Fashion with a Heart: Soko Jewelry

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Janet Sahm Easter
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By marrying technology and ethical style, Soko Jewelry has created an incredible and innovative online platform that connects consumers to global artisans and makers.

Founded in 2012, Soko is a woman-run and operated e-commerce marketplace for the developing world. The founders, Elle Peinovich, Gwendolyn Floyd, and Catherine Mahugu, saw a gap in the international market, and wanted to empower small business owners and artisans across the world to make direct contact with their customers. Thanks to this direct sales model, the artist is able to make a higher profit and the cost is lowered for consumers, disrupting the traditional export model and systematic patterns of poverty found across the developing world.

Considering women represent 70 percent of the world's poor and, in Africa, make 60 to 80 percent of the continent's goods while only seeing 10 percent of the income, Soko saw a need and took action. They cut out the middle man—distributors, storefronts, wholesalers, brokers—so that millions of artisans can reduce logistical costs to in turn increase their profits.

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How exactly does this work? All through a cell phone.

Through Soko's mobile-phone program, women artisans are able to directly connect with international consumers and perform credit card transactions, which transfers into mobile money to pay the vendor.

And did I mention the goods are gorgeous? Soko's artists use natural and upcycled material to create standout accessories. Whether bright and punchy chokers or long and elegant necklaces, Soko Jewelry suits the laid-back summer season.

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