Originally from Winnipeg, Rowena Sampang grew up watching many of her family members working in the fashion and textile industry- observing and learning from master seamstresses and tailors, the fashion industry is deeply rooted in her story.
Meet Rowena Sampang : mother to two boys, Brooklyn and Grayson. She’s been with her partner, Allan, for a whopping 23 years (they’ve been best friends since they were 14!!). Reality tv fiend. Loves to get dressed up (yes, even these days). Not a pet person (I’m with you there Rowena!). ACAD Fashion Design graduate. Lives for helping women have that “aha moment” when they see how amazing they look and feel in their Pink Liberty pieces.
Now let me introduce you to Pink Liberty- Rowena’s fourth love (after Allan and the kids, of course).
Started in 2017, Pink Liberty is an online boutique that focuses on clothing and accessories that women can feel amazing in (ie. It’s fashionable and has a bit of give so that you can move and play), that lasts more than a few months, and that combines the everyday lifestyle of a modern mom with fun fashion.
“Our style mantra is casual, everyday glam that is easy to wear and caters to the modern woman's lifestyle.”
I’ve been a Rowena fan for awhile now, and let me tell you, she is a woman that makes you laugh, and at times she makes you take a minute to think. From doing her Rose with Ro segments on Instagram, her fun try on sessions, potato chip taste-testing with her son, to getting vulnerable and real on parenting, the ups and downs of owning a business, and racism. It’s been incredible to watch and learn alongside her, and this is why we wanted to feature Rowena in the YYC Local Love series.
“Be yourself, don't be afraid to speak your mind, honesty and integrity and working hard.”
Here’s the interview with Rowena Sampang,
owner of Pink Liberty :
How would you describe yourself? and/or How would you describe your style?
My personal style is feminine, flirty and fun with a bit of edge. This definitely translates into the items I curate for Pink Liberty—our style mantra is everyday, casual, glam! I love getting dressed up and I'm not afraid to wear bold colours, interesting prints, show some skin, try new trends and experiment with fashion. Life would be incredibly boring if we didn't!
Dressing up on a daily basis during the pandemic also saved me mentally, emotionally and physically. I don't think you need to spend a lot of money to have great style. I'm a firm believer in pairing old with new, accessorizing to-the-nines, and investing in classic pieces that you'll have forever. I have pieces in my closet that I've had for over 20+ years. I've always been a girly-girl and fashion has always been part of my life.
Rowena is wearing the Chloe Mini Necklace with the Bali Antique Locket ; the Parker Gem Bracelet with the Double Rope Bracelet ; and the Deco Earrings
What outfit do you have that makes you feel incredible and confident?
My dress up/special occasion clothes carry so many special memories, it's truly hard to let go! Especially during COVID, where everybody is dressing down in sweats, I love to pull out these pieces, because they remind me of a time where we were completely free, everyone was dressed up and gathered together making memories. My favorite dress of all time was one I designed for my 21st Birthday. I had it hand-embroidered and it was a Cinderella gone bad sort of dress. I can't fit in it anymore, but I remember the feeling so vividly when I wore it. I was like, "Hello World—I'm here!"
What is one the biggest hurdles you've had to overcome?
I have faced so many challenges growing up in an immigrant family. As a first generation Canadian, I experienced a lot of racism and stereotypes growing up. I also grew up in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Winnipeg and was also one of the first in my family in Canada to get a University degree. I believe all of these factors combined taught me the value of hard work, humility, perseverance and having a thick skin. We didn't have a lot growing up, but I never felt poor. Family was always first and my parents worked tirelessly to put food on the table. We were taught to be grateful and seeing poverty in the Philippines first hand, truly puts everything into perspective.
How are you currently trying to grow or better yourself?
I'm a huge self-improvement junkie! I listen to podcasts, watch videos and read books on everything designed to make myself a better human. Currently, I'm into manifestation techniques and journaling. Not just, well I'll write it down kind of thing and it will come true, but learning specific techniques on how to emote internally and externally, understanding energy and mindset etc. to manifest my dreams. I just finished Wayne Dyer's Manifest Your Destiny. Also, I have been journaling for many years and I'm learning about specific journaling practices, such as scripting, and it truly is life changing.
What are your top 5 values?
- Work hard! You can be the smartest, prettiest or wealthiest person. But the person that gets ahead is the one that puts in the work.
- Don't dwell on what you can't control.
- Trust in the Universe, the Divine, God—they will provide.
- Be nice to everyone. Especially to those that are mean.
- Always try new things and take risks.
Why did you decide to start your business?
I grew up in the fashion industry, so it's in my blood! My entire family worked in the apparel manufacturing industry, all talented seamstresses and tailors. Fashion put food on our table. My friends and I loved to copy looks out of magazines and have our parents sew up the designs. I worked every fashion retail job I could find, just for the discount!
After pursuing my degree, I still couldn't shake the fashion bug. I went to ACAD and studied fashion design, while working a full-time career in communications. I also spent many years in the entrepreneurial community and used to work as a small business coach/advisor and worked with businesses in all phases and industries. In that role, I got bit by the entrepreneurial bug and knew it was destiny!
It wasn't until I had my children that I felt it was time to start my own boutique. Being a new mother, I realized that moms had the hardest job in the world and often forgot how to dress, or neglected themselves entirely. I learned so many fashion tips and tricks over the years that I wanted to share with other women. I created Pink Liberty as a place for women to remember themselves, instill confidence and put themselves first.
Why is your work important to you?
Seeing my customers have a minor ‘feeling myself’ Beyonce moment when they wear Pink Liberty! This brings me so much joy. I also love to inspire women by showing real and raw moments of the business/motherhood journey. I am also constantly being inspired by so many hard-working and diverse, kind women that lift each other up and support one another.
What have been some of the greatest rewards?
I help women see what they might not see in themselves. Women are beautiful, giving creatures. We often forget this, because we are so busy giving to others, that we forget to remember who we are and what we are meant to be. I love to help women build their confidence, not only through fashion, but also by working hard and showing them that our potential is limitless!
What is something that you try to do daily/weekly/or monthly that is just for you?
I start each day by journaling, light movement/exercise to get the blood flowing, shower, makeup and getting dressed. Lots of coffee and water is a daily necessity!
What makes you laugh?
Currently Tiktok! I am obsessed and can often be found laughing hilariously to myself.
Why is it important to support local?
These past 2 years have been extremely difficult for all small businesses. Many of us are in survival mode, living paycheck to paycheck. I'll admit, prior to owning a shop, I didn't always think to shop locally first. I have such a greater appreciation for those dreamers and do'ers hustling hard to live out their dreams. So much heart and soul goes into owning a business. I'm a huge advocate of shopping small, because I know that I am helping to propel someone's dream forward.
I love the authenticity in which Rowena approaches everything she does. She puts her family and herself first, and truly lives out her values. She know what she wants and she knows what she needs to do, and finds that sweet spot in between the two to guide her.
From Rowena's story, I have learned that perseverance and drive is key in running a business (and in life), but so is the ability to make those tough decisions. I also learned to really lean into those aspects of your life that are rooted in you- those pieces that make you who you are, and to utilize those. When you tap into that, that's where you will find joy and success.
This second series of the YYC Local Love stories was accomplished by such an incredible team of other incredible local women working behind the scenes. While we're telling the stories of the four women in front of the camera, I got the honor and pleasure of working alongside more women that I'm inspired by on a regular basis:
Shoot Organizer & Co-Planner : Chelsea from Coco & Ash Weddings and Events
Photographer : Kaity Body Photography
Hair & Makeup : Priya from Beautymark Makeovers