Meet Samantha Dahlborg
VN: Under your brand of Samantha Dahlborg, you have several different businesses. I’d love for you to explain what these are and what your overall goal is for them.
SD: Ahhh yes! So I’m a big believer in using all the hyphens. Meaning, I’m multi-passionate and I don’t think anyone should be put in a box. If someone were to ask me “what do you do?”, I would say I’m a stylist, artist, creative director, photographer, graphic designer, entrepreneur, youtuber, writer, videographer, visionary.. And the list goes on. You could say I’m a creative, but all my passions have one goal in mind. To inspire. Whether it’s through an outfit, a commercial, or even a quote graphic on Instagram.
Naturally, under the brand of Samantha Dahlborg, is Dahlborg Designs. (Fun fact, I originally Majored in Fine Arts in college) I’ve been artistically talented for as long as I can remember and I’m super grateful for it. It’s therapeutic, it’s a form of meditation and it’s a way to put a smile on others’ faces. You want a painting of your pet? I got you. Do you want a fashion illustration of you in your wedding or pageant gown? I can do that, too! From to painting custom murals on bedroom walls to customizing your cell phone case, Dahlborg Designs will elevate the way you experience your life.
Next came, SHE FEELS CITRINE. This has developed from a blog, to a podcast and now a consulting, mentorship and personal styling business. SFC is heavily influenced by my history in the pageant world. It’s a space where women (competing or not) can come together to get inspired, do some self-reflection, dig deeper and develop the confidence to walk into any room with her head held high and know her power. It is incredibly humbling and rewarding to see women transform.
People often ask me where the name ‘SHE FEELS CITRINE’ comes from? Long story short, I wanted something that rolled off the tongue but also had a deeper meaning. The crystal citrine is great for manifesting, prosperity, joy, happiness and success. It was perfect.
Future projects in the works are STUDIO CITRINE and CITRINE THE LABEL. STUDIO CITRINE is the space for personal & professional branding and photo & video content. CITRINE THE LABEL will be my own online store, coming soon!
VN: In your young adult years you were bullied in school, cyber bullied, and even in the workplace. How did you overcome this kind of energy and environment? Do you believe this experience has changed the trajectory of your life?
SD: Oh goodness, yes. High school was rough. But it didn’t end there. Like you said, it was happening in the workplace as well (I worked for a local ice cream shop where many girls from school worked), it felt like I couldn’t escape it. Even years later AFTER high school and AFTER competing at Miss USA I was mailed a packet of printed photos of myself from the stage with ransom-style phrases on it. I never saw it and my mom never told me what it said but it was creepy and just plain weird. Like, who has the time?
I don’t know if it was because I was the new kid at one point and didn’t fully grow up with the kids in my class so I didn’t have the same small-town connections, if it was because I was shy and didn’t make friends easily or if it was because high school is when people (especially girls) are trying to claim their spot in the social hierarchy. Honestly it was probably a mix of all of that but that’s no excuse for what happened. You know that quote, “They may not remember what you said, but they’ll remember the way you made them feel.” Yep.
And I’m not saying I was perfect back then by any means, I know I tried to stick up for myself, I probably started some fights, I was navigating and learning as well.
With the trust and love within my family I was able to communicate what was going on in my life and have their support through it all. Growing up my parents would always ask me and my siblings, “What is this teaching you?” during rough patches. During these times, I learned you can’t let others’ opinions of you define who you are. For the longest time those girls were my fuel. It was almost like “just watch me” kind of attitude. Or like, “if someone tells you you can’t do something, do it twice and take pictures” sort of thing. Now, I don’t need them. I haven’t needed them for years. In fact I try not to give them a lot of credit or energy. I know my worth, I know my power and I’m my own fuel at this point.
The whole situation definitely helped me grow a thicker skin and learn to trust myself. Things don’t happen TO you, they happen FOR you. To grow. To become better. And now looking back I’m grateful and I hope those girls are living their best life. Truly.
VN: College wasn’t for you – and that’s ok! You have more of an entrepreneurial spirit, anyways. Did you feel supported by the people in your life when you made that decision to take a different path? And is there any advice you have for young people who feel the pressure to go to college but are unsure?
SD: Definitely! I’m the oldest in my family so we were definitely following ‘the book’ at first but my parents knew I had big dreams of being in movies, on TV or on a stage back then. Something creative. I got accepted to all 6 schools I applied to including RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) but ultimately decided to Major in Communications with a Minor in Fine Arts from the University of Southern Maine (a 5 minute drive from my house) and live at home. It was safe and the Major was “broad enough I could do anything with it”.
