Coffee Break with Callixto founder Sasha Dennig
Sasha Dennig is the founder of Callixto, a boutique that sources original pieces from all over the world. The aesthetically driven entrepreneur tells us about how she came to establish the store, sourcing pieces on her travels, and life in Hong Kong.
What’s your background?
My mother’s from Paraguay, and she’s ethnically Chinese. My father is Austrian. I was raised in Paraguay and lived there until I was 14, when I moved to Austria. At 16, I went to school in Switzerland, then university in London, where I spent the next 10 years. In 2008, I moved to Asia – my now-husband is from Hong Kong. I’ve been here now for almost four years.
How did Callixto come about?
Previously, I worked at a law firm. I enjoyed it, but it was very challenging. I took a sabbatical, and went travelling. While I was in India, my mother, who lives in Paraguay, asked me to buy 100 pashminas for her friends, who owned shops there. I picked them up, one by one, and they were sold. I thought: if there’s a market there for selling products typical of their country of origin, there must a market elsewhere. I’m very aesthetic. I love informing myself of the culture I’m in. That’s how Callixto was born: the idea that every country has its own handicrafts it’s well-known for, and that not everyone has the luxury or the time to travel.
Where do you find inspiration?
From my travels. I try to go somewhere new once a year. Even though I research a place thoroughly before visiting, I’m surprised by what I find or don’t find. You never know what a place has to offer.
What’s your sourcing process like?
If I’ve already been somewhere, and I know where I’m looking for, I only go for three days. I spend two days with suppliers, then one day I leave free – because you never know what’s going to pop up. If I’m going to a new place, then I’d spend at least 10 days there. I spend time in markets, malls and factories, trying to get a general sense of its aesthetics.
What are your top three travel destinations?
I love Bali. It’s not just a beach resort: it has cafes, restaurants, shops, handicrafts, temples, and a variety of watersports. It’s the most all-round place in Asia to hang out in. Turkey has everything that I like: a great street vibe and markets, good nightlife and food. It’s a beautiful place with great history. In India, the colours and aesthetics are very inspiring.
What about in Hong Kong?
I love going to the beach. I’m a water baby!