We can't wait to introduce you to Samantha. While preparing to get married she went on the hunt for wedding fairs, only to be disappointed in what she found. She soon discovered a gap in the market for a modern, contemporary and stylish wedding fair, and so Wild Hearts was born...
Samantha, can you share a little bit about yourself, your background and what led you to become the woman you are today.
I am a Stylist, Dreamer, Mama, and the Founder and Director at Wild Hearts - a platform for couples, wedding vendors and lovers all things wild and beautiful. I have two children, Sebastian and Emilia - who keep me very busy with their own creative projects! At Wild Hearts we run events all over New Zealand and have plans to extend into Australia in the future. With a background in Fashion Design and events, this was the perfect combo to create Wild Hearts into the beautifully curated brand it is today, inspiring hearts all over the world has been my vision since day one, and kept us on track through all the hard times too!
When and how did Wild Hearts begin?
My now husband and I moved back home to New Zealand when we got engaged back in 2012, it was here that the idea had been planted, after noticing a huge gap in the market for a more on trend Wedding Fair, a beautiful event to plan your wedding and a little more creative inspiration to add to the market. A few years down the track we joined with some local vendors to create our first small wedding fair and runway, it was here the dream truly began.
Can you give us the low down on your journey to date? (Where did you start and what has led you here.)
After throwing together our first wedding fair in 2015, we then began to properly brand the business and think about the future long term - which was to take the Fairs to dreamy destinations all over the country and build a community of creative event vendors.
So we prototyped the event in our local town, made strong connections with some major publications that had like-minded audiences and had incredible imagery taken at the event. Branding and aesthetics have been huge in our growth from day one, so this was a very important part in our business launch. Then the following year we took the business Nationwide and held Wedding Fairs in Christchurch, Queenstown and Auckland!
Since then it has been one wild ride, that’s for sure! We have worked with some insanely amazing people over the years including Together Journal, Karen Walker, World Brand, Zoe & Morgan, Chaos & Harmony, Bayly and Moore, Hello May, Twelve Tables, Chasewild and so many more! It blows my mind when I get the chance to stop and think about the adventures we have had over the years and the magic we have created along the way with these brands. It has honestly been the most rewarding creative community to be part of and watch grow over the years.
Starting your own business is major! What gave you the courage to go out and make it happen?
Definitely having a clear vision from day one! I have always been a big dreamer and never afraid to chase the crazy beautiful path of a startup, but the one thing I have always started with from day one has been a vision. Without direction and purpose it can be very hard to make the jump into something new, and also a hard road to navigate, especially through those hard times. I also highly recommend surrounding yourself with inspiring business owners, who will challenge and support you as you create the dream!
What inspired the name?
Wild Hearts was created to inspire the dreamers, the couples, wedding vendors and wild-lovers wanting to create their own magic.
Making magic and inspiring hearts is what we do! The essence of Wild has always been inspired by the untamed dreamscape destinations around New Zealand, those wildly beautiful oceanscapes and mountains. Finding our own creative rules, and breaking all the known traditions of typical wedding events.
Last year was a curve ball for everyone in the event world – how did/did you change the way you do business, and how are you coping with this year's Covid lockdowns that saw both your 2021 Auckland Wedding Fair & Nz Fashion Week Runway postponed again!
Well last year was definitely one heck of a curveball that's for sure! But it definitely taught us a lot of resilience and the extra work we had been putting into other sides of the business, really kept us going. That part I am truly grateful for.
After postponing all of our events in 2020, we accelerated our digital side of the business, with a new design on our Online Directory (now called the Wild Hearts Vendor Collection) we were now connecting with couples all over the world - thanks to our incredible web designer Ben at BE Business - who worked closely with me on all of our new digital offerings. Then the big one, during lockdown the industry suffered, as weddings were pulled to a halt, we turned to our community and wanted to inspire a little light during these hard times. This is where the CMC (Creative Master Class) by Wild Hearts was born. The CMC was a 3 Month online course for creatives to ignite passion and purpose back into business and help build our industry on strong foundations - so that they would be stronger if we had to go through hard times again, which little did we know… we would again this year!
