GMO Spotlight: Beau Ideal

Saturday, 09 July 2011 18:22 Written by  Tiffani Alexander

Beau Ideal is a fashion event production company. However, they are so much more than just a company that produces high-energy, professional fashion shows––Beau Ideal is producing change in the community. CEO Ken Patrick talked to GlossMagazineOnline (GMO) about how his company came to be, his goals for Beau Ideal and beyond, and his mission for helping the youth.


GMO: Tell me a little about the beginning of Beau Ideal. When was it founded, and what made you want to start a fashion event production company? Were you always into fashion?

Ken Patrick: I started by accident. What happened, a year ago around February, I decided try to take up photography. Not full-time, but as a way to make some side money. A buddy of mine was doing a unique stage show where he was doing hip hop, but it was more like live video. So, he was casting models and just taking a creative approach to his stage show. In the midst of working on a couple projects, I started meeting models and thought it would be cool to do a fashion photo shoot. From there, it just kind of took on a life of its own.

Having produced events for more than 12 years, Ken was used to planning and executing events, many of which were targeted at at-risk youth or urban communities. He was the man behind Chicago’s popular and longest running monthly event, Fat Friday.

Ken: Because I loved throwing events, I thought I should try my hand at throwing a fashion show, but with my own little twist, my own little flair. I wanted to do it like the best in the industry. And so I tried to plan a fashion show. The first show that I was going to do––the building got a cease and desist order on it the night before, but I didn’t let that discourage me. My approach was to do a show unlike one that had been seen in Chicago.

The show was to be held in an art gallery, using the gallery itself as the runway. When it was unexpectedly canceled, Ken says he went back to doing what he does best: working with young people.

Ken: I casted a bunch of young folks and started what was called an “At-Risk Model Movement.” My business philosophy, I model it after what I think Russell Simmons––I call it my Russell Simmons business model––he does entrepreneurism so that he can fund his philanthropy. I have been working with young people in at-risk communities for 18 years, and I’ve done a lot of begging over the years for people to give me money to take kids on college tours, to take them out the hood, to take them on a service-learning trip to North Carolina, etc. I kind of wanted to get out the begging game, so to speak, so I said let me start a business and make it profitable so that I can do all the things for young people that I want to do. Mainly, help young people go to college, because the end goal of everything that we do, whether it be for profit or nonprofit, is getting a kid on a college campus.

This led to Beau Ideal’s first At-Risk Fashion Statement Fashion Show last July 31. The event was sold out, and the company has been moving full-speed ahead ever since. The annual event is to be held July 23, 2011.


GMO: Tell me a bit about the people who make up your staff?

Ken: Aaja Corinne is the COO and the show coordinator. She has a degree in fashion merchandising; she just graduated this year from Columbia. I call her my boss even though I’m the CEO. Her job is operations and she typically makes sure that our shows go from concept to implementation.


GMO:What’s your typical day look like as CEO?

Ken: My typical day––after I’m done with my 9-5, and after I’m done trying to finish a little homework because I’m working on my second master’s degree––it’s just a whole multi-tasking thing. It’s trying to take care of the administrative and organizational stuff that needs to be in place, the foundational stuff: I’m making sure that I have a team that can do every aspect. I have a girl in marketing; I have a girl in PR; I have a financial officer. I also do a lot of vision casting, I always keep the vision before me and the vision is for us to be an international organization that produces high-quality, high-fashion events. My dream is to be called by Michael Kors or someone from his office saying, “We want you guys to produce our fashion show.”


GMO:Tell me more about your vision.

Ken: That’s the big vision [international shows and reach, etc.], the big dream. In the meantime, I want to create a situation where everybody who is connected to Beau Ideal wins. Meaning, that if I have makeup artists who I work with, they get that international exposure; the models get that international exposure and incredible portfolios as a result. The designers––I have four core designers that I work with, so every show that I do it’s these four core designers, and they literally create a collection for each one of my shows. So the stuff that you see in a Beau Ideal show has never been seen, anywhere. It’s the first time on the runway, so it’s a really cool situation.

Ken is still building, focusing a lot of his time currently on creating his team for the non-for-profit side of his endeavor. Staying true to his fundamental goal, this team is made up of young women.

