Meeting Francesca Kennedy equals instant girl crush. She’s warm, grounded, inspiring — and a fearless business woman on a mission. Originally from Guatemala and now based in New York, Kennedy founded accessory brand Ix Style (“water” in the Mayan language) to empower women and provide clean drinking water to children from her native country.
It was on a trip home in 2010 that she witnessed the contaminated water that the locals were drinking and cooking with on a daily basis, and she decided to take action. She started her brand by creating shoes that would have a positive impact on the community, while simultaneously creating jobs for women. One colorfully patterned pair yields water for 3,000 children and with that 1,000 women are employed. She also donates 15% of her profits from every purchase to the cause, and (it gets even better) with each shoe purchased, a tree is planted.
She has co-designed shoes with brands from Goop to GAP, and this fall, watch her compete on Lifetime’s Fashion Inc., a Shark Tank-like show, where she and other fashion entrepreneurs will vie to get funding for their companies, from the likes of Rebecca Minkoff and Katia Beauchamp, the founder of Birchbox. Suffice it to say that she is one busy lady! She let us follow along with her morning routine, and spilled on her favorite beauty products, the art of staying centered through meditation, and the one piece of advice that can inspire any company to thrive.
*Photography & Styling by Alison Engstrom
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
My alarm usually goes off at 7am. I edited the notification to say “DO EPIC SHIT!!!” I stole the idea from someone (sorry I forgot who!) It inspires me to not hit snooze as many times.
What is your typical routine?
First stop is Fika, a Swedish coffee shop in my building for an iced latte with almond milk. I then drink it as I make my way to the West Side Highway to start my run.
When I get home I shower and throw on leggings/yoga pants and a casual t-shirt and get to work. My team arrives at my apartment/office at 10am. I like to have 30 minutes to an hour before they arrive to handle the most important emails I need to do and clean up a bit and make breakfast.
Francesca and her team preparing for an upcoming trip to Guatamala
How long does your morning routine take from start to finish?
45-60 minute run, 5 minutes at Fika, 15 minute shower and then 15 minutes to make breakfast = 1.5 hours
Francesca’s morning run along the Hudson River
What do you eat for breakfast?
I usually make eggs and beans with salsa… I am Latin after all!
Ix Style’s inspiring mood board
What’s your favorite getting-ready soundtrack?
If I’m in a romantic mood maybe Gipsy Kings, Ottmar Liebert, Buena Vista Social Club or Billie Holiday.
If it’s a girls’ night, I’ll listen to Spotify’s Pop or Workout playlists.
Do you workout in the morning?
Right after I get up, I get ready for my run!I can’t do anything until I get my run in the morning. I usually run 4-6 miles 5 days a week. The days I don’t run I’m 80% less efficient.
I usually throw on my cute tennis dresses to run. I stopped playing tennis a few years ago and these beauties were just sitting in my drawer. Wearing them and looking chic helps motivate me to get out the door. I throw on a hat and a boatload of sunblock, which I rarely rub in so I look like a ghost when I order my coffee.
Finish this sentence:
I never leave the house without….sunblock, sunglasses, wallet, makeup to reapply as I never know when and if I’m returning later that day, Neutrogena oil blotting papers and my Ix Style sandals of course, as I literally walk miles everywhere. It makes me feel French and it’s a great way to discover hidden gems in the city. I always try to take different or unknown streets to meetings or meet friends. I avoid taking the subway if I can. I rarely wear heels, unless it’s a special night out on the town.
If you could only put on one item of makeup, what would it be?
Francesca working at her favorite Swedish coffee shop, FIKA
Do you stick to the same hair and makeup routine every day, or do you like to experiment?
My hair is usually in a messy bun during week days, as I try not to wash it often. For nights out, I blow it out and curl the ends. I definitely try to wear makeup every time I leave the house. It’s New York. You ALWAYS run into someone!
Do you have a signature scent?
Yes, Angeliques sous la Pluie by Frederic Malle. I have a secret desire to be French. I want to be the Guatemalan ambassador to France when I’m in my 50’s.
What’s your healthiest morning habit?
Running and making my bed. I’m a true believer in the domino effect. If you can complete a very small task like making your bed, it builds momentum to tackle bigger tasks.
What’s your worst morning habit?
Sleeping in. I’ve accepted that it’s a battle that I’ve lost and I’ve convinced myself it’s good for me.
I’m usually opposite when it comes to my daily uniform. I’m either super casual or super glammed up – there’s no in between. I am either in yoga pants or in a dress and my Ix sandals.
Do you shower in the morning or at night?
Morning, but during these hot summer NYC days sometimes I need two showers a day!
What do you love about what you do for a living?
I love the ability to be a brand ambassador for Guatemala and the ability to share its beautiful culture and traditions with the world! I also love being able to provide jobs for the artisans in Guatemala and provide water filters for children and the communities there. The icing on the cake is inspiring young women to start companies that creates impact and sustainable solutions to problems around the world! If I can do it, they can and should too!
One word to describe your mornings:
Any business advice for future or current entrepreneurs?
Fake it until you make it!