She now recalls receiving a mystery call from a wedding planner, a few months before the wedding. She said: “They wanted 60 white and silver masks for an undisclosed client. I nearly didn’t take on the order seeing as I was due to go into labour at any time, but I’m glad I did. It was such a high-profile wedding and the photos in the magazine displayed our products beautifully.”
Samantha graduated with a BA (Hons) Communications Studies in 1991, but she admits that she always had a creative streak: “My Mum was in charge of wardrobe at the BBC in Birmingham and sometimes she’d take me along. I used to make my own clothes and started selling vintage garments online. It was when I was looking for accessories to go with the clothing that I first came across masks.”
She sold others peoples’ masks for three years before she decided to take the plunge and do some of her own designs. She’s never looked back. Now, just a year on, business is booming for Samantha and her husband Martin, who does most of the administration and finances. They have expanded out of their attic to a large Nottingham studio and employ fellow alumnae Emily Birrell (BA Hons Fine Art 2009) and Beth Shipley (BA Hons Textile Design 2009).
Beth loves being part of the small team. She said: “I’m so lucky! I came for an interview with Sam the day after my graduation ball. I got the job and I absolutely love it”.
Samantha agrees: “I love it too! It’s great to have a job you enjoy. We’d be lost without Beth now. I’d love to take on a NTU placement student as well – there really is a hotbed of talent on our doorstep.”
They now work together on the full range of masks. Samantha still has plenty of ideas for new designs and ‘fiddles around’ with materials rather than putting anything down on paper. Her favourite is the ‘beautiful range’ which incorporates a lace design.
But it’s not just about the ladies – there are some more simple designs for men, including a Zanni mask – an authentic but rather creepy Venetian design like the one worn by Heath Ledger in his final film Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.
From New Year celebrations to Valentine balls, prom nights to graduation balls – the team say there is a mask for every occasion. Looking ahead Samantha would like to concentrate on improving her designs and developing a luxury bridal range on Venetian bases. She would also like to try out some designs for Pride festivals – an area she hasn’t yet explored.
For now though Samantha and Beth are scanning celebrity magazines to find out who their latest client might be – they’ve been approached by the same wedding planner who placed the Rooney order. If you can’t wait to see them in OK! or Hello magazine then check out their website www.samanthapeach.co.uk