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August 17, 2017

Newport’s ‘Boss Lady’ of the Week: Samantha Zigbuo


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Samantha Zigbuo (or ‘Sam Zig’ as I like to call her) gave birth to her collection, Gypsy with a Zip Code, in 2015. Sam is a Rhode Island native and after some gypsy-ing around has returned to her roots. Currently living on Aquidneck Island, Sam creates her pieces seaside. The way she talks about jewelry is romantic, and there is no dull to her shine. A lover of all things vintage and unconventional, Sam’s jewelry is all hand made, one of a kind, and comes from her heart. If she isn’t talking about Zodiac signs, Sam is most likely working as the caring Nanny for two adorable boys or dreaming of her next creation. I, personally, own about five or six of Sam’s pieces and I like to think that I carry a little sliver of her whenever I wear them (I think she feels that way, too).

Even though I would consider Sam a close friend, confidant, and fellow empath she certainly was nervous for her interview,

“I feel like I talk too much.”

For (and on) the record, Sam has canceled every public speaking course she’s signed up for, so I am have considered this interview a success even before it is written. Although, I am not sure what she is so nervous about, she’s amazingly articulate. You’ll see…

Q: Did you study jewelry in school?
A: “No, I am self taught. I was interested in Interior Design, and obsessed with antiques so I was figuring out how to get into that field, I thought that a Fine Arts degree would be the best way to integrate all of those things. I am a semester away from my receiving my associates in Fine Art, I partied through all the years that I was supposed to be in school.”

Sam laughs and throws her hands in the air while her and I exchange smiles … I feel you, girl.

Q: Why ‘Gypsy with a Zip Code’?
A: “I hate interviews. Can you just look at my bio for that? (She’s funny, no?) I suppose ‘gypsy’ is sort of a word that I’ve always been really comfortable with, it’s always resonated me as far as concept and vibe. Van Morrison is one of my favorite [musical] artists and he speaks of ‘gypsy’ a lot. I’ve always felt a lot like a gypsy and a bit of a nomad, not quite sure exactly where I should be. I am never able to find just one place in my mind where I feel quite at home per-say. That being said, ‘Gypsy with a Zip Code’ was my commitment to staying in one place long enough to center and refocus. To concentrate all of that chaotic energy into one vision.”

Q: What is your favorite medium to work with?
A: “For the record, I am a designer. I don’t have the tinkering skills built in, if I could have a pack of minions helping me out that would be great. I have had arthritis since I was seven years old so creating some of these things actually physically ails me. I have learned to love doing it and when you have no money to outsource you are kind of force to create. It all started when I was the “Sushi Girl” at the Clarke Cooke House and I made earrings to wear with my kimono. Of course, I wanted to go to Free People and buy earrings but couldn’t afford them, so I made them.  I ended up getting so many compliments on the earrings that I would wear. There is a store in Jamestown called The Purple Door that used to sell beads, that’s where I got them from originally. That was almost five years ago. They no longer sell individual beads, just jewelry. I have saved all the bags from there, I am nostalgic in that way.”

Where do you find your inspiration?
A: “I am SO ADD and throw an ‘H’ in that because there is a hyperactivity aspect as well. This is the undercurrent of every aspect of my life. I drive inspiration from nature but that is not just it. I have many muses in town. I am inspired by music, or sometimes the way the light hits the couch in my window is inspiring. I love all things beautiful, I know that sounds like a cliche but I just like things that are old, thoughtful, and full of soul. I guess that’s my idle thought on that. What is most important to me with the jewelry, and my design, it is not so much nature but I want people to be able to afford things that look very unique and cool. It is wearable art. I don’t want people to break the bank.”

