Janna Barker : Isiko
Janna Barker is the solopreneur behind Isiko (ee-seeko), a global goods marketplace with an emphasis on giving back to social-cause driven organizations. I found Isiko on Instagram last year and have been following along Janna’s journey, excited to watch the brand’s story unfold. Janna is a kindred soul- believing that socially responsible business is not only possible, but has the power to transform lives and communities all over the globe.
Although she is based in San Diego now, Janna grew up in the Philippines and then Florida before she earned her B.A. in Anthropology from San Diego State and proceeded to join the Peace Corps. From 2012-2014, she resided in Swaziland (now eSwatini), serving in an orphanage in a rural village. Even years before Swaziland, she dreamed of creating a platform where she could share stories behind the cultural artforms and traditions, but she didn’t have a concrete idea of what that would look like. It was on an extended road trip across the United States in 2016 that Janna decided to start a socially-driven marketplace that would combine her passions of cultural appreciation and art.
Isiko is now an online marketplace, where Janna combines her own talent in creating jewelry and ceramics, with her love of global designs, textiles and handicrafts. Janna’s goal is to share cultural stories. By preserving indigenous handicrafts and showcasing traditional techniques and materials, she hopes that those who purchase items in the shop will get a sense of the rich history and culture of each item's origin. She also hopes that someone buying an item from Isiko might think about the social responsibility aspect of the goods as well. Janna believes in providing sustainable work and well deserved recognition to artisans she works with. On the website, you can find her handmade goods, along with baskets, scarves, blankets, and bags sourced from global artisans. Her seamless curation of goods come from different collectives and independent artisans from countries like the Philippines, China and Peru.
Isiko also gives 10% back to different organizations every quarter. This quarter, she is giving back to Mama Hope, who directly supports community-led projects in education, health, women’s empowerment, agriculture and beyond. I resonate with their goals as well and felt my heart jump a little when I read the first line: “Our mission is to help communities achieve lasting, self-directed prosperity by challenging a broken aid system — one that perpetuates poverty and disempowerment.” (Read the full manifesto here.)
I hope you will follow and support Janna’s mission as she is doing so much GOOD. And big thank you to Janna for sharing her story with me!