Pirani Life: Tumbling Towards Sustainability

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Pirani Life
Pirani Life is a brand that is focused on sustainability by launching a personal mission to end single-use cups to help the environment.



Pirani Life is a brand that is focused on sustainability by launching a personal mission to end single-use cups and the harm that such discarded plastic cups cause to the environment. Pirani Life designs reusable, insulated tumbler cups—in a lovely bright cherry red color—to reduce single-use plastic and help people adopt a sustainable lifestyle. These cups are dishwasher safe, stackable, temperature controlled and leak-proof. The cups are also fairly affordable at $24.95 each; $94.95 (4-pack); $185.95 (8-pack); $313.95 (14-pack). Moreover, as a member of 1% For The Planet community, every Pirani purchase translates to a direct contribution to the environment.

Recently the co-founders of Pirani Life, Brandegee Pierce and Danielle Del Sordo, discussed their company via an exclusive interview.

Meagan Meehan (MM): When did you first realize that you wanted to be an inventor?

Danielle Del Sordo (DDS): I think at a young age both Brandegee and I realized we wanted to be inventors.  Brandegee has been a natural engineer/ designer since he was a young boy.  His family had an old TV that was not working so well, so at 10, he thought he should try to fix it.  You know, with all of the electrical engineer experience a 10 year old boy would have.  That story didn’t end so hot.  It was in about 400 pieces when his Mother got home and never did make it back together, but he got better with time!  He also created a workout station by hanging milk jugs full of water in the trees and used sticks as his bars…And I (Danielle) used to climb the neighborhood trees to collect dried up pods and make incense holders out of them.  I also ran the Sunflower Girls Club where we would sell lemonade and donate our pennies to help save the world!  There was always a theme to protect our planet since I was a youngster.  As adults, we both went to design university where Brandegee studied Industrial Design and I studied Fashion/ Costume Design where we pursued our passions to create!

Pirani LifeMM: What gave you the idea to create a sustainable coffee cup?

DDS: Here’s the long story!

Stepping outside of our comfort zones was never a challenge for us. We are designers with a passion to make a difference. In 2013, we quit our Corporate America careers in Industrial Design (Brandegee) and Costume Design (Danielle) to travel the world. We lived out of a backpack for 16 months looking for inspiration to start up an eco-friendly company together. Ideas ranged from sustainable swimwear to a healthy food truck, and the list can go on. Fast forward 6.5 years and Pirani Life was born!

Most of our sports take place in the ocean, and we were lucky enough to live one block from it. As South Florida native water babies living an active outdoor lifestyle, we grew tired of seeing litter scattered across our beautiful beaches. One of the biggest offenders was always that iconic red party cup. This fueled Brandegee to design the first vacuum insulated version of it.  At the time he was working for a scientific equipment company that inspired him to use his newfound knowledge of vacuum insulation as well as his passion to create a solution against the litter that we were finding on our beaches. After countless 3D-printed prototypes created in our home studio (a.k.a. our living room), he was determined to create the last party cup you will ever need and help put a stop to the billions of single-use plastic cups that are tossed every year.  I (Danielle) helped bring the vision to life and began partnering with non-profits in the community to build long-term partnerships and create a movement!

The initial concept was supposed to be modelled after the red Solo cup, but after a successful Kickstarter we learned that our customers also used the Pirani Party Tumbler as their everyday go to cup and especially their coffee cup!

MM: What is it about sustainability in general that most interests you?

DDS: There is no planet B.  As nature lovers, we feel it is our duty to protect this magical planet that we call home.  As humans, it’s part of our responsibility to reverse some of these convenient single-use habits we’ve been learning since we were children in order to keep our oceans and planet around longer.  As designers, we feel it’s our responsibility to bring that difference into our products and tell that story through our mission.  And for me personally, as a lifelong learner, sustainability is one of my favorite journeys.  There are many things I can’t believe I’ve done in this lifetime that I just didn’t know any better about when I was younger.  I’m thankful that in my early twenties I started to learn about simple steps I could take to help our planet and now have a platform through Pirani Life to be able to share and educate our audience on how to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

MM: What was the design process like?

Brandegee Pierce (BP): The first step in the design process is to find a problem… That problem can be anything, but we try to keep our products with the focus of sustainability.  Once we have a problem we try to find a solution that people will use to solve the problem.  Because of how much detail we put into every product, we create many iterations of the product.  Once we have what we believe to be the solution, we’ll internally test it as much as possible.  If it passes, we introduce it to a small group of customers that have given feedback in the past that has been helpful.  Once we fully vet and improve and vet and improve, we will launch on Kickstarter.  The reason for launching on Kickstarter is it is a great way to determine if the public is interested/ready for the product we created.  Last step is creating tooling to create final products.  If there is a flop on the Kickstarter, we’ll try to figure out why and see if it is something that can be resolved.  If it can, we’ll make the decision to either move forward or to cancel the project.

Pirani LifeMM: How different was the prototype to the final product?

BP: Well the prototype was 3d printed on my home printer!  It’s almost impossible to prototype our product to be functional, but the aesthetics turned out very similar!  When we received our sample back from our factory, we knew this product was ready to be launched on Kickstarter.   As perfectionists, this insulated and reusable tumbler just keeps getting better and better.  For example, the original lid was not as durable as we had hoped.  That was one of the first things we updated after the Kickstarter.  We have a lifetime warranty and our goal is to reduce waste, so we needed to make sure that our product is the last cup anyone will ever need!

MM: How did you decide which colors to offer?

DDS: We ran a survey and asked our audience to tell us what they wanted to see more of!  After all, it is our kickstarter backers who helped us bring this product to market in the first place and that was the least we could do in return!

MM: What steps do you think everyone can take to make the world more eco-friendly?

Pirani LifeDDS: Don’t try to be perfect.  Take small actions and know they will make a diffrence!  One of the easiest ways is to bring a reusable bag to the grocery store.  Use your reusable water bottles and cups, try to eat less meat and fish, compost! And the list can go on.  But the most important thing is for people to understand it’s not about perfection.  Our favorite quote is by Anne Marie Bonneau: “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly.  We need millions of people doing it imperfectly”.

MM: What has been the best feedback you’ve gotten about Pirani so far?

BP: The biggest sense of accomplishment we’ve heard is when our customers tell us that they’ve changed their lifestyle because of our mission and everything that we stand for at Pirani Life. Also, when they tell us that they use their Pirani for everything and it goes with them everywhere!

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To learn more, visit the official website.