Women of Thought - Kalkidan
Every Thought collection is designed with stylish, creative, hard-working women in mind. Our Inspiring Women series is no different. Kalkidan Legesse owns Sancho’s, one of Thought’s most beloved retailer. They are committed to bringing ethical and sustainable brands to customers looking to make a positive change and to provide more options for conscious individuals.
We spoke to Kalkidan about her inspirations, what it’s like to be a female founder and her hopes for the future of Sancho.
What inspired you to launch Sancho’s?
The incredible weavers in the hills tops of Addis Ababa were a major inspiration to launch something special. Our first objective with Sancho’s was to celebrate crafts from fair trade producer groups in Ethiopia. I had actually not really known how clothing was made until I first saw weaving in Ethiopia during a work placement. It blew my mind, like seeing a new colour. I suddenly got a sense for how the clothing, that usually is only associated with style and trend, comes from the hard work of individuals, and I fell in love.
Where does the name Sancho’s come from?
Sancho is a nickname used to describe girls who are strong and a little chubby in Ethiopia, where I’m originally from. It’s a household name that I picked up from childhood, having always been strong and a little chubby. As my name is unusual for the UK (although very common in other parts of the world), I have picked up various nicknames over the years, but Sancho has always stood out as my favourite!
Have you always had a passion for sustainable / ethical clothing?
Always had a passion for ethical living – being conscious of how my choices impacted the world and the weavers grew my love and interest for fashion. Being ethical and sustainable is a journey, and we try to ensure that we are always moving in the right direction by reviewing our purchasing decisions regularly and applying new information as we learn it.
What’s your favourite aspect and most challenging aspect about owning your own business?
My favourite aspect is how it has connected me to my community and watching my team thrive. Sancho’s currently is the gift in which my partner and I get to live our values and make our impact on the world. I love it because it is so freeing in direction, and takes me multiple places. But of course, the freedom also comes with responsibilities, and sometimes I wish that there was someone to tell me what to do (although whenever anyone does, I am immediately reminded as to why being independent is hugely important to me personally).
The most challenging aspect is that almost all lessons are learnt the hard way. Also, I would be lying if I said that it was not financially challenging, or that it did not require long hours – because of course it is and it does. But when I am worried about finances, I try to remember that there are people in this world that have always had so much that they’ve never had to worry, and I’m reminded that my worry is a reality that I can navigate through.
Do you think there is more space for female founders in the sustainable industries?
Damn straight I do, I think it is absolutely time for us to start taking up space. Goal 5 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is Women’s Rights and I really do believe that women being able to thrive in every aspect of live, not just business, is intrinsic to the future of sustainability.
What does the future hold for you and Sancho’s?
We are exploring design and producing our own collections. Our goal is to bridge the gap in sustainable basics between affordability and style. The collections will all be made in the UK and will be an inclusive fit in size. So hopefully lots of new happy customers!