Bryan Papé is the founder and CEO of B Corp Certified MiiR, the exclusive global provider of drinkware for Patagonia. MiiR has donated over $1.5 million towards projects that center around community and clean water. In this episode Bryan shares with us the story of MiiR and the power of persistence and resilience.
Product to Project – All the projects MiiR has worked on
These are some of the images created by John Keatley as part of the “Lose the waterbeard” campaign that Bryan mentions in this interview. Ian Goode of Gigantic Squid aided in bringing the waterbeard to life.
Below is a TEDTalk with MiiR founder Bryan Papé and the celebration video of when MiiR crossed the $1 million donated threshold.
Bryan Papé [0:02]
Building something of quality and worth takes time. But that time is worth it, because you can’t build rich relationships, you can’t build things that last, overnight.
Benn Marine [0:16]
From Dirigo Collective, this is responsibly different. Sharing stories of certified B Corporations and our journey of joining them in leveraging business as a force for good.
I’m Ben Marine, and in this episode, I hopped on the phone with the founder and CEO of B Corp certified MiiR, Bryan Papé. MiiR is the exclusive global provider of drinkware for Patagonia and has donated over $1.5 million to projects that center around clean water and supporting communities. Every time you purchase a product from or buy MiiR, whether it’s a water bottle, coffee filter, or from their beer and wine collections, it comes with a give code that you can enter on their site to see where the money from your purchase goes to make a difference in the world. Super cool. Not only are they doing incredible work to give back, their products are durable, functional and design forward. In this interview founder Bryan Papé shares with us how a near death experience, his entrepreneurial spirit, and a giving community birthed one of our favorite brands.
Where did the name MiiR come from? Is that John Muir reference? Or, how did that come to be?
Bryan Papé [1:36]
Yeah, the name MiiR is completely made up. So it’s kind of twofold. So you know, I wanted something unique. That was different in the marketplace, obviously, for differentiation, but then also for trademarks, globally, you know the more unique it is, the easier it is to kind of protect that brand name. And so yeah, it’s kind of twofold. So John Muir, M U I R, is kind of known as the godfather, or the grandfather of the National Park System, was kind of a land conservationist back in the day. And so it’s a bit of a tip of the cap to the outdoors, as we do sell in the outdoor space, and then Mir, M I R, in Eastern European languages means world peace or good. And so I thought that was super interesting. And so, so we’re kind of playing around with it. And then we put up two i’s, which makes it completely its own unique name. And the i’s are very symbolic in our in our company, you know, so it’s one person helping another. There’s a lot of duality, you know, world and peace. You know, there’s, I’m trying to think of some of the other one. I mean, there’s two i’s, there’s like water drops. And we’re all about design and generosity. So there’s, there’s this constant duality throughout our brand and is somewhat represented in our logo. So it’s, and miir.com was available in 2009, when I started working on the brand, so that was a bonus.
Benn Marine [2:54]
That’s awesome. That’s great. And I know that early on back when you were making some of the ski films and stuff that was part of the, you talked about in a TED talk, that that was part of the inspiration for kind of starting near and working to do good. And how have you taken that experience, that ski accident experience, and kind of kept it front and center and able to push both you and the company forward?
