Yellow Leaf Hammocks is creating a growing class of female breadwinners in the developing world to enact far-reaching change.
Do Good. Relax. Yellow Leaf’s motto is reminiscent of Cotopaxi’s “Gear for good,” and it’s part of a growing list of benefit corporations (B-Corps) serving socially and environmentally conscious consumers.
And though the “good” Yellow Leaf wants to effect is broad in scope, its efforts are highly focused. The brand employs women and mothers in northern Thailand to create 100-percent hand-woven hammocks. As a result, women become breadwinners for their families, more children are free to attend schools, and the local workforce shifts from environmentally harmful slash-and-burn agriculture to higher-paying weaving jobs.
The results are good, indeed.
Work Beats Charity
Yellow Leaf founders Joe Demmin and Rachel Connors believe their model does more for those in the developing world than simple charity.
“We believe passionately in the power of job creation to build a strong foundation for healthy communities,” reads the pair’s vision statement.
“Our weavers are incredibly proud of their beautiful creations!” Connors told us.
Plus, the two expect that consumers prefer to buy a “gotta have it” hammock than to donate out of guilt.
So in 2011, the two launched the Yellow Leaf brand and employed 75 weavers. Now six full years in, Yellow Leaf employs 200 members of the 300-member Mlabri hill-tribe.
The brand claims women weaving Yellow Leaf hammocks earn 650 percent more than the average income for the region.
Yellow Leaf Hammocks
The secret sauce in the Yellow Leaf model is the product itself. The brand has grown by selling handmade, stretchy, weatherproof hammocks.
Each hammock takes 3-10 days to weave and incorporates over 150,000 individual loops. The king-size (550-lb. capacity) and Classic (400-lb. capacity) hammocks resist fading and, according to the brand, can be left outside indefinitely.
Yellow Leaf hammocks are compatible with stands or tree straps, and run between $150-$200. The brand also offers hanging chairs and a line of all-cotton hammocks.