Sam runs Childstar Samantha, a small business that specialises in creating colourful illustrations, art, homeware and apparel to make people smile. From sassy cats, typographic designs to jungle vibes and kid’s illustration, there will be something for you. Learn more about her range of playful designs, her views on shopping small and new and exciting plans for her business.
Find Childstar Samantha on Instagram
Tell us a little bit about your company? What do you offer?
My designs at Childstar Samantha are available as art prints, greetings cards and gift wrap; homeware gifts such as coasters, tea towels and cushion covers; jigsaw puzzles; and clothing, jewellery and accessories.
Childstar Samantha is a Carbon Positive eco-friendly business and I plant a tree for every sale on Etsy, through my partnership with Ecologi.
How did you get into creating art, homeware and apparel?
I basically started drawing as soon as I was old enough to hold a pencil and was always obsessed with drawing faces. I ended up getting a degree in illustration and have been involved with various projects ever since, but started expanding to homewares and apparel in 2019.
A lot of the time, a customer (or potential customer) has asked me if I can make a new product for them and then other people have also wanted to buy them! I’m really enjoying experimenting and exploring which designs and product lines work for me and my customers. I have loads of works in progress that I’m going to be sharing later this year and next year.
Why do you think it’s important to support small businesses?
Shopping small and/or local, builds community, helps the economy (the money we earn tends to be spent in the economy – or on paying tax! – rather than sitting in offshore bank accounts) and is often kinder to the environment.
Because we are essentially human beings running a business, rather than a faceless corporation, we tend to feel more personally responsible which often results in indie businesses with lots of integrity (think plastic-free packaging and planting a tree for every sale).
Plus you are much more likely to get great customer service, with a personal touch, from a small business. By buying small you are making someone’s day – and possibly even making their dreams come true! Rather than just making some shareholders even richer.
Big business has so much opportunity and can offer a lot in terms of convenience and price. This can be hard to compete with for us small guys, but independent artists and businesses are where the majority of original ideas come from. If people don’t support us (whether through buying our products and/or shouting about us to others), it stifles creativity for everyone.
What do you think makes a great gift?
It depends on the person, and I think I’m pretty fussy and difficult to buy for (my husband would definitely agree!). I particularly love receiving jewellery, personally speaking, but I also love it when someone gives me something I never would’ve thought of getting myself – but that makes me smile when I look at it. This was the inspiration behind my Kickstarter campaign – for Meowie Catmas Christmas tree decorations – what with Christmas 2020 being a bit of a tough time for lots of people, it was really lovely when I got feedback that my Meowie Cat Christmas jumpers had made their day – or cheered up their loved ones. Who knows what this Christmas has in store for us, but I wanted to help spread the joy even further this year.
My tea towels are another great example of that – they definitely feel like an indulgent gift (even if it’s to yourself!), rather than just a functional tea towel (which they are too of course!). I’ve had so much wonderful feedback – particularly from cat lovers and David Bowie fans! Some people refuse to actually use them though and just hang them decoratively!
I know lots of people love personalised or custom gifts too – which I do offer for some products. I was commissioned to create the dinosaur / space / dragon themed art print trio, Pete Saur Delivery, Tri-Cera-Rocket and Drag-on-Sea, for a little boy and managed to find a way to incorporate his name into the designs. He was so pleased with them that I added them in my shop.
What are your top tips for finding the right gift for someone?
I am increasingly thinking about the environment every time I buy a gift. I’ve decided this year to get at least 80% of my Christmas gifts this year from small businesses – plus I love shopping in second hand book shops so SPOILER ALERT for any of my nearest & dearest reading this!
In general though, it’s good to ask yourself how the ‘giftee’ likes spending their time, what problems they may have that you could help with, and what could bring joy into their everyday lives? Art is such a wonderful gift to give someone, but it’s very personal, and so I think that’s why I got so many requests to add my designs to functional products – as it’s safer to give someone a mug for instance because everyone drinks something every day! You don’t necessarily need to know their colour scheme for that either.
What are your recommendations for favourite places to buy gifts?
Etsy is where I started out and it offers a wide range of unique items from millions of creative folk. I’m also part of a membership group for creative independent business owners called Indie Roller – we even have our own ‘Indieconomy’ where we can easily find each other and buy gifts which is really wonderful.
I love browsing independent high street stores too – they truly care about their offering and their customers – they often know them by name! You can find so many unique items by having a little look there. Over the last 12 months or so Childstar Samantha products have been hitting the shelves of some independent retailers – most recently in the US, which I’m very excited about!
What is the best gift you have ever received?
It’s very hard to pick just one, but last year my bestie made a little ‘care package’ for my birthday with lots of treats and pamper goodies in it, which felt really thoughtful.
Visit Childstar Samatha on Etsy to see more of the collection
Playful, bold and joyous are just some of the words I’d use to describe Childstar Samantha. I love the designs and for someone that loves cats and Bowie, it really couldn’t be playing to a more appreciative audience. I actually bought a few of the tea towels as gifts last year and just loved them. Seeing the festive meowie cat Christmas decorations brought the biggest smile to my face, so I may well be getting one to decorate my tree this year too. 🙂
It was really inspiring reading Sam’s views on shopping small and local and knowing that she is part of groups like Indie Roller and Ecologi makes me feel confident supporting a business that has people and the planet at the core of what they do.
Interested in sustainable giving. Check out my interview with Jungle Culture for eco-friendly homeware.