We had the good fortune of connecting with Khalia Ervin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Khalia, how did you come up with the idea for your business?
My father passed away in 2010 from diabetes and my mother passed away from breast cancer five years later back in 2015. This pushed me to change my lifestyle to start living a more healthy life style. I began to change my life choices and my eating habits were the first to change. Within a couple of weeks, I witnessed the benefits of eating healthier which led me to start a workout regime. May 2018 I graduated from California State University, Northridge, and received a Bachelors’s Degree in Social Welfare and Social Justice with a minor in African Studies. Soon after transitioning from a full-time student to the workforce, I began to feel deep down in my soul that I needed to do more. I did some soul searching and during this time social media was slamming Gucci and Prada for incorporating racist visuals into their clothing line. Although this was very upsetting, I also used these unfortunate events as inspiration. One day, while working out at the gym I watched as so many African American people were taking their health seriously and working out. I realized that a lot of these people were wearing brands like Nike, Adidas, Under Armor and that’s when the idea of Sankofa Athletics was thought of. January 1, 2019, is the day that I brought Sankofa Athletics, LLC to life. Becoming an entrepreneur is one of the best decisions I ever made. This journey has been very challenging, but very rewarding at the same time. It started with intuition, self-education, attending many workshops, and assistance from my mentors which helped me achieve my goals. Sankofa Athletics is now an online business that is up and fully running. The support from my former partner has helped me throughout this journey, and she played a huge role in where I am today.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Every piece I create comes from a place of passion. My experiences in life are what drove me to start Sankofa. The goal for Sankofa Athletics, LLC was to create quality, enjoyable content, and relatable athleisure apparel for athletes and non-athletes. We provide African-inspired athletic wear that will one day become as big as other major athletic brands. Whenever one of my clients wears one of my designs I want them to feel represented.
Sankofa Athletics was founded in 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Sankofa is a unity-focused brand, and the brand’s name Sankofa is a word that originates from the Akan people of Ghana. Our main targets are fitness, athleisure style clothing brands, sports teams, sports clubs, and influencer merchandise. The logo is the meaning of an Adinkra symbol known as Sankofa. It is designed with the bird’s head facing backward to represent the importance of looking to the past. The egg is a symbol of knowledge therefore, the bird is looking to the past to retrieve useful knowledge to bring forth to the future. This signifies the brand’s motto “Future Movement “and “Look Back Give Back”.
The initiative is what sets us apart from other clothing brands. Our brand also focuses on putting back into the community to those that are less fortunate. This represents everything that Sankofa Athletics stands for “Look Back Give Back”. We are dedicated to giving back to those who need our assistance. One out of the many proud moments, I have experienced is announcing our partnership with multiple nonprofit organizations such as Africa Gives Back International (AGBI) in 2019 and the Maasai Water Project in April 2020.
Participating in fashion week with Bovtique Fashion week is another one of my proudest and accomplishing moments. We started from vending at workshops, becoming an online business, to participating in our very first Fashion Week. We’ve grown tremendously as a brand and we want to continue to influence our communities when representing Sankofa Athletics.
This year Sankofa will be joining Bovtiqve Fashion Week on the “Believe Tour” our first stop is Houston, Texas. Going on this tour is a very exciting, life-changing opportunity that I and the entire Sankofa Athletics team are excited about.
This will allow for us to showcase our pieces, and build the brand awareness Sankofa needs.
Getting where I am today wasn’t easy there were many obstacles, I had to overcome. While working towards overcoming fear, doubt, and the lack of monetary capital to support my entrepreneurial journey. In the beginning, I had no educational background in business, or the knowledge on how to even start a business. This placed me at ground zero, which motivated me to study for the first two months of 2019. Once I decided to obtain my degree at a four-year college, I was provided with the necessary tools to discipline myself and utilize my resources.
God, My ancestors, My support system, and my resilience are the biggest reasons, I have overcome the challenges that I’ve conquered. I had to have faith in God, trust in my ancestors, the ability to recover through difficult times, and encouragement to keep me dedicated. This is what keeps me motivated and drives me to keep pushing myself.
Consistency is key and I have learned to remain consistent, so that we could continue to grow. I want to keep giving back and making a difference around the world. I have also learned to pivot to help improve Sankofa Athletics, LLC. Learning to pivot has made a lot of difference for Sankofa as a business. I have also learned to stay motivated and to remain focused on the main goal which is for Sankofa to continue making waves in the community.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love nature, one of my favorite things to do is to hike. One of the places that we would go would be the “Terry Hershey Hike and Bike Trail”. There are trees, waterfalls, and trails which would be great for nature walks. “Lucille’s” is one of my favorite restaurants in Houston. I love food, but I also like to eat clean to stay healthy. Their food looks amazing, they’re a black-owned restaurant and they also offer healthy options. To end the week off we would have drinks at the “Eagle Houston” nightclub. The vibe is great and its LGBTQ friendly. The drinks are always great, the people are nice, and it’s always a great place to have fun and vibe out.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to first and foremost thank the most high (God), and my ancestors for their guidance and protection. I would like to thank my close family and friends for all of their support. Their support has motivated me to continue to work hard to get Sankofa Athletics to the public. I would like to shout out to my Sankofa team, because they are just as responsible for the success of Sankofa Athletics. My mentors also play a big part in my success by giving me advice, and suggestions which has helped me grow as an entrepreneur. Last but not least, I want to give a huge thank you to my supporters. They are one of the biggest reasons that Sankofa is growing every day. With their support, we can continue getting the Sankofa Athletics out to the world. Sankofa is all about giving back, and my supporters play a huge role in making that possible.
Facebook: Sankofa Athletics, LLC
Youtube: Sankofa Athlete Apparel
Terrell Maxwell Ralph Anderson