Many of us met designer Samantha Black aka “Sammy B.” for the first time during season 11 of Project Runway. Appearing on the show has certainly increased awareness of her Sammy B. brand, and gained her some celebrity clientele. Beyoncé, Gabrielle Union, Nicki Minaj and Keke Palmer just to name a few.
Samantha’s family roots go back to Kingston, and Clarendon in Jamaica. She represents the first generation of her family born in the U.S. Since her time on Project Runway, and Project Runway All-Stars; the Sammy B. brand can now be found in major retailers such as Target and Nordstrom. She has also continued to present her collections during NYFW. Attracting A-list fashion influencers such as Monroe Steele and Chee Smalls, Sammy B returned to the runway for NYFW SS24 was a highlight of the season.
The designer was inspired to create her collection this season while on a recent trip to Jamaica. Samantha makes frequent trips to the Caribbean to relax, and unwind. Inspired by the frenzied nature of love; the collection embodied the vibrant and edgy designs she has become known for. Her NYFW SS24 show was held at the Hudson Mercantile in Manhattan. The collection featured brilliant colors and innovative use of materials.
Model Ladonya Sierra closed the show in a 3D-printed corset. It was definitely one of the stand-out pieces of the show. After the show, we were able to have a chat with the designer. Samantha graciously shared her inspiration for the collection and the evolution of her brand.
POSH: Samantha, what was the inspiration for this season’s collection?
Samantha Black: I actually designed this collection while I was in Jamaica. The collection is called “Racing Lovers Lane”. The motions of love; It is exciting, it’s, sad, it is crazy, it is edgy. It is all the emotions of that. Once I got that, I thought about my design details. I thought about what I wanted to add to that to make it really mine. So that was the vibe.
POSH: How did covid, and related supply issues affect your business?
Samantha Black: At the time of COVID, I was actually living in L.A. My factories were literally down the street. So it worked to my benefit. I did not stop, I just kept creating. People were paying attention because everyone was home. People started shopping and really supporting black people and black designers. So it ended up being a blessing for me. It expanded my clientele.
POSH: How much time do you spend in Jamaica these days?
Samantha Black: I spent the month of January there, really to just refresh. I’ll be going back after fashion week to refresh again. So sometimes a month, or a month, and a half. Ever since COVID, it has been longer. That is where I go to relax. I was living in Cali but since I moved back to New York I’m going to be in Jamaica more often.
POSH: What do you feel has been your most significant area of growth as a designer over the past few years?
Samantha Black: I have grown as a businessperson. I understand business from more of a “business” perspective, as opposed to a creative perspective. As I expand into department stores, and understand how each sector is so different. I am learning as I go and building on who I am as a businessperson.
POSH: Has your customer changed over time as well?
Samantha Black: It has, it is ever-changing. I think that because of social media, it changes even more. More people are seeing it. People who never saw me before may give me a chance. I have my core, and I have new people who see it. It’s different ages and different body types. It has changed so much that I have to expand my offerings.
POSH: How have you incorporated sustainability into your business?
Samantha Black: I like pieces that are interchangeable. So I might bring a fabric back within the year or the next year. You can use that piece, and mix it with something you already have. There is less waste, you can keep it, and use it again. You can style the old piece with the new piece. We get everything made in America that is our way of being sustainable.
POSH: Is there anything you want to say to your Jamaican, and Caribbean fans?
Yes, thank you, thank you, thank you for supporting me, and I am very happy to be Jamaican.