Oh, yeah, I've been featured...

Featured On Fashionably, that is. Matty asked me if I would be willing to join part in his interview series that he has on his blog, Fashionably Plastic. And because today is the official launch of this blog, he's decided to have the interview posted exclusively here. Read it below and enjoy!
Today's Featured On Fashionably interview is with the multi-talented Sam Danson of Halo Repaints/Empire Clothing. Upon browsing through her website, one will find that she is just as magical as the dolls she brings to life. Having an extensive background in the entertainment industry has only helped her refine her craft and her eye for what's 'in'. While her repaints usually fetch a pretty penny on eBay, her work is still easily accessible to all collector's via her fashion doll clothing line: Empire by Halo Repaints. And just like her clothing line, Sam has always been accessible with collectors. Although she get's a lot of emails each week, you'll always get a response, which is nice in today's world of auto-generated emails. 

Sam has really defined the line between artist and collector which harmonizes beautifully with the work she creates. When a new clothing line or jewelry line launches, you'll find that some of the model's are not always her own (one of her recent favorite's is an Antoinette by Yu). Just as she's always been supportive of her fellow artists, she's always been an advocate for mixing and matching Empire pieces with other clothing her customers may own.

Now, let's get on to the interview!

Q: What got you started repainting, sewing?
A: I'd always made my own doll clothes as a kid, even though I had every Barbie outfit under the sun. I happened upon Barbie Bazaar at 20, saw the OOAKs featured and like many before (and after me), thought, "I can do that!". That was 17 years ago. I didn't get serious about it until *2004 though.
Q: Did you have any formal training in either one of those areas? 
A: I attended a magnet school for art as a teen and continued through college, but painting on canvas is nothing like painting on 3-D vinyl. That's all been self taught. Thank goodness I'm part of a wonderful community that is willing to share information! Same with sewing. I drape and make a lot of my own  patterns. I aim to take a tailoring course in the near future. I'm always looking for ways to get better at anything I do.
Q: How did working with a factory to create your designs translate into the finished piece?
A: Working with Fashion Boulevard gave me a most unique ability to control what was produced. Instead of outsourcing, all the fabrics and trim were picked by me and shipped over. They did a fantastic job of translating my drawings into the real thing. 
I would receive the prototype, tweak it to my liking if necessary; then it was put into production. There were many times the finished piece was even better than I had imagined. Sometimes, I'd end up finishing it off over here with trims or findings. It was a great experience to be so hands on.
Q: What is your favorite sculpt to repaint and your least favorite?
A: My favorite to repaint: Daphne, Classic Tyler, Angelina, Emilie and Euphemia from Tonner; Sybarites as they let me explore a whole different feel; the Numina girls.
Least favorite: I'm not a huge fan of the newer Tonner sculpts as a few seem large and unrefined. Bella comes to mind. That said, I'll try any sculpt at least once. The only doll I refuse to wipe down is a Deva. They have to come to me "clean" if I'm to paint them.

Q: Do you have a favorite piece of Empire out of everything you've created?
I have many that I'm really grateful to own: the saris, Matt's cargo pants and tanks, the White Gauze Dress that reached cult status. However, if I could only pick one item though it would be my Skinny Jeans. Originally created in 2006, they are the "go to" item I am always reaching for.

Q: When repainting, do you listen to music and if so, whom do you listen to? 
A: Occasionally, I'll have a movie/tv show on, usually something that I've seen a billion times before, so that I can zone out while being entertained ie: Zoolander, The Mummy, Pride and Prejudice. If I'm listening to music, it's the Thomas Newman station I created on Pandora. The calm instrumentals let me concentrate on the work at hand. Photo shoots are a whole other thing. I'll always reach for something upbeat and fun like the Pussycat Dolls or some techno.
Q: I love how your repaints transcend the gamut from goth girls to glamour girls...do you have a favorite style?
A: I really do love painting all of them! I couldn't do all glamour girls, just like I couldn't do all goth all the time. I love "Soon" as much as I love "Eris". I do enjoy the creativity that goes into an "Eris" or "Druyd" though. I love surprising myself with what I can do to take it the the next level.

Q: What has running and creating your own business taught you?
A: Surround yourself with good people! If you aim to be a multi-hyphenate, there's no way you can do every single thing yourself so find skilled, like minded people who can help you get where you want to be.
Q: Do you have anyone help you out with all the mailing, creating etc.?
A: LOL, contrary to my above statement, aside from my brilliant graphics designer/tech wizard, anything and everything done is all me. Without Empire being factory produced at the moment, I am more than capable of handling day to day operations.

Q: Do you now hate going to the post office? LOL.
A: Not at all! Because of Empire, I got to know my local workers really well, lol. When I'd arrive at the post office with 60-80 packages at a time, I know I'd strike fear into them. I could have used Click and Ship, but much to their chagrin, I liked the security of personally handing them over and seeing them carted away. Now, I just go to catch up with the clerks :)

And if you're still wanting to know more after what you've just read...

In her non-doll related life, she's a Mom to a teenager.  In addition, she's a huge sci-fi/fantasy/comics fan so each year she tries to get to at least 2 Comic Cons. She also enjoys doing research (which can entail looking for that perfect face to recreate or a new technique to try) when she's not actively working on a doll or clothes. And in terms of technology, Facebook and Twitter have enabled her to catch up with friends from her show biz days; as she says, that's always fun. As Sam is always thinking of new ideas, (wait until you hear this one!) she says there is also talk of plans for a possible foray into human sized offerings. Which definitely keeps her more than busy.

If I were to sum up Sam in one sentence, I think Tonner says it best, as this Super Girl definitely is the definition of Believe in the Power of Play. At this time, I'd like to thank Sam, for taking time out of her very busy schedule for this interview. With all that she does, I'm glad she was able to squeeze me in! :-) 

*The year MJ graduated High School, LOL.
**All photos are courtesy Halo Repaints/Empire Clothing and are used by permission.

...And if you haven't bought your girls any Empire wear, what's stopping you? 
Click on the boots, and say: 
"There's no clothing like Empire." (x3) 
I promise, you won't be disappointed!


Q said...

Sam and Matty...

This is awesome! I enjoyed reading it! Hope you both are doing great!

Much Love,

aquabluerose said...

Congratulations, Sam!
I wish you the Very Best on your new Blog. It looks Fabulous and Matt did a sensational job too.
I am sure you both had a great time working together.
Best Wishes, Sam!
gerri (Gerri in PA)