Interview by Marija Butkovic @MarijaButkovic
Saba Samanian is Women of Wearables Ambassador in Toronto, Canada. As a professional, she cannot draw a line between passion and work. In fact, she feels a moral imperative not to do so. So, her aim is to become immersed in the worlds of art, architecture, and design fused with technology and the law. She understands the underlying drive and passion of entrepreneurs and artists, and that is why she wants to become an important voice in the conversation about how we can propel them further in their respective industries. Saba has been fortunate to have had several opportunities that have allowed her to do this, including as a Research Assistant for leading experts and lawyers in technology and innovation, as well as the IP Innovation Clinic at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. As a future lawyer, her assistance will help entrepreneurs and artists do what they do best - create.
Saba, welcome to the team! How did you find out about Women of Wearables?
When I think about how I found out about WoW, I realize how wonderful it is to have good friends, who happily have been a supportive network for me. A close friend of mine, who now works in San Francisco for a tech company, told me about WoW as soon as I told her about my interest in fashion and technology. And I am so glad she did!
What are your projects you're working on at the moment?
As I complete my third and final year of law school, I realize the importance of a personal brand. Therefore, I recently launched my website, sabasamanian.com, which operates as a hybrid between an online professional profile and a blog. My goal is to use this platform to demonstrate my knowledge in the area of fashion, technology, and the law, and brand myself as someone who has an important voice in this conversation. I am happy to say that I recently recruited Summer Lewis as my Chief Communications Director, who is a hardworking first-year law student and passionate about how sustainability impacts all of these areas. Together, we hope to build our brand as strong women who believe in mentorship and support.
What are your biggest achievements so far?
In my first semester at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, I was accepted to the prestigious Osgoode Hall Law Journal as an Associate Editor. In recognition of the contributions I had made, I was accepted to be a Senior Editor a year later. This lead to opportunities as Research Assistant (RA) positions with three leading experts in Intellectual Property law, which formed a substantial part of my knowledge in law.
During my time with the Journal and as an RA, my exposure to articles regarding Intellectual Property law furthered my interest in entrepreneurship and innovation. As such, I became the co-founder and editor of a new fashion law blog, Unprecedentedly Chic, which focused on pressing Intellectual Property law issues in the fashion industry. Within the first week of the launch of the blog, we reached over 2,000 views and we were contacted by Thomson Reuters to be featured on the Canadian Lawyer website. This was the first thing I started from scratch, which gave me the confidence to be an entrepreneur and understand other entrepreneurs well. Indeed, this experience greatly helped me when I worked at an incredible Bay Street law firm the summer after my second year of law school, and I am so happy to say that I plan on returning to the same firm after I complete my law degree.
I consider all of this, collectively, to be my greatest achievement since it has lead me to where I am today.
Why is #WomenInTech movement important to you?
Female empowerment is needed now more than ever. Furthermore, collaboration and mutual support have always been important values of mine. The #WomenInTech movement combines all of these elements.
It is extremely important for me to be a part of the effort to showcase how we, as women, are capable of incredible things, and how we help each other every step of the way.
How does the tech ecosystem look in Toronto?
I am happy to say that the tech ecosystem is thriving in Toronto. It is at a stage in which entrepreneurs must support one another by attending events, raising awareness about one another’s work, and thinking of creative ways to collaborate.
Thankfully, there are lots of opportunities to get involved and I look forward to using my position as the Toronto Ambassador to ensure that WoW has a strong presence in this exciting space and in an ever-growing city.
What will be your main goals as Women of Wearables Ambassador in Toronto?
As a law student, I have come to realize that there is often a gap between law, engineering, technology, and fashion. Therefore, as someone who is interested in all of these areas and is legally trained, my goal is to fill this gap and bring together a network of people to encourage innovative dialogue between those who work in all of these areas. I plan on doing this by way of regular meet-ups in Toronto’s many creative spaces and allow people to get excited about these conversations.
I would also like to build a sense of confidence to those in these communities and demonstrate support. Therefore, in my role as a WoW Toronto Ambassador and through my personal website, I would like to have regular interviews and conversations with those doing amazing things in this space and cast the spotlight on them because I understand that entrepreneurship is not easy and thrives on support. Through such efforts, I believe we can demonstrate that WoW really is a worldwide community.
What will be the key trends in the fashion and fashion tech industries in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?
I think AR and VR are important, emerging trends. This not only helps storytelling, which impacts promotional strategies, but it will also revolutionize retail commerce, which bolsters convenience in shopping.
I also believe that smart textiles will play an important role in connecting different fields. Fashion and architecture is one notable example, as demonstrated by the collaboration between fashion couturier Iris Van Herpen and architect Philip Beesley. Smart textiles also have the power to modernize medical care as clothing can be used to detect illness and facilitate treatment.
Who are your 3 inspirational women in fashion tech and / or tech?
Gail Carmichael (Shopify);
Iris Van Herpen (Fashion Designer); and
Facebook: Saba Samanian
LinkedIn: Saba Samanian
This interview was conducted by Marija Butkovic, Digital Marketing and PR strategist, founder and CEO of Women of Wearables and co-founder of Kisha Smart Umbrella. She regularly writes and speaks on topics of wearable tech, fashion tech, IoT, entrepreneurship and diversity. Visit marijabutkovic.co.uk or follow Marija on Twitter @MarijaButkovic @Women_Wearables @GetKisha.