A graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, with a Master's Degree in Economic Development of Latin America - Alyssa spent nine months in the highlands of Guatemala prior to launching her ethical lifestyle brand, Hiptipico.
Building upon her past experiences at KIVA and Pencils of Promise and extensive global travel, Alyssa understood the hardships marginalized populations had in their efforts to escape poverty. But it wasn't until a chance encounter on the streets with a Maya artisan named Maria in Panajachel, Guatemala that inspired Alyssa to launch her own social enterprise.
Alyssa takes a personal approach to the company, living full-time in Guatemala since 2011 and spending time with the artisans daily. She knows about the depths of their lives and sponsors local education initiatives in the Maya villages.
“Living full-time on the ground in Guatemala allows me to maintain truthful, longstanding and personal relationships with our artisan partners,” Alyssa says. “We communicate openly finding ways to harness their abilities, talents, and culture to help them escape poverty by utilizing the strengths they already have. Our artisan partners are not just vendors or a business venture; they are my extended family.”
Furthermore, Alyssa reiterates that the artisans are not working "for" her, but she is working for them. "I started Hiptipico to help create dignified job opportunities for Maya artisans. They want to sell their goods and my job is to help find them clients." Using the platform of Hiptipico allows her to show their products and share their genuine story.
Maintaining transparency and open lines of communication with the artisans and customers was the vision Alyssa had when starting Hiptipico. She shares real-time videos from Guatemala and updating her personal social media regularly allowing shoppers to feel the essence behind each product and get to know each artisan personally.
Taking it a step further, Alyssa and her team also offer insight trips to Guatemala inviting travelers to get to know their artisan partners firsthand. Known as Insight Trips, the cultural immersion trips are ideal for solo travelers with a penchant for authentic experiences as well as groups looking for alternative spring break options.