We caught up with the enigmatic founder of bougi, Rozan Ahmed...
Time Out Bahrain staff
Where did bougi begin, and how did it start? Essentially bougi started off as a passion project: I was used to a certain kind of entertainment experience and discovered it was somewhat lacking in Bahrain, despite the Kingdom’s potential. From that, my associates and I came up with a few ideas on how to project that kind of quality entertainment, as well as offer a number of lifestyle management services under one brand, and so bougi was born. We launched the brand in March 2009 with an outstanding event during last year’s F1. It turned out to be the most talked about and most impressive event of the season. Many would have assumed we spent thousands of BD in order to execute such a launch, but we didn’t – it’s about expertise, creating the right ambiance, using creative excellence and knowing exactly what it takes to generate the right buzz. A grandly lavish event can be a total bore unless key elements are applied, and that is precisely bougi’s focus: specialising in the finer details of good taste.
Can you distil what you think the specific elements of a good entertainment experience are?
The fundamental principle of an entertainment experience is having a good time, first and foremost. Having people feel comfortable. Having people feel they belong, that they familiarise with an environment of like-minded style and quality. There also needs to be a point to your event. What is its actual purpose and overall objective? Many events in Bahrain are copycats of one another, which again, loses purpose. A stand out event is one that is unique, innovative and inspiring. If your guests are feeling boosted and privileged by being there, you’re onto something good. At our seasonal events for example, we do not specify our guest list on any kind of financial status or outrageous membership fees. It’s not just about filling a venue with big spenders, but more about attitude, a way of carrying yourself, your sense of style, taste and what creative offerings you have as a personality.
Explain why bougi’s seasonal events are by invitation-only. What clientele are you aiming to attract?
Despite popular belief, bougi isn’t simply about our seasonal events. bougi is a PR & Lifestyle management agency. Under the brand’s umbrella comes the expertise for a number of functions, such as intimate birthday parties, engagements, sit-down dinners and corporate PR services. As a bespoke agency, we choose our clients and cater specifically to those of influence in business, sports and entertainment, and that is the calibre of bougi’s guest list. We want to choose the people we feel suit the bougi brand, and that is why our events remain invitation only. We look at the best of JJ’s, the best of Bushido, the best of Trader Vic’s and swipe them! We read magazines and research individuals who stand out, and are genuinely making moves in their career. Then we have our friends, people we personally find creatively inspiring, we enjoy their company, we are inspired by their sense of style, their sense of business, their sense of the arts. Putting these people together in an organised environment of tasteful entertainment creates an unforgettable energy. Followers, guests and clients of bougi already know this.
Who would be the ideal fit for the bougi brand? I have a catchphrase for this, ‘Aspiration and Inspiration’. So with that, an ideal fit can be an individual who is successful in their ambition. Whether you’re looking to achieve, or have achieved, creatively and financially. If you’re work hard and play hard, the business savvy and fashionably sassy…movers and shakers, innovators, artists, forward thinkers: bringing together the best of Bahrain and beyond, simply.
One question many people will have is how do they get invited? Again, despite popular belief, bougi is really very open, just don’t waste our time! If you are interested in bougi, if there’s something about our services, our goals, our lifestyle or our clients that is of appeal, then you’re our kind of person. If you regularly check our facebook page and appreciate our postings (www.facebook.com/bougi), if you read the blogs and are inspired by what we write (www.bougilife.blogspot.com), if you feel a bond and a familiarity with bougi, then follow us, write to us, let us know your ideas, what you do, what you’re trying to do and we will naturally come together. We are leading a network of creative excellence, rather than simply one of wealth. Groups tend to be rather separated in Bahrain; we want to bring the cream of each group together.
So, who have you declined? I decline based on many things. First off, there’s age. We like to cater to professionals so 25 upwards is our standard range. We look at tangible offerings, so if there’s nothing solid about you, if you tend to talk rather than walk, then you do not belong. Straight up decline is if you turn up to one of our events dressed as Santa Claus, that’s definitely a no go, especially if it’s June (yes, that has happened). With bougi, you’ve either got ‘it’, or you don’t, and if you do your research, you’ll find out for yourself before approaching us.
Who are some of the high profile people that you have partnered with? Quite a few, Estelle, P Diddy, Justin Timberlake, Jade Jagger, Jay Z, The Prince of Brunei, senior UN delegates and business figures: all of these events were in London, New York and LA. Obviously, the celebrity element creates an enormous buzz, and I hope to bring that to Bahrain one day. Although most of our organised events are private and personal, bougi’s seasonal soirees carry an important commercial element. Our ethos when it comes to this area is what we call ‘commercial choreography’, bringing brands together that live up to or fulfil the lifestyle ideal.
What else does bougi do? PR & Lifestyle management is a relatively new concept in this region. What we do sounds simple, but requires plenty of intelligence and a lot of innovation: we bring appeal to a brand through the art of physical experience, communication, the arts and networking. This is executed through a provision of services in public relations, lifestyle and events management. Personal requests can range from engagement parties and themed birthdays, to baby showers and larger scale private bashes. From a corporate perspective, we consult and manage across multiple lines of public relations, such as strategy development and execution, media luncheons, PR stunts, public scheduling and special campaigns. We also look at areas where we can compliment a lifestyle experience within a corporate set up, through brand alignment, special events and so on. It’s always been a dream of mine to host a tent at Bahrain’s Formula One, for example. Think about it, why do people go to the race in Monaco? They go not for the race, but for the overall lifestyle experience, the parties, fashion, glamour, yachts, celebrities and business head hunters. These are crucial elements in generating, solidifying and maintaining the Grand Prix’s overall appeal. What we believe is really important for Bahrain and what we think Bahrain has the potential to create is that all important lifestyle experience. All the fundamentals are here, it’s just a matter of being organised, creative and innovative in putting these elements together. That’s where bougi comes in.
The bougi list
Already one the most sought after invitations at this year’s F1 is for the anticipated ‘F1 Memoirs’ Dinner & Dance on Friday 12th March. Hosted alongside the Kingdom’s first boutique hotel, L’Hotel, and Time OutBahrain, an evening of decadence, filled with motorsport nostalgia, fine cuisine and first class music will entertain invited guests with that extra special bougi touch. For more information, visit www.lhotelbahrain.com.
Also expected over the weekend are a series of lifestyle events across a number of secret locations, including poolside soirees and lavish galas, revealed exclusively to bougi’s clients and guests.
How to get an invite • Get on the bougi blog: bougilife.blogspot.com • Get in touch with Rozan Ahmed via email: firstname.lastname@example.org • Tell her how old you are, what you do, what it is about bougi you find so interesting • Cross your fingers • Pray