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Francesca Kennedy | New York | Key Players!!

Ix Style Water For Children | Fashion That Gives Back

When I went to visit my family in Guatemala in 2010, I was taken aback by what I found— the lake I was baptized in, Lake Atitlan, had been overrun with blue green algae; comparing it to “sewage” water. NASA even deemed it to be one of the world’s worst natural disasters being able to see the contamination from space. After I saw young girls collecting the contaminated water for their households, I felt I had to do something so I founded Ix Style, a company that prides itself on a triple bottom line — creating jobs for the women in Guatemala, providing clean drinking water for the Guatemalan communities and being profitable.

What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?

Raising capital. When I first started Ix I received a line of credit from my bank, but apart from traditional debt vehicles raising capital as a female and as a Latina has been difficult.The "capital challenge" and the ability to secure and maintain enough funds to not only keep the business going, but [also to] help it grow is a challenge that I continue to discover. According to the NWBC reports that more than 40 percent of Latina entrepreneurs borrow funds from family and friends (compared to 20 percent of non - Hispanic white women) because they don't have relationships with established capital markets and access to networks that can financially green-light their business, and since they are borrowing through these informal channels of relatives and acquaintances, these Latina entrepreneurs tend not to borrow the larger sums some of them actually need. I had to get creative to find ways to raise capital, which is why I went on a version of Shark Tank produced by Harvey Weinsten called Project Runway: Fashion Startup at the suggestion of one of my board of advisors Alexandra Wilson Wilkis, the founder of Gilt and Glam Squad. There was a bidding war among three of the judges and ultimately [thanks to] Birchbox, Rebecca Minkoff and Gary Wassner I secured a $150,000 investment from the judges. It was a gamble to go on a show in which I had no control how the producers would edit the show. I was proud of how my pitch and segment went but it was a risk; a calculated one that paid off.

Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?

How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?

My parents though it was crazy to leave my job at goldman sachs, but now they could not be more proud.

What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?

If you are creating a business for the right reasons — with purpose and passion — your customers will feel your authenticity and share your story and promote and help your cause.

What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?

Not to give up or get discouraged when people tell you "no." You are going to hear "no" a million times. Don't even think about it for a second - keep going.

What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?

First, know the key players in your industry. I can't emphasize this enough. You never know when you're going to run into someone and you'll have an opportunity to share your brand's mission. Second, be tough, be ambitious, and know exactly what you want.

As Seen:

In Forbes, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, InStyle, LA Times, Huffington Post

Ix Style Wins Project Runway

Francesca's Official TED Talk

Francesca's The Gap's Commercial

Francesca Named Inc. Magazine's Top 27 Top Females Changing The World

Francesca Named 25 Most Powerful Latinas of 2018 by People En Espanol


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