We started YNI Vietnam in April 2019 with hopes of doing some good and feeling good about it.
Oh, and the ambitious aim of becoming the leading organic straw producer and supplier of the world.
The nucleus of this startup was a combination of three main factors.
- The growing awareness about plastic pollution and the consequent change in regulations.
- The sheer volume of straw consumption — somewhere between one and two billion per day globally.
- And the geographical location — beautiful southern Vietnam where all fundamental conditions are provided.
Behind the names
YNI (You Name It)
Starting as a whim, and then an inside joke, this name stayed as a reminder for us to always aim big.
You name it, we make it.
In reality it is nature that makes it.
We just make it a little easier for humans to use. And since we are inseparable from nature, the name has come to also encompass that unity.
Straw + prolific.
The grey sedge, the first plant we had come across, the star of the show, grows fast and abundant and we hope that one day it will be as prolific a straw as it is a plant.
The Core Team
In 2010, I left my corporate life and set out on a journey to walk around the world, which lasted the next four years.
Every day was eye-opening. There were challenges, moments of immense joy, and the painful unclad signs of reality. Not to mention the occasional life-threatening episode.
Through my trip, I can honestly say from first-hand experience that our connection to Nature is so elemental and essential.
And that water is life.
It was another takeaway of this journey to ultimately understand the myriad of similarities among all of us, our common needs, fears and desires for happiness and pleasure.
After returning to Europe and my homeland I found myself unable to fully re-integrate and I moved to Asia to focus on personal growth and gain some bittersweet experience at the UN.
Then one day in early 2019 while at dinner in Vietnam, I came across something that connected many dots from my years of pondering how I can contribute to the world while pursuing personal fulfillment.
Living in Japan longer than I have my home country of USA has added levels to an already unique perspective on life.
Extensive travel including a journey of my own around the globe (in my case by boat) propelled me even further into an “aim for earthling” type mindset.
In trying to overcome the many problems we collectively face as a human race, I think it’s important to realize that the only thing we are free to do is choose.
So, when David invited me onboard this global project, I understood where he was coming from.
One trip to Vietnam was enough for me to see how relevant and promising these tiny giants were, as both a universal solution and a catalyst for further smart change.
I hope to use my experience as a translator, dancer, artist and communicator to bring to the team a sense of improv and a knack for listening.
Our authentic connection to Vietnam comes from our final core member, Vietnamese business woman and powerhouse who runs the operations and finance of YNI Vietnam.
She is responsible for turning this project into a proper business using her vast experience, local connections and reliable skills.
She has been living in Ho Chi Minh since 2007 and is an accountant and auditor by profession.
She also represents Vietnamese women in being the 2nd amongst Asian nations to have women in senior positions and as a progressive company we are proud to contribute to gender equality in ownership and top management.