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In Thailand, more than 1 million hill-tribe members exist on the lowest rung of society; up to 50% are denied citizenship, civil rights, and education as aliens in their own country. They are vulnerable to exploitation (sex trafficking, faux-primitive tourist shows, child labor, indentured servitude in toxic slash & burn agriculture) and subsist on less than $1/day (83% below Thai standards for poverty). Yellow Leaf exists to empower this population.
When Joe visited Thailand and discovered the “insanely comfy” hammocks woven by members of the Mlabri tribe, he was inspired to help them expand- and to create sustainable, well-paid jobs for more artisans. Spending weeks in the hill tribe region made it clear that families were desperate for good jobs to revitalize their communities- seeking a hand up, not a handout. Weaving work is providing the foundation for a sustainable microeconomy + community recovery.
We believe passionately in the power of sustainable job creation. Hammock weaving provides a 650% increase over average hill tribe wages- moving families from the bottom 1% to the middle class. These jobs create an economic foundation for community recovery and break the cycle of extreme poverty + environmental destruction.
By creating one weaving job, we can remove an entire family from toxic slash + burn, make sure all their kids go to school instead of working in the fields, free up a spouse to explore sustainable farming or entrepreneurship, support a local economy and reduce vulnerability to trafficking
We’ve grown from 75 weavers to >200 weavers in three villages. Within five years, it is our goal to employ >1000 people, elevating our weavers and thousands of their children from poverty.
The most important metric of our success is the 200+ jobs we currently support and the 200+ families we’ve transformed. Of course, none of this change would be possible without our global sales success and the financial support of thousands of dedicated fans + customers (we are bootstrapped!).
Speeding the pace of change by building partnerships + recognition has been key to our impact. We’ve partnered with iconic brands like TOMS, Kate Spade and Whole Foods. Our partnership with microfinance giant Kiva has been transformative- we are their first partner in Thailand and to-date more than 850 individuals have provided microloans to fund our production. We also achieved a score in the top 10% of all B Corporations and won the 2013 LOHAS/William James Foundation “Social Impact Business Plan” Competition.
I am the “Chief Relaxation Officer” and a nap evangelist! I immigrated to the U.S. from Russia as a refugee at age 4. The poverty I faced as a kid shaped my determination to help families and empower underdogs. After graduating from DePaul University, I scored a killer job in finance, but found myself drawn to use my business acumen for good, not corporate gain. Discovering the world’s best hammocks on a beach in Thailand unleashed that energy and made me the luckiest entrepreneur I know!
As the Chief Strategist of “Psst... Pass It On!” I’m in charge of spreading the hammock love! I’m passionate about social justice + beautiful design (the pillars of Yellow Leaf Hammocks!). I studied Political Science + Women’s Studies at the University of Florida. After working in start-up marketing and nonprofits, I became fascinated by the world of social enterprise. I am thrilled to be creating a brand that directly transforms lives and highlights the potential of socially conscious shopping.
Joe and Rachel founded Yellow Leaf Hammocks together on a shoestring budget. From Joe’s first inspiration on a beach in Thailand, they hit the streets and sold hammocks at festivals, concerts and fairs to earn their first $10,000. Before co-founding Yellow Leaf Hammocks, Joe worked in real estate development & finance at a Top-Four firm and Rachel worked in fundraising for high-profile nonprofit institutions and managed marketing for a healthcare start-up. Joe’s background in finance and Rachel’s experience in marketing have been key to building a successful enterprise over the past 2 ½ years. Just as important as their education and experience has been their hunger for knowledge, willingness to take risks and audacity to ask for a lot of favors!
We couldn't be more excited about the beginning of this journey - and we can't thank our supporters enough!! Thank you guys so much for helping us build momentum at the launch of our fundraising campaign! And thank you for spreading the word about world-changing hammocks! We love you guys!
Funding for this Venture has ended