Kick back, relax and let your stress go with a Yellow Leaf Hammock
Today's featured member, Yellow Leaf Hammocks, is a social enterprise that encourages Americans to “Do Good. Relax.” by kicking back in an insanely cozy handwoven hammock.
Based in California, Yellow Leaf Hammocks combines a classic design aesthetic, sophisticated textile engineering and extraordinary craftsmanship to provide a relaxing retreat right outside the front door. Read our interview with Founder & Chief Relaxation Officer, Joe Demin.
What inspired you to start your company?
I’ve always believed profitable businesses could also do good in the world and, like a lot of people, I was feeling pretty disgusted with the “profit at all costs” mentality on display in the news and on Wall Street. When I discovered these insanely comfy hammocks on a trip to Thailand and heard the story of social progress behind them, I saw a chance to throw myself behind this principle and create meaningful change by building the kind of company I’d always believed in.
I first jumped into a Yellow Leaf Hammock on a remote island in the Andaman Sea, and I just remember being absolutely shocked by how comfortable it was, how vibrant its colors were and how intricately crafted it was. When I heard the story of the beleaguered Thai hill tribes who were trying to build a brighter future through weaving, I realized that this could grow into a catalyst of social change for an entire region. I cajoled a cabby into driving me 600 miles to reach the Mlabri Village. I visited with the weavers, watched their children play joyously in the dirt, heard their stories of loss, privation, and hope. I emerged determined to spark a hammocking revolution and I’ve never looked back.
Tell us something unique about you and your co-founder(s)?
Despite all the pressures and responsibilities of running a start-up, I make sure to spend a minimum of 10 minutes in the hammock each day! I truly believe that stepping away from the laptop and putting away the smartphone makes people more creative, energized, and ultimately more productive, so I make sure to practice what I preach!
What problem does your product or service solve?
By dedicating ourselves to creating high wage weaving jobs, we directly combat the extreme poverty that is at the root of many social evils plaguing more than 1.2 million hill tribe members in Thailand. Weaving work has a huge ripple effect- when we employ 1 weaver, her increased income helps remove her family of 5 from toxic slash & burn forest clearing (saving swaths of forest from destruction); enables children to attend school; helps the remaining spouse to seek gainful employment; and protects cultural traditions.
From a product stand-point, we are offering the most awesome hammocks on the market in terms of comfort, style and durability. We’re advocating a lifestyle that people really connect with on an emotional level, sparking creativity and prioritizing rejuvenation & reflection. We have customers who tell us that their hammock has changed their life, which is really powerful!
What are your startup's three biggest challenges to growth?
Lawyer, Designer, Developer. If we had each of those three on our team full-time, we’d really be unstoppable!
How has Startup America helped you overcome these challenges to growth?
Startup America serves up a number of resources for companies like Yellow Leaf, from bridging connections with other entrepreneurs and fostering relationships with potential partners to helping share our story with a wider audience. All of these things are instrumental to our growth!
What Startup America Member Benefits have you used?
We’ve taken advantage of the awesome member deals that are offered, like a one-year Business Account with Box.com (a cloud-based file sharing solution). This has quickly proven a huge time-saving benefit! And new ways to share our story, like this interview for example!
What is the startup culture like in your City/State?
San Francisco is ground zero for the social enterprise movement, which is why we decided to relocate here last summer. San Francisco offers a vibrant, inspiring community, and the network and support to rapidly amplify your impact. Between resources like co-working spaces, incubator programs, peer learning and food trucks to grab lunch on the go, this is the perfect cosmopolitan environment for young entrepreneurs.
I think it’s important to note that while we are a mission-driven company, we are competing in the global marketplace with a superior product and consumer experience. A part of our philosophy is the idea that we can reframe socially conscious shopping from guilt to “gotta have it.” We want even more companies to adopt these practices and to spread the idea of doing good in the world through awesome products.
Learn more about Yellow Leaf Hammocks and their commitment to sustainable development.