Charging onto the runway to shooting hoops in the court, creative director and fashion Olympian BEIJA VELEZ meets at the urban crossroad of athleticism and couture.
Breaking a mental sweat from stretching her abilities beyond the typical creative hamstring, Beija Velez aces her PhD on polymathic studies as she marches onto the stage with her juggling act as a news anchor for Complex, accomplished model, basketball player and creative director of fashion brand BEIRIE. “I’ve been creative since I came out the womb. I ostracized myself as a child because I was always socially awkward and lacked self-confidence. I always declined going to parties, hanging out, and I still do that till this day. The isolation worked to my benefit though. I’ve spent so much time just being present with myself and taking the time to actually indulge in things with substance and figuring out ‘who I am’ and ‘why,” explains Beija on her unrivaled drive and unbridled passion. From swish ramps to gritty streets, Beija has slanted through all the cracks and alleyways of her industry, easily switching lanes from being on the arc lights to the one behind the lens. “Modeling has taught me to be myself but also know that versatility works well in that industry and if you have more than one thing to offer, you bring more to the table. That’s had a ripple effect into designing. Designing what I like and trusting that and not being influenced by what “other designers” are doing, but also being cognizant of what the consumer is demanding, and also being able to provide evolution in a product so I don’t become stagnant.”
“Style to me is fresh gear, personality, confidence, the way you walk, talk, and embracing your uniqueness all interwoven together.”
Trained from the get-go to be a badass player that knows how to drop three-pointers from half the court, Beija crashes the boards and scores for her one-woman team. “I’ve played basketball since I was four and I was completely misunderstood by most of my teammates and peers throughout high school, and especially college because people couldn’t wrap their heads around being me multi-dimensional. People used to say, ‘you’re doing too much,’ trying to play basketball, be a designer, artist, creative director, and so on. It’s very rare that you see someone balance athleticism and creativity and actually master both. I’ve been hustling non-stop to prove to myself that those two worlds can co-exist.” Earning herself a gold medal on the Olympics style of street-wear, a chanced meeting with Adriel Rodriguez during their junior year of high school spun the wheels of her venture to sew herself along a new line of thread, ultimately ending up as co-owners of fashion brand BEIRIE. “From the beginning, the intentions were to always make something that was original and a little unorthodox. Over time the brand evolved completely. Materials became more lux, silhouettes changed, quality and longevity was taken into consideration and all of this happened due to maturity, studying, and exposure to certain spaces or countries that opened the mind up to versatility.” Decked out in unrestricted active-wear staple lined with the ragged charm of a thrift-shop archivist, Beija is a beast that hypes up both the average Joe and celebrities of the urban fashion scene. “My style isn’t only displayed through my garments. Style to me is fresh gear, personality, confidence, the way you walk, talk, and embracing your uniqueness all interwoven together.”
“It’s very rare that you see someone balance athleticism and creativity and actually master both. I’ve been hustling non-stop to prove to myself that those two worlds can co-exist.”
Fanning the flames of her pursuits, the multi-talented artist doesn’t seem to run out of unremitting energy to brew. “I’ve always been self-motivated, always will be. But, there are people’s work ethic and realness that I respect that put a lot of things into perspective for me: Kanye being a multi-faceted creative taught me a lot and showed me that it’s ok to embrace that complexity. Also, I wouldn’t think the way I do if I didn’t have the endless amounts of support from my parents, family, homies, coaches, teachers, and mentors. We’re all a byproduct of our environment and I’ve been blessed enough to have that support system as a cushion, so I probably wouldn’t have pursued my passions as hard if it wasn’t for the belief from others,” says Beija. Despite the long hours of a day itself not being able to keep up with her endeavors, she continues to smash the court and slam-dunks in all her recreations. “I’m never planning what’s next. I’m always at the right place, at the right time, and the next thing always comes and I just follow my gut. But, ideally, in the near future I want to creative direct for artists, curate and design exhibitions for brands, direct basketball videos, design the apparel for style, and hoop in it myself. I want to design furniture, do my own video games, co-produce tracks, and the list goes on. Right now I’m just working harder than ever before and trusting the process.”