Sama Eyewear Sunglasses Are The World’s Finest And Most Exclusive Luxury Sunglasses For Men And Women.
We had the pleasure to interview the founder and eyewear designer Sheila Vance.
What drew you to a Eyewear designer and specifically to starting your own brand?
There were several factors at work within when I decided to embark on a career in eyewear. For as long as I can remember and since I was a child wearing glasses — I felt that wearing eyewear was a “sentence” and a burden for people. I was different and stood out but not for a positive reason and children can be cruel so the downside of associations with eyewear always stuck with me.
It was corrective and necessary but not joyful to find or buy because there was not a sense of fashion, fun and whimsy or a great way to express oneself like when buying a handbag or earring or necklace.
Very early on in my career I had stores and was importing and selling accessories including sunglasses.
I thought that this was perhaps the most important accessory anyone would put on every day, framing their face and highlighting their features, giving a first impression to the world but there was nothing truly beautiful or inspiring about it. I found quickly that most of it was a bit boring or basic, uninspired or low quality. I found myself often thinking of what could be better or different to make a specific frame into a fantastic accessory for the face. I thought that eyewear could and should enhance your beauty not detract from it. I wanted people to feel happy, fashionable, beautiful and joyful buying and wearing their eyewear. I knew that an eyewear wardrobe was possible of great shapes styles, materials and looks from a beach weekend to work week and boardroom or ball room cocktail or couture. Just like clothing and other accessories. So my research began from there to understand the engineering and manufacturing.
Then came the loss of my son which was of course life altering. I was unable to think about continuing on life in the same way I had lived before. I needed a creative outlet and wanted to find a business that could be an ongoing source of income to fund the foundation I was starting in his name. It was almost a calling as a way to fill my creative needs, honor my commitment to the Sam Vance Foundation to support drug addicted youth in their path to sobriety as well as prevention and to introduce a concept of beauty to change the perception of eyewear in the world. I needed to find and connect to something beautiful and find something meaningful to believe in again.
The idea of a better vision – a clear vision and a better future for those wearing glasses and those suffering with addiction all came together for me through eyewear and Sama was born.
From where do you get your design inspiration?
For me, inspiration can come from anywhere. I travel extensively and enjoy art, fashion and textiles, architecture and design, nature hikes, and beaches around the world. I have found that jewelry, cars, and buildings have lines, curves, shapes, and details that I can translate into eyewear in meaningful ways. It is also easy to find inspiration daily in the amazing cultures and people I have met along the way in urban cities and remote locals globally.
From our our Sahara Collection which featured stained glass elements with ancient symbolism and rich colors of the desert to deCode: Los Angeles and our my newest technically advanced full metal Mechanix collection being introduced later this year, I continue to find inspiration in objects d’art, people and places I love and admire who push me to move the needle in terms of design and technology to new heights.
Locally in Los Angeles were Sama was born and raised so to speak, we created an entire collection that was inspired by the influencers, disruptors, tastemakers and activists who make up the incredible city combining the golden luxe of Hollywood Glamour and star power with intricate specialized techniques for an overt the top look with hidden details representing how beyond the glitterati is the undercurrent of the culture to embrace issues and causes that difference in the world.
What are some of the materials you use in your collection?
We are eclectic in our materials and often we have introduced materials that were not traditionally used in the eyewear and optical business. Titanium, Carbon Fiber, wood buffalo horn, acetate and precious metals ( gold and platinum) are the main core of our materials but we have also included leather, feathers, pearls and processes or techniques such as laser cutting and lamination, enamel cloisonne, beads and Swarovski crystals in our pieces.
How would you describe the style of your Eyewear brand?
Just as our materials are eclectic our style is eclectic too. For Sama ”style” is a broad based word where we appeal to a global, luxury shopper who is a individual who is an influencer not an adapter. We are a brand for those who are noticed of we have a sharp, strong varied range of styles and collections from sporty to glamorous, simple to ornate, simple and delicate and wild and bold. While I consider the Sama products and brands in a category of our own in the premium luxury market, each of our collections can be defined and described as individual, unique, distinctive and of the highest quality.
If you had to choose a favourite piece you have designed, what would it be?
This is such a hard question to answer — because I love so many of our frames for so many reasons and because each pair has a story and a journey that is so personal to me.
Each and every design starts a new creative process with new directions, twists and turns. I have often said that we have a great love affair with our collection.
And for me, with this being my life work – Sama Eyewear is basically a romance - epic almost – with so much time, attention, passion and love poured into each pair. From my first inspiration to paper sketches to computer work, the natural elements and materials we select and the details we pour into each pair back and forth over several continents touching hundreds of hands.
For me, each story has the most beautiful ending. It is hard to choose because once the story ends – I start the next with the same intensity, love and commitment and I am in a new romance. There are certainly specific pieces or collections we introduced to the market that were influential or award-winning. Some were disruptive or elevated the market and countless hundreds were copied. Basically, I want someone to find their love story with their perfect frames to create their wardrobe to compliment their life. Eyewear is the most important accessory we wear every day to express our individuality and style, highlight our features, frame the face and give us a picture perfect vision in life. Sama is part of that vision.
What is your life philosophy?
The name SAMA comes from the old Sanskrit meaning from no beginning no end. A circle, a cycle, a continuation which applies to everything in life and something I believe. We can not look back, not change the past so every experience leads to the next and contributes to our path and pushing us onward and forward. I believe that we are always continuing on the journey and we need to take with us what is good no looking back no regrets. I believe that everything happens for a reason. A door may seem to close but another is absolutely opening even if you don’t see it at first.
We will only be our best if we surround ourselves with the best, brightest those who share the missions and visions we set forth in our “cycle” of business, friendships and life. We have only one life to live and since it is in essence a cycle with no beginning and no end, we need to be sure we include only the good in the cycle so it will continue with positivity and resulting good. I have come through considerable adversities in life and have found a path to a happy and successful life and business – but it did not come easy and it did not happen to me, I had to create the intentions and make it happen for myself with great people at my side.