What the hell is UTZ?
june 20, 2017
We want to tell you a story, about 4 young dudes from Guatemala who had a dream to shake things up and create change against the norm. Their journey hasn’t looked like the perfect business plan. The staff, location, goals and voice has changed throughout the years, but one thing has remained the same- the desire to do good. Oh, and if we haven’t already mentioned, UTZ means good.
Jonathan, Hubert, Aaron and Checho all had individual experience with NGO or church related charity work growing up. Something that constantly grated their nerves was seeing well-intentioned projects that lacked business fortitude and sustainability. Tired of witnessing this pattern of failed projects, these 4 guys dreamed for one day to create something revolutionary.
So let’s throw it back a little bit, to give you a full scope of how UTZ came to be:
Imagine this: Jon (16 years old) and Hubert (12 years old) met at church and grew up together with Hubert’s younger brother Aarón, their friendship starting back in 2000.
Checho came into the fold in November 2011, when his cousin (Aaron’s childhood friend) invited him to a party at Hubert’s house. The friendships were instantaneous, almost like love at first sight… a bromance had begun. After this initial meeting, conversations were constantly rolling about creating big change on a personal and international level.
The fellas continued on with their lives; Aarón went to college, Checho, Hubert and Jon went on to work for corporations trying to “move on” as typical functioning young adults. But as it happens, life brought all 4 back together one particular week. This specific week, each of the guys were confronted with hardships in their careers. They were faced with the big decision to keep on with the normal grind, or do they step out on their own?
In 2014 they made the bold decision to go against the system and create something of their own, UTZ. Through an old connection with a shoe maker the UTZ dudes decided leather shoes was the way to go, which led to what we now call ‘the boot era’.
So the boot era is kind of a funny story, where for a year the UTZ boys tried to design shoes and realized that feet are a tricky business. It wasn’t just feet that created problems, but the basics of selling products, receiving money and getting the product safely to the customers door was a logistical nightmare that no one had tried to tackle in Guatemala. They decided to leave shoemaking to the experts and create solutions to overcome these obstacles. On top of shipment processing, creating a platform to make digital sales a reality in Guatemala was a necessity. The beginning of UTZ’s motto started during this time:
“let the artisans do what they do best, and we’ll handle the rest”
In May of 2015 they started to connect with other brands to create a marketplace of makers with an in house shipping system. At this point, Aarón felt that his ideals aligned with the direction UTZ was heading but he realized his deep passion was in the environment and decided to split ways with UTZ to create his own company, Gronn.
In September 2015 they attended their first New World Craft (the largest International Handmade Trade show in Guatemala) as UTZ Market, representing UTZ and all the brands that had joined the endeavor so far. To their surprise, the majority of customers who visited their booth were more interested in a viable shipping option, rather than the products being offered and it was in that moment UTZ Box came to life. From that event on, shipping was never the same in Guatemala.
The team slowly started to move to Antigua at the end of 2015 and by May 2016 they rented their first official office space. 2016 can be described by big changes; from physical space to staff, adjustments of responsibilities, and growing pains brought on by demand. Although word spread around Guatemala of UTZ’s badass shipping service, the desire to create an effective online marketplace for Guatemalan makers never left the table.
As growth came, so did the confusion, and in an effort to get their ducks in order they designated separate names: UTZ Market (online marketplace) and UTZ Box (shipping). Oh, don’t worry they have two separate Instagram accounts now to help ease your stress.
5 new team members have been hired in the past 5 months of 2017. Jobs ranging from front desk logistics, to director of UTZ Market. With these new hires, new energy and ideas came to the table, pushing UTZ to evolve further than the 4 original dudes could have ever imagined.
One thing is for sure, UTZ has never and will never be one singular idea.
We’re young and rebellious and go against the norm (just the way we like it).
We value traveling, creating real and meaningful relationships, living a transparent lifestyle, being the boss of your own life and supporting small businesses.
We coordinate logistics, create new opportunities for incredible makers and ultimately choose to do good. We believe in good products, good shipping and a good life.
Join us as we discover how to change our context and create change around us.
LIVE A LIFE YOU WILL REMEMBER
What Do You Believe in?
MARCH 1, 2017
It is our beliefs that bring us together as family, friends, as a tribe of people who love one another. Our beliefs turn strangers into our closest friends and offer us a common ground to stand upon. Our beliefs also challenge us, set us apart, and make us grow and question all that we know…
We believe there is no way on Earth you can start your morning without a good cup of Guatemalan coffee. We believe coffee tastes better when you share it with the people you love. We believe in eating good meals, specially if they have a lot of cheese. We believe there’s never enough cheese - seriously, can you ever have enough cheese? We believe there is never a bad time for beer, especially if it’s craft beer. We believe that ice cream has the power to heal all. We believe tortillas are the best food in the world (really!). We believe in fresh squeezed juice. We believe pineapples are a very sexy fruit.
We believe Sundays are nicer when it’s raining. We believe Sundays are even nicer when you have someone to wrap yourself in a blanket with. We believe Mondays have the potential to be the best day of the week. We believe in doing what you love. We believe in late nights & early mornings. We believe in puppy breath, belly rubs, cuddle puddles, and rough kitty kisses.
We believe in music, not the kind you just listen to, but the kind that makes you stop and think. We believe in art as the universal language of the soul. We believe in color and all the shades. We believe that culture is meant to be experienced; through food & drink, art & dance, storytelling & songs. We believe in spontaneity and saying yes to surprise weekend getaways. We believe in long walks, on the beach, in the woods, to the tops of mountains around foreign cities while getting lost in winding alleys. We believe that if you like someone you should just go ahead and tell them. We believe in love and in passing love notes.
We believe magical moments happen for no reason at all. We believe there are guardian angels amongst us represented in people, in events, in feelings, we just have to be open to them. We believe that yoga can transform the way you live and feel. We believe in the yin and the yang of life, you can’t have beautiful flowers without rainy days. We believe in eating local and eating with the seasons. We believe in Pachamama and that the common ground we stand on unites us all. We believe this world is an amazing place.
We believe in love and the power of human connections and smiling at strangers. We believe everyone has a story to tell when one is willing to stop and listen. We believe in hugs over handshakes. We believe everything depends on our attitude; how we react will determine the outcome. We believe that finding your passion is what will make you happy, and being happy is what life's all about.
We believe that business can be a force for good and change the world for the better. We believe in leaders and in followers, a movement is made and grown when people join in. We believe that we can build an infrastructure that breaks down barriers around the world. And we believe in you to make this world a better place for all. We believe that we are stronger together and together we can build strong united communities. We believe in respect of people, places, ideas, and values.
We believe in living our values. We believe empowerment comes from within, you cannot empower anyone unless they feel it in their heart and soul. We believe in creating opportunities over giving hand outs. We believe that this world needs a little more empathy and a little less stereotyping. We believe in dignity over charity. We believe in learning from mistakes, actually we believe that it wasn’t a mistake as long as you learn from it. We believe in the power of the people to make change happen.
Only if one believes in something can one act purposefully. Believing is the passion and the engine that drives us, it’s what makes us wake up in the morning. We believe change - any change - is always for the best. We believe that if something is not OK, then it’s simply not the end.
What do you believe in?