Today I am thrilled to introduce you to a community arts builder, artistic beauty and general boss babe aka woman warrior! Her name is Samantha Malach Verlaan. We've met at numerous arts and cultural events around the city and I wanted to immediately interview her when I learned about her involvement in the fantastic Calgary Dress for Success event within our local community. What's more? Samantha always looks incredible put together and is always a positive fashionable presence at any event, so I loved learning about how she found her own unique recipe for style. Read on to learn more about Samanthas take on sustainable style!
1. Tell me a little bit about yourself?
From Canada to the US and back, from wealth to scraping by, from sweatpants to gowns, I am a woman on an adventure. Living in Calgary, I’ve entrenched myself in several communities, giving opportunity to explore and lead in the art world, as a marketing professional, and empowering women.
I am the Sales and Marketing Manager for Skymatics, a Calgary based aerial imaging company. It’s an incredibly diverse and supportive team. I’m so grateful to be a part of this amazing group of people! As a board member of Dress for Success Calgary and a Younique presenter (a beauty line with the focus of empowering, uplifting and validating women), I have a very special opportunity to impact women and encourage them to thrive.
2. How do you define style for yourself?
Like the seasons, my style changes often! Not just from neons and ivory in the summer to burgundy and deep purple in the fall, but from day to day.
My style reflects one of two things at any given time: either who I am in that moment, or who I want to be. Clothing gives me a creative outlet to express my many facets. Soft, intellectual, cozy, fresh, edgy, isolating, artistic, seeker... anything!
For the times that I’m unsure or lack confidence, I’ll use my style as a tool. Instead of imagining myself taking a risk and failing, I’ll put on a sharp outfit that makes me feel powerful, and picture myself taking that risk and succeeding beyond my wildest dreams.
3. What’s your must have style accessory?
Layers. Always. I love neutrals but they can get boring. Put on light grey, but add a champagne cardigan (my number one favourite item, there are 4 in my closet as I write this) and you’ve done something interesting. Wear a leopard print scarf on top. Magic. Whenever I feel a little boring in my style, layering always gives a little edge. Plus, in Calgary, it’s pretty useful.
4. If there was one piece of style advice you would give to others what would be it be?
Don’t follow a trend that doesn’t suit you. Don’t. Do. It.
We all are beautiful and unique. Why would you waste all that the divine gave you, by blending into the crowd so you can wear the same thing as the next girl? Fashion is fun; style is how you wear it. Choose the items that speak to you! I love wearing basics. For years I felt like both the magazines and my peers were pressuring me to try the ‘latest’. You know what? It wasn’t me!
I finally owned my choices and my style by creating a capsule wardrobe. It means when I buy something, I LOVE it, it looks beautiful on me and I’ll get a lot of use of it.
5. What sparked your interest in sustainable style?
In 2013, I was involved with an oil and gas services company that shut its doors. Turned out, that was the beginning of the slow-down and eventual depression of the whole industry, that is still trying to recover.
I ended up doing some marketing work, but I spent most of my time in the art world. Part of my heart belongs to art, so I will continue to support and treasure it .... but I couldn’t make a living out of it. With my tight budget, I became resourceful.
I was raised receiving and giving hand-me-downs. It gave a piece of clothing a whole new life! I loved that feeling when I saw my old sweater on someone else, and they’re ROCKING IT, in a way I no longer could. Get it girl!
My budget constraints meant shopping options were limited. So I did what most of us do, hunted the sale racks and H&M. Pretty much all that I found fell apart quickly. When I learned of consignment stores ... I was saved.
Less expensive was great, but keeping tons of material out of the dump and ending ‘fast fashion’? Now we’re talking on a soul level. Materialism is killing us. No, seriously. The cycle of keeping up with trends, only to find that the next trend is even better and showing up faster and faster, is destructive and has everything to do with looking outward, not inward. We start to place our self worth on our closet, instead of our character. Like I said earlier, don’t follow trends.
6. What’s your favorite vintage, sustainable, or eco fashion stores? Why?
Thank goodness, an easy question! My two favourite Calgary stores are Clothing Bar and Velour. You know why? The women who own them. They both went out on a limb and created something authentic. People can FEEL it, they’re drawn to it!
My very favourite boutique and #1 secret is Dress for Success. This non-profit empowers women to achieve economic independence, through their suiting programs and network of support. But did you know THEY HAVE CLOTHING SALES? Twice a year they open their doors to the public, to raise money with new and gently used clothing. I volunteered at the last sale and saw women feel beautiful for the first time in a long time. This might sound like a simple thing, but the experience is powerful.
I recognized the look of trying to choose between two things they loved ... then we told them the price. It was as though we quenched a thirst. Thinking about it now I have tears in my eyes. This clothing becomes the most powerful intangible asset, confidence.
Did I mention the Michael Kors purse, the red cowboy boots and the Paige jeans? There’s a range of clothing styles, brands and sizes to suit all tastes. The sale is November 3 from 6pm - 8 pm and Saturday from 9am - 5pm at our boutique, 1008 14th St SE.
7. Currently wearing?
At this moment I’m on a plane heading to Ontario for Thanksgiving, so I’m pretty casual. I’ll start with my feet: Brown Blundstone boots (my jam) with cute black GAP sweatpants, handed down from my very tall cousin, a black tank, and my other favourite, a denim button-down. All items I love and will wear and wear and wear.
You can learn more about Samantha by following her on Instagram & Facebook: IG: @ladysamantharay FB: Samantha Malach Verlaan