An interview with Valerie Boyaval, founder of Bo-Ya Creation
Always on the lookout for great products that suit our tropical lifestyle, we were delighted to stumble upon Bo-Ya Creation. Their range of fouta, beautiful pieces of thin patterned fabrics that are multi-use and fashionable are a fantastic accessory to just about anything!
While the traditional fouta has been used in Mediterranean countries for decades, it was 2009 when Valerie discovered these while on a trip to Tunisia. Now a day at the beach no longer needs to be about dragging a heavy bag full of towels and picnic blankets with you. All you need is your fouta (or maybe 2, all weighing less than one thick, heavy towel). They can also be used as a tablecloth, bed throw, sarong, even a baby change table can be covered in one of these great multi-use foutas. Bo-Ya Creation is now selling their fouta at The Attaby Collective until the 4th of June and there are plenty of colours to choose from.
Ordinary People took a moment of Valerie’s time to ask her about herself and the magical, multi-use fouta.
What was your background?
I went to an international business school in France and have since worked in many different areas such as jewellery and the service industry. I started Bo-Ya Creation as an online shop in Singapore in 2012 after moving here the year before. I was already wholesaling the fouta in Paris, importing it into France after discovering it in 2009. On my move here, I knew it would be a perfect fit for this climate.
How did you come across the fouta?
I discovered this square of cotton, the fouta, seven years ago in Tunisia. My husband was working between Tunisia and France for two years and I would sometimes accompany him. Foutas are traditional Tunisian bath towels originally used after hammam. I knew they were a great alternative to a beach or pool towel. They were lightweight to carry and faster to dry, combining function AND fashion. I fell in love with them. Why wouldn’t you want to dry off with style?
What made you decide to start Bo-Ya Creation?
When I arrived here I couldn’t find any foutas available and from my experience, I knew it was a must have for Singapore. Our year long lifestyle of pool side living where it is hot and warm without any cold seasons really called for an accessory like the fouta. I also wanted to learn how to build and create an online shop so that I could spend time with my husband and 4 kids. Thanks to the 5 of them for their great support. They have been the key to success for me because they gave me the opportunity to build up this successful business. The balance between Bo-Ya Creation and my private life brings me the quality of life which is so important for me.
Tell us a little more about your cloths. How are they made and where do they come from?
Our foutas are artisan-made with 100% natural cotton. The fringe is then hand finished. As they are all entirely handmade, the Bo-Ya fouta may vary slightly in size and colours and have irregularities. This is all part of the unique handmade process. There are no two that are alike.
I heard that you can easily personalise them as a gift or for yourself?
That’s totally true, with your choice of embroidery, your Fouta or Kikoy can be made into a unique piece with your given name, initials, next holidays destination, name of your house or anything you’d like. Feel free to create your own one! It makes a perfect personalized gift. In fact, many companies, including spas and hotels, have trusted us to embroider their logo on our fouta.
What is the most unusual way you’ve heard of one of your foutas being used?
Bo-Ya customers send us some pictures of their amazing uses. I saw a man, during winter time, with a beautiful honeycomb fouta around his neck as a scarf! And children have built tents with their own fouta to play hide and seek or to have fun around the pool. Usual uses are, of course, as beach towels, bath towels, tablecloths, sarongs, sofa covers, picnic blankets, table runners, bed throws, covering a baby changing table… We could go on and on. Because there are different colours and different styles, the Bo-Ya fouta can be for anyone.
What’s next for Bo-Ya Creation?
A few years ago we found appropriate to welcome the Kikoy towel into our line. Kikoy is a traditional Swahili cloth from Kenya. At first it was used as a loincloth by fishermen and then it was used everywhere in the house as linen. Kikoy towels (100x160cm) are a variation of traditional Kikoy which are fully lined with terry cloth towel material and has an inside pocket for phone or keys.
We have also just received new Ikat towels from traditional Indian Ikat. As we add new types of cloths to our range, we continue to combine function and fashion. We’re very excited about these new additions!
We are also expanding, selling in selected hotel shops in Singapore (come find us at the W hotel!). We’ve also sold in Hong Kong, Dubai and Australia. We hope to continue to extend into other countries in Asia including Japan and China as well as the Oceana region.
What advice would you give someone interested in importing a fantastic find for themselves?
Never be afraid to try something new. Each mistake teaches you something new about yourself. There is no failure, remember, except in no longer trying. NEVER LET YOUR FEARS STAND IN THE WAY OF YOUR DREAMS.
Thank you for talking to us, Valerie! Bo-Ya Creation is now selling at The Attaby Collective, upstairs at 76 Haji Lane. They also sell online at their website below and on Hip Van (search fouta or BO-YA Creation).
For more information on Bo-Ya Creation:
For more information on The Attaby Collective and Attaby:
Images provided by Bo-Ya Creation.