Meet Samantha Clarke

Chief Style Architect & Founder
Zukuri UnLtd & Zukuri Consulting

Zukuri UnLtd provides personal styling services and personal development workshops. Founded in London by Samantha Clarke earlier this year, the company helps clients to develop their personal brand, promoting individuality, creativity and confidence.

Founded in 2006, Zukuri Consulting provides consumer insights, trend forecasting and strategic branding services.

Zukuri Consulting’s clients range from start-ups to big brands seeking innovation and alternative channels to market. Recent clients include Philips, Selfridges, Clarks shoes, Absolut Vodka, Tesco, DKNY and Calvin Klein.

Why did you decide to start each of your companies?
Zukuri UnLtd is a playful and approachable alternative to the world of personal development and styling. It can be quite aloof and dry area and I wanted to add my own personal spin on it as well as make it fun, easy and fresh.

I desired to provide personal styling on a more grounded level, not just supplying people with the latest quick fixes, instead providing a more holistic approach. I’m a firm believer in this mantra ‘to find ourselves we must first lose ourselves’. Let yourself go, dig deep, and find what drives your signature brand.

Zukuri UnLtd helps individuals develop their own brand that is a signature to them, inside and outside. We provide a simple three step styling programme, amongst other packages, to define signature personal style and provide individuals with the right foundations. The personal brand mentoring packages help to tap into the inner voice, channel what you want to say and encourage individuals to nurture and build their personal brands.

As for Zukuri Consulting, I love scouring and researching for all that is novel and groundbreaking across the worlds of design, technology and retail. I started this business to help companies stay alert, on their toes and forward thinking to stay ahead.

Zukuri Consulting works with small start ups to big brands helping them address consumer motivations and changes in their market, innovate new products and routes to market as well as find ways to tap into key consumers both on and offline.

How were your company names conceived?
I love all things African and Asian; the depth of meaning in words, the vibrancy, the people and the cultures inspires me. I’ve been blessed to travel with my work all over the world.

I’ve been to Japan twice and I picked up on a phrase they use called ‘’monozukuri”. Mono focuses on products and Zukuri emphasizes the process of creation.

The Japanese deeply value the processes of creation and development of products and people. Their attention to detail and craft is something I love about the Japanese. It’s an ethos I wanted to instil in my work so I use Zukuri as the prefix for my businesses.

What was your career path prior to starting your first business?
I previously worked in advertising and marketing.

Did you always know that you would start your own business?
I’ve always had a hunger to work for myself and forge my own destiny. I don’t come from an entrepreneurial family so I went against the grain and believed in what I wanted for myself.

I’m a free thinker and slightly quirky so equally I knew I needed work that was unconventional, passionate and something I wanted to do all day everyday without that sinking feeling!

What are working on at the moment?
I’ve just finished some work for a few fashion brands in East London and a research project for Danone and Coop with Zukuri Consulting. Plus I am in full swing promoting Zukuri UnLtd, working with existing private clients and finding businesses to connect with to mutually grow together.

Can you describe your typical working day?
No two days are the same; I know that sounds corny but its true. I can be researching the latest technologies in Korea to de-cluttering a new client’s wardrobe. I set my own timetable and can work when I am productive, which is often well into the wee hours of the night!

I spend my day doing my favourite thing, research, be it for a styling client or for a Zukuri Consulting client. I’m also continuously developing my coaching sessions and connecting with individuals more prominent in this field to learn and grow from them. It’s always important to keep refining and developing as you go, standing still is death.

I mentor a young girl so find time to check in with her and see how she is progressing between our meetings. I also set aside several hours a day for marketing and promotion for new business, admin and email enquiries. It is as busy as it sounds but I work hard and try to make the most of my day.

I can be a little hermit at times, I’m sure my friends and family will testify they have seen less of me especially these past few months.

Who would be your dream client and why?
I would love to work with Michelle Obama help her with her school programmes and initiatives. She does so much to encourage young girls to strive towards their dreams, stay motivated and keep healthy and fit.

Working with her to develop young girls to become confident, show them how to nurture their personal brands and develop into assertive and motivated individuals would be a real dream!

