019 – Bunny Yan of the Squirrelz – Successes from Mistakes

Reducing waste through creativity…

Bunny Yan, Materials Upcycling Specialist and Founder of the Squirrelz (an app allowing designers and marketers to tap into the designer community and benefit from the unused materials they’ve left over – (bio)) joins hosts Stephanie Benedetto and Samanta Cortes at the MouthMedia Network Studios.

From Shanghai to New Jersey, 25 million tons of waste daily, and success stories

Yan shares why her name is Bunny, why the company’s name is the Squirrelz, her background as born in Shanghai and raised in NJ, art, drawing, design, FIT, and being in fashion/marketing for 18 years working for urban wear companies, and designing for Busta Rhymes. Reducing waste through creativity, working with brands and turning their materials or marketing waste into products or providing them to others who can, such as trimmings, buttons, extra material waste etc. The first shared economy and free marketplace of its kind, and why Yan wants it to be free right now. How landfills receive 25 million tons/day of wasted materials. How it could be another resell platform. The process of downloading the app, browsing through, finding material you like, and then you match it to a place and then pick up the material. No money need, just sign in via social platform, promoting hyper local community-building in NYC, with an aim to be global. Stories of success such as someone claiming a recorder for their autistic daughter, and a design student who became a sewing teacher for another designer’s daughter, creating a job.

What’s in a name, monetizing, and re-purposing material

Why the name The Squirrelz — because they gather, and in contaminated areas you don’t see squirrels. Why they thought about changing their name and then didn’t. Why brands put so much material in landfills or burn them, remaking things into something else in current form, inspiring creativity, samples, and lab dips. How they monetize, with programs and partnerships with bigger brands, such as Tom’s Shoes providing defective shoes they previously had to burn, working with schoolchildren to paint on the shoes. No logistic, no storage, get marketing piece, and a tax write off. Banners and window clings after ad campaigns are always discarded, created line of bags with them. Discovering a what particular material does (i.e. fold, wrinkle burn, make a sound) and what can you make of those qualities and turn into something else that shares those characteristics in a better way.

Outsourcing sustainability, moving the 1%, and saved by a monk

How a mistake can become a success, working on what part of waste to get rid of first in a way you can benefit customers and continue to work within companies, outsourcing the sustainability department. The extraordinarily massive waste each year, playing connector to facilitate brands with designers, realizing talent and providing jobs while solving problems for brands. Upcycling as a part of bringing manufacturing back to the US, its ability to be an entire new industry, how it can allow more areas to access more desirable materials, and the opportunity for retails stores to upsell. And the goal to move 1% of material waste from landfills. Being saved by a monk when clapping bring terrifying cats in Japan, resisting a math scholarship for art leads to fashion education tips, and why ability doesn’t equate to destiny.

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