When entrepreneur Abianne Falla won $180,000 at the Creator Awards, she knew that her company was about grow at a pace she had only dreamed about.
Falla is co-founder of CatSpring Yaupon, which makes tea from a plant that grows wild throughout Texas. To satisfy the growing demand for her product, she realized she needed to get more people out in the field.
“This award is going to make a difference almost immediately,” she said. “By this time next week we’re going to have more harvesters on the job.”
And that means great things for the local economy. The people she hires to pick yaupon — which is similar to yerba mate, a beverage popular throughout South America — have been through the prison system. The company is committed to helping these people get back on their feet.
“Everyone deserves a life of dignity,” says Falla. “We’re not giving them a second chance, just decent employment options. For us, success is when everybody in our community benefits.”
Over the course of a year, WeWork will be giving out more than $20 million at a series of events taking place in cities spanning the globe. Falla was one of 18 winners at the most recent competition, held in Austin. The next event will take place in London in September, followed by Mexico City in October.
Regional winners will have the opportunity to compete in the grand finale in New York City, which will be held in January 2018.
Falla says the Creator Awards are a unique opportunity for a business like CatSpring Yaupon.
“There aren’t too many awards out there for companies like ours,” says Falla. “We’re not a new startup. We haven’t created an app. We’re people who want to makes things better for our community.”
Falla, who founded CatSpring Yaupon with her sister JennaDee Detro, says in the packing department she hires women with a history of generational poverty. She’s already seen women breaking the cycle.
All the harvesting and packaging for her company is done by hand, so Falla says there are plenty of opportunities for jobs as the company scales.
“We’ve already built the boat,” says Falla. “It’s time to turn up the engine and really get going.”