Our Founders, Tamara and David, are two Stanford grads with a love for the outdoors, human-centered design, and of course, Nutshell Coolers! Learn a bit more about Tamara and David, including their favorite founding memories, bucket list checklist items, and who inspires them.
What is one thing on your bucket list?
Tamara: I want to live and work on a farm. My dad spent some time working in farms when he was a teenager and I always wanted to do the same. I’ve always lived in a city and I’m curious to experience a completely different lifestyle at some point in my life
David: I would like to have a net negative lifetime carbon footprint. And after that, I want to get really good at handstands.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done?
Tamara: Probably building Nutshell! I also taught a windsurfing course for a while, that felt pretty cool.
David: In an early test of our coolers in the Philippines, I negotiated the purchase of a premium tuna on a remote island and planned to transport it to Manila. It turned out that I had actually negotiated the sale of a Grade A tuna to a notorious middleman, despite my fluent Cebuano language skills (<- joke). So I had an hour to find a tuna, pick it up on my motorcycle, and drop it off at the trader’s house… and I did it, making about $5 in the process!
What is your favorite memory from designing the Nutshell?
Tamara: Getting to know the fisherfolk of Lubang Island and their families. Every afternoon they would invite us into their homes, and we would sip on fresh coconuts while laughing about the latest terrible design flaw and sketching out the next idea we would try out.
David: I did the very first Nutshell insulation test at home in California, and I was so shocked that our early prototype beat my Yeti that I assumed I’d mixed up the temperature loggers and I deleted the results. Then I did a second test, and a third…
Outside of running Nutshell, what’s your favorite hobby?
Tamara: It changes all the time but is almost always a sport. Right now, it’s aerial silks. A couple months ago, definitely cycling. I got into cycling during the pandemic and have grown to love the sport, the views and the new friendships built on long rides are hard to beat.
David: Skiing when there’s snow and running when there’s not!
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Tamara: A wildlife veterinarian!
David: A journalist
What is one silly/weird fact about you?
Tamara: I've been known to go overboard with my zero waste in the kitchen policy. My veggie-scraps dumplings and my rice starch water noodles were sadly not a hit.
David: I still misspell “Philippines” all the time.
Something you didn’t expect when starting Nutshell?
Tamara: Everything about starting Nutshell has been unexpected! The most exciting surprise has been how much our story has organically traveled around the world. We get messages from people all over, from Colombia, to Kenya, to India, who want to become part of the coconut fiber movement!
David: I wasn’t surprised that our message resonated with so many customers, but I didn’t expect to hear from so many manufacturers inspired by our mission. We get tons of partnership and expansion requests from old-school plastics, construction, and agriculture businesses who genuinely want to move the world in a more sustainable direction, and also see the writing on the wall for polluting plastics and wasteful supply chains.
Where is your favorite place in the Philippines?
Tamara: Binacas Beach in Lubang Island: the place with the sweetest coconuts and the most beautiful sunsets.
David: Binacas Beach!
What got you interested in the world of circular technology and/or human-centered design?
Tamara: I’ve always been in love with plants and animals, and also deeply interested in human psychology and behavior. I love when innovative solutions and thoughtful partnerships can work together to affect behavior change towards a more conscientious, sustainable society.
David: I met Edith, the founder of Noora Health, totally by accident when I was working in India. I was so inspired by Noora’s brilliantly simple, human-centered approach that I applied to Edith’s design school program at Stanford a few months later.
Who inspires you?
Tamara: My sisters. They’re widely loved, endlessly creative, persistently over-achieving, and always supportive.
David: I’m inspired by my co-founder’s optimism, my mom’s work ethic, and our coconut suppliers’ resilience.
One word you would use to describe your Co-founder?
If you were stranded on an island with only a Nutshell, what is one thing you want to be in there?
Tamara: Lots of ice!
David: Caffeine withdrawal would probably kill me faster than dehydration, so I’d stockpile a lot of cold brew and hope that stimulates some brilliant survival strategy.