I have always felt a strong connection to Guatemala and I knew that I wanted to give back to the community in some way. Growing up, I remember trips my family used to take to visit my grandfather. We would always go to the beautiful Lake Atitlan and spend the day swimming. In 2009, I took a trip back to Guatemala and visited that lake that I grew up loving. The lake was completely overrun with blue green algae; the water was so contaminated. I remember seeing a little girl trudging though the layer of toxic algae trying to collect water for her family to drink, cook with, and bathe in. It’s an image I will never forget. Every year, more people die from lack of clean water than from any other form of violence, including war. I knew I had to do something and as I walked through the vibrant marketplace in Guatemala a light bulb went off in my head. What if I took the traditional huarache sandals that I grew up wearing and made them more contemporary?
I started working with local artisans in Guatemala and was able to provide jobs for many of the women and a few men. It took awhile for me to gain the trust of the locals, but after many visits they finally have welcomed me into their community. With the proceeds from our huarache sandal sales, we are able to make donations to help provide clean drinking water for these children in Guatemala. The less time children spend collecting water, the more time they can spend in school. With more artisans being hired to craft Ix Style designs, the more locals will have the financial means to provide for their families and communities. My hope is to continue to grow my company, which will ultimately allow the mission of Ix Style to grow and make a powerful impact on the lives of those children living in Guatemala.
This loan is special because:
More about this loan
Ix Style (pronounced “eye ex”) is the Mayan word for water. For every purchase, we donate to provide clean drinking water to children in Guatemala. Although the company in based in New York, we work very closely with the local artisans and communities in Guatemala. I take my designs directly to the artisans and work with them to create our products. Part of the mission is about empowering the Guatemalan women by giving them good jobs and work. By working of Ix Style, they are providing for their families and also doing work that helps their community on an even larger scale. With the proceeds from our sales, we have been able to provide water filters for many families in Guatemala. The children no longer have to worry if the water they are drinking is safe and clean. Water is something we, myself included, often take for granted in the United States. But it is a basic need. I hope to leave my beautiful Guatemala a little better than when I found it.
What is the purpose of this loan?
With the loan I will be getting from Kiva, I will be able to employ more artisans in Guatemala. I hope to release a new collection of Mayan bags, jewelry, and more shoes. I would love to make a fall and winter live so that sales could be year round. But in order to expand the business in this way, I need to work with more artisans—a cost that makes for a very tight budget. Most of the money will go to the production of scarves. Whether that means buying materials, hiring more artisans, and advertising for the scarves. By employing more workers, production will increase, allowing for sales and revenues to increase which will allow more children to have clean drinking water. My hope is to sell as much Ix Style merchandise as I can because clean water is a basic human need, one that I hope to continue to provide for the children in Guatemala.
Years in operation: 1 year – 3 years
A loan of $10,000 helps Francesca produce new Ix Style merchandise, like scarves, allowing more donations to be made for communities in Guatemala.