Bamboo Stacking Bowls

The following article is reprinted from Head Butler

Bamboo Stacking Bowls, Earth+

By JESSE KORNBLUTH 
Published: Jun 05, 2013
Category: Home

Because the readers of HeadButler.com are apparently considered to be an elite audience — educated, successful, rich — and because I apparently program this site for people who can read without moving their lips, I was invited to speak at a “luxury summit.”

(You are educated, successful and rich, aren’t you?)

(You don’t move your lips when you read, do you?)

It was a strange experience. In a glass-walled room at Bloomberg, speakers talked about metrics and analytics and lifestyles and content and social media. For the most part, I had no idea what they were saying.

So when I got up, I began like this: “There’s a jerk on every panel, and I guess I’m it. Social media? To me, it’s not media, it’s something different, and less. Lifestyle? You don’t have one, you have a life. Content is king? Content, for me, is the Styrofoam pellets they put in boxes as filler; for me, there is only writing, and as everybody knows, writers sit at the back of the bus. And the only metric that matters is authenticity, because in a world of slick media, that’s what smart, educated, rich readers are desperate for.”

And so on.

When it was over, men crowded around the speakers who knew about analytics and social media. Women wanted to talk to me. One of those women was Virginia P’an. She said she was developing eco-friendly products my readers might like. We traded cards.

When I got home, I looked Ms. P’an up. How’s this for over-achieving: “the first woman Vice President at American Express Bank, the first female Advisor to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the first woman worldwide to manage investment portfolios in excess of 7 billion dollars, and the first female Chinese-American professional on Wall Street.”

Well, now she may be doing it again. She wants her company — Yumi EcoSolution, and yes, she’s the founder and CEO — to be “the premier eco-friendly products company for the 21st century.” “

Her most accessible product: the set of five Stacking Bowls. They’re dishwasher safe. (They’re not safe for ovens or microwaves.) The Stacking Bowls look like plastic, but they’re made from bamboo. They’re multi-colored, attractive, useful. They’re excellent hostess presents. And, as they used to say, the bamboo bowls are “conversation starters.” [To order the Stacking Bowls from Amazon, click here.]

The Stacking Bowls are one-offs. The Yumi focus is on disposable plates and utensils. Here’s P’an’s pitch: “Plastics use up to 8% of all oil consumed worldwide, plastics make up 15% of all solid waste in landfills, plastics can be harmful to our health, plastics can last 1,000 years or more after they are thrown away.” In stark contrast, her Yumi products — made from corn starch and other plant-based materials — “require only 10% of the energy it takes to make paper and only 16% of the energy it takes to make plastic.” When you’re done with Yumi plates, cups and utensils? Use them for compost. In 180 days, it’s as if they never existed. Yumi, P’an says, is “the throwaway that goes away.”

Yumi plates and utensils are terrific — they can be frozen, microwaved, heated in the oven and washed in the dishwasher — but the shipping costs on Amazon are almost as much as the products. Only true believers need apply.

But the Stacking Bowls? Useful. Ecological. Conversation starters.

FUN FACTS ABOUT YUMI ECOSOLUTION

Its website is hosted on a wind-powered server.

Wrigley Field uses its products for all stadium snack bars and concession stands.

Yumi products have been sold since 2006 in China, Korea, and Japan and, beginning in 2009, in Italy.

Each package of Yumi plates or cups saves the equivalent of one gallon of gasoline in the amount of energy used to make paper or plastic.

Congratulations to our Founder and CEO Virginia P'an!

We are pleased to announce that Virginia P'an, our Founder and CEO has been recognized as one of the 2016 Outstanding 50 Asian Business leaders in the country. This award was presented by the Asian American Business Development Center at their 15th annual Gala Awards Dinner.

Biomaterials Tech Company Creates Innovative Plastics Alternative

The following article is reprinted from Innovation Destination Hartford.

Innovation Destination Hartford Website Curator Nan Price recently spoke with Virginia P’an, Chief Executive Officer of Yumi EcoSolutions, Inc. The social business venture startup manufactures innovative, premium-quality products made from sustainable and renewable biomaterials and is committed to creating a more sustainable planet.

 

PRICE: Tell me about the name “Yumi.” I read somewhere that it means “corn” in Chinese and “beautiful” in Japanese?

