How This Latina Turned Her Aha Moment Into A Profitable, Socially Responsible Business

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

In 2010, when Francesca Kennedy went back to Guatemala to visit her family, she found that the lake she had been baptized in, Lake Atitlan, was deemed by NASA to be one of the world’s worst natural disasters. The blue green algae that now inhabited the once clear lake was the first spark into what would later become her mission-driven entrepreneurial career.

“I was devastated to see my second home and the place of my fondest childhood memories in ruin,” explains Kennedy. “On that trip, I went to the local market as my usual travel ritual and I noticed the markets were empty. I spoke with a Mayan artisan woman there and asked her why the markets were unusually empty and she told me that tourism had been affected by the contamination of the lake.”

By the end of this trip, Kennedy had had her aha moment. She was going to start a company that prided itself on a triple bottom line —  creating jobs for the women in Guatemala, providing clean drinking water for the Guatemalan communities and being profitable.

 Ix Style, which produces huarache sandals in collaboration with Mayan artisans, was named after the Mayan word for water and woman. Since its inception Kennedy has partnered with J.Crew, Goop, and The Gap, among others. She’s sold over $500k in merchandise.

Source: Forbes (link opens in a new window)

Base of the Pyramid