The dream of Mirjam Soka, who founded Kaiko Clothing Company, of her own company became brighter during her maternity leave.

In the fall of 2013, Mirjam Sokka, who studied international business, got the idea of ​​a clothing business that would work ethically.

"At the time, there were a lot of stories in the news about clothing factories collapsing in Asia. I thought about how clothes could be made in developing countries in an ethically sustainable way. I dreamed of working in fashion, but it seemed too brutal to me."

In the spring of 2014, Sokka had the first discussions about his business idea with the business advisors of Tampere Seudu Uusyrityskeskus Ensimeter.

"At that time, I didn't even have any information about the potential target groups of my clothing company."

Sokka had started his studies at the Tampere University of Applied Sciences in the fall of 2013. He enrolled as a high school student three years earlier.

In his intervening years, Sokka worked in different clothing stores. At the women's clothing chain Cubus, Sokka was able to open a new business in 2014, and for a while also worked in the clothing chain as a visual artist as a substitute for maternity leave. The whole time, however, he dreamed of founding his own clothing company.

Finally, in the fall of 2016, Sokka was ready to found Kaiko Clothing Company. In the end, the decision to become an entrepreneur became clearer during maternity leave.

"The idea was to test the market. I thought that if I now take out a loan of 10,000 euros, that's how much I can lose at worst," says Sokka.

Last spring, Kaiko participated in the Children's Fair with a small collection, which surprisingly got out of hand.

"In the end, we made a turnover of almost 100,000 euros last year. Of course, I knew that branding is important, but I never would have believed that it would achieve so much."

Kaiko operates in an old factory building in Suutarila, Helsinki, where the company's clothing warehouse is also located.

According to Soka, Kaiko's target group is families with children under school age who are interested in responsible consumption.

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

For branding and working on social media, Sokka says that he got a lot of help from Essi Pailinna-Bertelli, whom he met through Facebook. He works as a freelancer in Kaiko. In addition to him, Sokka has hired a clothing designer and a part-time marketing coordinator.

"We are easily approachable on social media. When you send us a message, we respond quickly."

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

"Our dream is to move production to Nepal at some point. However, it will be a project of many years, because the operation must be ethically sustainable", says Sokka.

According to Soka, Kaiko is aiming for a turnover of 300,000–400,000 euros this year. The company plans to enter the international market for real next year.

Kaiko plans to direct seven percent of the profit from each product sold through the Women's Bank to educate women and children in Lalitpur, Nepal, where the 2015 earthquake caused massive destruction. According to Soka, the goal would be to collect just under 20,000 euros this year.

The original story was published in Kauppalehti on 14 March 2018 –
Kaiko's founder combines fashion and charity in his work