Ken: We’re getting ready to apply for our 501Z3, tax-exempt status with the IRS. And in the meantime, I have what I call my junior executives. It’s seven young ladies who I am training as leaders to run the non-for-profit organization because the at-risk movement, by design, is to be run by the young people that are a part of it. So, I’m kind of like the facilitator, the instructor. I’m bringing in some other individuals from corporate America to come in and talk to these young people about strategy, strategic planning, operations––basically I’m going to give them my degree for free (I have an MBA with a concentration in management). I’m teaching them everything I know and bringing in people to teach them what they know, so that they can run the business and also address the social concerns that place young people at risk. That’s my main thrust right now––the show that we are working on for July 23 will be planned from front to back by this group of seven young ladies.


GMO: To date, what has been your most memorable event and why?

Ken: The first one, it was called The Fashion Statement, it was the At-Risk Model movement fashion statement fashion show. It was most memorable because, number one, I literally didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I knew how to organize an event—that was it. I didn’t know anything about fashion. In fact, I’m like the anti-fashion guy in real life!

But Ken does know art, and he is able to see the art within fashion, as well as in everything else that goes into putting on a fashion show.

Ken: The art of fashion, because clothing design is art, makeup artistry is art, hair styling is art, the way models walk to me is artistic. I was able to stay in fashion because of my view of the artistry of it all. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I just observed some other folks, got online and looked at YouTube videos (laughs) and said: ‘Ok, let’s go all in.’ And all these young people from all over Chicago––we didn’t have a place to rehearse so we would go on Lakeshore Drive, and it was just a concrete slab. Parents got their car windows open, playing the music for us, while these young people who had never done this before are being taught to walk… It was just one of those very humble beginnings that you never forget. And then, we had challenges such as designers not showing up and not calling, makeup artists not showing up and not calling, and yet we never freaked out, we never panicked and we pulled off an incredible show.

The humble beginning and set backs only prepared Ken and his team for the challenges to come, as Beau Ideal continues to grow and build a name for itself in Chicago and beyond.


GMO: What projects are Beau Ideal currently working on?

Ken: We have the Annual At-Risk Fashion State Fashion Show. It’s called the Puppet Show, July 23 at The Connection in Bronzeville. And then Sept.10, we have our Larger Than Life Fashion Show, which is going to be huge. It’s going to be at the DuSable Museum.



GMO: What is your dream event to produce?

Ken: I have a dream [still working with Beau Ideal core and top, national designers], and I can’t give too much of it away, to do it [a show] in such a way that the models look like they’re walking on air. And I don’t know what the name of it is, but it will be a fashion show where models are walking on multi-level runways, and it will appear that they are walking on air.


GMO: Who is walking on air in this dream show?

Ken: The dream person to walk in my show is that group of models that started with me.


GMO: Where do you see your company in the coming years?

Ken: I think we will have made significant strides toward getting closer to that ultimate [level]. In the next three years, I want Beau Ideal to appear at Fashion Week as part of their lineup of fashion shows. Next year, we’re actually stepping out; we are going to do a show in New York in May. Then, I got a really big, hairy audacious goal: In 2013, we’ll pull off our first show in Milan. We’re already doing the homework on that now.


GMO: What advice do you have for those aspiring to work in event production? Do you have advice for individuals tying to break into the fashion industry in particular?

Ken: My advice for both of them would be the same: Do your homework. Make sure it’s something that you’re doing because it’s your passion––because it’s a natural part of who you are. Then, do your homework because anything that you endeavor to do, you got to go to school, in essence. Nowadays you can go to school via YouTube! (Laughs) But you got to study, and study the elite in the business. Who are the absolute best? Who are the elite? When you read the headlines, who are they talking about? Study those folks because they represent the ultimate level of whatever it is.

Ken and his team at Beau Ideal are following this advice, only a little more than a year old and making a big splash in Chicago’s fashion scene. With shows planned in New York and Milan, and with a focus on turning the same at-risk youth he works with into leaders within his own company, Ken just wants to be––and for those around him to be ––successful.

“Don’t quit—the secret to success is not quitting,” he says. “At the end of the day, you’ll be successful if you don’t quit.”


To find out more about Beau Ideal, their upcoming events, and how to get involved, visit their website at, find them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at @thebeauideal.

To learn more about the At Risk Movement, visit


Tiffani Alexander

Tiffani Alexander

Publisher and Editor in Chief of (GMO), Tiffani Alexander came to Chicago in the fall of 2004 to pursue her Master's degree in Arts, Entertainment & Media Management at Columbia College Chicago. Tiffani earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from the University of
 Maryland, College Park. She has worked for both Cygnus Business Media and Maher Publishing before embarking on her dream to start her own magazine. In addition to publishing GMO bi-monthly, Tiffani freelances and works as an editor on a legal journal in Washington, DC.


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