All about the Sankofa Program, which supports racialized entrepreneurs

A new project promises to transform the fashion market in Brazil, through programs to racialize the industry in search of more equality, plurality and diversity. The Sankofa Program was born with the objective of giving visibility and support and support to racialized entrepreneurs and is already in its first edition in full swing.

The stylist Rafael Silvério, co-creator of the social innovation startup VAMO (Vetor Afro Indígena na Moda) and the model Natasha Soares, also creator of the Pretos na Moda movement are at the head of the initiative.

Sankofa opened a program, from which eight brands were selected, selected and chosen by a team of judges. They will go through a mentoring program and debut in the next edition of SPFW, in April, with a digital project. Over the course of three years, the brands will have the support and monitoring of lawyers, advertisers, accountants and psychologists, in addition to a veteran SPFW brand that will serve as a godmother, sharing expertise.

The brands participating in this debut edition are Meninos Rei, Naya Violeta, Mile Lab, Santa Resistência, Az Marias, Silvério, Ta Studio and Ateliê Mão de Mãe.

Below, read our conversation with Rafael Silvério about Sankofa’s purposes (with Natasha’s participation in the last question)

How was the idea of ​​the Sankofa Project born?

The idea came from my meeting with Natasha. One day we met and, talking about courage and the admiration I have for her, she asked me what my opinion was about how SPFW could be more plural. I said that, for this to happen, we would have to have more brands with purchasing power to make the space black. With more money in hand, brands can properly hire and pay professionals, benefiting and activating the black community. So Natasha invited me to do a project with her that, later on, would be called Sankofa.

How was the process of mapping and selecting the eight brands that make up the project?

It happened through the design of some indications of the target audience that we want to reach, such as being racialized, being Brazilian and residing in national territory, having a regulated brand like MEI, not being fixed for any fashion week. Our indications to guide the work of the judges were: Creative and Authorial Potential / Authenticity, Commercial and Development Potential for Product insertion in the market, Techniques such as Competitive Differentials, Legacy for the community.

And we made two entrance doors. The first was within VAMO – where brands already actively participate in the group. The Vamo jury has Natália dos Anjos (coordinator of Senac Faustolo), Luiza Tamashiro (researcher and founder of Relab Criativo that develops research with people with disabilities), photographer Hick Duarte and Squad (intelligence cell for Afro entrepreneurs).

The other was through what we understand as the Sankofa jury that has Luanda Vieira (Vogue), Natasha Soares (Pretos na Moda) and Camila Yahn (FFW).

What did you find that surprised you in some way?

It was the number of projects with women in charge, the female Afro entrepreneurship. However, within this specific selection process, we had some women in place of fragility who could not see what they were doing as entrepreneurship. This legitimacy of Afro female entrepreneurship in Brazil still seems to be a handicap and it was what caught my attention.

What kind of transformation do you hope to generate from this initiative?

It is a healing process. Much of the country’s black entrepreneurship comes from necessity and we know how much the need is somehow tied to some creativity. People need an opportunity, a way to showcase their talents and promote what they believe. We see a team of creatives that understand themselves as a community. I think this is unprecedented within the national fashion and it is the first time that we have an initiative looking at the majority of the Brazilian population, contemplating and returning, making a reparatory movement of everything that a racist structure has managed to harm, from the mental health of these entrepreneurs to o no access to information. We want to make a shortcut so that more brands can inhabit this space that has always been a space of privilege and oppression.

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