Interview | TEDxVancouver Speaker: Treana Peake of Obakki

TEDxVancouver is one of those events where you leave feeling inspired, energized and just a little exhausted. It’s like a full day of school taught by your favourite professors; at the end of it your brain is buzzing. And this year it’s going to be bigger than ever.

Among the lineup of speakers are lululemon founder Chip Wilson, CTV news anchor Coleen Christie and the creative force behind Obakki: Treana Peake. I’ve long admired Treana’s design work — her collections are stunningly beautiful — but what I find even more inspiring is the work she does with the Obakki Foundation, which has drilled more than 600 water wells and built a dozen schools in South Sudan and Cameroon. In just five years.

On October 18th, she’ll speak to this at the largest TEDx event the city has seen. But I caught up with her first to give you a sneak peek.

What do you look forward to most about sharing your experience with TEDxVancouver?

TEDx is such an incredible platform and I am very honoured to be a part of it this year.  I look forward to sharing some of the guiding principles that drive me in my philanthropic work, as well as hopefully inspiring others to notice the incredible impact that their own acts of kindness play in the world.

In the five years you’ve been running the Obakki Foundation, have you noticed a shift in how people perceive the relationship between fashion and philanthropy?

I think people are starting to notice fashion, and other business platforms open up to involve charitable initiatives, but I also think the consumers are quick to notice when it is just a marketing pitch vs. something authentic. It is a constant job of ours to show how serious we are – and how much our humanitarian projects fundamentally drive us as a company. Over the last five years we have been able to create a growing community of like-minded citizens who are helping to make change in the world!

Does your experience as a designer make you a better philanthropist? 

My experience as a designer specifically doesn’t make me a better philanthropist – but my creativity certainly does. I believe it is our job in the development sector to bring awareness to these large global issues in a unique way. I think people are tired of seeing the same tired images and sad stories continually associated with places like Africa.

What about the other way around – does your experience as a philanthropist make you a better designer?

My experience as a philanthropist definitely makes me a better designer as I don’t have to chase inspiration – it lives inside me, and comes from that natural place. Everything we do at Obakki is fueled by passion and stems from a solid commitment and dedication to our philanthropic initiatives.

To hear more about Treana’s work with the Obakki Foundation, and to fill your brain with a million more ideas, get tickets to TEDxVancouver.

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