P’AN: Yes. And “Yumi” actually stands for “you and me.” Together, we are creating a healthier planet.

PRICE: That’s clever. Did you always know you’re going to be an entrepreneur?

P’AN: Not really. I’ve had about six or seven different careers now. I’m a serial entrepreneur; this is my third company. At this point in my life I wanted to give back to the community and our world at large. I want to create a healthier, better, more sustainable world for the future generation. That’s why I’m in this business.

PRICE: What do you think are the most critical skills you need as an entrepreneur?

P’AN: Well, you have to be a pretty driven person to be an entrepreneur because you’re working 24/7. And you have to stay focused. You can’t get distracted, otherwise won’t be able to accomplish anything.

PRICE: You touched on how you developed the business concept for Yumi EcoSolutions. Can you give us more background about the company?

P’AN: We are a sustainable biomaterials technology company. Biomaterials today is where plastics was in the 1960s. And now, of course, plastics is ubiquitous. It’s a $500 billion industry. And it’s destroying our planet.

To demonstrate that these biomaterials are viable, Yumi EcoSolutions got into the consumer products business with our Return® disposable natural starch products and also with our Yumi Nature+™ products, which are reusable. We’re replacing plastics, which are petroleum-based, and proving that these biomaterials are viable and can make beautiful products.

PRICE: And even though you can recycle plastics, they are not compostable, like your products.

P’AN: There’s a big difference between recycling and composting. Our products are compostable, which means they become peat moss or dirt, which becomes part of the Earth.

Recycling has become very big, but there is a misnomer in the market. Recycling is a step in the right direction, but certainly not the ultimate solution because with recycling, what are you recycling? You’re recycling plastic. You’re putting it through a tremendous amount of toxic chemicals to be able to reconstitute a new product. When you use recycled products what do you have at the end of the product? You still have plastic. Right?

PRICE: Right.

P’AN: So the recycling industry has done a very good job of not telling consumers that because people don’t think through the whole lifecycle.

PRICE: That’s true. As a consumer you think: I’m putting this plastic in the recycling bin and I’m doing good for the Earth.

P’AN: You are doing better than not recycling. It’s a step in the right direction, but certainly not the ultimate solution.

PRICE: So that was sort of the genesis of starting this specific company—to make an environmental impact?

P’AN: Absolutely. Aside from being a profit-oriented company, we’re really a social venture. Our real objective is to create a healthier and more sustainable planet for future generations, as those are the people who will be impacted—your kids and your grandkids. And look what we’re doing right now.

 

Yumi Nature+

 

PRICE: Yumi EcoSolutions was launched in 2010. How did you fund the company when you were first starting out?

P’AN: Let me give you a little history. We started out working with multi-billion dollar consumer product companies. We came down from the Board of Directors to middle-management, so we were talking about replacing yogurt cups, frozen dinner trays, all those types of things. The big companies, when you get into middle-management, were afraid to make a new decision. So we got tested to death. They never could make a deal to say they were going to use our products. That’s when we got funding from the state of Connecticut through the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) Small Business Express Program (EXP). We used the funding to develop the two Yumi eco-friendly product lines.

Besides the state, most of the money for the investment of the company came from my own personal resources. It still is.

PRICE: That seems to be the way it is with a lot of startups and entrepreneurs.

P’AN: Absolutely.

PRICE: It sounds like funding was definitely one of your startup challenges.

P’AN: Funding is always a challenge for a new business. And it happens while you’re developing and keeping getting your product into the market. That’s pretty standard.

There are a lot of challenges to launching a startup. One is funding. Another is finding the right distribution channels to get your products to the market and finding the right people—that’s all based on relationships. You’ve got to find the right people. There are a lot of talkers.

PRICE: You’ve definitely been successful finding the right people. Your products are in 1,000 retail stores across the country. How have you built such a successful customer base?

P’AN: Hard work. First you have to develop the products. You have to define them, you have to have them made, and you have to design packaging. Everything we do is premium. Our products are beautiful. They’re very suitable for the 21st-century lifestyle.

You’ve got to start with a good product otherwise you can’t sell anything. You’ve got to have a good product that’s well packaged. You’ve got to have the right photography before you can even go out to the market.

