“Growing the future has only just started. This industry will continue to surprise people,” says Philip Ross, co-founder of MycoWorks, a mycelium material founder and producer.
As the innovator of high-quality mushroom “leather” for the luxurious Hermes bags, the business acquired $187 million from Natalie Portman, John Legend, and General Motors and will soon cover the latter’s electric car interiors.
Ross unintentionally discovered leather-like material in reishi mushrooms, a fungus he farmed for his cancer and AIDS more than four decades ago. He then became a mycelium artist and featured his fungus-based works at famous museums.
According to Sophia Wang, co-founder of MycoWorks whom Phil met six years before they founded the firm while working together on art ventures, Ross’s discovery marked the “leather’s” birth to the globe.
Wang and Ross continued to discover more about mycelium and later realized that the material is enticing to buyers who don’t like synthesized contaminants and materials which are produced from animals.
Alongside raising their funding source, the company also conducted a groundbreaking at South Carolina Factory with the aim of attaining a sufficient supply of their fancy product.
With about 200 employees, Matt Scullin, the company’s CEO, said that the “Brands are making very significant changes to address what is really a growing demographic of people who want to buy sustainable products that have provenance and traceability and a lower carbon footprint, lower water use—and mycelium does all of those things.”
Compared to animal leather, the mushroom leather-like material is far more environmentally friendly as the former adds up to about a million tons of carbon dioxide which is tantamount to 30 million cars’ yearly emissions.
Despite environmental and animal issues, people prefer biomaterials or “next-gen” materials over the past decade making it in-demand as multi-billion dollars are invested in the industry.
Nonetheless, Hermes’ firm in France is soon to release its $4,200-worth “Victoria” bag made from MycoWorks’ amber-hued exquisite mycelium.