Samantha Kirsch is our amazing Campus Rep Coordinator and a rising junior at Cornell University, as well as one of our favorite bloggers! She combines her passions of social responsibility and fashion every way that she can and has been a pivotal part of MSC's success.
How did you get involved with My Social Canvas?
As a member of the Nordstrom B.P. Fashion Board, an internship-like program for high school students, Lisa came to speak to us about My Social Canvas in 2014. The same day Lisa was presenting about MSC, I was presenting a store concept I had come up with called "Simply Sam" and every product we sold gave back. It may have been fate that I met Lisa that day! I asked how I could get involved right then, became a campus rep, a few months later a student designer, and a year later: Campus Rep Coordinator! If you don't ask, the answer will always be "no"–so just ask!
You’re studying Fiber Science and Apparel Design with a concentration in Fashion Design Management and Marketing at Cornell University. What do you want to do in the future?
I am really interested in working for a socially responsible fashion company or doing corporate social responsibility for a large business or department store. I've always loved Nordstrom and would love to be a CSR Specialist for them someday! Titles that include terms like "Strategic Partnerships," "Community Outreach," "Social Innovation," and plain old "Social Responsibility" all interest me greatly!
Your blog, which can be found at SamanthaKirsch.com is so fabulous! Where do you get the inspiration for all of your creative posts?
I like to do a little bit of everything, which is why I think my blog is pretty unique! One day I may be posting about inspiring women in my life, another day about my outfit, a third day about a cool recipe, and even about travel! People always are asking me for fashion advice, how I made a certain food, or my experiences while in different cities, so I just decided to start blogging about it!
You’ve been so involved with different groups on your campus and have attended some amazing conferences. Tell us a little bit about your experiences and involvement.
At Cornell, I started a club called Sustainable Enterprise Association. It's the undergraduate Net Impact Chapter for our school and focuses on supporting and empowering future business leaders to do good socially too. I also am the Student Facilitator and liaison for the Human Ecology Green Ambassadors, a program through my college at Cornell, where we push for sustainability initiatives and education. I represent those clubs at ECO meetings on campus, the Environmental Club Collaborative, and through ECO I helped with an ECOuture Fashion Show where I made and modeled a crop top and skirt made completely of newspaper!
That event was so fun because I was able to combine my passions! On the fashion end, I'm a part of Careers in the Fashion Industry, a club that seeks to inform students about all the different career options available in fashion, and a Line Level Leader on the Events/Logistics Team for Cornell Fashion Collective, which is a student-run organization that puts on an annual fashion show that attracts more than 3,000 attendees and showcases the work of fashion design students.
This past year I was also a member of the Senior Days Committee, which plans events for seniors during their last week at Cornell prior to Graduation, and I am a member of Forté Campus at Cornell. Forté is an amazing group of young women who are looking to have a career in business. I put together an education business fashion show for Forté where we taught the student body what different dress code lingo like "smart casual" or "business formal" actually looks like and we gave our profits to Dress for Success, an incredible organization that empowers and supports low-income and homeless women to help them get jobs.
In addition to those student organization activities, I am an Active Citizen in my dorm and I represented Cornell University at the Clinton Global Initiative University this past April at UC Berkeley through a "commitment to action" project I am working on to close the opportunity gap between high- and low-income communities in my hometown.
Wow, you do a lot! How do you balance everything?
I live by the T.S. Eliot quote, "If you aren't in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?"
It helps me justify everything I do. At Cornell, there's a saying regarding academic work that goes "it will always get done." Part of the benefits of going to such an incredible institution are the opportunities. Although academic performance is important, I have realized that sometimes experiences are even better learning opportunities, so I try to say yes to as many of them as I can.
Also, sleep when you can. My freshman year my sleep schedule got incredibly messed up and I was going to bed at 3, 4 o'clock in the morning and getting up in time to make it to my 8 am class. This past year, I gave myself a bedtime of 1 am and have been working to actually make it earlier. Start by going to sleep 10-15 minutes earlier each night and you'll see a great improvement!
One other piece of advice regarding sleep: if it's 9 pm and you're tired but trying to work on homework but getting distracted and know deep down you're not ACTUALLY going to get work done, just go to sleep. You'll function better the next day and not look back and realize you got no work done from 8 pm-2 am because you were just on Facebook or Twitter.
What is your favorite item in your closet?
I just got this super cute dress from Amour Vert. It's my new summer staple because it's easy, loose, and really comfy! My best friend saw me in it and ordered it that night because she loved it so much too! I love Amour Vert because they plant a tree for every tee that is bought.
What advice do you have for aspiring bloggers?
Don't let "what you're supposed to do" constrain you. Yes, if you want to build up followers, have a specific topic that you cover. Bring in your other interests and experiences to that topic because it shows that you have depth and that you are a real person, just like your readers. I just realized that a blog was the right place for me to share my experiences and thoughts with my family, friends, and world, so I kinda just do my own thing with it. It sure is weird when you meet a guy for dinner and he brings up blog posts you've written, so keep in mind that what you write can and will be tied back to you, even when you least expect it!
Favorite Designers? Warby Parker, Amour Vert, Patagonia, Eileen Fisher, and Lilly Pulitzer. I know these are more brands than designer names but I'm typically more about function than fashion for my own wardrobe and love that these companies (excluding Lilly P) have shown that they are serious about doing good and looking good. Lilly Pulitzer I put up there because I love how joyful their brand is and their bright prints push my comfort levels of what I'll actually wear!
Dream Vacation? Probably a trip around Europe! I've been to Iceland and France in the past, but I was little so I don't remember much. I returned to France last summer and went back to Bordeaux (we have family nearby) and LOVED the city but only spent a few hours actually in it. The old architecture and the history that surrounds you just blew my mind! I would love to explore more of Europe and return to Bordeaux!
Person you’d love to meet? Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge! She's intelligent, classy, and I love her style! While we're at it, Emma Watson too!
Favorite food? I think I'll go with pizza bagels. I hardly ever eat them but they are so delicious and easy! I also love peas and will eat them frozen!
Summer beauty tip? Go bare! No makeup and just let your hair dry naturally! Also, remember to wear sunscreen (but stay away from aerosols and chemicals in them, even though the natural ones can be oily and hard to rub in)!
Sam is also the designer and inspiration behind the My Social Canvas #DESIGNFORHER LIVE THE LIFE YOU LOVE Shirt, which is available on the website, and she designed a tote for the She's the First Summit in 2014!!