I felt absolutely honored to have the chance to interview Samantha Stanwell, curve model for Bella and IMM. I’ve been following Samantha on the ‘gram for a few years now, and she’s some serious body love inspo. Needless to say I was pretty excited when she responded to my email about being part of our “Good Influences” series.
Not only is Samantha an entrepreneur through her modeling, she’s also launching a new line of accessories, Strong by S.
How did you first get into modeling? What challenges did you experience getting started and breaking into the industry?
It was actually my lovely hairdresser down in Canberra (AU) that asked me to be a hair model at a shoot she was styling for the boutique store she worked in part-time. Initially I was shocked and thought me? Why me? Just having a back ground in dancing / singing at this stage, no modeling.
When the images came back from the shoot, to my surprise they were really lovely (thanks to hair and makeup of course – it takes a team!) So she convinced me to submit them to BGM ‘Big Girl Models’ – the first plus-size model agency in Sydney. Luckily I got an interview and that is how it all started. My contact at BGM unfortunately retired at the end of 2015, transferring over to Vivien’s which I stayed with for a little while, went over to the UK and signed with IMM, and came back to Australia after a year unsure if I wanted to continue modelling. Then I contacted Bella Models – and back came that spark!
I know you started the #MyCurvesAreIn hashtag. What inspired you, and what does it mean to you?
Back in 2015 when I first started curve modelling, it was nowhere near as ‘mainstream’ or accepted as it is now. Fashion trends would come in and out, curve models would also come ‘in’ and be spotted in a campaign, but soon to be back out again for the next shoot to be commonly given to a ‘straight sized’ model, thus the creation of #mycurvesarein. I created this hashtag with that intention behind it, that no matter what – your curves are always ‘in’ fashion and here to stay, no matter what anyone says – or any label advertises!
What’s your favorite shoot that you’ve ever done? What’s it like working with other models?
My absolute favorite shoot to date was the ‘Yay for Every Body’ campaign that I shot for Target in 2015 (one of my very first shoots). It was essentially just a bunch of us girls standing in some lingerie, laughing, chatting and goofing around to music while the photographer happy snapped.
This is where I worked with some great models, including the amazing Baillie Riddell from Canada who is now one of my best friends! I have been so fortunate to meet and work with so many lovely models at a variety of shoots, including my time in the UK – I met some beautiful souls there too.
When did you decide to create the Strong by S brand? How did you turn your idea into a reality?
I was sitting at my day job (receptionist at a law firm) thinking, “I want to create something that is Bold, Confident and Beautiful.” I have a background in fashion and consider myself an artsy person, and of course very passionate about modelling and being a curve influencer to women across the globe through my Instagram. So this thinking is what lead to the creation of Strong! Originally I started thinking very small and was just going to do a line of scarves, but once I got started on the creative process I decided I wanted to branch out to hair scarves and clutches, this mostly because I haven’t found really cool, different hair scarf patterns and I just ADORE clutches (pretty sure I own more clutches then handbags!). Strong became a reality when I put pen to paper and started drawing up some designs and ideas I had in my head. That lead to a conversation with my incredible housemate – who I didn’t know has experience in graphic design! So she has really helped me professionalize the designs, and take them from the page to the computer and bring them to life.
What are some of your long-term goals as an influencer in the body confidence space? What about for your brand in general?
I have received a fair amount of messages in my time as a model asking: ‘How are you so confident? I want to be confident like you.’ These messages always throw me because I never thought of myself as on overly-confident person. Yes I am happy and bubbly which comes across this way – but that is purely just me being me. Not everyone has to agree with what you do or how you dress, you just need to stay true to yourself. ‘Be YOURSELF, everyone else is already taken’ is a quote that has always resonated with me, so if anything this is something I would want people to learn and keep with them after coming across my page. Body confidence isn’t something you wake up with one morning, it is a way of life, so practice what you preach and care for your body – it will always show you love back when you take the time and effort to care for yourself.
I have so many crazy and wild thoughts for my brand. I imagine it going in all kinds of directions like big statement earrings designed by me – to active wear, and even formal jackets. For now, it is just a work in progress and I plan to get this first collection of designs out for winter, gather feedback from my clients, and keep working on future collections, so STAY TUNED! x
We’ll check back in with Samantha once her line has launched. – SR
Sara von Remus is the founder and program director for Popularly Positive. A California native, she lived in the golden state’s high desert and Central Valley until 2015 when she relocated to Boston to start a new East Coast life. She is passionate about creating spaces for inclusion, critical thinking, and changing how we handle body image. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.