Meet Josefina Urzaiz.
Urzaiz is a DC based entrepreneur who started her hammock business as a way to stay connected with her Mexican heritage while helping people along the way. Her efforts have grown since launching in 2010, even landing Hammock Boutique a shout out from Nate Berkus! For those of you wondering, he picked the Thick Cord Hammock. Before going full time this past January with Hammock Boutique, Urzaiz studied Business and spent time abroad before moving to the US to attend Georgetown for her Masters. She then worked in New York City as an investment banker for five years. Luckily for us, Josefina had time to chat with FamousDC about the good work she’s doing, what got her started and where she’s going.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about how your business got started?
The last 5 years I lived in New York working as an Investment Banker. While I had a blast living in the city I always felt disconnected from my upbringing in Mexico. Growing up in Yucatan, I had always participated in various charities and I was even a founding member of an NGO. I also took notice of my brother’s success as an entrepreneur back home selling wholesale hammocks. Thus in 2010, I decided to partner with him and start Hammock Boutique to sell Mayan Hammocks online in the US and reconnect with people from back home.
2. As a socially responsible company, you form partnerships with the craftsmen. How does that relationship benefit both parties?
Our craftsmen are indigenous Mayans, 90% women, all of which work from home. This allows them to earn wages, avoid the cost and time of a commute to work and take care of young children at home. The illiteracy rate is also very high and in some cases they only speak Mayan, not Spanish. This poses a major constraint for the commercialization of the Mayan Hammocks. This is where Hammock Boutique comes into play providing them with a sustainable business model. They continue to preserve the millenary tradition of hammock weaving while Hammock Boutique provides all the raw materials needed to build the hammocks and ship them to the final users. At Hammock Boutique, we believe that understanding and appreciating where our hammocks & crafts come from is as important as selling them.
3. We noticed that you have several different styles of hammocks – which one is your favorite?
I grew up enjoying the Jumbo cotton hammock on hot summer days. However, the Thick Cord hammock is my new favorite.
4. What’s your favorite thing about the District?
Living on Capitol Hill and enjoying the green space on the mall. I love the international feel of the city and reconnecting with my classmates from graduate school at Georgetown.
And late night tortas at El Centro D.F.!
5. Do you have any plans to expand to new products?
Yes, we are always developing new models and work with clients on custom made orders which always gives us new ideas. The Hacienda Hammock line is an example of a 100% original design by Hammock Boutique.