Guatemalan-based Ix Style is an ethical shoe brand with one foot in water rights and another in artisan production. Their proceeds help provide clean drinking water to children who would otherwise have to walk huge distances each day to access uncontaminated water. Founded by Francesca Kennedy – whose family originates from the country – the brand supports the creation of water filtration systems, rain collection units and wells. Shocked by the levels of contamination in Lake Atitlan, widely regarded as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, Francesca became inspired by TOMS founder’s story (which she read on route to visit her grandfather). She decided to start working on designs inspired by local Mayan textiles and historical craftsmanship, and designed this collection of simple yet interesting footware. She sources the fabric locally and has built up a connection with the local community, aiming to empower artisans through commerce and production.
As well as working with and supporting non-profit partners, Ix has also had a big international response. They have already been picked up by big names such as Goop, J.Crew and Gap. “Gap made a very generous donation to the charity we support in Guatemala called Asociacion Puente,” said Francesca. “Their donation has helped hundreds of families in Guatemala and we’re so grateful for their support as well as all of our customers’ support.”
But the Ix website acknowledges the responsibility of the consumer to have an impact.
“By buying a pair,” it says, “you help provide clean drinking water to children […] Children who normally would walk miles a day to collect water for their families can instead spend that time in school.”
As well as creating this ethical social enterprise with locally produced artisan designs, Francesca says she has plans to move away from traditional leather. She has already began designing some vegan alternatives, so watch this space for more information about their growing sustainable collection.