CEO & Designer
The beginning of the pathVance’s life was turned upside-down when she lost her only son, Sam, a nineteen-year-old college freshman, to the scourge of heroin. Named by Interview magazine as one of the “Most Noble Crusaders of the Modern Era,” Vance was determined to turn her personal tragedy into a positive force for change. Only months after her son’s death, Vance founded the Sam Vance Foundation with the mission to help free adolescents and teens from the shackles of drug and alcohol abuse.
BeneficenceA longtime philanthropist, Vance knew that establishing a charity and funding a charity were two different endeavors. “The primary concern of most companies is making money. They get into charity and develop a social conscience, if at all, as an afterthought...but Sama Eyewear is different. I founded the Sam Vance Foundation first and then created Sama Eyewear as way to fund the foundation.”
Philosophy of lifeAn internationally renowned designer and eyewear industry pioneer for over twenty years, Vance’s vision for Sama Eyewear required a completely new approach to business and design. “I began my journey by naming the company Sama, an ancient term meaning ‘...no beginning and no end’ that personifies my underlying philosophy of life and set the tone for everything that followed.”
Sama StyleDetermined to make a significant impact as quickly as possible, Vance took her “fashion with a cause” message to the world’s most powerful purveyors of youth-oriented culture: the fashion and entertainment industries. “Heroin chic was anything but chic,” says Vance, “the fact that the fashion and entertainment industries were glamorizing drug use was unacceptable and needed to be changed.” Vance’s focus on style over substance (abuse, that is!) was ultimately embraced by tastemakers and trendsetters in the fashion, film, and music industries, and the Sama Eyewear legend was born!
The 1001 Nights collectionThe international optical industry and fashionistas alike declared Sama Eyewear’s launch to be nothing short of extraordinary. Elegant designs, luxurious materials, and revolutionary manufacturing techniques quickly propelled the company to the forefront of the hyper-competitive eyewear industry. Never one to rest on her laurels, Vance immediately began work on a project that would forever change the luxury eyewear industry: the 1001 Nights collection. The 1001 Nights collection was the first to feature precious stones set in pure titanium and was also the first specifically created to benefit charity. The collection was inspired by the tale of Scheherazade, a story about a beautiful, young woman who must rely on her courage and creativity to survive an almost impossible situation. “In many ways the fable of Scheherazade reflects my own creative journey,” say Vance,“ and it serves as a wonderful source of hope during difficult times.”
PandemicWhen the Coronavirus hit in early 2020, Vance made sure that Sama would be there to help in any way possible. Sama quickly became a world leader in PPE production, distribution, and donation. Giving back to the community has always been in Sama’s and Vance’s DNA, so the creation of a Medical Division specifically designed to help those in need was a seamless transition. Vance pledged that, “Sama exists as mechanism to help people and a global pandemic is about as dire a situation as one could imagine so we will make certain that Sama continues to help those in need.”
When asked about her next project, Vance smiles and says, "I could tell you, but it would spoil the surprise!”