How did former stew, Georgina Baum turn her passion for interior design into starting Samphire England, post yachting?
Georgina Baum, former chief stew and current CEO of Samphire England, suppliers of high-end tableware for yachts and villas, shares her story about how she used her skills from yachting to build a business that she’s passionate about. But, what common difficulties can crew looking at their life after yachting expect to come across?
Before starting your career in yachting, what did you do, and did you always know you wanted to become a Superyacht stewardess? If not, what made you choose a career path in yachting?
When you live on a marina and come from a family that loves sailing and adventure it’s pretty hard to not become extremely engaged with the whole yachting scene and become totally obsessed with it all. I used to look at the Princess yachts on the marina where I lived in awe, little did little I think id end up working on yachts much larger than them.
I spent 8 years in the yachting industry, working tirelessly to push myself on a daily basis to work my way up the ladder. Coming from a family of successful restauranteurs I always had passion and fire inside me and on the yachts is where I fully flourished. The fast pace, creativity, and resilience that one needs to sustain a career in yachting soon became what I lived for! I absolutely loved all aspects from setting and creating the most beautiful tablescapes, to putting together stylish floral arrangements & serving Dom Perignon on fast ice in Antarctica.
What is your current job role and where are you based?
I left yachting two years ago as my chief engineer (who is now my partner) and I bought our first home together here in the UK. It took me a little while to adjust to living on land and the pandemic most certainly didn’t help that, from being used to being around like-minded people 24/7 to being alone 24/7 really hit me hard but it sure did give me the time to think about what I really wanted from life.
Last summer I launched Samphire England which is my own tableware brand. My products reached yachts the same season with my largest order being from a 90m charter yacht. I chose to start things off small and ‘simple’ so I could learn, tweak & grow if and when I wanted to. Things are evolving as the months go by and it’s not just my own brand of tableware I can supply, I can also assist customers with luxury high-end brands from Christofle, Giobagnara, etc. We also dress for events so yep, it’s extremely exciting, to say the least!
People often have a misconception about yacht crew living a luxury lifestyle, yet forget about the 12+ hour workdays behind that. What transitional skills did you gain from this that have helped you in being the CEO of Samphire England?
Yes I most certainly do. I don’t think until you actually leave yachting, do you realise how much you walk away with! From dealing with certain situations and a variety of personalities to having an impeccable understanding of five-star service from silver service, cigar, and wine knowledge, cocktails to floral design, organisational management, budget management, admin, and accounts, and client relations. You will use the skills on a daily basis and your friends will always be counting down for you to have another get-together at yours! The stewardess will always remain within!
You go by saying “It is in my blood to bring people together and celebrate good company, food, and drink. And it shouldn’t cost a fortune to do so!” – Do you feel as though your passion for this is a result of your career in yachting?
Yes, I most certainly do. Most of us will walk away from yachting at a modest age with too much fire in our belly to ever just go to a basic 9-5. Focus on your future and what it is that makes your heart sing. It’s amazing what you can do and achieve once you put your mind to it. Life is too short to live 5 days of the week doing something you hate just to have 2 days of happiness at the weekend!
Can you tell us about what you’ve found the hardest moments in running a business so far, and the common difficulties crew face when leaving the superyacht industry.
You will probably feel a little overwhelmed at times and will most certainly miss the Superyacht paychecks! Just try to remember, that you were lucky to have a great start in life and just focus on your future and moving forward.
Can you share a line of advice for crew hesitating to leave the industry to pursue their dream careers:
It can be tricky at times as you question whether what you are doing or not is right. Don’t lose faith, and don’t just jump back on board because it’s ‘what you know… It will only fill the void temporarily and by doing so you will only delay your true purpose in life. Remember it’s good to step out of your comfort zone, after all that’s how we learn and grow!
To find out how Gemma Heyns went from stew to CEO of TAP Expeditions Safari expeditions, click here.