Shark Tank investors have heard more than 900 pitches from entrepreneurs over the past decade, but only about two dozen of them have earned seven-figure deals. A few months ago, Joe Demin and Rachel Connors made that elite club, walking away with a $1 million investment from Kind Snacks founder Daniel Lubetzky in exchange for a 25% stake in their company, Yellow Leaf Hammocks.
If the thought of investors scrambling to put their money into a hammock company seems surprising, it must be because you haven’t tried a Yellow Leaf yet. They’re well-made, good-looking, comfortable—and have a strong social mission at their core.
Demin discovered the woven hammocks in 2011 while touring rural Thailand by motorcycle. He stopped for a rest in a hammock that was hanging outside of a house and was struck by how comfortable it was. After asking around, he was told that it was woven by local Mlabri women, as part of an economic development program to help the northern Thailand community, which lives in extreme poverty. The program, however, did not generate enough local sales to sustain itself.
Demin launched Yellow Leaf Hammocks a year later (Mlabri means “the people of the yellow leaves”) to bolster sales for the program and create a business that could offer more employment for the weaving community.
In 2018, the company generated $860,000 in sales, Demin said during his Shark Tank appearance, and was projected to make $1.3 million at the end of 2019. That money has made an impact on the Mlabri community, which is already seeing corollary economic benefits from the surge in business, such as the establishment of a new post office. Yellow Leaf now employs weavers from other northern Thailand communities, in addition to the Mlabri. A partnership with Kiva has helped to bring financial training and financial planning to locals—allowing many weavers to open bank accounts for the first time.
All of the hammocks sold by Yellow Leaf are handwoven using traditional techniques and super-soft, never-chafing yarn. And although it may seem like a hammock is a hammock, that’s not the case: Yellow Leaf hammocks are designed to be soft, never wobbly, and completely weather-safe.
Yellow Leaf sells three different styles, all in a variety of colors and designs, including the Signature Hammock ($199+, perfect for outdoors since it won’t mold or rot), the Cotton Rope Hammock ($199+, a gorgeous style that looks beautiful indoors), and The Chair Hammock ($179+, perfect for smaller spaces and chilling solo). If you are into communal hammock hangs, the Signature style can be ordered in the family size, which can fit up to three people, or 550 pounds.
All of the hammocks are compatible with standard stands. But if you’re looking for something a little more stately, the company sells a stand that Demin has dubbed The Throne ($1,499). The Throne’s frame can be finished in powder-coated metal or FSC-certified beechwood, and can comfortably seat even the tallest of people.
If you’d like to hang your hammock in a fixed spot outdoors or indoors, Yellow Leaf offers a handy everything-you-need-but-the-drill install kit ($39) that allows you to affix your hammock to beams or posts. If you’re looking for something a little more mobile, there are also “Go Anywhere” Hanging Straps ($35), which allow you to hang your hammock from trees, posts, or beams up to 30 feet apart.
Each hammock employs a triple-weave construction, which is comprised of hundreds of thousands of yarn loops woven together. You won’t end up with waffle-printed thighs or accidentally flip upside down if the weight isn’t distributed just so.
Yellow Leaf hammocks come in nearly every color you could want, and each weaver writes his or her name on the tag—so you know exactly who made your hammock.
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