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