My only son passed away — he was only 18 — from experimentation with drugs. We had grown up together because I was only a teenager when I married and had him.

My identity was intertwined with being a wife and mother. After he passed, it was time to find new meaning, purpose and how to live my life to both find and fulfill myself, honor him and bring beauty back into the world.

From the darkness came inspiration for my company, Sama Eyewear. It means no beginning, no end and it represented the journey of taking everything with me into something new – the best and worst of the circle of life, if you will, into the next stage and beyond. My reset is this journey.

First and foremost, I reset my life by deciding to live. It took all the courage and strength I could muster to find light from the darkness and make my life path my own. I reset my attitude, priorities and perspective on life. I reset my work path with a creative outlets and a connection back into the world with a mission and purpose for myself and to honor my son.

I took action. I took charge and I took control of my future. I left my husband, lived on my own for the first time in my life, established my own company and the Sam Vance Foundation, in my son’s name. 

It turns out Sama Eyewear was the world throwing me a life preserver and I reached out to take a chance. I used the design process to frame my life and create collections where a percentage proceeds would always benefit the foundation. I created something meaningful for my life with the indelible undertone of helping hundreds and hundreds of other teens and families. 

Most companies think of being philanthropic once they are successful. I thought about being successful so that there would be more money to donate to drug rehabilitation and prevention programs through my foundation for teens. I did not want any other family to suffer this way. Creating this eyewear company on my own was my way out of the darkness