Even though there was pressure from many angles about continuing my education through college, I didn’t let that dictate my future. I saw a chance to change my life and I took it (competing for Miss Maine USA). I knew my parents were going to support me no matter what path I chose.
Even though I took myself out of school to pursue modeling and give Miss Maine USA my entire focus, I continue to educate myself on the latest technology and trends in the industry I’m in now. I don’t think the ‘traditional path’ is for everyone, in fact if you’re questioning which path you want to take, my advice is to follow your heart and be PASSIONATE about what you do. Everything will work out just the way it’s meant to for you.
VN: Let’s talk about your modeling days! What got you into modeling and how was your experience? Let’s hear the best and worst of it.
SD: Ok so I definitely love love love being behind the camera most recently, but it was being in front of the camera that allows me to be a better director. The rush you get in front of the camera or right before you go on stage is like NO OTHER. Also, as a model you get to become different versions of you for a few hours – I loved this because ‘shy Sammy’ could step into ‘sexy cool powerful Sammy’ and explore how that felt for a bit. Modeling helped me develop my confidence for sure, especially as I started during my reign as Miss Maine USA at the age of 19. After my reign I was signed to an agency in New England and began booking commercials, runway shows, print and fit jobs. It was a BLAST. I was always so grateful to be booked, I loved creating and the travel. Also, I’m not going to lie, it felt pretty damn good to see my hard work pay off.
The worst experiences are when the stylists on set don’t bring the correct sizes for all of the models EVEN THOUGH they were given your sizes. There’s nothing that makes you feel even more body conscious than not fitting into the outfit that was pulled for you. Not all models are a size small! I’m typically between a 4-6 for denim/bottoms which could be a medium or even a large depending on the fit and one time the stylist brought only smalls for the tiny underwear we had to wear! I had to do lunges and squats in the dressing room to stretch them out so they didn’t squeeze me into a muffin top. It made me feel like I did something wrong when in actuality the stylist should have looked at our photos and brought various sizes to choose from. I think this is why I love styling so much nowadays as well and can’t wait to have my own line one day so I can be super conscious of fit and making sure you feel damn good in what you’re wearing.
VN: I don’t think many people know this, but you started The Confidence Project – “Overdose on Confidence, Rise Up Against Bullying” What made you start this?
SD: In the midst of preparing for the Miss Maine USA competition, I started a side project called The Confidence Project where I took girls in my community for a photoshoot experience! The slogan was “Overdose on Confidence, Rise Up Against Bullying.” I had just got a camera for my birthday and really wanted to put it to use. I loved being in front of the camera and knew how it made me feel so I wanted to give other girls the experience as well!
Basically, me and the girls would pick out a few outfits, go to the beach or the fields or anywhere really and take photos. During the photoshoot I would help them pose, make sure they were comfortable and we would have a blast! The girls would leave the shoot filled with light and hopefully a bit more confident. At the end of the day we all want to be seen, heard and loved. And that’s what I tried to bring to these girls.
After the shoot I would edit my favorite shots and add them to The Confidence Project website! (Which unfortunately no longer exists, but I do have the Instagram for it!) Their photos would go next to a mini bio that would read a little bit more about each girl – this is a form they would fill out before their photoshoot! Some of the questions would include “what makes you feel most confident?” and “what is your favorite quote right now?”.
Oh! And this was all for free. I literally just wanted to make this a magical experience – it was impactful for them AND for me!
VN: As a woman whose overcome bullying and struggled with self confidence in the beginning, how do you use your platform to inspire and empower women today?
SD: Remember, people won’t remember what you say, but they’ll remember how they make you feel. Through my various platforms, projects and just as I’m living my life, I hope women feel seen, heard, loved and empowered to be themselves in all stages of their life.
But I lead with love. I hope women who look at me on social media and in real life, see me living my true authentic self. I hope they SEE and FEEL the energy I put out into the world. I hope they realize you can be sweet, sexy, powerful, intelligent, funny, multi-passionate, determined, fulfilled and more. YOU CAN create your life, re-write the stars, carve your own path.
Thank you for inviting me to share more about my story, Tori.
VN: What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self?
SD: Do I have to pick just one? Here are some of my favorite one liners:
“Believe you can, because you will.” | “Anything is possible.” | “You have the power inside you.” | “Trust the timing of your life.” | “What’s meant for you won’t pass you by.” | “Everything happens for a reason.”
Victoria Nasuti created H.E.R Page – BostonMan to help tell the inspiring stories of women around Boston successfully having careers and passions at the highest levels! A published model and real estate professional herself, Victoria knows firsthand the challenges of performing your best in both a career and passion. If you or someone you know would like to be considered for the H.E.R Page spotlight, please send Victoria a message here.