For Treana Peake, creative director of Canada-based label, Obakki, the fashion business was a challenge she knew she could meet. "I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer the moment I understood that designing meant so much more than designing," the designer told us. "You need to understand marketing, branding, sales, production as well as many other elements. It is the entire creative process paired with the business package that made me decide I wanted to go down this road."
Peake launched Obakki -- her own spelling of the Japanese word for ghost -- six years ago with an eye towards reconciling her passion for clothing with her charitable efforts in Sudan and Cameroon. Focusing on updated classics -- the perfect long burgundy trench, for example, or a cozy funnel-neck zip jacket -- has made the business a retail phenomenon in Canada, with her first flagship store in Vancouver winning the prestigious Governor General's award.
"I believe those that have a great sense of style are those that have been able to identify who they are and what it is that truly makes them feel good," says Peake. "You shouldn't jump on trends to be trendy; you shouldn't wear things to impress other people. Be yourself and pay attention to the things in life that make you happy, and then let your style revolve around that."
And certainly what makes Peake happiest is her philanthropic organization, the Obakki Foundation, which donates 100 percent of proceeds from the sale of her charitable capsule collection to bring water and education to people in Africa.
"It is an unbelievable feeling to be able to merge my two passions, and to know that through this creative process, we can have significant impact in a village on the other side of the world," says Peake. "I think consumers are becoming more conscientious in their alignment with brands and are looking for ways to become global participants. Our brand puts a lot of focus on being socially responsible, enabling our customers to have a real connection with the real world."