Bryan Papé [3:20]
Yeah, yeah. Great question. Yeah, so in 2006, when I was I was filming for a local mountain in Seattle, and making a film for them and ended up taking the wrong turn, hit a tree, unfortunately, and snapped my femur right in half. And my roommate at the time, had broken his femur about two years earlier and in a ski accident, and he went to the hospital, lived through it, but he came home from that accident said never break your femur, because if you hit your femoral artery, you can bleed to death in about 10 minutes. And so here I am, two years later thinking oh, no, like, I just broke my I know, my femur is broken me my leg was like off to the right, I could feel that it wasn’t connected. It was very, very weird. And, and I remembered, oh, if I hit my artery, like I will, I will be dead in 10 minutes from internal bleeding. And so I kind of had this very kind of surreal, calm moment, you know, sitting against this tree. As you know, the marketing manager was calling in ski patrol and preparing for a medivac. And, you know, the first at that time in 2006, I was very self focused, it was about me, my kind of mindset was, how could I make money for myself very internal focus, and even in the standpoint of like, I’ve been dating my girlfriend for three years. And the first thing I thought about was, you know, there’s this incredible woman I’m dating, I should probably marry her. So you know, that’s that just kind of points to how selfish I was. It took me like breaking my leg to kind of have that like, moment of clarity to realize I should probably, you know, move from dating to marriage. So we ended up getting married a year later. We’ve married for 13 years, and we, she actually works at MiiR as well, so she, we kind of, we work day in and day out together, and it’s a blast. We have two kids. And then the second thing that I thought about against that tree was, again, very self focused of what would people say about me at my funeral. And you know, very vain, right? A very vain thing to think about. And I realized that nobody would have gotten up at my funeral and said anything positive about me, or me helping people around me and my community, my neighborhood. You know, I was a funny guy, a jokester, you know, I was into business and sports and so it was kind of a wake up call for me. And so fast forward a couple years, I had a successful exit of another company I was involved in, we were selling hand warmers at the time, they activated hand warmers that you buy, like Costco or REI. So I took that experience in small business, and said, okay, now’s my opportunity to look for a new category that I want to get into. I was in the outdoor market, I saw stainless steel bottles, there’s a lot of kind of uninspiring designs out there. And so in 2010, or 2009, really was when I started working on it, and in 2010, launched MiiR and, you know, for me, because I had that life or death accident, that kind of that that kiss of death, almost, where you realize that, like how short life could be. And you know that nothing is guaranteed, you know, the next day isn’t guaranteed, the next minute isn’t guaranteed, and so really like holding things loosely, but also being very driven. Because, you know, I don’t know how much time I have on this on this planet. So I’m gonna make the most of it. Right. So I think I have a different mindset than a lot of people when it comes to, you know, growing a company and, you know, just just waking up with appreciation and gratitude every day, or at least I try to, that doesn’t happen every day. But yeah, it’s an interesting perspective to have.
Benn Marine [6:48]
I think one of the coolest things about MiiR and the things that you do, and I think what I’m personally most excited about, too, about the product, and kind of what you’ve accomplished is this concept of trackable giving. And that every bottle or container has a gift code in which you can track where the money from your purchase goes. I just think it’s I think it’s brilliant. And I imagine it was really hard to execute and kind of come up with, I’m curious, where did the inspiration for the idea come from? And what did the process look like to bring it to life?
Bryan Papé [7:19]
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, great, great question. And it’s one of my favorite things, too. And it’s like, now 10 years after it, it feels like such an obvious, like, of course, we would do this, right. And at the time, in 2010, you know, social enterprise wasn’t really a thing in 2010, you know, like, like, doing business for good. You know, Patagonia was obviously up and coming, and they were a big company, you know, but it wasn’t certainly kind of this, this not the status quo. But as well accepted in the consumer market, you know, people weren’t thinking about this sort of thing in 2010. And so, you know, just just knowing that every single transaction had an impact was really exciting, you know, is very motivating. So when you have hard days, and you realize that every single, you know, every single company, you sell everything, you know, every single bottle that you sell, is going to have an impact is really cool. And it’s actually you know, it’s, I’d love to say it was my idea, but it was it was my wife, and I go into Liberia, Africa, we worked on a couple of clean water projects with some local partners there. And we came back from that trip. And I showed one of my friends who was one of our first customers, I showed him photos from this trip. And he was he kind of connected the dots. And Pat said, hey, so the bottle that I bought, helped fund this clean water project. He’s like, that is so cool. Like, nobody’s ever, you know, kind of connected those dots. And that’s when a huge light bulb went off. And I was like, Oh, my gosh, we have to connect the dots to our customers, you know, we got to like, show them that like this purchase does this thing, right. And so that was kind of the beginning of it. So 2011, we started working this idea, we, we originally started off with bracelets, you know, so if anyone’s been around with a brand for you know, 9,10 years, you remember the bracelets that had unique codes on it, they’re quite expensive. And so we had to find a less expensive solution. Because you know, people were like either throwing them away on accident or didn’t know about it. And so we end up switching to stickers, which again, you know, people because we’re like, oh, people put a sticker on their car, they’re notebook, it’ll be really cool. A lot of people were just like throwing the stickers away, because I didn’t realize, you know, there’s code on there. And so we ended up moving to basically laser etching the code, basically on the bottom of every bottle, so it’s permanent. So it’s actually on the bottom of every single product, there’s a code on the bottom of it. And you can go onto our website, miir.com/give, and you can register your code. And you can see all the giving projects that we have, you can you can see dollars granted, you can see information about the nonprofit, what project we’re working on with them, photos, videos, a couple of them have VR experiences, you know, where we set up VR camera with a nonprofit partner to kind of get that, you know, first hand experience of somebody at a well. So there’s a lot of work to do there. But that was kind of the idea and it’s been it’s our super fans are really into it, which is cool.
