Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground. Let their spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world better than when you found it.
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Caleigh Hernandez, Founder of RoHo
be(ad) the change.
Caleigh Hernandez, founder of RoHo, on how a pair of sandals changed the course of her life, the challenges of running a start-up in Kenya, and the journey that led her here
“I want to be part of something bigger than myself.” – Caleigh Hernandez Meet Caleigh Hernandez, the founder of RoHo, an ethical fashion company working with local artisans in Nairobi Kenya to bring beautifully handcrafted beaded sandals, scarves and jewelry to an international market.
Q & A with Caleigh Hernandez:
1. City of residence: Santa Barbara, California & Nairobi, Kenya
2. Place of birth: Santa Barbara, California
3. In under five sentences, define your business: RoHo is a socially conscious brand be(ading) the change. We partner with artisan groups across Kenya to provide unique quality products to consumers interested in ethical products and economically empowering those around the world. We partner with fair trade artisan groups across Kenya, employing largely women and committed to breaking the cycle of poverty in the short and long-term.
4. What social or environmental impact is your business making? We work under the belief that poverty is an absence of opportunity as much as it is a lack of material possession. So we work to create opportunities for our artisans – help them help themselves. We pay our artisans fairly, double the local wages, so these artisans, over 98% women, can choose what they need for themselves and their families. We’re not into handouts. Additionally, we’ve agreed with all our artisans that the best way to break the cycle of poverty in the longer term is through education. So we send our artisans’ children to quality private schools in the area. The longer you work with RoHo, the more of their children we send to school.
5. What is the best part about your job and the work you’re doing? Why? I love the relationships I’ve developed with RoHo artisans, especially our women artisans. To be able to honor the incredible craftsmanship that comes out of these areas has been such a highlight and to get to know these women, their families and their lives has been humbling. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, we all just want what’s best for our families. These women are inspiring and why I do what I do.
6. Out of all the products you produce, which is your favorite? Why? The Amani sandals are a favorite because they were the shoe that started this whole project. I was walking through a craft market in Uganda and came across a beautiful, striking pair of sandals that I went crazy over. I brought them back to the states and knew I was hooked and had to do something meaningful with them. Five years on and my first pair of what are now the Amani sandals are still going strong.
I’d also mention I adore the I ♥️ Education Bracelets. They’re simple, lovely and the funds are used to send two Maasai girls to school outside of Amboseli National Park in Kenya. This is a cause near and dear to my heart.
7. What book(s) are you currently reading? Michelle Obama’s new memoir, “Becoming” – she’s a queen and we just live in her world. Also “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” by Katherine Boo. I should have read this book years ago, way behind the tide, but it’s beautiful.
8. Quote you (try to) live by? “Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground. Let their spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world better than when you found it.” – Wilferd Peterson
9. Using one word, how would you describe yourself? Driven
10. What is one random fact that most people don’t know about you? I hate bellybuttons! I know, it’s super weird, but I hate seeing them, touching them, seeing other people touch them, gross! It has an actual name – omphalophobia – the fear of bellybuttons.
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