Welcome to My Story, our weekly series defending color creations and their path to success.
On September 24, 2021, a new annual awards gala is coming to town and celebrating black excellence in Canada’s fashion and beauty industries. Scheduled at Parkview Manor in Toronto (increase in gathering limits pending), the Black Fashion & Beauty Gala aims to celebrate local black creatives and black-owned businesses and its nominations, which will open on January 1, 2021, span 12 categories. different. – think about photography, makeup, fashion design, fashion retail and more. The new awards ceremony is the passionate project of Ann-Marie Daniel Barker, a seasoned Toronto-based fashion and events stylist who has worked in the industry for over two decades. The idea of nurturing and championing local black Canadian talent was heavily influenced by her own professional background and what she witnessed, she says. “What I find in Canada is that it’s quite a journey into the [fashion and beauty] industry for blacks. When I started, getting down to it, oh my God, that was the hardest thing! It wasn’t until I left the country and went to the United States that I finally got my break. It was not in Toronto. She adds that her passion for such a celebration, which has a huge focus on mentoring future talent through scholarships and workshops, has been dissipating in her mind for quite some time and it has really started to hit the ground. following the recent emergency. push for racial reform across the world.
Here Ann-Marie shares, in her own words, more about the events in her personal life that led her to create the very well-received Black Fashion & Beauty Gala and the way her event is structured.
On the past encounters that led to his idea:
“I ran into a young woman in downtown Toronto a few years ago in the middle of winter. It was a homeless black girl with no winter coat and she stopped me. A lot of times we pass right by people begging but whatever it is, something drew me to her and I decided to turn around and talk to her. I was running to a meeting and there was a cafe near where we were standing so I said to her, ‘If you want to sit in the cafe until I’m done, I’ll come back to you. look for. ‘When I came back she was there waiting and we ended up having the longest conversation in her life and in her history. Her story was one that I found very tragic and my heart bled for her. I also asked her what she wanted to do for a living. She told me that she loved fashion and had always wanted to be a fashion designer, but that no one had ever believed in her. No one ever gave him a chance. That wherever she goes, there is always a door on her face. Sitting there listening to her story, I saw a part of me in her: the younger me in her. It struck a chord with me. Just then I thought to myself I’m going to take a chance on her because I also thought that as a black woman myself, if I was in these shoes, I wish someone one gives me a hand. I ended up finding him a place to stay and educated him. She now lives in New York and studies fashion design. I remember she said to me that day, “I promise you I’ll make you proud.” You will not regret it. And I have to say I’m very proud of her because she has come a long way and is still going through the process.
While going through all of this, I also started to hear stories from other young people about their passion for the fashion industry and their desire to break in, but it is very difficult.
On the lack of black representation that turned his ideas:
“I also realized that there is nothing here in Canada that recognizes and recognizes black creatives – period – and black people in the industry tell me the same thing. One day I just sat down and thought about what was missing and got the idea [for an awards gala] a few years ago, but it was never the right time for me: I was very busy with work and travel all the time, so I was never in one place long enough. But now, with Covid, everything is on hold. Then the whole Black Lives Matter movement came into being, and one night I was lying in my bed and the thought came back to me – that it was time to resurrect it. I started making phone calls and before I knew it a team was formed and we started the process of planning the whole concept and putting it into place.
Why mentorship is important for the Black Fashion & Beauty Gala:
“One of the very important aspects of the awards for me is the mentoring part and the scholarships because I think it is so important that we can help, train and encourage the younger generation by creating a platform for them. [Previous generations] have done it before – and continue to do so – so how do we create something within the industry that gives emerging talent a plan or a path forward. Something that makes it a bit easier for them to get into the industry and make their dreams come true. The mentoring program would be an ongoing monthly activity where we have workshops with industry professionals. They came to facilitate and guide the participants. Right now I’m working around the outline and with the City of Toronto providing some support. Cloré Beauty Supply is one of our official sponsors for the awards ceremony and they have emphasized that they would like to partner with the mentoring program as well.
On how the BFBG scholarship program works:
“The scholarships will be for young people who go to school at a recognized college and who are studying something related to the industry. It can be any program as long as it is fashion or beauty focused and incorporates business. I put the management course element in there because I think it’s integral: you have to know how to balance the books and run a business. The way we have structured our scholarship program is that the public can apply and we have a team that is working on establishing the criteria for the scholarship that applicants will be required to take. We will then present the winner of the scholarship on the night of the award ceremony, which will be $ 5,000. For our first year, there will be a winner and we have decided not to give the funds directly to the individual. Instead, we would like to arrange to give the funds directly to the credited institution to ensure that we can be responsible for every dollar that comes out of our sponsors. We structured it that way to maintain control and make sure that the funds go directly to what they were intended for. It is not a dollar that goes elsewhere. We also felt that the scholarship could be awarded to someone starting their own business in the industry or to a pre-existing business looking to change brands, increase inventory, etc. [education and entrepreneurship] will fall under the scholarship program.
We also plan to follow up throughout the year to see how the recipient is doing and at the next awards gala the goal is for the previous recipient to come and talk about their scholarship and how. [the experience] has been for them.
On the BFBG nomination process:
“The public can come in and name who they think is the best in any category. At the close of nominations, we collect all of this data and there will be four people per category selected as finalists. We will notify them and images of these people will be posted on the website. The voting process will then open and the public can come back to vote for their favorite. We really emphasize that the nominations are across Canada and not just in Toronto. On the evening of the ceremony, each winner will receive a custom-made statuette in the shape of the BFBG logo.
On the response she has received so far ahead of the awards gala:
“I have to say the responses so far have been really great. We have received a lot of direct messages and phone calls from people in the industry. People are very excited about the whole concept of being recognized. Almost every message or call that comes in states, “It’s long overdue.” That having this platform is a way for blacks [within the industry] to finally get their shine. This is really what it is about: recognizing and showcasing the many talents of Canada’s black community. It’s also about showing Canadian businesses and agencies that we’re here – that there is no need to hire and bring in black talent from the United States. We have that here in Canada. Yes the United States has a lot of great talent, but we would love to have the opportunity to stay here. Open that door and leave [the opportunities] tributary. I am very passionate about it.
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