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Tim Brown and Joey Zwillinger: Making Footwear Sustainable, Comfortable and Cool

The Allbirds co-founders discuss leaving professional soccer and biotech behind to launch the sustainable, direct-to-consumer footwear company and why they believe natural materials make for better products and a better planet.

Zwillinger, on keeping sustainability core to the brand: “One of the things that I think is a little bit different is that we don't have corporate social responsibility in our company – we embed it throughout the entire company. So it's actually core to where we are. So we put [our VP or Innovation and Sustainability] in the product team. And so we basically make it a non-negotiable that our product has to be incredibly sustainable. And that then limits what we can look at, the materials we can look at, the processes we look at, the manufacturer. And that actually unlocks an amazing amount of creativity.” 

Brown, on the best piece of advice he’s ever received: “There’s a professor at Harvard Business School, Youngme Moon, who’s written a great book on innovation, and she talks about innovation sometimes being about taking stuff away. The assumption is it’s always about adding new things. But the idea that innovation can actually be about stripping stuff away, and I think that’s what we’ve done... that instinct [has been] really powerful for us.