“If you give a person the ball they will run with it. Give them a little confidence, a little boost and they will do the rest.” This philosophy is the strength behind Sam Russell’s personal success and his continued efforts to bring inspiration to all he meets.
Sam Russell is the creative mind behind celebrity looks that have graced the pages of magazines and television. If you love the look of stars like Jon Hamm, Stevie Wonder, and Rainn Wilson, you have met Sam’s ever expanding creativity. While he has a love for the path he has been given, his journey from glitz to giving has been one of introspection and healing. Living with intent is truly where his passion lies. He has recently been lauded for his efforts with the underprivileged by closing the gap between the quintessential superficialities of Hollywood and the downtrodden, ill- fated circumstances of women who have had their dreams stripped away. Sam Russell proclaims his gift of giving them a second chance with grace, love, and style with The Giving Closet.
“To really understand the journey of The Giving Closet it really goes back to my roots. I was born and raised in Austin Texas, the oldest of three boys and my mother was a widow. My father died when I was a teenager, he was a really abusive person so we felt a sense of safety when he was gone. I had a lot of positive memories of growing up despite all of that. I have always admired strong women. That is why everything has come full circle. Now I can help empower women within my resources. We lived off of credit cards and there was no trust fund, so I started acting and modeling part time in hopes of building my network and opportunities.”
It was in those opportunities that Sam found himself in a new career. “In my twenties I was really a dreamer. The synchronicity and beauty of life really started to fall into place for me in 1999. Someone tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘You have a really great eye for wardrobe. You would make a great wardrobe stylist. ‘I then began to be groomed for wardrobe styling. Then came the work, fast and furiously. I relocated to Los Angeles and things just naturally happened for me. I was lucky to wake up one day and have this really great career.”
The serendipity of the journey is what Sam has credited to his overnight success. But it was one woman that sparked the idea for The Giving Closet. “Out of the blue, I had a client whose girlfriend was hounding me for this bag, these shoes. There were designer labels set aside for gifting celebrities. I thought that I would rather use these resources and goods to help change lives. Once the idea washed over me, it was all I could think about.”
The Giving Closet awards a deserving woman a fresh start with a $10,000 designer wardrobe.
He pooled his resources from NBC San Diego as a fashion and trend expert to launch his idea. NBC loved the idea and gave the green light to move forward with surprising a local woman in need they found through a nonprofit organization. “I didn’t just want to help someone in California, I wanted to travel with it. I have been traveling the United States finding unique stories about women that are survivors or giving back in their communities; people making a difference that are not looking for a handout, but a hand-up.”
Sam has been witness to women evolving from being domestically abused to owning homes of their own. Every step of the way he has been a pinnacle point for women re-writing tragic stories into epics of triumph. His advice to them comes from a personal resonance of surviving and thriving in his own life. “Whatever your scars are, you have to use it, you have to own it, because you can’t change it. Use it to empower you. Get in touch with that really gross energy because once you do, you can use it.”
Sam is no stranger to the difficulties of relationships. The vicious cycle of seeing his mother suffer in an abusive marriage was revealing itself in his own life. “I was in a very bad relationship for three and a half years with a prominent public figure in Los Angeles. I never thought I would find myself in an abusive relationship with someone, especially after witnessing what my mom went through. I was suffocated, I was trapped, and I didn’t know how to get out. The last straw was when he got drunk one night and he hit me. I was driving down Pacific Coast Highway leaving a charity event. He was really crazy drunk and so I stayed sober to keep my wits about me. He turned to me and struck me and my head hit the driver side window and I swerved into oncoming traffic. In that moment, I realized that I have to apply what I have learned in my life so that I never have to wake up in this situation again.”
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Sam went on to relentlessly voice his concern to leave the relationship, while his now ex-partner countered his emancipation with ominously outlining his financial obligations. The next day, he received a call for a big job that would not only bolster his finances, but award him his freedom. “I had $500 in my bank account and the next day, I got a call, a big call for an $8000 job that allowed me to distance myself from him financially. I kicked him out of our leased home together, got back on my feet, and rented out the second bedroom. If you leap, the net will appear but you have GOT to leap.”
Sam began a life change by asking himself the important questions: “What is going on with my self-esteem?” and “How did I attract this?” He embarked on his healing journey, leaving the abusive relationship and Los Angeles behind to live a more authentically abundant life. As a deep self-examining soul, Sam realizes his abusive beginnings are intrinsic to the success that led him to dressing Stevie Wonder and hobnobbing with the Obamas. His spirit expanding purpose epitomizes the beauty of the body and spirit.
The solidification of his faith in what the Universe brings comes from a profound experience he had while he lived and worked as a waiter in Austin, Texas: “After my father died, I was nineteen years old, I was waiting tables and was leaving work. I was going home, tired. There was not a car in sight on the freeway, but out of the blue there was a little white car stalled on the freeway. I was driving 55 MPH and didn’t have time to react or even hit the brakes. I swerved and hit the barriers three times. The car I was in did 360 degree turns, came to a halt, smashed in a broken heap. I remember my life flashing before my eyes and my memories of being a baby, my first love in high school, and all these life moments were flashing in front of me. This white light came over me, starting from the top of my head all the way down my body. I was sure that this was it. Everything around me was smashed in and I was trapped in the car. I couldn’t feel anything. I could see through the haze of the smoke that the white car had a family of three in it. They were screaming, they thought I was dead. They took off and left me there. I was glad they were ok, but I realized that time was running short, and I had to get out of the car. I kicked the door open, I stepped out of the car, and I looked back at the space I was sitting in, and it was no longer there, it was smashed into the car. I was perplexed. I thought maybe it was a part of death. Suddenly the white light that was over me lifted. Emergency came and took my pulse and while they thought I was thrown from the car, they couldn’t find a bruise or a scratch on me. I spent a lot of time in my life reflecting on why that happened to me. I guess there is a bigger purpose for me.”
Take a peek at Sam’s portfolio at http://wardrobedept.com/the-giving-closet/.
Photo Courtesy: The Giving Closet
Photo Courtesy: The Giving Closet