I met Sanvernetas Thomas freshman year at Mississippi State University. He was one of the first people I met, and the only person I felt comfortable being around on what seemed like such a huge campus. We connected instantly. He has the most free-spirited and vibrant personality anyone would love being around.
After freshman year, Sam left and moved back to his small hometown of Mantachie, Mississippi, but we kept in touch. Sam’s the type of friend you don’t have to talk to every day, but when you do, the conversations are long and always filled with light and love.
After about three years without seeing one another, Sam and I had a chance to really catch up, but this time as Jar the journalist and Sam the published model.
An Ode to Mom
“When I entered my teenage years, my mom would always bug me about modeling. I honestly wasn’t hearing what she was saying. It was going through one ear and out the other,” says Sam, laughing as always, adding, “To be honest, I didn’t think I had the qualities to be a model, and that stemmed from my low self-esteem.”
If you knew Sam, you probably wouldn’t think an individual such as him would have self-esteem issues or any issues of the matter.
But Sam’s beautiful mother, Rachel Thomas died suddenly in December 2015.
“I felt no need to go on anymore without my best friend, my rock, my main supporter, my counselor, my first love, my queen, my everything,” said Sam.
One day while searching through his mother’s personal items, he discovered his mother wanted to pursue modeling when she was younger.
Sam said, “Once I found out that my mom wanted to become a model, everything made sense as to why she pushed me as hard as she did.”
“My modeling career is a dedication to my mom. Not only will I be achieving my dream but hers as well,” he added. “I still go through the motions of not being able to see her physically, but I do feel her in my spirit and dream about her all the time.”
Sam said he slipped into a deep depression after his mother’s passing that almost put him on the verge of suicide.
Sam eventually began to come back to himself a year later after finding an old high school project about his family’s history that changed his perspective on life.
“It was a project where I had to interview my mom about our family history. One of the questions I asked my mom was what her biggest aspiration in life was, and guess what it was, modeling!” exclaimed Sam. “I couldn’t believe it.”
“Everything started to make sense of why she pressured me so much to become a model. Not only did she want to model, she saw the potential in me that I was blind to,” said Sam.
A few months after his mother’s passing, Sam had his first photo shoot.
Sam’s modeling career really began in 2014 because that is the year he realized modeling is what he wanted to pursue.
In October 2014, I invited Sam to my first Fashion Mixer as president and founder of Student Fashion Association at Mississippi State University. It was SFA’s first event, and I was so nervous.
I remember Sam even coming in and taking full creative control over one of the models he felt was poorly dressed. He was a huge help to me that night.
Remembering the conversation Sam and I had amid all of the chaos going on around us before the mixer, we talked about all things fashion and what our ultimate goals for life were.
“After talking to you about fashion and the direction I wanted to go, you advised that I keep pursuing my dreams as a model, stylist, and creative director. So after planning and plotting on how I was going to get into the fashion industry, modeling ringed a bell,” Sam said.
Fast-forward to July 2015, Sam enrolled in a few runway classes that led him to get booked for Mississippi fashion shows. Two months later, he released his first editorial in which he modeled, styled, and directed.
“My mom was so happy that I was finally modeling,” said Sam. “It was truly amazing to see my vision come to life.”
“In the fall/winter of 2015, I was planning my second editorial, but things came to a halt.”
That is when his mother died.
“It took me two months to put out my editorial that I gave up on, and when I tell you that took every piece of energy I had,” said Sam.
“I could just hear my mom’s voice telling me not to give up on this dream as a model and that fueled me to keep going. From that point to now, fashion has taken me to so many places that I’ve once envisioned and dreamed of.”
To Philly and New York City (Envisioning the Process and the Power of Social Media)
Sam’s big break came when he moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He packed all his belongings in January 2017 and headed out. Soon after, but with only a small fan base, more modeling opportunities came rushing in.
Sam knew if he wanted to take his modeling career to the next level, the best thing for him was to move.
“The first step I took was envisioning myself there. It all started with a vision board,” he said.
Sam questioned, “How would I grace the runway? What would I wear afterward? Who would I network and connect with?”
“I set all my intentions to the Universe and then prayed about it.”
Sam created his vision board just a few days before New Years, and one of the things on Sam’s vision board was New York Fashion Week.
Sam made it to New York Fashion Week!
Sam had the opportunity the model for Season 14 Project Runway designer David Giam Piccolo and Stevie Boi, American fashion designer and founder of luxury eyewear line SB Shades, whose designs have been featured in Vogue magazine and on celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Rihanna, and Diddy.
One day, David discovered and direct messaged Sam through Instagram and invited him to be apart of his February fashion show for New York Fashion Week: Street Fashion Week.
Soon after, Sam discovered Stevie Boi on Instagram. Sam was so intrigued by Stevie Boi’s designs and what he stood for. Stevie Boi held a gift giveaway on social media, and luckily Sam won.
Sam smiled, “That was just the beginning.”
“I used to tell him I wanted to model for him all the time. I could just see myself in his divine craft,” said Sam.
Stevie Boi held an open casting call submission and Sam applied.
“I found him when he submitted to my New York Fashion Week model call,” said Stevie Boi.
“I love working with him. He is very kind and also shy, but I can tell he is a goofball when he warms up to you,” Stevie Boi added.
Sam was ecstatic when he was handpicked to walk in Stevie Boi’s “NØIR S/S 18 Men’s Collection.”
“I really thought I was in a dream,” said Sam.
A few months later, Sam was invited to walk in New York Fashion Week: Walk Fashion Show in September for Stevie Boi. Only this time, fashion photographers from publications such as Harper’s Bazaar and Elle were in the crowd and turned their lens on Sam walking the runway.
Sam’s dream and his mother’s had come true.
“Working with Stevie Boi has been an absolute pleasure and a blessing from God,” said Sam.
“Stevie Boi and his PR, Naomi, have shown me nothing but love and support. There’s always a good and positive vibe when I’m around them,” he said.
Stevie Boi said Sam’s look is what grabbed his attention.
“We both have full lips. I was, of course, picked on for it, but he and I have features that people now are buying. It’s just something we joked about and found interesting,” said Stevie Boi.
What’s next for Sam?
With the success he has gained so far in his short period as a model, his hunger for success has gotten even stronger.
Still, in Philly, Sam continues to work even harder on his craft as an independent model while still working his full-time job.
Sam has hopes of becoming signed with an agency within the next year so he can continue to add to his portfolio and gain more exposure.
With whatever bold decision Sam faces next, there is little voice inside him, his mother’s voice, letting him know how proud she is of him, and that is what keeps him going.
“You can manifest anything you desire. You just have to believe it, envision it, and work towards it. Set out positive intentions, and I promise you that the Universe will reward you with all your desires.”