BFBG stands for The Black Fashion & Beauty Gala Awards. Ann-Marie Daniel Barker is the founder and spirit behind this event. Along with her colleagues Cheville Shaw, Sandra Gabriel, and Deborah Moriah. All women, all successful and all black. BFBG does more than unite a community, rather, it gives back and empowers it.
Before interviewing Barker, reading the inspiration behind BFBG is heart-warming and touching. Barker took a chance on a homeless woman and helped her get back on her feet. She decided after that, her calling is to do something as great and impactful as that towards others in the black community and to anyone struggling. A few years later, there was the inception of BFBG. During the interview, Barker was asked “Who took a chance on you and gave you the courage to take a chance on others?” She paused – laughed and said, “Well that’s a loaded question!”. She opened up about the reality that she was never given a chance. She took a chance on herself and moved to America to further her career in fashion and beauty. She was met with many trials and tribulations but with the relentless effort and hard work, she found success.
Barker created BFBG because she wants to provide others the opportunities she was not given. Throughout the interview, a quality that really stood out about her character is her generosity. To match this is her passion and persistence, she repeated several times “Never take no for an answer”. She admits that she believes that “Everything that has happened in my career has led up to this”. She says: “In a few years I would love to see BFBG broadcasted on TV. This is going to be big, it brings everything together”. From beauty and fashion, to giving back to the community BFBG is an event but it also creates opportunity through bursaries–it gives people a chance.
What is BFBG?
BFBG is a gala that presents an award to black owned businesses, creatives, and fashion moguls in the Canadian black community. This is a yearly award that has four categories, this includes fashion design, beauty artistry, photography, and business management. Once an award is won, recipients are given a statuette which is an archer figure in marble mounted on a marble base made in bronze and plated in gold. It is symbolic of people of colour going above and beyond into the beauty and fashion market.
In addition to this, they also provide a mentorship program. In this program they connect up-and-coming creatives with an industry professional to help their brand.. Also, they have a bursary available for any aspiring student and entrepreneur to pursue education in beauty and design. The goal is to reduce dropout rates for black students or businesses who do not have the resources or support available.
BFBG is an event and a chance to strengthen people of colour and the black community and it gives credit to artists who are not given enough attention.
Barker’s passion for fashion and beauty started when she was just 11 years old. She recounts a story that: “there was always a fashion magazine in the house, and I would love to play dress up and imitate the style, from that I knew I was creative and wanted to work in the industry”. She explains that a rule that was instilled in her when she was growing up is, “no matter where you went if it was down the street, the grocery store or church, you always looked your best”. When asked what keeps her motivated and inspired, her answer was simple, “I love what I do” she says. “I love to create and my goal is to make it easier for the future of my community, what better person to create a helping platform than someone who has overcome hardships?”
Barker’s best advice to any young professional who is seeking success in the fashion and beauty industry is: “be realistic, motivated, focused and don’t take no as an answer”. She believes that it is her tenacity and self-motivation that has brought her success. She also believes in taking advantage of opportunities that come her way but to balance it with self-respect. In general, she says: “respect yourself because that’s the only way others will respect you, be consistent with yourself or the brand that you represent”. Barker’s story and soul is present in her craft and passion for the fashion and beauty industry. BFBG is the peak of her craft and the beginning of a world of opportunities for people of colour.