Benn Marine [9:57]
That’s great. And I’m curious, how do you find those projects? That your funding around the world?
Bryan Papé [10:02]
Yeah, you know, it’s some of it’s been a bit of organic. You know, the first, the first clean water project. So it’s almost like like minded people sometimes find them, find you cross paths. Just kind of happenstance, you know, serendipitously. And the first clean water project that we worked on, you know, we did some funding early on 2010 with Charity Water. And I actually reached out to them and I said, hey, I’d love to go on a trip, I’d really love to experience what it’s like for people and not have clean drinking water. I felt like that was really important. If we’re going to talk about funding clean water projects, it felt like I couldn’t just talk about it without actually meeting anybody who had not experienced clean, clean drinking water in their communities. And so they actually said, oh, we don’t do we don’t do, clean water, you know, we don’t do donor trips. And I thought, well, that’s too bad. You know, I kind of just like shut it off. If it’s meant to be it’s meant to be, and then during a photo shoot, like probably a month into the brand, this gal who was one of the models, we were doing this kind of what funny water beard series. If you Google like MiiR water beards, you’ll see these really funny photo, this ad campaign that we did about, you know, wide mouth bottles, like Nalgene to get water over your face. And when you’re trying to drink, like drink water in the car and the whole thing. And so anyway, we photographed this gal, she goes, hey, you know, I’m not really into networking. But my brother in law, he builds wells in Liberia. And he’s been working there for like 30 years now. I was like, yeah, I’d love to meet him. So I meet this guy Darl. He had been working, his grandparents had been working over Liberia for like, like I said, 30 plus years. And he started a nonprofit with some of the locals there to help build clean water systems. And so he was like, hey, I’m going there in February of 2011. If you want to go, let me know. And so I thought, wow, yeah, we’d love to go. So by that time, we had sold enough product to fund two clean water projects. So we flew over to Liberia. And that was like the, you know, the first clean water project experience. And then from there, it’s, you know, word starts to get out that in Seattle is a very philanthropic community. So we’ve been, we’ve been connected to many, many great nonprofits, just kind of through social media, people reaching out to us, friends of friends. And then now, as the brand’s grown, we definitely get a lot of requests. And so we have to filter those requests. And we our framework has kind of clean water. And that extends to, you know, clean water systems, like clean rivers, clean water streams, and then strong communities. You know, because we’re, we want to be able to invest in our local communities as well. So clean waters not an issue in Seattle. But there’s certainly a lot of issues that we want to invest in here locally in Seattle. So whether that’s Herbert Artworks, which helps with after school, or you know, previously after school programs, by getting kids into art and and partnering up with, like graffiti artists and doing really, really cool murals across the city, all the way to, you know, getting kids onto bicycles. And so the strokes of grant making have been, become a little more broad. And then obviously, with the investment in the environment, we’ve made some news there. And then more recently, you know, with, the Black Lives Matter movement, we’ve made some investments into a couple nonprofits, one of them, which is super rad, Black Girl Ventures. So we’re actually supporting them, a grant to their community to help with basically, with black and brown women entrepreneurs to help fund startups. So I’m very passionate about entrepreneurs and startups. And so it felt like a great match for us.
Benn Marine [13:22]
That’s awesome. You guys, I think are also working on and I just thought this was the coolest thing. I think it’s a year of rest, for activists of color, that have been like in the work like to have like, yeah, some respite, which, as somebody who’s previously done a lot of political activism work, I know, like, that’s, it’s so important. I’m curious, do you have a favorite project so far that you’ve worked on or?
