BENI BOO BOUKA - ROLE MODEL & AMBASSADOR
FASHION DESIGNER & CEO
Officially Inducted into the “National Wall of Role Models” on June 7, 2014 ( See full list www.BlackCanadianAwards.com )
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Beni Bouka, CEO & Creative Designer of Beni Boo Styles. I launched my 1st clothing line of Afro-centric modern exotic wears in 2012.
I’m a graduate of York University and have been fortunate to work at different jobs in my area of study from the financial sector to the labour board but there’s nothing more fulfilling than doing what you love – to ”love it and live it”
I believe there is no amount of training that can replace passion or solid instincts and so my decision to be part of this competitive world and become a full-time fashion designer is based purely on happiness rather than money or success or ticking “the keep the parent happy box”
What's your inspiration and how do you get motivated?
I thank God for this amazing gift that allows me to I simply imagine things I want, and I start to perfect them. I draw inspiration from my surroundings and through my daily interaction with others. However, summer and travel are really my stimulation for everything because I grew up on the sunny beaches of West Africa. I always imagine this amazing world where it’s sunny every day, and you can go to the beach or carry out your daily routine in pretty colourful clothes. Though every bit of my design has a summery feel to it, it is all about having something that works perfectly — to have function and aesthetics in an equal balance. I really want them to make people look good and feel crazy good and exude confidence when wearing my label. Whenever I see someone wearing my designs I become over joy; or the hugs, smile and the thank you gifts I get when people come to my studio to pick up their perfectly tailored outfits is what keeps me motivated to even be better at this and get up every day and say I love my job.
How did you get to where you are now and what more should we expect?
Determination and hard work have brought me this far but it’s also about having passion and loving what you do and surrounding yourself with the right kind of people. I pray for guidance daily and to be ready and open to bigger plans; so by God’s grace Beni Boo styles should soon be a household name that everyone from all walks of life, shape, race, size, and gender will be proud to wear and exude confidence from.
What would you like to be remembered for?
I live life by the day and like to keep it flexible enough to take on an unexpected path whenever one presents itself. When I started this business I wanted to emphasize unity through creativity. I hope to be remembered for my drive to follow my dreams and hopefully inspire someone to do the same. I truly believe that life is full of opportunities and that we need to push each other to achieve our goals. If I can use my talent to make an impact in someone else life then am grateful.
How do you balance work, family, friends and leisure?
It’s gratifying that I love what I do therefore my business kind of acts like my leisure. I get to attend various interesting events and fashion shows and meet people due to the nature of my business. These days growing my business is a priority so I mostly network instead of the aimless socializing. But don’t get me wrong I still take some time to chill, relax and catch up with friends and family that have been on this journey with me.
What's your favorite food, book, music and movie?
I like to try new things! I like experiencing the flavours of different cultural dishes. I make a mean “jollof rice” and I really like fish.
My choice of music usually depends on my mood. But because of my work, I like to listen to R&B to get me in the zone. I also like urban African music, like Azonto.
My favourite movies are animated and cartoon type of movies and a good comedy.
What's your experience as a Black person in Canada?
There’s always the good and the bad in every situation and how you handle those tough moments is what makes you who you are. Systematic discrimination against black people exists, it affects our choices and limits our opportunities so you constantly have to be on your toes and find the means and right ways to rise above it.
What is the Black community doing right or wrong in Canada?
I feel like there’s a good support system in the black community but it can always be better and right now I think we are heading in the right direction, but there’s still great division among our own kind - determined by your background or country or place of origin.
Should and do Blacks support black music, events and businesses?
Yes and I know I do but sometimes it feels like other races are held to higher esteem by the ignorant blacks.
Some claim we have musical artists and talents in Canada that are as good or better than those in the US?
Yea definitely! but it’s comparable, and yes we have Canadians that are big celebrities in the states and they are equally good if not better but its just our attitude and the way we respond to fame and money is different. Bear in mind that there’s a wide gap between how artists and talents are appreciated and celebrated in Canada and US or elsewhere.
Mention a few of your favourite Black Canadian Artists?
Fefe Dobson, July black, Akin, Avril & Drake just to name a few.
What’s your understanding of Black History in Canada?
Black history in Canada is underrepresented and very little recognition and credit is given to our ancestors. Not much of our history is documented or properly documented and readily available to be taught in schools.