Born in the U.S. to Guatemalan parents, Francesca tapped into her cultural heritage and launched a charitable fashion company called Ix (pronounced “eye ex”) Style that sells huarache sandals, handbags and jewelry made by Mayan artisans in Guatemala. Ix is the Mayan word for water. For every purchase, Ix donates to provide clean drinking water to children in Guatemala.
In 2009, Francesca went to visit her grandparents at Lake Atitlan for Thanksgiving and found her second home nearly destroyed. This lake, which many people considered to be the eighth world wonder and where Francesca was baptized and swam in as a child, was overrun with toxic blue-green algae. NASA said it was one of the worst natural disasters to occur in our lifetime as you could see the contamination from space. This disaster is what inspired Francesca to start Ix.
Francesca graduated from Lehigh University in 2005. She was working Goldman Sachs as Wealth Management Professional when she found her true calling to become a social entrepreneur. She is a one-woman show. She started Ix with $1,000, no investors, no public relations team, and no sales team. Ix has garnered press in Forbes, LA Times, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, and Inc. Magazine named her top 27 women making a change in the world along with Jessica Alba.
Ix has collaborated with The Gap, J.Crew, Anthropologie, Gwyneth Paltrow on exclusive designs for Goop, ShopBop, Holt Renfrew, Four Seasons and Viceroy resorts. Richard Branson was one of Ix Style’s first clients. Actresses Amanda Seyfried and Jamie Chung, supermodels Hilary Rhoda and Bar Rafaeli and fashion designer Rachel Roy are also supporters of Ix.
She was recently featured on Harvey Weinstein’s Shark Tank-like show Project Runway: Fashion Startup. Rebecca Minkoff, Katia Beauchamp, and Gary Wassner got into a bidding war to invest in Ix Style, and Rebecca Minkoff is now a partner and investor and is now designing new styles with Ix Style for the spring.
Francesca was also a TED Resident, and presented a TED talk at their HQ in Soho about Lake Atitlan called “Finding Hope in Murky Water.”