Chief Executive Officer, First Mile & Day Owl; Founder & Board Chair, WORK
Ian is the founder of WORK (Board Chair), First Mile (CEO), and Day Owl (CEO). WORK places the poor into jobs in landfill communities. First Mile has redirected over 140 Million plastic bottles from landfills and the ocean and transformed them into consumer goods for global brands trying to find value in authenticity, transparency, and responsibility. Day Owl is the world’s first 100% circular backpack brand, made out of First Mile materials, that helps the wearer feel ready to take on the world.
Ian is a sector expert on the transition in retail to sustainability and circularity. At Day Owl he and his team have created a product set that not only leverages First Mile approved materials for primary construction inputs and the most sustainable material offerings for every other part of their products (algae-based foam, recycled zippers and zipper tape, the complete elimination of adhesives, etc) but created a way to take back and repair its products again and again. The brand calls its circular offerings “Day Owl Misfits” for older products or factory overages/ defects and “YesterDay Owl”, for secondhand and trade-in products. Customers are offered money towards their next Day Owl product in exchange for their current one, which is then refurbished and sold again. In addition to returning the product, customers are also invited to share their personal stories as to their life experiences, accomplishments, and struggles while they owned their bags. These stories are matched to each bags unique serial identifying tag, then merchandised along with the refurbished product, thereby increasing the emotional durability of the good.
Ian has spoken about his work at SXSW, Harvard Business School, and the United Nations. He is a 2016 Barclay’s Unreasonable Impact Fellow and currently sits on the Ocean Conservancy’s Technical Advisory Committee for the Elimination of Plastic Waste. He has directed nearly $10 Million to need-based communities with too much plastic and not enough jobs so far.
In February 2015, Ian founded and participated in the first Run Across Haiti, a 200 Mile adventure race across Haiti from north to south (sign up here!). His team is most proud of having a line of sight to helping the community end child labor on the Truittier landfill in Port-au-Prince. He is a proud Penn Stater, where he earned a BS in Integrated Social Sciences with a focus on Race and Ethnic Relations.
Ian believes that ending poverty, climate change, and the plastic crisis is all but certain by the time he and his wife Raashi have grandchildren.