De­signer ready for bright lights of US net­work


Her jew­ellery is cer­tainly more glam­orous than the Mir­a­cle Mop, but you can bet that Sa­man­tha Wills is hop­ing for a sim­i­lar suc­cess story to its in­ven­tor Joy Mangano, as drama­tised in the film Joy and played by Jen­nifer Lawrence.

In the early hours of Tues­day in the US, Wills will be the first Aus­tralian jew­ellery de­signer to take to the stu­dio stage of the QVC net­work to sell her range of luxe bo­hemian jew­ellery to mil­lions of view­ers.

“My orig­i­nal de­sire to be on QVC prob­a­bly came about eight years ago, when Rachel Zoe launched her (fash­ion) line on QVC,” Wills tells The Week­end Aus­tralian.

“I knew some­one to sneak me in to watch the film­ing (dur­ing New York Fash­ion Week) and I was starstruck by it, study­ing all the nu­ances (of the selling process) — I knew this is ex­actly what I wanted to do.”

Then 2½ years ago came the call from QVC, and Wills’ dream looked set to be­come a re­al­ity.

“Es­sen­tially they watch brands for a few years to see if they’re rel­e­vant for QVC. When they ap­proached us it was quite sur­real.”

In re­cent months, Wills has un­der­gone in­ten­sive train­ing at the QVC head­quar­ters in West Ch­ester, Penn­syl­va­nia, three hours’ drive from her usual base in New York. Her head of­fice re­mains in Syd­ney.

“It’s not in­fomer­cial-style selling, it’s very much trusted, con­ver- sa­tional selling,” she says. “You learn to lis­ten to your host around key cues that make the phones spike. If you’re talk­ing about Bondi Beach and the calls spike, they loop back to talk about that.”

The selling is based on dol­lars per minute — the goal is to sell $US10,000 worth of jew­ellery per minute for the first few min­utes of the one-hour slot at 1am (US time).

QVC has al­ready or­dered and has in stor­age a whole­sale or­der worth $US250,000.

Two shorter ses­sions are al­ready locked in, in evening times­lots, and if these go well Wills will re­turn for more. At any given time, 24 hours a day, between five and eight mil­lion Amer­i­cans are tuned in to the net­work, which stands for Qual­ity, Value, Con­ve­nience.

“It’s mainly Mid­dle Amer­ica (that watches). I asked, ‘Do I need to dial down my ac­cent? Will they be able to un­der­stand me in Texas?’ Be­cause I’m from Port Mac­quarie so my ac­cent is not in­signif­i­cant. They’re like, ‘Oh, no, we love you Ossies!’”

Danielle Pian­cen­tini, as­sis­tant buyer at QVC, con­curs: “Who doesn’t love a great Aus­tralian ac­cent?”

Pian­cen­tini tells The Week­end Aus­tralian she is ex­pect­ing “ex­cite­ment and ea­ger­ness” among the net­work’s view­ers, adding that it fills a gap within the cur­rent jew­ellery of­fer­ing.

“Our cus­tomer loves be­ing in­tro­duced to brands and de­sign­ers that aren’t found ev­ery­where. It’s that ex­clu­sive­ness that we can pro­vide to her that she loves.”

Wills has cre­ated 12 pieces for the net­work, con­cen­trat­ing on four styles for each show. The pieces range in price from $US30 to $US90, which she says is quite high for cos­tume jew­ellery for QVC, but lower than what her usual cus­tomers would ex­pect.

While Wills says that she has never been driven by the dol­lar, and is more ex­cited about hav­ing a wider au­di­ence for her Sa­man­tha Wills Foun­da­tion that sup­ports women in busi­ness, the pay­day could be im­mense.

Given her nat­u­ral Aus­tralian charm, Wills could hit Mangano lev­els of suc­cess, largely the re­sult of her per­son­able ap­proach to selling a prod­uct she be­lieved in.

With this medium, even­tu­ally hit­ting $250 mil­lion in sales isn’t out of the ques­tion, says Wills.

“Three years ago the back of house wouldn’t have been ready (for or­ders of this vol­ume). We are in a po­si­tion now in the com­pany where we could ex­e­cute that.”

Per­haps some­one should get Mar­got Rob­bie’s num­ber for the Hol­ly­wood ver­sion of this story?


Sa­man­tha Wills will be launch­ing her luxe bo­hemian jew­ellery line on US home shop­ping net­work QVC

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