MYLEN IS WEARING SHIRO OVERSIZED DOLMAN
WRITTEN BY LINDA HOSMER
“Our mission is to leave behind a greener environment for future generations.”
Meet Mylen Yamamoto - the founder and creator of Cropsticks. She was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. “In Hawaii you learn to use chopsticks before you use a fork,” says Mylen with a chuckle.
The concept for her company – Cropsticks – came up during a long flight to Asia when she noticed (ok she was annoyed that) her chopsticks kept rolling off the tray. So her mind wandered and led her to invent a practical solution on the spot – a built-in rest for the chopsticks at hand. “After doing more research on the product I learned that 45 % of chopsticks are still made out of trees and if I wanted to pursue this idea further I wanted it to be something better for the environment.” Mylen’s grandfather fought in WW2 and just like him she wanted to leave behind a lasting legacy of positive progress via an environmentally friendly product. She decided then to create her Cropsticks using Bamboo, a fast-growing alternative to chopping down a tree.
But the “green” aspect of her product doesn’t end there. “After people (restaurants) use our Cropsticks they can drop it into a bin and we can collect them back to upcycle them. We then clean the used Cropsticks, compress them and create designs like flooring and tabletops.” The material finds new life and it’s a story customers will feel they helped tell.
And it’s the story behind Cropsticks that landed Mylen on ABC’s Shark Tank.
"Shark Tank really pushes the entrepreneur both mentally and emotionally. I walked into the tank wanting a deal so badly. We spent hundreds of hours practicing for our pitch and even cut our honeymoon short to prepare. It all comes down to that moment on the carpet. Funnily, while I was nervous anticipating my pitch, I was not nervous while pitching the Sharks. All that practice helped. I walked away without a deal but the exposure we received from the show was well worth it and opened so many doors," says Mylen.
So it’s no wonder that her days are packed as she grows her business which means staying cool is right up there with keeping calm. “As an entrepreneur we get sweaty. I run around to the warehouse to pick boxes. That’s just the nature of the job so to have a material like this where I know I can get sweaty and it’ll evaporate very quickly. I love how it looks and it suits my lifestyle.”
And a little advice for #Uprisers looking to follow in Mylen’s footsteps, “It’s 2017 you have the resources all around you so use them to your advantage because more than ever you can do it right now.”