Emerging Accessories Designer Samantha Smikle Is Prepared for a Michelle Obama Moment
From research to planning to investment to marketing, starting your own business is intense and, at times, overwhelming; but once you start taking steps toward your goal, opportunities begin to show up. That’s been Samantha Smikle’s experience with her accessory line TNEMNRODA (“adornment” spelled backwards).
She started small and unintentionally in ’08, initially making chain-embellished eyewear and other pieces she would wear to her magazine internships. She went on to work for jewelry designers she could learn from, and leveraged relationships with editors she interned for to land press. But perhaps most importantly, Smikle was prepared to seize big breaks when they presented themselves.
Explaining how her spectacles ended up getting Instagrammed by Beyoncé (photo after the jump), she says her policy of always carrying her sunglasses on her paid off. Smikle was on her way to the gym in Harlem when she spotted the star’s stylist Ty Hunter.
“[I] gushed embarrassingly to him about [his work], star struck, and showed him my pieces,” she admits. “I just expected Ty to wear them. But lo and behold, Beyoncé herself shows up on Insta in them.”
Looking back on the four years since she first started making chain glasses, Smikle acknowledges those unplanned moments as milestones for her up-and-coming brand, even as she holds out hope for an impromptu Rihanna sighting, or access to Michelle Obama herself. If and when that happens, better believe Smikle will be prepared.
Madame Noire: How did you start TNEMNRODA?
Samantha Smikle: It really started when I took an internship after graduating from Boston University with [designer] Elise Overland… I hated it 1. Because I was interning after graduating! And 2. Because it was in the summer and [I had] to carry these huge, heavy rolls of fabric and leather from whichever vendor back to the showroom. A million times worse than a stylist assistant carrying garment bags! But I stayed with it for the whole summer and to my advantage: Elise sent me to a vendor to get metal pieces for one of the garments that would be in her upcoming show for Fashion Week. That was probably the errand that changed my life! Tons of chain and findings and such were there. I went back months after leaving the internship and my company slowly started from there.