Bryan Papé [13:45]
Gosh, that’s it, you know, more recently, I think the Black Girl Ventures one is, is really near and dear to my heart. Primarily because I just I absolutely believe in, in business and market economies. And especially small businesses, small and medium sized businesses are kind of the heartbeat of America. And it’s really a way for entrepreneurs to realize, you know, the American Dream is different for every person, but the idea of being able to start something, and grow something, is certainly unique in this country, and to be able to provide some funds to be able to empower people to start their own businesses, potentially coach and mentor where we’re fit, I just think is really, really, I just feel fortunate to be able to do that and to share from my experiences. You know, maybe there’s some things to glean there as far as you know, whether its best practices on hiring or growing or software or certainly the mistakes I’ve made along the way so others don’t make those mistakes. But yeah, that’s that’s a great one, you know, always hold Liberia near and dear to my heart. Cuz that was one of our first clean water projects. You know, I was in Myanmar a few years ago. And I think, you know, the connective tissue between all of our giving projects, is for the most part, it’s usually involves people, right? Because even if it’s an environmental nonprofit, there’s still people that run that nonprofit, or there’s people on the ground, you know, Women’s Wilderness in Colorado, you know, who are getting marginalized communities out to the outdoors, helping them, you know, experience things that typically have just been hard to access or just, you know, you don’t, you only typically go into things, that like, you see other people like yourselves do. And so how do we get other people out into the world or starting businesses, you know, if all the media talks about is just like, you know, white San Francisco bros, starting companies, it’s harder for other people to imagine themselves starting their own companies, right. And so I think the connective tissue is, is the people, and worldwide by far, you know, from Myanmar to Seattle, to Liberia, meeting these people who are, you know, just so grateful, and filled with joy and excited to be alive, even even if they’re on $1 or $2 a day, and what might seem bleak to us, they’re full of life and passion to help out their community. And I think that’s so inspiring to take that, you know, back to our own communities. You know, I think a lot of people idolize the US and in the opportunity, and there’s certainly opportunity here. And yet, I think the community of some other countries is just far beyond, we’ve lost a little bit of that ability to help our neighbor. You know, in Myanmar, specifically, you know, the devastation from Cyclone Nargis was incredible. And you have these families, where are these villages where, you know, it was a population of like, maybe 500 people, and the cyclone literally took out half the population. So now you have a community that has 250 people, and then families are being rebuilt, you know, someone’s, you know, mom or dad may have been swept to sea, you know, and they’re finding, you know, kind of another family and they’re, they’re kind of partnering up and creating these, you know, kind of blended unique families and making a go out of it. So things like that are certainly inspiring, where, you know, you’re having a rough day, and it’s like, a good perspective is always nice.
Benn Marine [17:07]
That’s super real. I’m curious with the some of the bit on the kind of looking at the business side of it. How did B Corp enter the picture? Like, what was the some that you kind of always knew about? Or? How did that come onto your radar?
Bryan Papé [17:21]
Yeah, great question. I, you know, it’s funny as I never, I put off B Corp for a while. So 2012, I think we started going to trade shows. And this guy Andy, who worked there, you know, you come by our booth, Oh, you got you, your company would be perfect for B Corp, you should totally apply for this. And at that time, we were already doing the B Corp thing. We’re very transparent. I was like, I mean, maybe but like, we’re already like, we already tell our customers how much we give. We’re already very transparent. You know, we’re doing a lot of this stuff. Like we’re good. I, you know, I don’t need to pay for certification. I’m trying to save every dollar I can to grow the business. So I was kind of like, I don’t know, man, he just kept like, wearing me down, like every trade show we go to, and he was there, like pitching me b Corp, he’s like, you’re the perfect company for this. And so, finally, I was like, Alright, alright, we’ll do it. You know. And so you fill out the assessment. I still remember. The assessment is really long, like, it’s not easy, you know, hats off to everybody that gets to the B Corp assessment, because it is in depth and it gets harder and harder every other year. As we I’m about to finish it. And when you’re running a company, you have like, no employees or two employees. It’s you’re doing everything. And so it just kind of got put on the backburner. And then Andy calls me up. He’s like, hey, man, you got to finish it within like the next two weeks, or you got to start all over again. And I was like no, I don’t want to start over again. So anyway, jammed through the B Corp assessment. We get certified. And right about the same time that we got certified, Patagonia emailed us and said, hey, we’d love to partner with you. And so it was kind of like a really serendipitous timing, because you know, Patagonia was a B Corp. They are really passionate about any sort of outside vendors, we’re also being B Corps as well. So it was you know, call it luck. Call it fate. The timing was fantastic.
Benn Marine [19:06]
So is that how Patagonia found you, was through your B Corp certification?
