Many students dream about one day starting their own business, and many students hope to make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate. Colin Johnson does both.
When the sophomore entrepreneurship major realized he had free time in college, he started the business Hammocks That Help, which supports local Nicaraguan artisans and funds houses to be built for Nicaraguan families in need.
“I have always loved to give back,” Johnson said. “And I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, so why not start now?”
When Johnson told his parents about the idea, they were supportive. Johnson said he began networking, and once he was connected with some people, they connected him with more people.
“To do something like this, you need help,” Johnson said. “I have been lucky to have such great support.”
With the idea in his head, Johnson took a two-week trip to Nicaragua over the summer. He arrived in Masaya, Nicaragua, or what he calls the “hammock capital,” and looked for local hammock makers. He settled on a big family who has been making hammocks for more than 50 years.
Hammocks That Help partners with a nonprofit agency, 4 Walls. 4 Walls identifies the Nicaraguan families that need a new home built the most. Johnson said that it takes the purchase of 100 hammocks to fund a home.
“4 Walls has started the building process on the first home this past week,” Johnson said, “It will go to a husband and wife who just had a baby.”
Johnson hopes to continue the business post-graduation by expanding the product line. His next project includes creating a portable bamboo hammock stand. He likes the idea that bamboo is a green product, but is also durable.
“With the portable stand, people can take their hammock anywhere,” Johnson said.
Jordan Sanfrotello, a senior pre-physical therapy major, was one of the first UD students to purchase a hammock.
“The hammock was a great addition to my porch,” Sanfrotello said. “Not only is it beautiful, but I am glad to support a worthy cause.”
Dillon Murphy, a sophomore entrepreneurship major, said he was excited about his hammock purchase because of the hammock’s fine quality and the opportunity to support families in Nicaragua.
“After sleeping in the hammock in Colin’s room, I realized I needed to invest in a hammock of my own,” Murphy said. “Everybody loves a good hammock.”
Johnson hopes that sales will continue to increase as information about Hammocks that Help spreads. Johnson’s advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to “jump headfirst” into creating a business right away.
“If you have a great idea, why not just do it right now?” Johnson said.
For more information about Hammocks That Help, visit www.hammocksthathelp.com.