What have been the highlights of running your own business?
Travelling around the world, which I aim to do more of! Also working with some amazing people who have inspired me and introduced me to people or a new way of seeing something.

I also love the fact that I am developing my own life and success. It’s daunting at times as it all rests on your shoulders but we are our own architects. What we put in we get back.

What is the hardest part of running your own business?
Juggling many tasks, but I’ve become more efficient at this. Also accounting and bookkeeping, I hate it. It’s not my favourite part but it is very important to success.

Someone once said “know your numbers as a small business owner” – I hear these words ringing in my head every time I try to shy away from it.

What has been your proudest business moment so far?
I spent a day working with two very tall beautiful ladies, 6”3 and 6”2, who came over to London on a trip. A family member who really wanted them to find out what their styles were, and how they could dress to accentuate their height and not shy away from it, booked the day.

Both ladies struggled to dress for their height and shape, this really impacted on their confidence. We spent a day working to identify their personalities, looking at what flatters their shapes and having fun experimenting beyond their comfort zones. They started off cynics and but were blossoming enthusiasts at the end of it.

They were met by the family member at the end of the day whose first words were “I don’t even need to ask how the day went it’s written all over their faces, thank you so much!” I felt so satisfied I could have melted it was an incredible day. I live for days like that.

What, or who, inspires and motivates you?
With Zukuri UnLtd I wanted to work on a more intimate level with individuals. It’s great to see the passion in someone’s eyes who is ready to embrace change and open up. I love finding something new to enlighten and peak someone’s attention.

People in general are my passion so meeting a new client and working with them, the thrill of that never gets old.

Fast forward five years, where do you think your business will be in 2016?
I want to get to the point where I am as location independent as possible spreading my UnLtd message worldwide.

I want to grow Zukuri UnLtd to have army of consultants helping individuals live UnLtd all over. Zukuri UnLtd aims to be working with more schools to develop programmes to help young people learn how to harness their personal brand from a young age.

All too often the Internet is now a fairground of so much information they have given up that they not be able to take back. It’s about helping young people appreciate and develop their personal brands earlier on before it’s too late.

I believe we are on the verge of a new way of living, doing business and existing. We’ve emerged from various recessions; the industrial one gave way to our current mechanised life craft was replaced by machines. Now our current recession is one affecting the middle classes, minimal credit, lots of cheap goods with little value, displaced values etc. But it is giving rise to individuals who don’t want to settle. They are realising that they need to take charge of their lives, change the status quo and are harnessing the power of technology. We are on the cusp of a networked revolution, your brand is all you have, and it will be your passport to success.

I love the work of Seth Godin, the marketing genius, and I think this quote is quite insightful: “The networked revolution is creating huge profits, significant opportunities and a lot of change. Individuals will need to be ‘Fast, smart and flexible and embraced by their network’. Linchpin behaviour, people and companies we can’t live without. “

Zukuri UnLtd aims to be at the forefront of this providing the right foundations for every individual to be the best they can be to make the most of life.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering starting a consulting business?
Be clear on what you are passionate about. Providing advice and help to individuals means you have to have a vested interest in your field and know it from the inside out to give them valuable advice.

You have to develop your people skills and be calm under pressure. It’s also interesting to identify how you can deal with conflict or differing opinions. Not everything you suggest, highlight or advise on will be received with the same amount of enthusiasm that you have. Don’t be knocked by this.

You have to develop the patience to understand your customer and their requirements, know how to sell in your ideas without being pushy and still being able to instigate change. They will love you for opening their eyes to something new.

Also don’t give into fear. Fear held me back for a while, until I decided to push back. You have to have that unwavering belief that people want what you have to offer and forge ahead bravely.

Samantha, is there anything else you’d like to share?
If you want a new and novel way to launch your business or need some research into your target consumer market for your business contact me on Samantha@zukuriconsulting.com

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For more information visit www.zukuriunltd.com. You can also find Zukuri UnLtd on Twitter.

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Samantha Clarke was interviewed by Octavia Goredema, founder of the Twenty Ten Club.

The Twenty Ten Club is an award-winning social enterprise designed to connect, inspire and
support Black female entrepreneurs. You can also find Twenty Ten Club on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Do you have a question for Samantha? If so, please feel free to post a comment below:

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