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Meet Khalia Ervin of Sankofa Athletic Apparel in Van Nuys

Today we’d like to introduce you to Khalia Ervin.

Khalia, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My father transitioning due to diabetes in 2010 and my mother passing from breast cancer in 2015, pushed me to re-evaluate my lifestyle. I started to take my health more seriously. Self-love and self-care became a priority for me, so I began to gradually change my life choices. Starting with my eating habits, I witnessed the benefits of eating healthier and that led me to incorporate a workout regime throughout the week. Till this day, I have a workout routine and have remained disciplined to keeping my eating habits in check. This has become my lifestyle for the past four years, and I love every part of the journey. Along this path, I have encountered uplifting and inspirational individuals who have assisted me on my weight loss journey.

Fast forward to May 2018, I graduated from California State University, Northridge and received my Bachelor’s Degree in Social Welfare and Social Justice with a Minor in Africana Studies. Soon after transitioning from a full-time student into the workforce, I began to feel deep down in my soul that I needed to do more. I was unhappy with my choice of employment. During this time, social media and the news were slamming Prada and Gucci for their choice to incorporate racist visuals into their clothing line. Hearing about this news was upsetting but also inspiring at the same time. One day while working out at the gym, I looked around the gym, and saw so many African/Black people working out taking their health seriously. I realized so many people were wearing Nike, Adidas, Under Armor, that’s when the very idea, and concept of Sankofa Athletic Apparel was born. 

January 1, 2019 was the moment I decided to bring Sankofa Athletic Apparel, LP to life. This journey has been a challenging one, yet very rewarding. Becoming a self-taught entrepreneur has been one of the best decisions, I have made in my life, and I truly feel that I have unlocked a hidden passion of mine. Intuition, self-education, attending many workshops, and the assistance of my mentors have made it possible to achieve my goals. Sankofa Athletic Apparel is now an online business that is fully running and making waves within the community. The unconditional support from my partner has assisted me along this journey and she is part of the reason why I am where I am today.

The goal is to intertwine what effortlessly brings me happiness, allows me to have full creative control, and that has the ability to change the lives of others simultaneously. The motto is “activism through fashion, activism through entrepreneurship, and activism through philanthropy”. We are on a mission to change the narrative in regards to the athletic fashion industry, and provide consumers with African-inspired athletic apparel that will one day be on the same level of other major athletic brands. The transitional moments that occurred in my life has led to the creation of Sankofa Athletic Apparel, LP.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Not at all. Having absolutely no previous educational background in business, or the knowledge on how to even start a business, placed me at ground zero with this project. I had to turn my ignorance of business into knowledge, therefore I studied non-stop for the first two months of 2019. Each and every day, I am still learning something new. Obtaining my degree at a four-year college, equipped me the necessary tools on how to properly research, the discipline to thoroughly follow-through, and the ability to properly utilize my resources. Another struggle was overcoming fear, doubt, and the lack of monetary capital to support my entrepreneurial journey.

Sankofa Athletic Apparel – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Sankofa Athletic Apparel, LP is a unity focused brand, founded in 2019 in Los Angeles, CA by Khalia Ervin and Brianna Releford. The brand’s name Sankofa is a word that originates from the Akan people of Ghana. The logo is an interpretation of an Adinkra symbol known as Sankofa. The symbol is designed with the bird’s head facing backwards, signifying the importance of looking to the past. The egg represents useful knowledge. Therefore, the bird is looking to the past in order to retrieve useful knowledge to bring it forth to the future. This signifies the brand’s motto “Future Movement” and “Look Back Give Back.”

As the founder, I currently wear many hats at the moment. I do just about everything, but one of my favorite hats to wear is the designer hat. I enjoy creating the concept and vision for each piece produced.

Announcing our partnership with the non-profit Africa Gives Back International (AGBI) was one of the many proud moments I experienced. This initiative sets us apart from other athletic clothing brands. Our brand provides quality athletic apparel and is also focused on investing in communities that are in need of assistance. Our “Look Back Give Back” Collection is dedicated toward those communities, and the name of the collection is a shortened definition of our company’s name and logo, “Sankofa Athletic Apparel.” Our line is currently assisting AGBI in providing water wells in Africa starting with Sierra Leone.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
In my personal opinion, success is defined by living your truth, unapologetically being your authentic self, and doing what makes you truly happy in life. Find your purpose, your niche, and live it regardless of what others may think of you.

My criteria’s are to, openly and in my personal life, stay true to the meaning and the message of the brand.

Pricing:

  • Sankofa Hoodies – $70
  • Sankofa Joggers – $60
  • Sankofa Slides – $35
  • Sankofa Dad Hats – $30
  • “Look Back Give Back Tanks” – $30

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Sankofa Athletic Apparel, Ralph Anderson

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