Authenticity is the name of the game when it comes to Hannah King’s globally-sourced handicraft company. King is the Founder and CEO of the Tallahassee based socially conscious company Woven Futures. King’s company sets out to preserve indigenous cultures through ethical trading with global artisans that produce luxury leather, home goods, handbags, and more.
Woven Futures started as a small project manifested by King after a summer trip to her home country Guatemala in 2016. After spending copious amount of time at local markets throughout Guatemala, King decided to bring back several souvenirs for her friends and family back in the U.S. Noticing the tenacity of the artisans trying to sell their products, she saw an opportunity not only for herself, but for the craft and the well-being of the artisans. “I bought all my stuff and I was ready to go and I remember this one lady kept offering me discounts. I knew at that point she wasn’t really making money and I asked her, why? She said, ‘I just need to make a sale. I need to be able to feed my kids.’ And that’s when I realized how bad the problem was.” Following a discussion over logistics with her cousin who lives in Guatemala, paired with a newfound desire to help out struggling artisans, King brought the idea of Woven Futures to life.
Although King made the first step in transporting the goods to the United States from Guatemala, some help and encouragement from Professor Bruce Manciagli of Florida State University’s Jim Moran School of Entrepreneurship really got the ball rolling. Professor Manciagli motivated King to submit her idea to the Jim Moran School of Entrepreneurship InNOLEvation Challenge – an entrepreneurship competition that provides students from all levels of experience and all majors the opportunity to gain valuable intuition make their ideas for projects and companies a reality, plus the chance to earn prize money. Fortunately for King, an at the time nubile Woven Futures took home first place, earning the Jim Moran Social Venture Award amassing a total of $11,000 towards the company. “It helped because up until that point I had backed everything,” said King about the beginning stages of her company. Although King is thankful for the money awarded to her company she also added that the competition gave her the ability to really structure her business, something that she wouldn’t have learned without the initial incitement from Professor Manciagli.
With Woven Futures claiming the Social Venture Award, King delved into the importance of the giving back to the community where she not only gets her products from, but also where she was born – Guatemala. Traveling back to Guatemala to put together a promotional video for her company, King was able to get first hand experience with the craftswomen, visiting them in their traditional mud-homes in the highlands of Guatemala. While there, she fell in love with the authentic process the Guatemalans went through to create their products. “We got to see where it’s sourced from and that inspired me to bring a lot of authenticity and transparency to our customers, because when you can learn the story of who made your product, especially being there, it’s incredible. I wanted to be able to create that for other people,” said King about the true definition of what Woven Futures is and strives to be. “It’s all about bringing opportunities to the weavers, so that they can preserve their culture,” added King whose main goal for the company is to empower the typically taken-advantage of artisans.
“We got to see where it’s sourced from and that inspired me to bring a lot of authenticity and transparency to our customers, because when you can learn the story of who made your product, especially being there, it’s incredible. I wanted to be able to create that for other people …. It’s all about bringing opportunities to the weavers, so that they can preserve their culture.”
The main distinguishing feature of Woven Futures is its ability to stretch outside norms of typical social ventures. “We do 100% payment up front to artisans. A lot of different companies do 50%, until it’s paid or after it’s sold. So, we buy directly from them and we pay double the price they would typically be getting in the markets,” said King who also mentioned the company’s donation of 20% of their net profit to non-profit organizations in Guatemala who offer different programs to artisans throughout the country. “Right now, we work with Mayan families through an artisan enhancement program. So, the same people we buy from also benefit from that program. They learn better tactics to sew and just get better quality into their products, as well as financial literacy courses,” said King who acknowledges the fact that a lot of these craftswomen are single mothers who need to learn the skill of budgeting.
King also credits her ability to maintain a consistent anatomy of her company to a local nonprofit startup incubator known as the Domi Station. After winning the InNOLEvation Challenge Woven Futures she was granted free membership to the Domi Station for a year, an experience that King appreciated greatly. “I think when you get into entrepreneurship and you’re starting something, especially if you’re a sole founder, it can be kinda lonely or sometimes you can feel a little lost as to what to do. So having that support system was really beneficial for me,” said King in regards to the communal atmosphere of the Domi Station.
As of right now, Woven Futures’ products are available in all three Red Eye Coffees in Tallahassee (Midtown, Capital Circle NE, and Bannerman Crossings). The relationship with Red Eye Coffee blossomed through similar values as the local coffee shop is also social venture, which provides after-tax profits to local and global humanitarian causes. As for the future, King’s company wants to expand to other countries to help preserve other countries, expanding to Mexico and Indonesia this summer, hopefully to be 100% globally sourced. Furthermore, King mentioned the company’s desire to add a home décor line as well as luxury leather, in order to branch out form their now accessory dominated collection of merchandise.
Outside the realm of retail, Woven Futures’ products will be available at FSU’s market Wednesdays in the Oglesby Student Union and are currently available on www.wovenfutures.com and their lines are always featured on their Facebook and Instagram, @wovenfutures.