

We had one where we talked to all of the moms in our community.

We found that so many moms find it difficult to get a bag that really embodies their personality — not just as a mom but what the essence of what their personality is outside of that.

Salima: One of the first emails you get from SAMARA is us asking you to tell us everything about your dream bag. We have thousands of emails. The whole business is very feedback-driven. We're never making things just for the sake of it.

What are some unexpected challenges you've experienced as entrepreneurs?

Salima: We literally just started a Google doc called "Wipeouts." We're four people on our team and we'll just keep track of all of our missteps along the way. The challenges are endless but they are endless in any industry you're in.

If you're trying to do something different, you're going to face roadblocks, which is usually a good sign that you're doing the right thing.

As much as things can be hard, it challenges us to think ahead for when we scale. That's just what happens when you are creating something on the path less traveled.

Now, we're honestly used to things going wrong all the time. Sometimes we just laugh at it.

Samara: Sometimes we cry, too, to be honest.

How much does coming from a marginalized community play into your life as entrepreneurs?

Salima: For us, being women of color who grew up in Kenya, we know we want our impact to go towards marginalized communities. That is a part of our DNA in every way. For example, every purchase goes back to funding Soular. Soular is fully funded now by SAMARA.

I think we've had more negative experiences based on the fact that we're women rather than based on the color of our skin.

I've had men ask me, 'How's that little project you're working on going?'. We've had so many instances like that.

Samara: We even experience it with the men we work with in our factories or with customs or doing distribution in Kenya. The work environment is very different in Kenya. The most adversity we've faced has honestly been with the men we work with. I still find it so hard to believe we still have to deal with that today.

Salima: At the same time, I wish women would support each other more.

When you're just starting out and supporting a brand it's so important that women support women.

How do you feel social media and community building have impacted your business?

Salima: Community is always at the forefront of what we do. Our grandfather was a seventh-grade dropout. Without knowing any English, he and my grandmother built a hotel from nothing.

They started with a small, seven-bedroom space and grew it into a 300-bedroom building that became the first five-star hotel in Kenya.

They were entrepreneurs trying to build a brand and community. They did it by getting the same repeat guests. Year after year, people would have family reunions there every single summer. They kept coming back because my grandma made the best Indian food.

She knew which food each family liked so when they came to visit, they wouldn't even have to order food because she knew what they wanted.

Salima: She would be in the kitchen making bucket loads of mithai for people based upon what was their most favorite.

I think about that so often because now as an entrepreneur, building community has become so scientific and it's like you have to have a brand book but if you get to the root of it, we just treat every customer as a friend.

Everyone who chooses to buy a SAMARA bag actively chooses us. It's not about how we make them want to be a part of our community.

It's about how we show them how honored we are that they chose us. Samara and I both text our customers. We deliver flowers if one of them has a baby and we just try and be their friends.

We always try to think about how we can scale our friendships. A lot of them are even becoming friends with each other. Everyone coming to SAMARA is very similar in what they want for the world and for themselves so we just cultivated a platform where they.

What can we expect from the future of SAMARA?

Samara: Well, Salima and I always talk about creating an entire lifestyle brand with SAMARA bags: a brand that really focuses on doing good for yourself and for the world.

It starts with better materials, high-quality products tackling mind and body, and then connecting these consumers to each other on a platform on which they can become friends.

Rapid Fire

What are your favorite accounts to follow on social media?

Salima: I really love following Radhi and Fashion Revolution

Tell us a book you'd recommend.

Salima: "Delivering Happiness" and "Let My People Go Surfing."

Samara: "Absolute Beauty" by Dr. Pratima is based on how beauty comes from within.

What charities do you support?

Salima: Everything goes back to Soular. The goal with SAMARA and Soular is just to turn it into this massive force for positive change in the world. Samara is also building a school in Kenya in the village we grew up in.

What is on your nightstand?

Samara: All the essential oils.

Salima: I usually have a peppermint oil, sage essential oil, and my SAMARA jewelry box, obviously.

Odyssey may earn a portion of purchases made via links on this page.

Report this Content
Entertainment

Every Track On Ariana Grande's 'Positions' Album Ranked

Ariana Grande has achieved major success with her new album and we're ranking every track.

