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Life and Work with Sami Davis

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sami Davis.

Sami, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Growing up in Southern California with two parents in the construction business played a huge part in my creativity growing up! I was often running around barefoot with a hammer in hand and loved to help my parents with their projects. I had NO idea whatsoever what I wanted to do when I grew up (even though my time at a design trade school) as long as it was something creative. Throughout college, I hustled to nab interns and jobs in Fashion PR, Events, and Marketing but there always seemed to be something missing.

I finally made the big jump in 2017 to launch my own business, The Unexpected Type, after my fiance Nathan surprised me by ordering 100 patches of one of my designs. I freaked out and thought it was a waste of money. This propelled me to use my graphic and art direction skills as the main service behind TUT with the addition of our small shop selling adventure goods that I hand draw.

Thousands of patches, logo designs and graphics later, it’s been the most rewarding and educational experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I’m pushing myself to create something new every day to meet a daily challenge and have grown so much. My favorite part is meeting other small business owners who I can connect with – I’ve met so many new friends this way.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The saying “Nothing easy is worth fighting for” might as well be tattooed to my forehead because the journey to this small business was full of struggles but also so many great learnings. I really enjoy figuring out the solutions to those challenges, which is part of being a small business owner!

When I left my last full-time job, the woman who had hired me was very vile and told me no one would ever hire me in the design industry. It definitely wasn’t the way I wanted to start a new chapter of my life and crushed my spirit at first. I felt really lost and doubted my skills until I landed my first big retainer gig.

There is also a lot of learnings that come with owning your own business such as legal items, taxes, etc. I am such a stickler for following legal rules and freak out over government stuff – ironic since my fiancé is a law enforcement. Understanding legal jargon was a huge learning curve and I’m still learning now!

For every young woman, and even man, you will receive quite a lot of the word “no” or “you can’t,” a lot of intense feedback, a lot of bumps, but you’ll overcome all of those if you keep pushing forward and believing in yourself. It’s the truth!

Another big piece of advice that I would give to anyone would be to intern and network. Interning allows you to get an inside look at a business and figure out your strengths. They’re also like mini job interviews, so you may end up with a job at the end. As for networking, all of my big career moves have come from connecting with others or knowing a friend of a friend. Now I surround myself with people who are also small business owners or creatives like me with the same goals because we learn so much from each other. I firmly believe in collaboration over competition.

Please tell us about The Unexpected Type.
The Unexpected Type began as a single patch shop in 2017 and since then has grown into a visual design + creative studio in Southern California that has produced over 30 limited editions, sold out products. Aside from just designing patches, we also offer branding, creative direction, graphic design, print design, and social media management.

All of my work is directly inspired by the outdoors, travel + telling stories. We have a vast client roster from designing logos for off-road brands to florally inspired patches for women who own businesses. I hand drawn every single design and put a lot of passion into every project, working with every client from creative consultation all the way to the final color selection. It makes me SO happy when someone sees a final project and gets excited over it.

Nathan and I are usually out camping out of our rooftop tent most weekends and you can find me working out of the tent. My design process is rooted in nature in a pretty literal sense!

I’m also working on launching a second business called Wildcard Visuals for wedding invitations, florals, and custom wedding goods. As someone who was looking for modern, custom wedding items, I couldn’t find any and wanted to fill the hole in the market.

Were there people and/or experiences you had in your childhood that you feel laid the foundation for your success?
Totally! Like I mentioned before, both of my parents had jobs in construction so I’ve always had the need to create something from a young age. I also grew up really independently because of the age gap between me and my sister, so I was used to figuring out things on my own.

My grandpa on my Dad’s side is the main reason I kept drawing for so many years. He was a creative at heart who worked on bringing vintage cars back to life and was an entrepreneur as well. He could probably charm the pants off of you and every time I saw him the first words out of his mouth were, “What are you drawing these days?” We bonded over vintage cars and pin-striping when I hung out barefoot in his Colorado Springs truck yard at a young age. He passed away three years ago and in a way, I feel like that propelled me to keep drawing and creating.


  • Custom patches begins at $450 [ includes custom design + 100 patches ]
  • Branding Packages begin at $750 [ includes logo design, logo icons, color palette, vision board ]
  • You can shop our existing patches, stickers and pin from $3 in our shop!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
The Unexpected Type

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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