Nylon from Bacteria and Good Vibes
Meeting for Happy Hour and Sugar-eating Bacteria that makes Nylon
For the first time in a very very long time, I met a stranger for happy hour. His name is Gregg Beckham and my husband read about the work he is doing with sustainable nylon in Nature Magazine. His lab happens to be just 20 minutes from my house out here in Colorado. In constant search for ways to improve our sustainability, and because of curiosity and adventure, I sent Gregg an email hoping to pick his brain in order to find out how realistic it is that we might be able to produce the fabric that makes ANDI out of a bacteria that makes the process of creating our bags significantly healthier for our planet, and also, the process of breaking down our bags at the end of their lives.
Well Gregg wrote back almost immediately and was super pumped that I was pumped about his work. He offered me a tour of his facility, but first, we agreed to meet for drinks.
In my past life (corporate litigation technology sales), I would often ask strangers to meet me for coffee or happy hours, it was part of being in sales. I loved it and I was good at it because I would get right down to being a human by speaking about whatever present vulnerability I was dealing with. This allowed me to quickly bond and connect with the person I was meeting - whether it was a secretary or a CEO. I love the process of connecting with strangers and becoming friends and confidants.
But man I was so out of practice and clearly Gregg was going to be on a whole other level of genius and so I was nervous!
But I arrived at the bar/brewery (CO - I love you), ordered my beer and sat down and we got right to it. We talked about how it was my first happy hour in years, broke the ice and then he patiently explained the science of these badass and very hungry bacteria that he invented in his lab where he manages a team of 100 scientists, among many other awesome projects they are working on. He also talked me through the mathematical comparisons to show me how the RPET fabric that we use for our lining is actually worlds better than “virgin” material which we use for many of our body fabrics.
It was a life affirming experience. Because I connected with someone who operates in a totally different world that can only intersect with mine if we make it happen. Because I know that I was meant to meet this brilliant stranger who is now my friend. As humans being (yes that’s what I meant to say), the adventure that we embark on centers around the people and experiences that help us grow.
I was buzzing from the meeting. I stopped by Qdoba to grab dinner for my husband and I. As I was checking out, I told the cashier that I was having some second thoughts about not getting a chocolate chip cookie. He looked me in the eye and threw a cookie into my bag. I think it was a pretty tasty reward for putting myself out there even in the face of someone who I found unbelievably intimidating at the outset, but a warm and incredibly generous human being by the end. I believe that we generate good energy by connecting with others, and then it flows through us and flows through them and continues to spread the good vibes.