(photo credit: Beflow brand)
When I met Sam Bullock in 2007, I was working with the International Tennis Federation and she was an international wheelchair tennis player. We quickly became friends as we shared so many of the same values and I have been honoured to watch her grow her career in incredible ways. Sam is an advocate for inclusion and representation for all and I wanted to share her message on The Yogi Group's blog because we, at The Yogi Group, are equally passionate about creating a yoga and mindfulness community that feels inclusive, representative and accessible to all. I managed to convince Sam to answer some questions for our blog and I am so delighted to share our conversation here.
"Mel: Firstly, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Sam: I am from Brazil and I live in London with my husband Mark Bullock, that was the reason I moved to the UK. I started modelling and playing tennis at the age of 8 years old. When I was 14 years old I had a gun shot accident, and became paraplegic. So, as a wheelchair user, my whole life took on a different purpose; that was inclusion. In 2007, at the Para Pan Am Games, with my partner Rejane Candida, we won the silver medal in doubles and through tennis I played 3 World Team Cups representing Brazil. My involvement with fashion got a major boost when in 2017 I was part of London Fashion week and soon after went to the biggest fashion shows in the world.
In 2018 we launched SB shop, a shop with inclusion in its core. Since then, we have been working hard, curating brands and accessible products and earlier this month we finally launched an inclusive online fashion design course called 'Diverse as You' (only in Portuguese for now but in the next month it will also be available in English). It was a way to pay back all the love and support we have got on our journey during all these years. There is more than 15 years of experience in fashion, diversity and inclusion wrapped up in the course.
Mel: What is your daily life like at the moment? What is important to you?
Sam: Since the pandemic started, our work got much more intense, as everything became online. At the moment I am in Brazil with my family as I came for the holidays and all the flights situation got mad. As one of our main ideas was to have a Brazilian hub with the shop here as well, we have started to work on this plan. Here it is hot at the moment so we can go for 'walks', to the beach and the pool. A normal day for me is to exercise in the morning, could be yoga, swim or zumba; then work in the day and spend the evening with my family.
Mel: I know that eating well and staying active are important to you and that you recently began practicing yoga. Can you tell us a little about your yoga practice?
Sam: It's not that I am a pro, I do exercise, and I love yoga, the real yoga lover in our house is my husband, but we try to do things together as much as we can and enjoy quality time. My yoga practice is at the moment mainly online. There are plenty of seated yoga videos I can do. When I can I do acroyoga and silks; the ones that are more adventurous.
Mel: What do you think yoga brings to your life?
Sam: Yoga (as well as pilates and zumba) bring me joy, endorphins and the light of life. I feel more mobile and for sure strong minded.
Mel: Do you feel like yoga is accessible and inclusive?
Sam: Depending on the angle you see it in. If you ask me to make some poses that involve standing, sure I won't be able to do it, but inside of the movement I can do, for sure. I just do what I can with what I have. The important thing in my point of view is to be active.
Mel: I know, from being your friend, that you have an incredible mindset but I also know you go through some tough times (like we all do). How do you work to keep your mindset positive?
Sam: I have chronic pain, and because of that I started working on my mindset many years ago. I do read loads, audible is my favourite app, information is key for a healthy mind. I do work on my meditation, exercise and spend time in nature and with the ones I love. Self love is very important so I have 'me time' every day, eat healthily and basically every day do a little bit of everything.
Mel: Do you ever meditate? And if you do, do you find it brings you anything to help you deal with life's challenges?
Sam: I do and I will suggest you to check Vipassana and Tara Brach, also during this pandemic I started to follow Chopra. Meditation puts everything in perspective, so you know it doesn't matter how good something is or how bad, it all will pass.
Mel: You now run an amazing inclusive fashion campaign and company. Can you tell us about it?
Sam: Please check our latest campaign called 'Imperfection' - a video talking about diversity. We had a big team involved and filmed during the pandemic, but the result was amazing, really breathtaking. We made 2 videos, one from the negative perspective to the positive and another only from the positive side of it all. The song is by Lachi, a U.S. singer, I urge you to follow, and photography and edition from the biggest players in the industry. Get your tissues and go watch it.
(Link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGA3se7tW6Y)
Our new project is the creation of an e-book for the #sbchallenge. This was a challenge I set for people to create their own magazine cover showing themselves as the cover. The idea behind it was inclusion and representation and we received an incredible amount of impressions on our Bullock Inclusion CIC. We also collaborated with Consulta of Representatives of Brazil International, of which I am one of the leaders. The e-book is a beautiful collection of pictures of everyone who took part in the project with their quotes and ideas on representation.
The birth part of the project is public discussions, to involve the community as a whole. So keep tuned in to Bullock Inclusion for dates (Instagram @bullockinclusion).
Mel: How do you find yoga clothing design at the moment? Is there anything designers could do to make sure the clothing is as inclusive as possible?
Sam: Clothes for yoga are quite accessible as they use a lot of elastane. Sure we can improve things with openings, to make it easier to dress. It was for questions like these that I wanted to create the 'Diverse as You' course, which is a fantastic course for anyone starting on the accessible fashion path."
I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation with Sam and find her projects so powerful and incredibly important. I hope you enjoyed reading Sam's answers as much as me and please do check out her social media accounts!
(photo credit: Michael Atkinson)