Kauppalehti 3/2018: 'Kaiko founder combines fashion and charity in her work'

For Mirjam Sokka, founder of Kaiko Clothing Company, the dream of having her own company grew clearer during her maternity leave.

Mirjam Sokka, who had studied international business, got the idea of a clothing company that would operate ethically in the autumn of 2013.

'There were a lot of stories in the news about collapsing garment factories in Asia. I thought about how garments could be manufactured in developing countries in an ethically sustainable way. I dreamt of working in fashion but it felt like the industry would be too harsh for me.'
Kauppalehti Mirjam sokka

In spring 2014 Sokka had the first talks about her business idea with business advisors at Ensimetri Enterprise Agency in Tampere.

'At that point I did not even have a concept of the possible target groups of my clothing company.'

Sokka had started her studies at Tampere University of Applied Sciences in autumn 2013. She had graduated from upper secondary school three years earlier.

During her gap years, Sokka worked in various clothing stores. At Cubus, a women's clothing chain, Sokka got to open a new store in 2014 and also worked in the chain as a maternity leave replacement visual merchandiser for some time. Still, her dream all along was to establish a clothing company of her own.

Finally in the autumn of 2016 Sokka was ready to start Kaiko Clothing Company. In the end, the decision to become an entrepreneur grew clear during her maternity leave.

'The idea was to test the market. I thought that if I take out a 10,000 euro loan, that is what I might lose in this, at worst', Sokka says.

Last spring Kaiko participated in the Helsinki Child Fair with a small collection, which, surprisingly, sold out.

'We ended up having a turnover of nearly 100,000 euros last year. Of course I knew that branding is important but I never would have believed that it can do this much.'

Kaiko operates in Suutarila, Helsinki in an old factory building that also holds the company's warehouse.

According to Sokka, Kaiko's target group are families who are interested in responsible consumption and have children under school age.

Kaiko sells its clothes online and to other clothing stores in Finland. The company markets itself actively on Instagram and Facebook.

Sokka tells that she has received a lot of help with branding and using social media from Essi Pailinna-Bertell who she met through Facebook. Pailinna-Bertell freelances for Kaiko. In addition to her, Sokka has hired a designer and a part-time marketing coordinator.

'We are approachable in social media. When you send us a message, we respond swiftly.'

Kaiko clothes are sewn in Portugal in a factory owned by the Finnish company Black Moda Oy.

'Our dream is to relocate some of the production to Nepal at some point. However, that will be a project for several years, as the process must be ethically sustainable', Sokka says.

According to Sokka, Kaiko's aim this year is a turnover of 300,000–400,000 euros. The company plans to enter the international market in earnest next year.

Kaiko intends to steer seven percent of the profit of each sold item through Women's Bank to the education of women and children in Lalitpur, Nepal, where the 2015 earthquake caused severe devastation. According to Sokka, the goal is to collect some 20,000 euros this year.

The original article was published in Kauppalehti on 14/3/2018 –
Kaiko founder combines fashion and charity in her work.