Q: A lot of your materials are found in nature, is there a specific place you usually go to find them?
A: “There is a beach off of Indian Ave, I have heard it called Rocky Beach and Spider Beach. I know it as Spider Beach. That’s where I go to get my rocks and my shells. I absolutely love it. Low tide is the best time to get what I need, specifically. As far the as feathers go, I had a few requests for feathers and, as far as I am concerned, feathers can get tacky easily. I also didn’t want to do what everyone else does, I wanted to do what I do. So, I channeled my experience at the Umbrella Factory where they have emus and did my research. I found a place in Vermont who’s emus have been molting up a ton of feathers and I was lucky enough that it all [her vision] worked.”

samantha zig

Q: How many hours a week do you spend creating? I know sometimes you don’t sleep.
A: “I save those sleepless nights for weekends when I am not in the care of two little ones. I would say, I get home around 4:30p.m. or 5p.m. after my nannying shift is over and I typically don’t wind down until midnight, on average. I always aim for sooner but it never really happens. Once I do get in bed, whenever the creative process is complete and my stuff is put away, it isn’t nearly over. Then I am online looking for new findings, making notes, it’s non stop. Many sleepless nights, yes, an answer to your question. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and jot ideas down.”

Talk about eating, sleeping, and breathing your work. Sam basically sleep walks with creativity.

Q: How do you hope to see your brand grow?
A: “Well, I feel like I am not a naturally ambitious person, I’ll just put that out there. I am certainly not a ‘goal setter’ and I am actually amazed at how this has grown in less than a year. I don’t want to put any expectations on Gypsy with a Zip Code, I feel like in a way that puts limits on it. I have so many ideas for jewelry, I can see this really developing. Where it’s going to go, or how big it is going to get, I can’t say. I am going to have fun and enjoy the ride while it lasts. I think that I will probably expand to a few more stores if the opportunity presents itself. I will play with concepts and see where they lead. I am definitely unconventional, we shall see, I think it could all be preeeeeeetty sweeeeeet.”

Q: Where do you sell your products? Do you have an online store?
A: “Island Surf and Sport, Long Time Sun and Curated [in Tiverton]. Island was my very first stop, I wore a necklace into the shop that I pretty much played around with, it was a prototype, so to speak. A friend of mine thought it would fit well in the store so her and her buyer looked at my stuff and were pleasantly surprised. I made a display in the store, which started with maybe twenty pieces or so and it has continued to grow. Kyla [from Long Time Sun] came second, Curated is my most recent addition. I definitely have a few places I want to explore down south, in my other home, eventually. I think the best thing about this collection there is so much room for growth. It is a vibe that fits in so many towns and is near and dear to my heart. They’re very Key West, that’s definitely where I think a lot of my inspo comes from too. I felt so free there.”

I don’t see you as a Florida girl…

“Key West is nothing like Florida, that’s the best part. It’s like Newport with palm trees. It’s a magical place.”

Q: Do you have any nicknames? Do people actually call you ‘Gypsy with a Zip Code’?
A: “’Sam A Lama Ding Dong’ is one, ‘Sam’ is technically a nickname that has just stuck. I introduce myself as Sam now, much to my dismay. I love the name ‘Samantha’, it just has gotten softened and I have never been able to get it back. Only one person, maybe two people, can call me ‘Sammy’ and get away with it for some reason. My best friend is the only one who I don’t cringe at when I hear her say, ‘Sammy’.“

Sam would like to, “thank everyone who has showed me love and support. Everyone that has shared my posts and encouraged me. To everyone that is desperate to buy my stuff but knows that I am not always on top of things as quickly as I would like, stay tuned. ‘Gypsy time’ is sort of delayed but the product is worth the wait, I think.”

The product is certainly worth the wait and Sam is undoubtedly an asset to the community. I have a feeling that her innovative designs will be popping up all over our island, and beyond.

Image by Meg Heriot of Meg Heriot Photography.

Image by Meg Heriot of Meg Heriot Photography.

Image by Meg Heriot of Meg Heriot Photography.

Image by Meg Heriot of Meg Heriot Photography.

Image by Meg Heriot of Meg Heriot Photography.

Image by Meg Heriot of Meg Heriot Photography.

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