Mean Hustle’s first Q&A is with long-time friend, and one of the hardest working hustlers I have ever met. Carter Sampson!
I knew when I started this project that it would be tricky. I was constantly afraid that I would miss something, it would be tone-deaf, or I would inadvertently leave someone out. Naturally I called up some of the strongest women in my own life to ask for advice, support, and would they pretty please be a part of it?! Carter was the first phone call I made, and she was all in.
As I nervously bounced my ideas off of Carter, I could hear through the phone that her affirmations and words of support were being spoken through a smile. The issues that I hoped to touch on, and the credit that I wanted to give to women everywhere are topics that we have spoken together about before in great detail. They are causes that I have watched her pore over since the day I met her. I knew she’d be supportive, and I also knew that she would tell me if I was messing this whole thing up.
Carter was positive and enthusiastic. Without hesitation she signed on to answer my first ever fumble-y, toe-dip-in-the-water, barrage of interview questions. During the entire call and even after, the feeling that hung in the air was exactly what I had hoped it would be. There is work to be done, it doesn’t have to be perfect, and if the mess had a purpose… Then let’s get dirty!
Our correspondence about the project and moving forward with the interview itself was a quick game of tag. I emailed a list of questions and asked Carter to get to them when she could.
“How’s it going?”
“Sending tomorrow after gig.”
I knew that the women I would be calling up to ask for help with Mean Hustle would already have a lot going on. To ask for one-more-thing, would be asking a lot. Carter’s work load has always struck me as impressive, and honestly slightly horrifying. Her non-profit work and relentless touring schedule alone seem like they wouldn’t allow time for anything else. But without fail, she always finds time for one-more-thing. Lending a hand, even when hers are full. And like always, the work got done.
To me, Carter was the obvious choice to kick this thing off. The embodiment of hard-work, earning and owning everything she has. All the while empowering the women in our community to do the same.
Carter Sampson is an Oklahoma based musician, and the founder of Oklahoma City’s Rock & Roll Camp For Girls. This is her hustle…
Who are you? Where are you from? What’s your story?
Carter Sampson. Born and raised in Oklahoma City, OK. Singer, songwriter, guitar player, founder & director of Rock & Roll Camp for Girls OKC.
What is your 9 to 5?
I don’t really have normal business hours, I work at random and do scheduled work 24/7. There’s so much more to being a musician than just getting on stage and playing songs for people. I am a full-time booking agent, web designer and manager, graphic designer, promoter. I really dislike a lot of this kind of work but I realized long ago that in order to do the thing that I really want to do (get on stage and sing for people) I had to do all the behind the scenes work to get there. I also work as the director of Oklahoma City’s Rock & Roll Camp for Girls. RCGOKC is a non-profit organization that aims to empower girls and women though music education.
Do you love your job, or is it a means to an end?
I love parts of it especially the getting on stage and singing my songs for people part. I dislike the computer/ behind the scenes work, but at least I can work from my favorite cow-print chair and wear my pj’s.
What is your passion project(s)?
RCGOKC! I had the opportunity to volunteer in 2006 at the original Rock & Roll Camp for Girls in Portland, OR. I immediately fell in love with the program and couldn’t stop thinking what my teen years (when I first picked up a guitar) could have been like had I had some positive female guitar playing role models in my city. In 2015 I got together with some friends and started a camp in OKC. We are more than a music camp and I think our message of self-love, empowerment and encouragement is something all girls and women need in their lives.
Obviously, I wanted to talk with you because you've got one Mean Hustle! I am always interested in the "why" of the work. If someone just loves hard-work and it's instinctual? Is it a necessity to maintain? Or is it one big push until they arrive at an end goal. What is the "why" of your work?
The why is because playing music is all I’ve ever wanted to do. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out another career path that might make me as happy and there’s just not one. I feel extremely lucky to get to make music for a living and I often forget to give myself credit for all the hard work and hustle that goes into getting me on a stage. The music business and creative world is different, you don’t just go get a degree and study hard and then go get a job. There’s no one direct path to “making it” . I love that an artist’s success can be defined and redefined in so many ways.
No one truly sees the blood, sweat, and tears that go into doing what we love while often times also just trying to get by. On your busiest and toughest day, gettin' down and dirty, what are you doing?
Driving, listening, emailing, taking photos, practicing an instrument, making music, writing songs, designing posters, shipping gig posters, web design, recording, booking, pitching myself & my band, negotiating…
What is the biggest obstacle you find yourself dealing with in trying to get where you want to go?
I’ve been getting frustrated in general with the lack of women on and off stage in the music business, especially the scenes around my part of the US. It’s hard to continue to work hard to book both solo shows and gigs for my band when historically women are so underrepresented. It’s pretty typical for a festival to only have one or two women on the lineup, women usually make up less than 25% of bands booked at festivals and concert series.
Mean Hustle Apparel and Tools is based on the necessity of working hard, solving problems, and equipping women and girls with the tools we need to complete any physical or emotional task we encounter. Some of these tools include community, and support. Knowing that we have back-up and are never alone goes a long way! If there a time in your life when community was key to your success, or even survival? And has that impacted you moving forward?
I could not have started Rock Camp had it not been for the new and old friends that supported my idea in the beginning. I asked a lot of people to just trust in a vision and they did and for that I will be forever grateful.
What is the most important “tool in your toolbox”, physical or otherwise?
My guitars are my favorite tools. I play a 6 string acoustic and a 4 string tenor guitar and I can't imagine my life without them. I started playing and writing songs when I was 15 years old and since then they have been the center of my world. They allow me to express myself, I can hide behind them, they can speak for me, they have allowed me to travel a lot, they are always there, they keep me from being bored and I love the feeling I get when I've just written a new song or learned something new one one of my guitars.
How do you define success for yourself, and are you there yet?
My definition of my own success and what I want out of life changes daily. I feel like I’ve been successful in living the life that would make me the most happy. Of course I want a beach house and expensive boots but I get to travel the world playing music…for my job.
You have to teach someone a random skill that you are knowledgeable in, in 5 minutes or less. What is that skill? Novelty skills absolutely count!
I could teach a crash course in embroidery. I love stitching on long car and plane rides.
In your down time, how do you treat yo' self?
I love to go thrift store shopping. I can happily spend hours alone junkin’.
Thank you for being a part of Mean Hustle and sharing your story! One last question. Is there any one specific woman on your radar right now who you look up to in terms of mean hustling, and/or doing impactful work?