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Creative of The Month: Lethabo Boogy Maboi

Words by Azola Mona

Dynamite in a small package doesn’t even begin to describe radio and TV presenter and now celebrated stylist to your fave’s fave, Lethabo “Boogy” Maboi. With a distinct personal style that is edgy, eclectic and a body of work that speaks volumes, Boogy is one person who knows all about fashion and style. 2007 saw the birth of her company, Styled by Boogy with Khuli Chana and UK street wear label called Box Fresh as her first clients. Since then, she has gone on to styling award shows, album covers, photoshoots and featured in one of Woolworths’ “Styled By SA” campaigns. I took some time out to catch up with her on what she’s been up to of late and her plans for the future, here’s Herstory.

(Photo: Cedric Nzaka)

Q: It’s been a few years and you’ve built quite a strong name for yourself in the industry, how did “StyledByBoogy” initially come about?

A: So “Styled by Boogy” started 10 years ago and at the time I was still in varsity, working on radio and doing “Trunks and casts” which was my vintage pop up store, and from there “Styled by Boogy’’ basically started as an extension from that.

Q: What inspired you to make the move from TV/radio to fashion and styling?

A: It wasn’t a move necessarily, I was doing radio, TV and ‘Styled By Boogy’ simultaneously for the most part and only moved to focusing solely on “SBB” 4 years ago. This was because the demand for my stylist work rose quite a bit at the time. I was working full time doing breakfast and drive time at a radio station, and I basically made the decision to focus more on Styled By Boogy. The production company I worked for was Nigerian based and most of my clientele then was African based. This led to me styling their videos, getting exposure and subsequently getting more work.

(Photo: Cedric Nzaka)

Q: Where does your passion for fashion, and styling come from?

A: I got it from my Mom. My mother was really into clothes and fashion, so I grew up on it. From a young age I started tagging along on her shopping escapades, looking for vintage gems. So I would say my self-identity and self-awareness came from a really young age, which then translated into my fashion sense and style.

Q: What birthed the “StyleLab” concept? And where can we catch the next one?

A: I’m really trying to expand this concept moving forward. Over the years I would have clients and artists who would call me during awards shows and ask me for last minute pieces. I saw a gap in the market, and that birthed the StyleLab concept. The first Style Lab started at the MTV base awards in Durban, I went there and did a pop-up store with exclusive pieces and sneakers that I made available to my existing clients on an appointment basis. That’s actually where AKA & Ice Prince met; 3 days later they shot the “N Word Remix” video that I styled as well. Collaboration is key with all my projects; I did a collaboration with Lost Property as the sneaker bar at one of my StyleLabs. I have a lot of plans for this concept and I’m excited to bring them to life.

(Photo: Austin Malema)

Q: Who/What are your creative inspirations?

A: Definitely, music. For me to be so closely related to the music industry, it has to be one of my inspirations. Another inspiration is Africa as a continent; we are all referencing things and drawing creative inspiration from Africa, even on an international level. I’ve always wanted to be the best stylist in Africa and not just in SA. I’m also really inspired by people in the industry who have come after me, who are constantly adding and uplifting the industry, the likes of Rich Mnisi & Laduma to name a few.

Q: Who are your style inspirations?

A: Yoon from Ambush, blogger Christina Pike, as well as the cool of an Erykah Badu, and the effortless chic of Grace Jones. I don’t know if this makes me weird but I also love Gwen Stefani’s style. I’m generally inspired by people who have fun with clothes and use their wardrobe as a sense of communication and self-expression.

(Photo: Paul Ward)

Q: What drives you?

A: My parents – just their dedication and hard work in order to make a life for us where we could effectively chase our dreams and be anything and everything we want to be.

Q: You’ve worked with a number of amazing artists and celebrities, what would you say was your favorite styling job and why?

A: Wow, 10 years in, it’s hard to pick a specific favourite. I think every styling job I do at the time is my favourite. I do have people I really enjoy working with though – AKA, Tiwa Savage, Nike, Puma and Nomuzi. I’m a service provider so when I work it’s more about the relationships than specific projects. I’ve had the privilege to watch people grow and how my work has grown with them.

Q: What cool projects are you working on currently?

A: I just finished wrapping the second season of Lip Sync Battle. I’m also working on styling the new season of MTV’s Ridiculousness, it’s actually being shot in Spain and I’m remotely styling and working on it from home. I’ve also done a lot of work for MTV’s new channel ID. So I guess you can say I’m basically camping out on MTV.  I’ve also recently styled Victoria Kimani’s new video featuring Donald.

(Photo: Austin Malema)

Q: What are your views on the “credit the creative” movement?

A: I think there is no two ways about people crediting peoples work, but there shouldn’t be double standards. I believe in doing work and making sure the work doesn’t suffer. The creative industry needs more recognition and professionalism as a whole.

Q: What advice would you give young, up and coming stylists who want to follow in your footsteps?

  • Number one, back yourself. There is an idea that it’s such a glam industry, which I won’t lie it is at times, but it comes with great responsibility.
  • Make sure you get in there; find out everything you can, sharpen your skill set every chance you get.
  • Just get up and start; work experience is invaluable, use what’s around you.
  • Document everything.
  • Capital! Capital! Capital!

(Photo: Cedric Nzaka)

Q: What are your top 5 fashion do’s and don’ts?

A: My only thing is DO YOU! The ‘don’t’ is when you don’t do yourself.

Q: Where do you see Styled by Boogy in the next 5 years?

A: It’s been 10 years and I had a 10 year plan for “Styled By Boogy” and the focus there is to keep producing great work. In 5 years time, I see Boogy building as a brand. I plan to start moving and expanding into other things, production, maybe even my own label and more brand collaborations. The truth is that the game has opened up over the past 10 years and you can’t be a one trick pony, you need to grow.

Catch up with Boogy on IG & Twitter: @boogymaboi

(Photo: Austin Malema)

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