S ama Eyewear has just opened their first stand-alone boutique in Dubai and to celebrate, the face behind the frames, Sheila Vance jetted into Dubai to host an exclusive launch party. Apl.de.ap from the Grammy-award winning group Black Eyed Peas was on decks, followed by a fashion show with the curated eyewear collection, which showcased a sneak peek at the upcoming collaboration with leading luxury fashion house Thomas Wylde. Now Buro 24/7 Middle East sits down with the entrepreneur herself to discuss the collection, celebrities and her coveted role...
You've been designing eyewear for a while, what's the signature Sama standout?
That's a tough question. The signature is more about femininity and lace. From the beginning, I've also used lace throughout the collections, and because I don't use logos, anytime people see a delicate finishing of lace, they'll say: "Oh, that's Sama." But more than anything the leading force of the collection has always been technology and the use of titanium.
What's your first memory of wearing glasses?
When I was 7-years-old, I went to the doctor and they told me I needed to wear glasses for the rest of my life. It was really difficult to hear that, because glasses were not a fun thing at that time. I remember my first pair of glasses, it's not a good memory but sometimes these stories change the rest of your life. Ever since, I've always wanted to change the world of eyewear. I wanted to make it a fun thing and I wanted people that didn't wear glasses to be jealous of the ones who were wearing them. We actually accomplished that.
What's the biggest lesson you've learned launching a business?
It's a learning experience, we haven't stopped. I'm still learning.
What was your first reaction when you saw your sunglasses on celebrities in movies?
I have the same reaction as I have with everyone wearing our sunglasses. Sometimes I'm even more excited when I'm in a mall or on the street and I see our frames on people.
Who's been your favourite celebrity to work with and why?
I'm going to have a hard time answering that one because I've crossed some amazing celebrities that are truly successful and always the centre of attention and always in front of cameras.
Nothing is more fun than working with the music industry. Musicians have absolutely no fear, no limits, and they really go for it. They're not thinking about anything except making a statement.
When you launched your Middle Eastern boutique, did you do anything different with your collection to cater to your clientele here?
I don't think our Middle Eastern customers are any different from our European or American customers. When it comes to trends, I never separate the Middle East from the rest of the world. Something we did do though was bring our newest collection, that we haven't shown to anyone in the other 55 countries.
What makes Sama special?
Once you go Sama, you'll never go back to anything else. The comfort, the frames, they're so optically correct. We spend a ton of time making sure that the balance of the frame is correct and that it fits properly.
Tell us more about the Thomas Wylde collaboration?
Designing the last collection with Paula Thomas was absolutely amazing. Her vision was unbelievable. Everything she designed was very fun and young, the attention to detail is incredible and the colour combinations are very neutral.
Are there any other possible collaborations that we can look forward to?
Yes! Our next one will be with someone in the music industry but I can't talk too much about it yet. But I can tell you that there will be a lot of amazing people behind it and the money generated will go towards supporting young artists.
Lastly, what's next for Sama?
I'm working on the next two collections but I think the biggest plan for us is our expansion in the Middle East.
The Sama boutique is now open at Cove Beach, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, and the Thomas Wylde collaboration will be launched in March 2016.