Swinging into the week the 2021 lockdown was announced back in August, I had just returned from doing model fittings for our collab event with my lovely friend Greta from Together Journal at New Zealand Fashion Week, which was less than 2 weeks away from launching, along with that the same weekend would have seen the return of our much loved Wild Hearts Wedding Fair on Auckland’s beautiful waterfront. With the announcement of a new covid case, the entire country was sent into level 4 lockdown and we were back into postponements again… It has definitely not been an easy time for event organisers and we are very grateful for our community, our vendors, designers and sponsors have been incredibly supportive during this time and we still continue to share all the dreamy work via our blog, online vendor collection and social media - keeping hearts inspired around New Zealand, until we can finally bring these magical events back to life.
Sometimes we learn more from our mistakes, than our wins – what’s one of your biggest learning curves running a business?
Oh there have definitely been many learning curves over the years! I am a huge believer in making mistakes and learning fast what needs to change. One of my biggest mistakes has been not hiring the right people and taking on too much myself.
Learning that there are professionals out there who can do things 100 times faster and better, can cut down so much time and help you bring in more revenue - plus leaves you with more time doing the things you love.
For many years I took on too much and reached complete burnout every event season, until I started to create the right team around me.
There’s a lot to do when planning a wedding, have you got any inside tips for couples planning their special day during uncertain times?
Weddings have changed so much over the years, focus is less on the traditions and more on the people in love! Do not be afraid to do things differently. Your wedding day is a beautiful joining of two souls and this can be shared with your loved ones in so many different ways now. Elopements and Micro Weddings are becoming ever more popular with the restrictions. Making sure you have multiple backup plans in place, and do not get too hung up on specific details, whenever and wherever you do get to say ‘I Do’, just know it will be magical no matter what.
You also have a styling business? Tell us a bit about that.
Yes! On the side of Wild Hearts, I also freelance style for content shoots, editorials and just recently moved into interiors. My passion for creating beautiful spaces keeps the creative side alive as I am now more full on with the back end of the business at Wild Hearts. Whether I am helping a new brand with a campaign or working on concepts for someone's home studio design, I am in my absolute element seeing the vision become reality. Styling has worked so perfectly with Wild Hearts, creating many styled shoots over the years featuring in publications all over NZ and Australia. Stay tuned for a couple of big projects launching soon…
You are a busy gal, travelling around NZ, creating events, organising photoshoots, how do you manage it all?
My goodness I am not going to lie, it is a juggle! Especially with a family. But learning to have your “hustle” season and know when to slow down has been something I have learnt over the last few years. We have also always involved the kids in the business right from when Emilia was a baby! They know when Mum is busy, she is creating something magical and often travels with us around the country for our events.
I love that they have seen the crazy, busy side of entrepreneurship and along the way as I have learnt to cope and try to balance it all, I am teaching them as well - our future dreamers…
What do you do when you need to step back and unwind?
Being in nature, whether it is walking my dog Tallulah, or escaping to the nearest beach, keeps me grounded and the fresh wild air fuels the soul every time. I also love yoga, pilates and a good dance sesh with my kids!
What is the best part about your job?
Definitely the community! I have met some truly beautiful people doing great things in business, along this journey. My days are never the same, each event, shoot, project, and course creation, has inspired and shaped me as a person and filled my heart over and over with the kindness and beauty that surround this industry.
STYLE FILES: What do you love most about wearing Saben?
I love the modern, minimal, style focused and practical designs from Saben, every bag Roanne has designed has been curated in the most beautiful contemporary way, fused with function and quality.
We can’t help but be inspired by your style, where do you get your style inspo from?
Thank you! Style inspiration comes in many forms, from experiences, dreamscape destinations, my favourite magazines, books and blogs, I am forever fueling my creative soul. My style often changes with my environment, whether I am on shoots, flying around the country, or business meetings, my style is more of a modern, minimalist, inspired by the cityscape. I love supporting and wearing local New Zealand designers such as Karen Walker, Marle, Juliette Hogan, Zoe & Morgan and of course Saben!
Then when I am home, in my sunny coastal home my style is more relaxed, pairing bohemian prints and comfortable linens, inspired by the ocean and my inner sun chaser soul.
What drew you to the Lily handbag? What is it you love about her?
I absolutely adore the size of the Lily bag, she is so perfect to carry the essentials between shoots, meetings and on event days. I love her romantic, luxe style and gorgeous soft rose pink, matched with the gold chain - Lily is the perfect addition to any event.
Photography by Ana Galloway