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"How Did They Do It?" With SOKO Jewelry's CEO, Joanne Calabrese!

We are proud to recently team up with SOKO as our retail partner for the launch of our newest product, the Journey cactus leather jewel pouch. SOKO is a women-led, people-first ethical jewelry brand and manufacturing platform built to connect artisans in Kenya with the global marketplace. SOKO is rooted in female empowerment and the pieces I've worn from their collection have garnered me countless compliments- every day! Let's hear a little more about how she did it....


LA: What is one interesting thing that people may not know about SOKO?


J: SOKO originally started as an Etsy to Africa but we shifted to a vertically-integrated model to better support our artisan partners with sales and marketing globally. It was an important lesson in learning to recognize what’s working (and what’s not) and adapt accordingly.


LA: During SOKO’s journey, what is the mistake you’ve made that you’ve learned the most from?


J: We have inadvertently made plenty of mistakes along the way. For starters, we had to pivot from the original premise but even though we’ve adapted along the way, we’ve stuck with our mission and core values and that’s proved to be invaluable.


LA: What is one thing you did that put you on the right path to growing a successful brand?


J: Our team is key to growing SOKO! Most of our team is based in Nairobi and the rest is spread out through the US while headquartered in San Francisco. Each person is integral to our success and their dedication and relationships with our artisan partners is what has put us on the right path.


LA: What is SOKO most proud of at this moment?


J: We are most proud of our mission through the work we do every day to support artisan entrepreneurship and share heritage handcrafted jewelry with a larger, global audience.


LA: Your go-to beverage after a long week (specifics please!)?


J: One of the most popular cocktails in Kenya is the Dawa. Dawa means medicine in Swahili. It consists of honey, lime, white sugar, ice, and vodka and was loosely based on the caipirinha. We’ll stick to one but it’s a fun way to celebrate at the end of a long week!


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