Bryan Papé [19:12]
No, they actually, they didn’t know we were a B Corp. But that was one of the things they’re like, so you know, we kind of need you to be a B Corp for us to work together. We’re like, oh, we just got approved. And they were like, great. So they actually found us through, just online. They were looking around for a drinkware partner. They had one at a time that was doing you know, I think okay, we just had a different approach to design and philanthropy that was attractive to them, you know, and so it started off in 2013. And, you know, here we are seven years later, and we’re the we’re the exclusive global provider for drinkware for Patagonia. Which even saying that is like, I mean, it’s such an honor to work with them. I kind of I love that brand growing up as a kid, you know, in the outdoor space. It was the nicest gear. You know, Yvon is certainly an icon in the outdoor industry. And so, just like his mindset about business was super interesting and counterintuitive and amazing. And so, you know, it’s always one of those things where like, I wanted to work with them. And again, I just, like minded people somehow find a way to partner. And so, yeah we got super lucky, you know the emails at the right time. And, you know, I’ve been able to interact with Yvon a handful of times, we actually, were asked to design a camping stove pot for them. You know, was supposed to launch this year, we showed it at Outdoor Retailer in January. And with COVID, some plans changed with that product will be coming out for market in 2021. But you can see it online. And yeah, we were essentially asked by Patagonia by their kind of advanced materials team to develop a part for their cooking stove that Yvon Chouinard had worked on. So it was it was a big honor to be able to sit down, interact with Yvon on a product design, and he doesn’t drink coffee. But I showed him our pourigami, which is our, which is our coffee dripper, portable flat pack dripper. And it’s great for backpacking, travel and whatnot. And I showed it to him. And he was kind of like, wow, this is actually, he was like, I don’t drink coffee, but this is this is a really cool product. Like great, you know, like, just kudos from from Yvon felt pretty good.
Benn Marine [21:15]
That’s awesome. Do you have any favorite moments with Yvon?
Bryan Papé [21:18]
Yeah, you know, I’ll never forget, we were I was in his office. And we were, we had just gotten back, I was with some other people from Patagonia out in DC, we were with the Outdoor Industry Association doing some lobbying work. And I’ve never really been exposed to lobbying, or essentially what lobbying is at the most basic form is you go to DC and you meet with your congressmen and women. And you tell them what you’re passionate about, and why the outdoors matter and why the environment matters. And so that was a cool experience to have. And you’re with your competitors to, you know is there with with Scott, the CEO of Hydroflask, and, you know, the guy that was running Stanley PMI at the time, so it’s kind of cool, because you’re with your competitors, and you’re standing for something that’s bigger than yourself. And I was there with some of the Patagonia folks. And so you went there, and you know, you. I specifically remember and I’m totally blanking on his name, the really, really tall guy who has the, you know, Ryan Zinke, you know, big, gregarious guy, tall, you know, well dressed and we had this breakfast, and he spoke at it. And, you know, he’s talking about how, you know, the outdoors mattered. And he was from Montana, and you’re like, oh, okay, yeah, we’re gonna get somewhere with this guy. You know, Trump appointed him, we’re a little nervous. And I had never, this is the first time I was exposed in person to such blatant lies, where you say one thing in a breakfast, and you literally go out the next day, and address the press, and basically unlock land for oil and gas in Bears Ears. I mean, literally, like within hours, you know, within like days, right. And so I don’t know, it was it was one of the things where I just felt tricked and con. And I was like, I was so gullible to think that this guy meant what he said. You know, I grew up in a family where your word was your bond. And then they go to DC and experience something completely different. Which is fascinating. And so then anyway, all that to say, when I was in Yvon’s office, months later, I was just talking about that experience. And he just, he just, he was like, those people back there. They’re just a bunch of fossils. And I just said, I don’t know, I’ll never forget that. Just call it like it was a bunch of fossils.
Benn Marine [23:26]
That’s awesome. That’s great. I’m curious, that process of actually certifying and going through the assessment, did you find that there were little nuggets in there that have helped the business that maybe you didn’t anticipate kind of helping in that way?
