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Interview Exclusive: Celebrity Stylist Sam Russell

Sam Russell is a busy man as a charismatic, energetic celebrity stylist, editorial, TV and red carpet wardrobe consultant. Besides his day-to-day duties in the fashion world, he writes for Fashion Affair, a premier online style magazine with a hardcopy version out of the UK, and has made numerous TV appearances covering all things fashion.

In 2011, Sam decided to start the next
 phase of his personal journey by bringing a passion project to 
the foreground: His traveling mission to surprise deserving women all over the U.S. with $10,000 worth of work and personal attire through his organization, the Giving Closet. He has so far conducted 12 wardrobe giveaways.

In collaboration with various non-profits and top designers, inspiring women who have beat the odds are surprised with a complete new wardrobe. Whether they are recovering from illness, injury or financial setback, women who are on the way up need to feel like a star in their new life, and Sam and his partners afford them the look.

The complete rack of clothes for chosen women include everything from designer dresses, tops, handbags, jewelry, pajamas and more. Each surprise giveaway is unique and specific for the selected woman. Every garment and accessory is carefully selected and personally chosen by Sam. 
Sam’s talented eye for imaging has been tapped by such recognizable personalities as Stevie Wonder, Jon Hamm, Chuck Lorre, Sophia Bush, Melora Hardin, Jeannie Mai and Donna Mills, as well as various business and social icons.

His mission with Giving Closet: to give all of us in the fashion world the opportunity to give back by providing a hand up to inspiring women, giving them a means to increase self-esteem, personal empowerment and be set up for economic success with the right wardrobe.

We sat down with Sam to chat fashion, charity and what inspires him.

How did you get your start in fashion? 

Page Parkes scouted me as a model in the late 90's. I was the maitre'd at Monica Pope's (Top Chef Fame) BLVD Bistro in Houston Texas. Her Art Director, Vickie Snow, turned to me at a party two years later and commented on my unique flair for dressing. The universe conspired in my favor to make a career in fashion come into fruition the moment she said the words, "you should be a fashion stylist."

When you launched Giving Closet in 2011, what goals did you have? What was the hardest to achieve? 

Giving Closet was birthed from my frustration with the ego in Hollywood and how out of balance with the rest of the world it can be. If you stroke someone’s ego too much, you rob them of their humanity; I was a part of that problem in Los Angeles. The immediate goal was to re-route a portion of what we gift to the celebrities and see how it would affect someone’s life that did not have the same lucky resources I had.

The hardest thing to achieve was convincing the PR handlers and fashion houses that cancer survivors and single moms re-entering the work force should be celebrated too.

Who inspires you? 

My latest recipient truly, truly inspires me. With the help of Robin Meade and her team at HLN's Morning Express, we surprised a single mom for Mother's Day 2016. Arie Luster in Atlanta has been battling colon cancer for over five years, and you will never meet anyone more grounded with so much heart for others. There is no pity party in her world, this women perseveres. That inspires me. Makes me proud to be her "Fashion God Father."

What are you most proud of to date? 

The very first recipient of my passion project makes me very proud. Maryanne Parker is a single mom in San Diego. She was in an abusive relationship, had to relocate to a shelter with her kids in tow and spoke very little English. She is now a homeowner and her successful etiquette business has clients all over the globe. Maryanne is one of those well-heeled women we see at the airports in passing. We should celebrate everyday women like this as much as we celebrate any star on the red carpet. Her place in the world is just as pivotal.

What is one thing every woman should have in her closet? 

A good pair of headphones to aid in blocking out all the unnecessary noise from the world.

Best fashion tip?

Don't wear anything nubby. If you put it on and don't love it, no one will love it on you. Let go of attachments and only own it if you can't live without it. Same tip applies to your relationships.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 

I see myself on a long walk in a foreign land learning a new language. My shoes will be comfortable and my private thoughts will flash back to all the lives I hope I have touched. Giving Closet is my ministry.

Kimberly Fisher Boone

Kimberly Fisher is a Freelance Writer and On Camera Host based in New York City. Kimberly's work has appeared in over 38 publications including Huffington Post, JustLuxe, Luxe Beat Magazine, Ocean View Magazine, Pursuitist, Sherman's Travel, Sunset Magazine, Travels.com and USAToday. Her travels has taken her to sipping champagne cliffside in Portofino, shark feeding in Tahiti, yacht racin...(Read More)

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