We Chat To The Creative Queen Behind Soul Sergeants
Starting your own business & becoming a female boss.
Hi Sam, thanks for chatting with us! Could you introduce yourself to our readers?
Hi Fizzy Mag. My name is Sam and I’m the CEO and co-founder of Soul Sergeants aka Lady Hackney!
What inspired you to start Soul Sergeants?
It was a life-changing adventure to Burning Man with my best friend Maddy who I met aged 13 at school. We’ve lived, traveled, partied together and it was a dream of ours to go to Burning Man in the middle of the Nevada desert. We spent weeks prior to creating our handmade outfits and loved the process of choosing unique fabrics and trims to create stand out pieces. We loved everything about Burning Man especially the fact it’s a community dedicated to radical self-expression. So it got us thinking, how can we continue the magic and turn it into a business. I also had the burning desire to fill my working life with something I was truly passionate about rather than settling for what I was doing at the time. You only live once! Maddy and I have since parted business ways but she’s still my number one ride or dies BFF. She’s taken the fitness world by storm and I’m so proud of her!
Do you remember what the biggest challenge was that you encountered when starting out?
The hardest thing for me was struggling with a debilitating illness whilst setting up the business, plus working a very demanding full-time job as Head of Visuals for a fashion label. I lost my hair four years ago which was part of an autoimmune disease attacking my body. I was working full-on, not feeling well then coming home and working until the very early hours creating Soul Sergeants. Eventually, I had to quit my job as I was so ill but it gave me the breathing space to really see Soul Sergeants as the future. It was a real journey coming to terms with the loss of my hair and taught me beauty really does come from within. It’s a really empowering process to go through and I don’t have any regrets as it’s made me who I am today. It forced me into a complete lifestyle change to reverse the autoimmune disease which I still live by now and I’m healthier than ever AND have a full head of very blonde hair.
Can you talk us through your creative process when designing a collection?
I’m finding inspiration everywhere and every day. The catwalks, WGSN, Instagram, Pinterest, street style, the party scene (when we were allowed to!), and much more. My mind is always buzzing with new ideas so my first job is to condense everything into mood boards. From here the creative process can really begin. If I sense a general theme trending I work out ways to include the features in our pieces for that particular season. The most important thing is to make sure each piece is empowering and encourages fun in our customer's lives! Lord knows we need that right now!
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own business?
Find something you are truly passionate about as you will live and breathe it. Alternatively, surround yourself with a support network. It can be a very lonely world setting up your own business. I couldn’t have got through it without the support and love from friends and family. I would also suggest finding a mentor. I’ve never had one but I think if I did I would have got from A-B a lot quicker and with more confidence!
Which piece that you've created has been the most memorable and why?
The Sergeant Valentine Hat. It was the first-ever piece we created and sold. I’d visualized the piece at Burning Man dreaming up Soul Sergeants with my bestie so it was great seeing it come to life.
How are you staying creative during the lockdown? Do you have any tips?
To allow space for creativity you need to feed your mind and soul so for me that means staying active and staying connected even from the confines of home. Whether that’s through exercise, chin-wagging, and playing dress-up on zoom with your besties or getting creative with food and the garden! I love to exercise so I have been doing lots of online classes now we are in lockdown, plus I’ve got the bug for running. It really helps clear my head. I’ll start my day with a run and then 20 minutes of meditation, which I highly recommend. Insight timer is a great free meditation app! When owning a business you need to wear lots of different hats (literally in my case) so it’s really important for me to make sure I can balance creativity with running a business and the same ethos goes for lockdown! It’s been great focusing on creativity that isn’t based around work. I’ve started painting again and I love gardening with my boyfriend. It’s lovely seeing everything come to life.
What’s your personal mantra or one rule that you try to live by?
Trust in the universe. Everything is a process and you are exactly where you are supposed to be right now. If you don’t feel like you are then you’re in charge. Make the changes you want to see.
What can we expect from Soul Sergeants in the near future?
Our Proud Collection has just launched, it was due to launch on 1st June but we held off with respect for black lives matter movement. It’s had a great response which is super exciting. It makes me very happy to know that our customers love the pieces. Next up we have our Royal Raver Collection which is launching later than planned due to COVID! It will be worth the wait though, so watch this space. We also have lots of exciting collaborations coming up which I can’t wait to share with you! Weddings are slowly returning to normal even though a lot have been postponed and our bespoke bookings are filling up. We love creating personalized pieces and a lot of our new collection Royal Raver collection includes this element!