Bryan Papé [23:41]
Yeah, I think that was, yeah, that was probably one of the biggest surprises to me, because I, you know, I knew about the assessment, the assessment has gotten much more stringent and strict, and there’s a lot better questions and pieces in there, and, kind of a trail of how to get better as a company. You know, I think I thought it was just like, oh, they evaluate what you do. And it’s like, you’re good to go, you know, and now, and I mean, it was then, you know, back in 2013. But even more so now it’s, it’s a bit of, hey, here’s where you’re at. And then here’s like a new standard, or a better way to do it, or a different way to think about whether it’s your supply chain, your hiring, excuse me, your hiring practices, things that you may not have even considered before. So there’s, I’m trying to think of some specific examples of, you know, maybe how, you know, when you’re, and some of them you just can’t answer, right. So when we first certified, we were like a sub sub tenant in a building. And so for us to calculate our energy usage in our office or warehouse was like, impossible. You know, so we actually had no idea what our Co2 emissions were, we just, we didn’t know. And there was no way to find out, you know, and so some of those things you’d have to skip. And so now, you know, we’re actually to kind of like able to dial into some of those things. You know, some of the intentional decisions like our flagship store in Seattle, is actually LEED Platinum certified You know, the building collects rainwater, it uses the grey water in the bathrooms for toilets, not for showers, you know, that stuff is clean water, you know, things like that, you know, we made intentional decisions of, you know, we’re gonna choose to have, you know, some of our places in really green spaces.
Benn Marine [25:18]
That’s really cool. Are there, in terms of actually getting certified from that moment that you said, okay, fine, like, I’m gonna do it, to actually certify. And how long did that process take?
Bryan Papé [25:29]
I think it was six months or so of like, actually filling out the application, and getting everything kind of dialed in. And, you know, cuz you’re uploading, you know, like pay scales and gosh like, you know, supply chain stuff, and you know, units and volume. And, you know, now we have kind of a cohort internally that helps with the assessment every time we reassess, because your reassessment, I believe is like every other year, every third year, you have to reassess. And now it’s quite a bit of work, right? So we have, you know, we have our sale flagship, we have our warehouse, our DC, which is north of Seattle. And then we have now we have a China office. And so there’s just kind of layers of complexity that now have to be factored into the certification, but it’s good, it’s good. It’s, it’s kind of like a rising tide, right. So there’s just like, every year, it gets harder and harder. And the goal is that the overall goal of B Corp is like, Can we be all become better business throughout our journey, as opposed to just like, oh, we met the mark, and we’re good.
Benn Marine [26:31]
Yeah, for sure. So we’re kind of only ankle deep in our own process. And there’s so much that we’ve learned that like, oh, my gosh, we wouldn’t even have thought about that. Just even in terms of just like good business practice in terms of even like, like little bookkeeping, things like, oh, like, that’s, like just a really smart thing to do. You know, in addition to just doing good in the world, and using business as a force for good.
Bryan Papé [26:56]
Benn Marine [26:59]
You mentioned that you have kind of a cohort that helps with the B Corp recertification. I’m curious, how does that work? Like, especially like thinking about if there are folks like, like us, or other businesses listening, that are also working on certification and looking for strategies to work through it? What are some kind of recommendations? Or how does that cohort work?
Bryan Papé [27:19]
Yeah, we, we had our head of impact, kind of lead the charge, he has a master’s degree in nonprofit management. So he has a pretty good understanding of how to research and document some of the stuff that we need. So he kind of leads the charge. But then we also have somebody from supply chain, we have somebody from marketing, we have myself, operations, kind of all contributing to the assessment, because it within the assessment, you’ll have, you know, fairly complex questions about, you know, how many, like to calculate your carbon emissions, you have to know how many units what size they are, what’s the weights, where they’re coming from, to factor in all of that piece of it, right, so our head of impact isn’t gonna know that. So, you know, it has to be a collaborative process, at a certain point. You know, when it first certified 2013, I was doing most of the work, like, we had two or three employees at the time. And so, you know, there was help from from people there, but it was, you know, now with, you know, 50 employees around the world, you know, now we have to like factor in payrolls, and now we’re including, like, head of people into there, you know, so there’s, I think, make collaboration at the center of the center of it. And then you’d have to stay discipline because it’s, it’s, I’ll be frank, it’s a lot of work. It’s, it’s a lot of inputs. There, and there’s things that you’re like, well, I guess we can fill this out, but it’s gonna take a lot, a lot of time. So you have to also make business decisions where it’s, you know, for us to calculate how much our office composts, you know, maybe we can calculate that or do a better job of it, we’re pretty good at because we’re in Seattle, and people are used to composting, you know, so it’s some of those things where, like, we might miss some points on it. We know where our areas of improvement are, for sure. But we also have to run the company too. So…
Benn Marine [29:05]
For sure, that makes sense. Um, speaking of B Corps, do you have favorite B Corps that you like, aspire to? Or are you like, oh, my gosh,
Bryan Papé [29:13]
Benn Marine [29:14]
We want to be here, or are just that you appreciate?