And then you have to carry inventory and—at the same time—you have to build up a sales staff and you have to train them about your products. And, since ours was a revolutionary new product, it’s not like selling Coke or Pepsi. You don’t just show up and ask: How many cases do you want? You have to teach the companies that are buying your products about your products. So it takes extra work. It’s not the typical sales pitch.

 

Yumi Return   "The throw away that goes away"

 

PRICE: You mentioned that you are a serial entrepreneur. Were the other companies you founded products-based as well?

P’AN: No, they were all consulting type of work.

PRICE: So this is totally new ground for you.

P’AN: Yes.

PRICE: How has that been for you, learning a completely different business structure?

P’AN: It’s great. I’m learning something new every day. It’s wonderful to learn. I love learning. We have to learn every day, otherwise we become dinosaurs. We don’t have a choice—everything is moving so fast.

As an example, I recently learned about responsive websites. We just launched a beautiful new website www.yumieco.com.

PRICE: Do you have many competitors?

P’AN: We don’t have any really major competitors. We’re still pretty first-to-market. But we need to get as much distribution as possible quickly to dominate the market.

PRICE: Along those lines, how do you envision the company’s future growth?

P’AN: I envision us to be the 21st century’s first billion-dollar eco-products company—which does not exist today. That is our goal. It’s quite conceivable since we’re looking at a $100 billion platform.

It’s like when the Chobani yogurt company started. They were nobody. They brought a brand-new product to the market and they’re over $1 billion now. So it’s quite probable and we will be doing it.

PRICE: Why are you located in Connecticut?

P’AN: I’ve lived here for many years. We love Connecticut. It’s a beautiful state. It’s a wonderful place to live with a great lifestyle.

In the early part of my career, I worked for American Express Bank and also the Federal Reserve Bank New York. I commuted to New York from the Greenwich area for many years, so I’m delighted to be domiciled in Connecticut with my office 15 minutes from my house.

PRICE: Speaking of your earlier career, you are definitely a very influential and innovative person. And, as an entrepreneur and global leader you have experienced many firsts:

  • First woman vice president at American Express Bank
  • First female advisor to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and the Taiwan banking industry
  • First woman worldwide to manage investment portfolios of $7 billion dollars
  • First female Chinese-American professional on Wall Street

You’ve also been the recipient of several prestigious awards including the 2003 Leading Woman Entrepreneur of the World Award, the 2006 Business Innovation Award, and the 2008 International Woman of Influence Award.

P’AN: And on June 16 I received the 2016 Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business Award at Cipriani Wall Street New York. This prestigious award recognizes the best of Asian American entrepreneurs, professionals, and corporate executives who are making positive contributions to our society and economy.

PRICE: Congratulations. You’re really making a huge difference, which is fantastic.

P’AN: The main thing is to sell my products so we can create a better world. That’s the whole reason. I could do without the publicity, but I have to be out there to make our mission known. I’m the spokesperson for the company and the products.

PRICE: Are you comfortable being in the limelight or is it a role you’ve had to step into?

P’AN: I’ve been doing this for many years. It comes with the territory.

PRICE: Can you characterize your life as an entrepreneur in one word?

P’AN: Exciting.

To learn more about Yumi EcoSolutions and their commitment to saving the world for you, me, and future generations, visit www.yumieco.com.  

“Plastics!” – Not

Virginia P’an has a very simple mission for YumiEco Solutions: to replace plastics with sustainable natural products. “Plastics account for 25 percent of all solid waste in our landfills,” says P’an, who started this houseware and tabletop-products business in 2010

Yumi selected as Green Award Winner

2016 Green Awards organized by TownVibe. A prestigious panel of three judges selected the winners from nominees in Westchester County, Fairfield County, and Litchfield County. “The judges produced four very impressive winners,” says Geoffrey Morris, president of the media company that produces six regional lifestyle magazines. TownVibe Awards recognize local non-profits, businesses, and individuals who are leading the movement for environmental sustainability and maintaining a socially and economically responsible community. A reception and award ceremony will take place March 10.

Yumi Featured in Food Network Magazine

 
 

As part of the Food Network magazine's Christmas issue, Yumi's Amore Stackable Bowl set was featured as one of the "100 Gifts for Food Lovers.