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Friday, June 18, 2021

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Making a Statemint

SDSU alumnus Brandon Maskell (’07, ’09) is combining sustainability with entrepreneurship to help fight plastic pollution in our oceans.
By Ryan Schuler
 

“It’s something that if every person becomes aware, we can make a difference.”

It started with a plastic water bottle – floating, polluting, disrupting.

As San Diego State University alumnus Brandon Maskell (’07, ’09) was swimming in the ocean off the shore of Pacific Beach, he had an unexpected brush with that plastic water bottle.

“I hit it without knowing what it was,” said Maskell. “After that, I started researching plastic pollution in the ocean and the effects on not just marine life but also humans. That connected the dots for me.”

About eight million metric tons of plastics enter our oceans every year, according to Ocean Conservancy. This is in addition to the estimated 150 million metric tons that already circulate in our marine environments. 

Maskell thought: how could he build a business with a social cause to help clean the world’s oceans and stop plastic pollution? 

Enter Statemint.

Process and education

Statemint, a purpose-driven lifestyle brand, turns 100% recycled plastic into wallets using sustainable materials and processes. 

You may ask how a wallet can be made out of disposable plastic. 

After plastic bottles have been collected, they are washed and chopped into flakes. The flakes are then melted and turned into chips, which are once again melted and made into yarn. The yarn is finally woven into finished fabric. Using this recycled material requires less energy, reduces CO2 emissions and saves oil.

But the process is not as easy as it sounds. 

“I had to source the fabric and had to find people that not only could manufacture on a large-scale, but could just produce a viable prototype first. I was really surprised how much work it took,” said Maskell.

But Statemint is about more than wallets.

“The foundation of the brand is the story,” Maskell said. “When I conceptualized this whole thing, I wanted the components of giving back and helping the problem.”

Maskell partnered with WasteAid, a British charity set up by waste management professionals helping to improve waste management globally.

Through its partnership with Statemint, WasteAid provides recycling education and business development training to locals in The Gambia, Africa, where one of its recycling centers are set up. As a result, for each wallet sold, 25 pounds of plastic waste is diverted from reaching the ocean in the West African country.

“What WasteAid was doing just perfectly aligned with our business,” said Maskell. “When you look at the solutions, it’s just a choice of convenience or conscience. Plastic is everywhere, and it is the easy option but not the right option. It’s something that if every person becomes aware, we can make a difference.”

Ties to SDSU

Although he recognized he was entrepreneurial early on, Maskell believes SDSU provided him the resources and opportunities to learn and build lifelong relationships.

“One of the best things to happen to me at SDSU was getting introduced to the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center and Bernie Schroeder,” Maskell said. “Just the opportunity to see entrepreneurship at work and be involved in clubs and building a network were the main benefits.”

Maskell has also gained inspiration from other brands created by SDSU alumni, including Pura Vida and Sand Cloud.

He sees unlimited possibilities for future entrepreneurs at SDSU.

“If you have any inclination that you are an entrepreneur at heart, you have to go for it.”