Beryl Bacchus

Top 40 Under 40 2012

Photography Pedersen

Age: 38

Job Title: Executive Director, Global Visions Film Festival

Why She’s Top 40: She’s brought an entrepreneur’s drive and an artist’s passion to her work as the executive director of Canada’s longest running documentary film festival.

Key To Success: “I’m not driven by money or corporate climbing. I’m driven by passion.”

Although Beryl Bacchus has been sketching fashion designs since elementary school, for a time it looked as though she’d be healing bodies, not dressing them. She was a University of Calgary science student with the intention of becoming a doctor.

But during a trip to Montreal, Bacchus took a stroll past LaSalle College, known for its fashion program, and her childhood passion resurfaced. “It was one of those moments in life where I just knew,” says Bacchus, who graduated in 1999.

After graduation, she snagged a job with a company that purchased designs by major fashion houses and modified them for mass production. It wasn’t the creative work she’d hoped for and the 16-hour days were grueling: “They were running it as a sweat shop,” she says, “in the middle of Montreal.”

In 2003, she finally indulged her creative impulse, launching a women’s clothing company, Fashion Psychology, with former colleague, Patrick Larrive. Dubbed “the new D & G” by Style magazine, the label was well received by the industry and Bacchus herself was nominated for Canada’s Top New Designer by Style and the Canada Export Council. Again her career took a turn when she and Larrive parted ways.

Bacchus found herself back in Alberta – this time Edmonton – when her mother fell ill.

Bacchus found her footing again, building connections in the community. At first, she got involved with Western Canada Fashion Week, helping organize the bi-annual celebrity fashion show. She also began volunteering for the YWCA’s Women of Distinction Awards, the Walk a Mile committee and other local charities.

Then her career took yet another detour: In 2010 she attended her first Global Visions Film Festival and was dazzled by the documentaries she watched. She volunteered for the organization’s board until there was a full-time opportunity. Executive director, to be exact. “I often joke that Edmonton’s the only city in the world where you can jump from fashion to film overnight.”

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