Bryan Papé [29:18]
Yeah, I mean, for sure, Patagonia. You know, I think they they’ve always kind of been an older sibling to us. You know, we’ve asked them questions about how do you address your electricity uses at your DC or, you know, how do you you know, how do you what are the what are the benefits of lights that turn off automatically? Is is the cost benefit in that, you know, analysis worth it or not? So there’s you know, I think Patagonia is, they’ve been doing it for so long, I was just thinking differently about how to run a company that, you know, hats off to them and just how they think about product and lifecycle of product is really inspiring. You know, Ben and Jerry’s is also is a great, great shining example, as well as a B Corp. So those are two, for us, that are certainly inspiring. And certainly with Patagonia as being a consumer product brand. And seeing it done right is is pretty, pretty exciting.
Benn Marine [30:10]
That’s great. What, what have been some of your favorite moments in your journey of starting, launching MiiR, and seeing it through these past 10 years, and congratulations on 10 years!
Bryan Papé [30:22]
Thank you. Yeah, it feels like just yesterday, but it also feels, sometimes it feels like a really long time we’ve been in business, it feels like we’ve accomplished something, I’ll be honest, I feel like at 10 years, being in business and still growing and still excited waking up every day really, really passionate for the journey ahead. I just, I don’t know, I don’t know why I thought would be here in 10 years. But I’m, I’m glad to be here. And it’s exciting. Some of my favorite moments. You know, in a weird way. 2020 has been such a, I have to be careful about how I say this. Such a gift. And let me explain that, and unpack that, is that, you know, I certainly don’t wish a pandemic on anybody from an economical standpoint, of small businesses shutting down, of the actual disease, the death that’s occurring. All that aside, I’m choosing to figure out how I can be what am I in charge of and what can I change and be responsible for, because it’s easy to get bent out of shape about things that you can’t control, for things that I can control my business, how I motivate and inspire my employees, it kind of shifted my focus of instead of just like, grow, grow, grow, grow, just heads down, like, on it, I’ve kind of taken a step back and been, let’s continue to build the foundation of how we operate as a company, let’s, take some time to build in some leadership development with our people, I spent a tremendous amount of time thinking about culture, and how do we make MiiR a place that if somebody leaves, because, you know, their spouse gets a job somewhere else, and they need to leave, or they choose to find it, you know, they top out, they want to accelerate their career, and there’s not a spot from them at MiiR or whatever the circumstances that somebody leaves MiiR, I’ve always aspired for MiiR to be a place that people look back at fondly, and, consider themselves an alum. So that in the future, you know, we ever had a party or a get together, you know, celebrating some sort of event, those folks who had worked here prior would would want to come up and show up, you know, and remember, like, oh, I was a part of, you know, the Class of, you know, 2012 to 2015, that, you know, these are the crazy things that happened. So I think this year has been really good to, to learn to reset, to be more mindful, to spend time thinking about what’s important to the business, and not just always always in the minutiae. I mean, for sure, March was like chaotic, like, so many hours where I’ve never worked harder in my life in March, than I did in March of this year. But I think I’ve never stepped back and been more reflective as I have, and in June and July of this year, so that’s, it’s a weird thing to say that I’m I’m certainly I’m choosing to find a way to enjoy 2020 as opposed to writing it off as a dumpster fire. And this, you know, this this year, that’s a throwaway year, there’s a lot of great things and lessons to be learned in 2020, for sure. You know, partnering with Patagonia will always kind of be a bright memory, and a moment of a turning point. You know, there’s there’s definitely some times in the history of MiiR where early on, it was hard to like, keep going, you know, do I quit, we had, we had one of our good family friends, he was he was the founder of Hulu. And I think in 2012, or 2013, there was a job position that opened up in L.A. for Hulu. And Jason was like, hey, I think you should apply for this position. I looked at it and it paid well, and I was like, you know, Jason is an incredible businessman. And I really admire him. And, you know, I took a hard look at, I think I even applied to a couple of interviews. You know, so looking back at almost almost gave up many times. And what was around the corner after I almost gave up was just amazing, you Patagonia reaching out, like not us cold calling, them reaching out to us, you know, and you know, 2015, 2016 at a trade show, Blue Bottle. You know, day one, first 10 minutes of the show, they beeline to our booth, and they’re like, we want to work with you, all your designs are on point. We love your mission. We