9825

Ariana Grande surprised fans in October, tweeting that her new album was being released. What followed was yet another number one peak on the Billboard 200 albums chart. The album's title track and lead single, "Positions," also hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

With "Positions," Grande took a much more light-hearted approach than the confessional nature of its predecessor, "Thank U, Next." It was a welcome and refreshing change of pace. Now that the album has been out for a solid month, it's the perfect time to see how the songs rank.

Keep Reading... Show less
FOX

In the four Christmas' that I have spent with my boyfriend, I have realized one thing: boys are hard to shop for. Each year I have to rack my brain for gift ideas because when I ask my boyfriend what he wants for Christmas, he always says something along the lines of "nothing," which as a girl is hard to fathom since I literally give him a list each year before Black Friday.

After hours each year scouring the internet for the perfect Christmas gifts to get my boyfriend, I have come up with a pretty long and inclusive list. To help those girlfriends going through the same thing, I decided to put together some of the best gifts I have come across.

Keep Reading... Show less

It's almost December, which means that it's almost time for the biggest holiday season to arrive! However, it doesn't mean that COVID-19 has decided to disappear. According to the CDC, 147,840 new cases of COVID have been recorded in the last seven days.

States such as Kentucky have closed all of their restaurants, schools, and businesses until December. Some governors have started to advise caution when celebrating the holidays, too. You may be thinking, 'is there any way to really enjoy Christmas during the pandemic?' In fact, there are ways to still celebrate the holiday safely. Here are 10 ways that you can still enjoy the holiday season without canceling any of your plans.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

The 5 Things We ALL Want For Christmas In Mariah Carey's New Special

The Queen of Christmas is back and bringing festive moments to an all-new special premiering December 4!

6331

Mariah Carey is saving 2020 by bringing an all-new Christmas special to Apple TV+ starting December 4. It will feature guest stars, festive moments, and musical performances. The all-star cast includes Tiffany Haddish, Billy Eichner, and Snoop Dogg. Carey's twins will also make a special appearance.

A festive special is certainly what we all need right now. There are lots of information about the upcoming special that has many fans excited. Here are the five things from the special we're most looking forward to.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

10 Things You Need From Target If You Want To Take Your Christmas Decor Game To A Whole New Level

No one wants to talk about 2020, but these decor pieces will give everyone something worth talking about.

2988
Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

It's no secret that for a majority of people, Christmas season is the happiest time of year.

There are people that put their trees up before Halloween even begins and those that calmly wait until Thanksgiving is over. No matter which group you fall in, there's a good chance that this year has been a tough one, so why not treat yourself to a few new pieces that will spark joy in your heart every single time you catch a glimpse of them.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

How The 'Friends' Theme Song Is Actually Describing 2020 — And It Couldn't BE More Accurate

This isn't our day, our week, our month, and definitely not our year...

1803
NBC

Everyone knows the iconic Friends theme song and although we may have joked in previous years how relatable it is, here's a breakdown of the lyrics and how they are so 2020, we might never be able to listen to it again after 2020.

Keep Reading... Show less
Pexels

Let me just say, first and foremost, happy Thanksgiving! This holiday is known as a time for families to get together, to be thankful for the blessings in our lives, and to dig into a lot of very delicious food that you'll be having as leftovers for the next week. However, this family time is certainly not without downsides, as we are forced to confront certain family members on matters that should best be left out of Thanksgiving discussion, and in my case, this happens to be my father, who is the only republican in our family (that I know of).

(FYI: Since I still live with my dad, it's not just Thanksgiving when I'm forced to listen to him talk about politics, as I had gotten a taste of where he stands just from earlier this year alone.)

Keep Reading... Show less
Peter Truong

If you still have not figured out what you want to cook on Thanksgiving, baked macaroni and cheese is something worth considering. It is simple, affordable, and delicious. I have had many different types of baked mac and cheese and most are dry. I do not like a dry mac and cheese, it just does not seem appealing to me. If you like the creamy cheesy essence of mac and cheese, look no further, this recipe is for you.

Ingredients:

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments