In episode 112 of the Disruptors for Good podcast I speak with Sophia Wang, Co-Founder of MycoWorks, on disrupting the fashion industry by creating a biomaterials company that has developed natural alternatives to leather and plastics using mushroom mycelium technology.
In 2013, with artist and inventor Phil Ross, Sophia co-founded MycoWorks, a biomaterials company that has developed natural alternatives to engineered wood, leather and plastics using mushroom mycelium technology.
Her creative practice includes choreography, performance, writing, curation and producing original dance and multimedia works. Sophia has danced for Xavier Le Roy, Tino Sehgal, Jerome Bel, Amara Tabor-Smith and Xandra Ibarra, and co-founder of the Brontez Purnell Dance Company. Since 2015, she has co-produced Heavy Breathing, a discussion and movement workshop series that has featured over 45 presenting artists working at the intersection of performance, visual arts and pedagogy.
Sophia also holds a PhD in English specializing in 20th and 21st century experimental American poetry, and a BA in English and Visual Arts.
MycoWorks create materials at the intersection of art, nature and biotechnology using mushroom mycelium, one of the earth’s most regenerative resources. The company’s mission is to create a platform for the highest quality materials using Fine Mycelium™. Their first product, Reishi™ offers partners in the fashion industry an option for leather that is neither animal nor plastic, yet uncompromising in quality and aesthetic expression.
The company announced last year the closing of a $45 million Series B financing to scale up and meet demand for Reishi™, the leading natural, non-animal leather material. WTT Investment Ltd. (Taipei, Taiwan) and DCVC Bio co-led the round, with major participation from new investors Valor Equity Partners, Humboldt Fund, Gruss & Co., and others, and existing investors Novo Holdings, 8VC, SOSV, AgFunder, Wireframe Ventures, Tony Fadell, and others.
About Mushroom Mycelium
A breakthrough in materials science and biotechnology, Fine Mycelium is an advanced manufacturing platform for high performance materials in fashion and footwear. The company’s proprietary technology has enabled a new class of premium, non-animal materials that are the next evolution in mycelium.
Mycelium is one of the earth’s most powerful agents of regeneration and carbon sequestration. These fine, root-like threads are grown on the byproducts of agriculture and lumber, transforming plant matter into their own biomass.
Unlike “mushroom leather,” which is compressed mycelium, MycloWorks patented Fine Mycelium technology engineers mycelium during growth to create the proprietary, interlocking cellular structures that give our material its superior strength and durability.
Exclusive to MycoWorks, the Fine Mycelium process offers the unique advantage of total control over quality and customization. Fine Mycelium materials are custom-grown to our brand partners’ specifications for performance, aesthetic features and more.
This gives brands creative control to design from the material on up, while minimizing waste and ensuring consistent quality. Actionable traceability of the Fine Mycelium process allows our experts to capture and apply data at defining moments during production, fully optimizing our products from initial growth to harvest.
Today, the team is growing in order to scale and deliver Reishi to an even broader range of partners in fashion, footwear and beyond. Together, they’re working towards a world where mycelium enables resilient, creative solutions for any industry dependent on animal and petroleum-derived products.
Meet the Exclusive Collaboration by Hermès and MycoWorks
The new material Sylvania, a hybrid of nature and biotechnology, is the exemplar of a new generation of biotech materials. It is an exclusive collaboration by Hermès and MycoWorks, and the first object made with Fine Mycelium, the patented technology from MycoWorks that enhances mycelium as it grows.
Fine Mycelium, the genesis of Sylvania, is produced in the MycoWorks facility. It is then tanned and finished in France by the Hermès tanners to further refine its strength and durability, and shaped in the workshops by the Hermès craftspeople. This collaboration pairs expertise in tanning the highest quality materials with the tools of biotechnology.
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Grant is the founder of Causeartist, one of the most influential impact business platforms in the world. Since 2013, Causeartist has been read in over 150 countries. Grant has personally interviewed 700+ impact entrepreneurs from around the world, highlighting innovations in ethical fashion, climate change, ethical technology, impact investing, and sustainable travel.