love your brand. And you know, Blue Bottles, like when Blue Bottles kind of up and coming in. And I, and I knew who they were because I’ve been to California and I really, really respected the work that they were doing in the coffee space. And so some of those key moments were amazing. And then, you know, I think traveling the world has been probably one of the greatest gifts of starting my own company. That I certainly try not to take for granted. You know, I’ve been to dozens of countries and I get to sit down with our partners, whether it’s our distributors or customers in these countries. And we’re very aligned with with similar like minded people in the sense of people who are focused around community, doing good, the environment. And so we’ve had incredible meals around the world with our friends, you know, Patagonia is global. So we’ve we’ve spent time in Korea and Japan and China, with our Patagonia partners over there. And so you, the meals that we’ve had with people and our customers are some of my favorite traveling with team members around the world, you know, and introducing people to certain experiences that I’ve had or favorite restaurants, you know, and Hong Kong and bringing our sales team along and, and showing them and making and building relationships, you know. Everywhere, everywhere I go, it’s, you know, it’s been fun to build relationships. So those aren’t necessarily specific things. And then, you know, being able to work with my wife, we always wanted to work together. And so we you know, we have the we have a we have a wild life, you know, we’re with each other 24/7, so it’s a, we have two kids, it’s a beautiful chaos. So yeah, those are some of the fun memories,
Benn Marine [35:54]
Any advice that you would want to impart on listeners?
Bryan Papé [35:57]
Yeah, yeah, I think for for any, any business owner or entrepreneur, you know, just the advice just remain, you know, if you can stay in business, you know, continue that, that passion. You know, it’s certainly it’s not easy, you know, but I, I’ve been told many times, a lot of things that aren’t good, or a lot of things that are good, aren’t easy. You know, and so, as tempting as this society is, you know, where it’s like instant gratification, you know, on Instagram and social media and all these things where we get, you know, Amazon Prime, you get things in two hours, in a day, you know, building something of quality and worth takes time. But that time is worth it. Because you can’t build rich relationships. You can’t build things that last, overnight. And I think that’s one thing, what whether you’re consumer, a business owner, you’re starting a business, you want to be a B Corp. The media, I think, tempts us with the stories of, you know, private equity and these massive valuations and venture capital, you know, these of these companies out of Silicon Valley or CPG companies, they get, you know, they’re worth a billion dollars or $100 billion dollars, or whatever it is, you know, there’s this temptation to grow and to be like that. And I believe there’s another path, there’s a different path. And that path has been proven by companies like Patagonia, MiiR, to an extent we’re only 10 years old, but, you know, we’re taking a path of endurance, of longevity, of quality, of worth, of generosity, you know, we’ve granted over $1.5 million, and certainly, you know, $1.5 million, would take us to a lot of trade shows that would put more money in my pocket. But that’s, that’s not ultimately what it’s about. So, you know, I think that long road is a worthwhile road.
Benn Marine [37:54]
To learn more about MiiR you can visit their website at miir.com that’s M I I R.com. As always, we have links to their site and social accounts in the show notes, as well as some bonus material, all of which you can find at responsiblydifferent.com. Also, MiiR has some really exciting stuff coming up for holiday season, so keep an eye open for that. I know I cannot believe the holidays are upon us, but they will be very soon. So for fellow business owners that are listening to this and planning out some of those client holiday gifts, they do, do custom orders of 30 bottles or more. We’re super jazzed because we’re putting together an order right now that we’ll be doing for gifts for our clients. And speaking of the holidays, I know all of you listening are huge B Corp fans. And we want to remember to keep B Corps top of mind as we’re shopping this holiday season, you can head over to the B Corp website, use their directory to find pretty much anything you would want to buy for someone there. Another super fun find that I found recently when looking for a b Corp bookstore, if you’re looking to purchase books is betterworldbooks.com. Not only can you get the books you’re looking for, but your dollars also support literacy programs, which is super cool. So support businesses that are putting people and planet first and ask your friends and family to do the same. It’s so important. We’re all in this together. Thank you, be well and be Responsibly Different.
This is a production of Dirigo Collective. Music composed by our own Kevin Oates. You can follow us on social media @dirigocollective or visit our corner of the internet at dirigocollective.com.