For those of you who haven’t met me yet, I Am Sam. Co Owner of The Refillery, wife to Dom, mum to Stevie and Jackson, lover of all things wine and French Cheese. 32 Fabulous years, Jo’Burg born and raised, horse rider and show-jumper in my teens, completed a degree only to finish and explore the world. Well-travelled purveyor of a life less travelled, finding nothing but laughs and good times.
Also … business woman slash expert ‘fake-it-til-you-make-it’ person. Hat-Wearer of many roles within the business from delivery gal to expert scooper, social media tapper, admin, finance and logistics department and well…making the most of life while leaving a lighter footprint on the planet.
I was honoured to be interviewed for a number of Women’s Day articles this year and I thought I would share with you some of the questions that were asked to give you a snapshot glance into the people behind The Refillery.
What is your WHY?
I strongly believe that Life Is Too Short and to do something that A) Makes you happy and fulfils you and B) Leaves behind something your kids, family and loved ones can be proud of all the while being something that leaves a positive impact. Now that is something worth working hard for.
Dom and I worked on Super Yachts for many years and seeing the world from that side is fascinating. It opens your eyes to things you don’t normally see. We saw huge masses of rubbish floating in the water, miles away from land, and were so often shocked that there was no “Away”, that all rubbish and plastic waste ends up somewhere.
Fast forward to two kids, a few life changes for us and we really wanted to to do our own thing and something meaningful. We simply loved the zero-waste stores we had seen around the world and decided to bring it back to South Africa in an accessible, convenient yet stylish manner.
So we sold our house, packed up the two kids, two cats and moved back to SA and opened our first store within 4 months.
… Hello Refillery!
How can we be a support system to the female business owners in our lives?
I’m no expert in any field really [besides perhaps rose] but through my learning curve with launching ‘The Refillery’ and starting from scratch in a completely unknown industry, new role/s, uncertainty at almost every turn I have found that even the smallest act of kindness to other female entrepeneurs or business owners truly goes miles.
Sharing advice about learned failures I had with our start up. Pointing out a couple of things that did and didn’t work for us, sharing invaluable contacts and giving honest feedback is incredibly important. Supporting each other is so important, we need a sense of community to be more of a focus in our lives today.
How did you take your idea into practice?
Firstly the concept is not ours at all, it has been around for well over 20 years and there are many stores like us around the world – All beautiful and unique. But for us, we saw some gaps in the market and instead of throwing every reason why it wouldn’t work [even though some valuable books would say this route eliminates all points of failure] we chose to focus on all the reasons how and why it would work. We didn’t come up with a big business plan as we self funded it, we threw everything including the kitchen sink at this. We were already heavily invested in The Refillery both financially and emotionally and truly believed something like this, done right, would be a success.
We definitely took a massive risk, leaving normal jobs, routine life and a pay check [ha ha] especially with two kids under the age of two, but everyday we work together, everyday we both spend invaluable time with our kids, friends and family. We see the impact our stores are making on fighting the war-on-plastics and every long day or late night is for something of our own. It’s worth it.
Best quote or phrase to live by?
“Don’t waste a minute not being happy. If one window closes, run to the next one or break down a door” Brooke Shields
What do you think is your greatest strength?
Having a sense of humour. Life alone can be brutal if you let it and business is no different – having a good sense of humour has gotten me through some crazy times and always seems to keep life on the positive, bright and sunny side for me.