June 20, 2018
By: Caroline DeCarlo
Samantha Handler, a recent graduate of the University of Maryland, is the 22-year-old artist and CEO behind the KicksBySammy brand. Her love for modern art and passion for design inspired her to build the custom design company that quickly reached local and national success. Handler relocated to New York City to run KicksBySammy after graduating from college, and has continued to expand her business exponentially.
For most of her life, Handler considered her interest in art to be a hobby.
“While packing for my freshman year of college, I found a pair of blank keds that I hadn’t worn, and saw it as a opportunity to make my own spirit-wear for tailgates,” Handler said. “After seeing that pair of shoes I designed for myself, my friends started asking me to do the same for them. By the end of the summer, I had friends of friends contacting me and it took off from there.”
GET TO KNOW SAMMY
Meet Sammy, the artist behind KicksBySammy's designs.
Sammy's first pair of designed shoes, July 2013
KicksBySammy's latest design for the University of Maryland, May 2018
With your current experience and knowledge, how would you critique the first pair of shoes you designed?
“Looking back at that original pair of shoes, it’s crazy to see how much I’ve evolved as an artist and improved my skills. I’m really proud of how KicksBySammy has grown.”
Though she took Advanced Placement Art in high school and later went on to take art-related electives at the University of Maryland, she did not realize her talent could be turned into something more until taking on a minor in Business Entrepreneurship & Innovation during her Junior year.
Handling the marketing, artistic, and financial aspects of KicksBySammy while attending full time college classes was something Handler was able to do with the help of strategic time management and a strong internal motivation.
“It was when I began applying for a job outside of KicksBySammy during my senior year of college that I realized I really had something unique and special to work with through my business,” Handler said. “KicksBySammy had so much potential, and I knew I had to pursue this while I was young with the ability to take chances.”
Soon after coming to this realization, Handler started to work on custom printed products and was approached by several large companies looking to collaborate.
Sammy's KicksBySammy inspired graduation cap, May 2017
What has been your favorite project to work on?
“I loved collaborating with CBRE, a well-known commercial real estate company. My designs for them were displayed on 15 by 15 ft
How would you describe your current self, and how does that play into your designs?
“I have always loved finding bright, colorful sources of happiness, and the statement pieces I design will always be inspired by that part of me, whether that statement piece is a unique pair of shoes, or a fun blanket in your living room.”
As for the future, Handler’s excitement about KicksBySammy’s continual expansion is clear.
Going forward, what are your hopes for KicksBySammy?
“I’m really happy with our transition into becoming a custom design firm, and I can’t wait to see what we will accomplish in the coming years as we continue to expand our team. I’m so proud of the work I have put out so far, and I hope to continue to take on
Sammy with CRBE's KicksBySammy Miami installment, March 2018
windows in two different locations in Chicago and Miami. It was the first time I saw my artwork on such a large scale, and it was really exciting to know that people all around the country would be seeing my designs.”
more projects that push my creative boundaries. My ultimate goal is for people everywhere to be able to look at my artwork and instantly recognize that it’s a KicksBySammy design.”