It’s hard to believe that Beyoncé is a only a year away from 40 today. Over the course of more than 20 years, the Houston-bred superstar’s talented has transcended time, and she has only leveled up in terms of audio and visual performances. As she says in the remix of her 2013 track “Flawless,” Beyoncé will rep “Texas forever, like Bun B,” and she is always known for elevating small brands.
After Beyoncé premieres a project, designers often reveal how they contributed to it. Oftentimes, the secret of their contributions is guarded with a strict non-disclosure agreement until the premiere of the project. Other times, they themselves are unaware of how their design will be used until the project’s premiere. Still, many creatives, including some in Dallas, are always impressed with the results.
East Dallas resident Sai Sankoh launched her eponymous fashion line in late 2018. Within less than a year, her designs were being worn by the Queen Bey herself. Last year, Beyoncé was spotted in The Hampton’s wearing Sankoh’s Algeria shirt dress from her 2019 Resort collection.
“It was surreal,” Sankoh says. “Beyoncé is one of the most popular and fashionable stars right now, so for me to see her pictured in my Algeria shirt dress was incredibly exciting. She wore it less than a year after the launch of my brand and even though I knew at one point she would rock it, I did not expect for it to be so soon.”
Sankoh was approached to create something for Beyoncé by the singer’s stylist, Zerina Akers. To this day, Sankoh has not met Beyoncé in person, however, she greatly admires her work ethic. She hopes to work with her again someday.
“Working with Zerina to create a custom piece for [Beyoncé] was so much fun,” Sankoh says. “I love creating custom pieces, so it was incredibly exciting for me to do something for her. I can’t wait to do more in the future.”
Like Sankoh, Dallas-based designer Venny Etienne also connected with Beyoncé through Akers. He designed a jacket, which was featured in Beyoncé’s Black is King film on Disney Plus.
Akers first approached Etienne last August to design a piece for Beyoncé, which she would wear in a “top secret project.”
“I didn’t necessarily know what it was for,” Etienne says. “I knew it was for a music video, but that was all I knew. So it was just me doing something as a project for Beyoncé at that time and waiting to see what it was for, like everyone else.”
Etienne only learned days before the premiere of Black is King that his designs would be featured in the film, which was produced to accompany Beyoncé’s The Lion King: The Gift soundtrack. He considers the film the best he’s seen all year.
While Etienne also has yet to meet Beyoncé in person, he believes that working with her team has given him a taste of the kind of work ethic she expects.
“You have to perform at that same level of perfection and excellence as Beyoncé,” Etienne says. “They don’t want to hear ‘I need another day to work on it.’ You’ve got to get it done now, or they’ll find someone else who’ll put in the work to do it.”
Overall, Etienne is grateful to have worked with Beyoncé and admires her commitment to elevating small businesses and up-and-coming designers.
“I’m hoping that I get more opportunities because Beyoncé is allowing a lot of designers of color a platform to show their talent,” Etienne says. “I’m thankful that she included my brand.”
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