Monday Motivation from Francesca Kennedy, Founder, Ix Style Water For Children

Mondays can be rough and, sometimes, we can all use some motivation. Our #MondayMotivation blog series brings you tips and life hacks from industry leaders and some of the most creative entrepreneurs out there.

This week, we chat with Francesca Kennedy, Founder, Ix Style Water For Children, which seeks to, “empower women through education, commerce, and production.” For Francesca, the passion to give back is in her blood.

What inspired you to start your business?
In 2009, Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, which once was considered the 8th world wonder almost died. This lake is where I was baptized, it’s where I learned how to swim, it’s where my grandparents lived, it was and is my second home.

Overnight, toxic blue-green algae covered almost every inch of the lake. NASA called it one of the worst natural disasters to occur in our lifetime as you could see the contamination from space. During that trip, I saw little girls collecting the water to drink and the markets were empty as tourists had stopped visiting.

Ix Style started as a simple idea to help one woman artisan at the local market and morphed into working with over 600 women around Lake Atitlan.

Ix Style is a charitable fashion company that sells bags and sandals made by Mayan women artisans in Guatemala. For every purchase, we donate 15% of our proceeds to provide clean drinking water to communities around Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, where my family is originally from. Ix is the Mayan word for water.

Ix Style mission is to share Guatemala’s beauty and culture with the world. I know I have a clear purpose in life to help preserve the lake, provide communities there with clean drinking water and most importantly to provide jobs to women so they can be agents of change in their communities.

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
The biggest challenge so far is scaling my business as a one-woman show!

What’s been the greatest reward?
Being a one-woman show has been difficult but extremely rewarding. I started Ix Style with $1,000, no investors, no public relations team, and no sales representatives. Ix has garnered press in LA Times, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, Forbes. Inc. Magazine named me one of the Top 27 Women Business Leaders of 2017 along with Jessica Alba.

Ix has collaborated with The Gap, J.Crew, Anthropologie, Gwyneth Paltrow on exclusive designs for Goop, and Richard Branson was one of Ix Style’s first clients.

This video that The Gap filmed about our work is one of the greatest rewards so far:

Currently, I’m working on a book with famed photographer Steve McCurry (who shot the the prolific Afghan girl National Geographic cover) about the vanishing culture of the Mayan artisans who make our products, their stories, and their inspirations. I know that these images will last lifetimes after I’m gone and will create a beautiful legacy for Guatemala.

What is the biggest thing you’d like to see changed in your industry, and how are you working toward making that change happen?
I would love to see less fast fashion and more handmade quality products that benefit the artisans that make them. Through our work with our weaving coop’s in Guatemala, we’re doing exactly that.

Who or what motivates you to keep going, even when things get tough?
My family.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to another entrepreneur just starting out?
“Don’t let anyone deter your dreams.” My dream is to share my journey with audiences around the world and inspire people to start their own companies and leave the world a little better than how we found it. When I started Ix Style and left Goldman Sachs a lot of people thought selling typical sandals from Guatemala sounded crazy.

What do you do every Monday morning to prepare and motivate yourself for the coming week?
I go for a run or do yoga. Then I meditate for 15 minutes through my friend Julie’s meditations. Her guided meditation, when done regularly, have really helped me stay motivated and on track!

For more #MondayMotivation, check out our interview with Prianka Dhir, Co-Founder & CEO at Beyond the Booth Media Inc., which strives to, “to help businesses make great first impressions and connections that matter while encouraging people to try new things.”