One on One with Camille Saka

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Ellen Geller Kamaras 

 

“I always tried to be conscious about not allowing my work to infringe on family time. Having a home office gave my children a bird’s eye view into what I do. I hope they learned that women can be valued for more than just their roles as wife and mother, that parents are people too, that Hashem gives us talents and it’s our job to use them to the best of our ability.”  ~~ Camille ~~ 

 

 

  

It gives me great pleasure to introduce you to Camille Salama Saka, the talented and poised founder of Fusion Graphix Design.  

 

Camille is the daughter-in-law of the late Charlie Saka, a”h, a beloved humanitarian and philanthropist. Camille is proudly carrying on his legacy. 

 

Two of Camille’s other family members were featured in “Woman to Woman” – her younger sister, Jacklyn Lahav, a certified nurse-midwife, and Camille’s niece, Brenda Saka Antebi an event planner. Both women, like Camille, are striking in their commitment to the community   

 

Camille’s Story 

 

Camille Saka, née Salama, was born in Brooklyn, to Barbara Shreety Cohen and Maurice Salama. She is the oldest of five children.  

 

“We lived upstairs from my maternal grandparents and within a block or two of all my aunts and uncles.  We were a very close-knit family.”    

 

Barbara, of Egyptian and Syrian descent, is American born and Maurice is one of the fortunate children from Egypt who was rescued by Rabbi Avraham Kalmanowitz, the founder of Mirrer Yeshiva, in the late 1950s.  Maurice, only 12, arrived in Brooklyn with his sixteen-year-old brother. Their parents followed later.   

 

Camille is extremely close with her siblings. 

 

Camille attended Yeshiva of Flatbush for both elementary and high school, graduating in 1989. She was an A student with a strong work ethic. “I was your classic Type A personality, very meticulous with detail and organized, but I also had a creative streak.  These two attributes sometimes worked against each other.” 

 

A quiet and serious child, Camille had a lot of responsibility helping her mother with her siblings.  She remembers helping pack school lunches and get the little ones to bed. She attributes her work ethic to her role as the eldest child. 

 

Post High School 

 

After high school, Camille began her studies in the Brooklyn College Scholars Program. She was good at creative writing and math and wondered what career path would allow her to use both sides of her brain.  Camille tried fine arts and architecture, but neither was a good fit.  She chose marketing because it felt like it was creative side of business. Camille transferred to NYU Stern School of Business. 

 

Then Came Marriage 

 

Camille met her naseeb, Raymond Saka, four years her senior, at the age of nineteen. Once married, the couple moved to Deal, New Jersey.  Camille was planning on finishing her bachelor’s degree at NYU.  When she became pregnant, the commute was harder than she expected, so she put college on hold. 

 

Camille and Raymond live in Oakhurst, NJ, and were blessed with three daughters and one son. Their children all attended Hillel Yeshiva, spent a year in Israel before college, and are now married. 

 

Her Core 

 

Camille says that people describe her as being on the quiet side.  “I’m the introvert in my marriage.”  Camille is also calm, graceful, self-aware, and confident in her beliefs and abilities.  She is the embodiment of the expression “still waters run deep.”  

 

“I’m organized and dependable, but also creative. I grew up with focus and attention to detail accompanied by a strong desire to create. I’m good at multitasking, but I need downtime to re-charge, or I get overwhelmed.” 

 

Family and Career 

 

When Camille’s second child was 18 months old, Camille returned to college, attending Monmouth University part-time.  “I earned my degree but had no clue how to apply it in a way that was compatible with motherhood.”  

 

Once all her children were in school, Camille volunteered for the PTA and was drawn to projects with a graphic design component.  After working with graphic designers on many projects, Camille recognized that she would rather do the design work herself.  She began to teach herself, but needed more instruction.  Attending grad school in person felt too daunting with young kids.  A friend recommended online courses.  Camille earned a master’s certification online. She says, “It was the best decision. I took courses while the kids were in school or in bed. This became the model of how I would run my business.” 

 

After completing her master’s, Camille decided to charge for the services that she was already doing as a volunteer. She started with friends and family members.  She called her company Fusion Grafix Design, with the tag line, “a fusion of communication and design.”  Camille explained that graphic design’s intention is to communicate a message, and that is done effectively through good design. 

 

Camille is the sole designer and does many projects for community organizations, schools, synagogues, private parties, and start-up businesses, many of which are owned by women. 

 

“I have a home office, which affords me flexibility. I was present when I was raising my kids and scheduled my hours around their needs.” 

 

Passion for Graphics 

 

Camille is energized by using her creativity for a purpose. “Everything you see or read is influenced by the way it’s presented. Good design, like good writing, makes all the difference in how a message is received and perceived.” 

 

Her biggest challenge is protecting her work hours. Although she built her business to enable flexibility in her personal life, she needs to protect her work hours, too. “It’s not always easy to explain that I have a deadline and can’t ignore work just to do something fun.” 

 

On the flip side, Camille needs to remind herself that she will do better work if she is well-rested, rather than staying up late to finish one more project.   

 

Secret to Success 

 

Camille described four qualities that are her secret to success:  being a good listener to help clients determine their needs, adhering to deadlines (since most projects are time-sensitive), having basic technical knowledge of printing and production (“If your design doesn’t translate from digital to physical when needed, it’s useless.”), and keeping the lines of communication open.  

“Always reply to messages, even if you can’t act on them immediately. Your client will see that they have your attention, and that you are reliable.” 

 

Family Support and Balance 

 

Camille could not have created her business and raised her children without her husband’s support and help.  “Raymond never begrudged the time I gave to work. When the kids were younger, this sometimes meant him taking them out on a Sunday without me.  Raymond is very involved in the community, and we are both flexible with each other’s time and needs.” 

 

Camille credits her parents, siblings, and in-laws for supporting and influencing her in their own individual ways.  “They encouraged me to explore various creative outlets, led by example about being an involved and productive community member, and the importance of doing your best and striving for excellence.  They always believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself, encouraged me to do more, even when I thought it was too hard, and made me feel valued, even when I doubted my own value.” 

 

Community 

 

Community involvement is central to Camille’s family. She counts many community schools and synagogues among her steady clients.  She is an ardent supporter of the State of Israel. She and Raymond joined a mission in February, a trip she will never forget. 

 

Unwinding 

 

Camille starts her day with a yoga or Pilates class.  “It sets the tone for the rest of my day.”  She adores playing with her grandchildren – getting on the floor to do puzzles or having a silly dance party. 

 

Passions and Achievements 

 

Camille is proud to have found her passion after a long journey and to have turned it into a business she loves, that allows her to give back to the community.  

 

She is grateful to Hashem for giving her a wonderful husband, children she is proud of, and a continually growing family. “My children’s spouses are like my own children. My grandchildren have taught me to live in the moment. I make a conscious effort to plug into my playful side when I am with them.” 

 

Career Advice  

 

Explore and be flexible. “You don’t need to figure it all out by age of twenty. Take classes you don’t know you’ll like. Volunteer for different hesed projects. You never know what will strike a spark. Be open minded and patient with yourself but always continue to grow.” 

 

 

You can reach Camille at csaka@fusiongrafixdesign.com 

www.instagram.com/fusiongrafixdesign/  or 732-673-4490. 

 

 

 

 

                

 

Ellen Geller Kamaras, CPA/MBA, is an International Coach Federation (ICF) Associate Certified Coach.  Her coaching specialties include life, career, and dating coaching.  Ellen is active in her community and is currently the Vice-President of Congregation Bnai Avraham in Brooklyn Heights.  She can be contacted at ellen@lifecoachellen.com(www.lifecoachellen.com).