My parents are originally from Guatemala and as a little girl I spent my summers returning to visit my extended family there. My fondest childhood memories are swimming with my cousins in the once beautiful waters of Lake Atitlan.
On a trip back to Guatemala a couple years ago, I found the lake overrun with blue green algae. I saw children bathing in, collecting, and drinking the polluted water.
It was a shock to see the beautiful lake I grew up with turn into a toxic mess. I didn’t know exactly how to help, but on a trip to the local market I discovered local artisans making these amazing sandals.
I had just finished reading Start Something That Matters by the founder of TOMS Blake Mycoskie and it was the catalyst for this great idea… Why not create jobs for these remarkable artisans by employing them to make hundreds and thousands of sandals for sale and raise their families out of poverty and then use the proceeds to provide clean drinking water to the children of Guatemala?
That’s exactly what we did!
What are the key factors that have helped your store be successful?
We have received incredible press from Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, People, Rachel Zoe Report, and WWD. We do all our press and marketing ourselves!
Mark Cuban (thanks Shark Tank) pointed out that no one is going to pitch your brand and product with more passion than you!
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Get as many rock star interns as you can! I couldn’t live without my 10! They are so full of energy, creativity, and ideas. They convey that we-can-conquer-the-world attitude!
One of my interns emailed me on her way in today that she had a dream last night we were on Oprah. Then she came into the office and started to figure out how to reach her. I 100% believe she’ll reach her, too! Hey Oprah – we’re waiting for your call!
Lastly, boot-strap it all the way! My apartment doubles as our office. Keep your costs as low as possible. I’m constantly asking our rockstar interns to ask our suppliers to cut costs for shoe boxes, dust bags, shipping, etc. It doesn’t hurt to ask!
The more we save; the more we can provide to our clean water initiative in Guatemala.
"The most inspirational thing is to hear from people that I've inspired them to start working on projects they've been thinking of doing."—Francesca Kennedy
Any Closing Remarks?
Pay it forward.
The most inspirational thing is to hear from friends, family, and strangers that I've inspired them to start working on projects they've been thinking of doing. I love sharing all of my struggles and successes along the way.
Share your stories with fellow entrepreneurs here and everywhere!