Article by: Deepthi Sendilkumar
Founded in 2019, CEO & Founder of Bucha Bio - Zimri Hinshaw created Bucha Bio to provide luxury vegan leather options. With the mission to completely replace animal and plastic leather, Bucha Bio creates novel biomaterials from fermenting infinitely renewable bacterial-nanocellulose. To learn more about Bucha Bio and their experience working with Spira, we interviewed Zimri Henshaw.
Origins of Bucha Bio
Growing up, Zimri was influenced by various cultures. While living in Japan, Zimri quickly learned the importance of fashion. He described how the clothes one is wearing are highly regarded and can impact how you are perceived and the opportunities you receive. Once he moved to the US, Zimri learned more about entrepreneurship and realized starting a company can be a viable career path.
Incorporating both cultures, he wanted to become a fashion designer where he would make leather jackets inspired by Japanese motorbike gangs. As Zimri leads a plant-based lifestyle, it was crucial for Zimri to use plant-based leather alternatives instead of traditional animal based leather. This is when he began experimenting with SCOBYs: a "symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast", commonly found when making kombucha. SCOBY not only was completely plant-based but also allowed Zimri to grow the material in desired shapes which minimized waste. When Zimri started to make the transition into creating luxury bio textile designs, he quickly realized the material itself is a huge market that can in turn be used by fashion designers. Turns out, this market has tremendous potential.
Spira x Bucha Bio
As a long-time friend and supporter of Spira, as well as Bucha Bio, being a fellow IndieBio company, Zimri became interested in incorporating Spira’s algae dyes into his products. Most importantly, Spira’s dyes align with Bucha Bio’s mission and values which have never been seen before in fashion. Bucha Bio’s mission is to eliminate animal and plastic leather and create products which are animal and petro-chemical free. Hence, Electric Sky was a perfect fit.
Overall Zimri found it easy to connect and receive samples to initially test with their materials. In his early experiments, the material was a lot darker than anticipated after drying, taking Bucha Bio’s R&D department around 10-12 tries until they found the optimal concentration to dye. Like many socially and environmentally conscious companies and suppliers, Zimri finds the cost of ethical and responsible materials like Electric Sky to be the most significant barrier to adoption. However, customers continue to provide Bucha Bio with positive feedback about using natural dyes in their materials. Currently, Bucha Bio is working with Spira to improve the overall price and accessibility of algae-based dyes for textiles.
Spira Breaking into the Fashion Industry
Zimri expressed he’d love to see Spira creating algae-based dyes for staple colors in the fashion industry. These colors are timeless and classic, with a built-in constant demand for certain colors like black, navy, and burgundy. In order to create a scalable and sustainable presence in the fashion industry, these kinds of dyes must be affordable. Although Spira’s price point for Electric Sky is favorable as a superfood, Zimri’s team understands when it comes to the fashion industry, the cost is relatively high compared to artificial dyes, making the cost of natural colors and sustainable materials an obstacle to adoption. As demand for these materials increases, Spira is hopeful that with scale natural colors from algae will be more affordable.
It’s an honor to work with visionary startup founders like Zimri and we are always grateful for his insight into the fashion industry. We are excited to see our partnership with Bucha Bio grow!