Featured Local: The Final Interview

Samantha Chamberlain

In the year and three months that El Local Collective has grown I've helped a great deal of people, but it couldn't have been done without a great deal of people helping me too. Here are the questions I've asked in every interview answered one last time. This is the final interview.


What would you say you do?

I don't like to be confined, so I'm always doing something new. What I did was create a platform that praised people doing their own thing. This platform took on many forms as not only had I interviewed people on video and for the blog, but I also managed to sell people's work online, at pop-ups, and off the walls of local businesses. I even hosted marketplace events, workshops, and helped produce projects that brought together local talent. The range has been incredible as my hands have been in anything from an art gallery, to an open mic, to tattoos at a beer garden and bong rips at a coffee shop, haha.


When and how did you start?

Following a depression diagnosis, my divorce, and no longer having custody of my daughter - I realized I had nothing to lose. In April 2020 I decided to sell my friend's prints, but by May I had decided I would sell other people's artwork too. I wasn't sure what El Local was going to become, but I quit the best job I've ever had for it anyway. We started in June, didn't make a sale until July, and we never became profitable. Worth it.


Who all has supported you?

Before even beginning, my dad was insanely supportive, perhaps radically so. He talked about me needing a warehouse or storage unit for all the inventory I'd be pushing. He gave me great pointers and believed in me more than I believed in myself. I strived to believe in every member of the collective the way that he believed in me.


Who has inspired you?

I am inspired by everyone putting themselves out there. Rene has totally influenced me as he's partially the reason El Local ever existed. He's been there for me from beginning to end for anything from pop-ups to deliveries. I also have to thank a few close friends that acted as my advisory board and all of the volunteers and sponsors who helped. Every single person who has been a part of this has encouraged me at some point.


What has been your favorite part on this journey?

The experience. It was really cool to make major milestones and then some. So many times I was astonished at what I had accomplished. Like... me? I did what?!


What has been the most challenging part?

Being accountable to so many people. I singlehandedly sold over 40 locals' work within a year. And that's not all. I've also been partly responsible for scheduling interviews for our partner podcast -The Local Influencers, as well as appointments and some editing for the People of Corpus project. On top of occasional events I hosted, I did a lot of the planning for The People's Market -which is monthly.

Biting off more than I could chew has lead to me disappointing a lot of people. It's easy to drop balls when you're juggling so many. In the future I want to make sure the balls I juggle are my own.


Have you ever wanted to give up?

All the time. The worst time was when I decided to take a break and some dude was celebrating it like, "We got her! She's quitting!" I get it though. People without peace will try to find it by taking it from others. I've moved on and will be able to move on faster the next time someone tries to steal my peace.


What keeps you motivated to continue?

Really finding myself. I learn so much others, but there's still so much I can learn from my responses to others. I find I fall in love with myself more each day, which means so much considering the amount of my life I spent hating myself.


What advice would you give to someone who wants to begin putting themselves out there?

Please do it. The world is better because of it. You have a perspective unlike anybody else's and by not sharing yourself you are robbing people of a gift that would undoubtedly make the world a more beautiful place.


Has anything pleasantly surprised you?

Can I say myself? Haha. This interview is so conceited already, but honestly, I never would have imagined doing half the things I did before 2020. One moment of seemingly irrational self-belief formed an entire movement when I had no prior experience in sales, art, or events. The wave El Local made surprises me everyday. If I could do it, you can too. And collectively? You're unstoppable.


Is there anything you wish you would have known when you first started?

I wish I would've known how difficult it'd be to stop. I think I tried really hard to keep going when mentally I was already done. I almost got a brick-and-mortar that I was entirely unprepared for thinking, "Maybe this will be the push I need to actually care!" I'm sure I would've made it work had plans not fallen through but I am so blessed that things didn't. Honestly, I didn't want it as much as I told myself I did. When the opportunity passed I was relieved. I worked my ass off for it to not work and probably would have worked even harder to barely make it had it somehow come together.


What is your definition of success?

Success is being you. It's the liberating feeling of being loved for who you are instead of what it is you provide. It's finding your purpose instead of following your potential.

"You have so much potential." Yeah, okay. You could do anything you want in this world, but everything you could do doesn't mean it's what you should do. What you should do is simple. Do you!


What are your dreams?

All I've ever wanted is to be free. To embrace my truth and to help others share theirs. To get people to believe in themselves -something I wish I would have done sooner.

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