Santa Barbara-based, socially conscious imported shoe and accessory company RoHo is rolling out a new line of jewelry just in time for International Women’s Day, which is March 8.
“Because to us, sandals are more than just pretty shoes and a piece of jewelry is more than just a beautiful accessory,” said RoHo founder and San Marcos High School alumna Caleigh Hernandez. “There’s an art behind our products and a mission to make the world a better place.”
RoHo is a Swahili word for kindness and spirit, said Hernandez, 27, who is also a Northwestern University graduate. Last year, she won Business of the Year Award from Women’s Economic Ventures and Successful Women Giving Back Award from the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Foundation, as well as Entrepreneur to Watch Award from the National Association of Women Business Owners, Santa Barbara chapter.
Her company was founded on the concept that artisans get paid a fair wage and empowering women, which is important to community growth and curbing poverty, she said.
“The first time I met the artisans at the workshop and watched the incredible amount of work that goes into making each shoe, I was dumbstruck,” Hernandez said. “It can take a woman half a day to bead a single pair of sandals. And the men I saw were hand cutting, dying and tooling each shoe to perfection. On top of that, the tools they use are incredibly simple. A piece of art can so skillfully be created by many talented hands and a bit of time.”
Her company initially imported stylish leather and beaded shoes and sandals from Kenya that were made by skilled artisans who supported themselves and families with the export sales. The company later expanded its line to include scarves, jewelry, belts and other items.
It’s a hub for ethical fashions and quality-made goods from Africa and other parts of the world, Hernandez said.
She and her mother, Lindsay McTavish, work together in Santa Barbara and with dozens of women and some men in Kenya who make RoHo products.
Hernandez has experience working in development in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, where she discovered artisans who designed and made leather shoes. She recognized that those making the shoes were mostly female.
For more information about the company, see LoveRoHo.com
Posted Feb. 27, 2020.