bSmart Guide

Francesca Kennedy created IX Style sandals as a way to employ talented Mayan artisans and provide clean water to the children of Guatemala.  Having been featured in Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, People, and Goop.com, Francesca has successfully built her brand and financed several successful water missions providing water filtration systems and wells in Guatemala.  With a mind for business and a heart to empower women and children, Francesca shares how she's turning heads with her haute huaraches and how you too can help solve the clean water crisis. 

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I saw little girls collecting the contaminated water and it broke my heart.  I knew I had to do something to help them.

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IX Style: Shoes with Soul

What is IX Style? 

IX style is a leather huarache sandal that is made by amazing artisans in Guatemala.  With every IX Style purchase we provide a donation to provide clean drinking water to children as well as employ and empower amazing women in Guatemala.  Clean water is a global crisis and affects everything we do.  Children who otherwise would be in school have to spend miles collecting water when they should be getting an education.

What inspired you to create a product to help provide clean water?

I’m from Pennsylvania, but my family’s originally from Guatemala.  I would spend all of my vacations visiting my grandparents back in Guatemala and swim in one of the most beautiful lakes in the world.  A few years ago I went back to find that the lake was completely contaminated - NASA actually called it one of the worst natural disasters to ever occur - you could see the contamination from space.  I saw little girls collecting the contaminated water and it broke my heart.  I knew I had to do something to help them.

Watch Francesca share why she created IX style

Clean water is a global crisis and affects everything we do.

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How can we help to provide clean water?

When you purchase IX style sandals you help finance and provide clean drinking water to children through water filtration systems, rain collection units and wells.  We work with two amazing nonprofits.  One is Asociacion Puente that works directly with people in Guatemala, and the other is Charity Water who works globally to end the world water crisis.  Asociacion Puente was formed by the First Lady of Guatemala and her organization is incredible.  What they pride themselves in is empowering women by educating them about sanitation and hygiene and offering basic training for jobs and saving money.  As their graduation gift, these women are given a water filtration device installed in their home.

What is your dream for IX Style 5 years from now? 

My dream for IX Style is to continue to hire and empower these amazing women in Guatemala so they can be agents of change in their communities.

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The advice I have is to get one thing done every day and do it really well.

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Haute Huaraches 

Is it important for aspiring female entrepreneurs to have a social mission when starting a business?

It’s so important that we leave the world a better place than how we found it.  There’s this amazing quote that says, 'I always wondered why someone didn’t do something about that.  And I realized, I am somebody.'

What are you most proud of accomplishing since founding IX Style? 

The thing that I’m most proud of accomplishing with IX style is learning the ropes of running a business - learning how to do everything myself from the beginning.

What have been your biggest lessons learned launching a product line and trying to give back to your community? 

The biggest challenge we had was getting the quality perfect. It did actually take us about a year and a half of getting samples and updating them and correcting tiny little things, but at the end we came out with a fantastic, high-quality product.

What do you want all bSmart members to know about your story that would help them bSmart too?

The advice I have for all bSmart viewers is to accomplish one thing every day - a little task.  Whether it’s building your website, getting a product shot, working on your logo, getting your trademark done, whatever it is, get one thing done and do it really well.

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My dream for IX Style is to empower these amazing women in Guatemala so they can be agents of change in their communities.

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Meet Founder Francesca Kennedy

Neighborhood: Tribeca

Occupation: Shoe & Fashion Designer

Women I Admire: Oprah, Tory Burch, & Sophia Amoruso

Look of the Season: Mise en Dior tribal-inspired double pearl earrings

Must-have Shoes: Ix Style sandals of course!

Can't Live Without Product: Fresh sugar face scrub

Salon Recommendation: Andre at Julien Farel Salon

Signature Scent: Frederic Malle 'Angeliques Sous La Pluie'

Cocktail of Choice: Picantes De La Casa at Soho House

Travel Destination: St. Barths with my best girlfriend

Favorite Quote: 'I always wondered why somebody didn't do something about that. Then I realized I am somebody.'

De-Stress Technique: Running on the West Side Highway

Latest Gadget: Mophie to extend the battery life of my iPhone

On My Playlist: Haim on repeat

Favorite App: Spring (Shopping App) & Instagram

University: Lehigh University

Graduation Year: 2005

 

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