Meet Your Maker: SOKO4 years ago
SOKO is a clothing manufacturing unit based in Rukinga Wildlife Sanctuary in Kenya. SOKO was set up in 2009 by Joanna Maiden whose vision it was to provide the fashion industry with a manufacturing unit with social and environmental issues at the heart of its business.
Our goal has always been to prove that it is possible to run a self-sustaining manufacturing business whilst having social and environmental principles at its core – paying fair wages, providing needed social services, a pleasant place of work and a commitment to limit its environmental impact.
The area where we are based has the highest unemployment rate in the country. It also has a high rate of prostitution, HIV/AIDS and wildlife poaching. We offer people an alternative means of making a living. Through training and employment we have enabled women to take control of their own lives. Through having their own income these women cover the costs of sending their children to school, provide nutritious meals for the family and make decisions on how they spend their money – it allows them to lift themselves out of poverty.
We offer clients the full CMT (cut, make, trim) process to include garment manufacturing, labelling and packing to client’s specification and the management of import and export logistics.
We have received amazing recognition for our work with clothes worn by influential people such as Michelle Obama and Elle MacPherson. We have also been featured extensively in printed press such as Vogue, Grazia, i-D, Elle and on the Internet. We have also had a paper published about our work by the International Institute for Environment and Development.
In 2012 we moved into our own purpose built eco-factory. To minimise SOKO’s environmental impact, the eco-factory was built from compressed earth, a traditional form of building in Kenya. The roof was designed with ventilation gaps that create airflow to minimise the need for electric fans. The guttering on the roof is designed to allow all rainwater to be re-used. With the new space all employees have access to a pre-school for their children, free medical care and a kitchen and dining room serving tea and a hot meal daily.
We are committed to producing high quality garments and through this providing people within our community with the opportunity, through employment not charity, to improve their lives and the lives of their families.
Currently SOKO are producing ASOS Africa’s AW14 collection. In the photo’s below the ladies are showing ASOS Africa SS14 examples which are now for sale online. The whole team at SOKO are very proud of their work for this collection which was started in October last year and went live a few weeks ago.
Thank you Fashion Revolution Day for providing us with a channel to communicate with the people who buy and wear these garments. They were made with a lot of care and passed through the hands of 40 employees in SOKO. We hope you enjoy them!
Carol, Josephine and Rosie and the whole team are proud to represent SOKO for Fashion Revolution day.
Carol Muhonja: Quality Control Manager
Josephine Libasi: Production Manager
Rosie Misoga: Procurement Manager