Allbird’s Tim Brown Has Quite the Yarn for You

When you’re done here, feel free to type into Google “why Allbirds is called Allbirds.” It’s a good story. But this story is not about that. It’s about wanting to find a human on the other end of all those Allbird Instagram and banner ads that have been stalking us around the matrix ever since we talked about getting a pair at one dinner party months ago and somehow our phone overheard.

In truth, before we came across the story of Tim, Joey, and the Allbirds crew, we did some homework on the product itself and shelled out for a pair. Not a bad shoe. We’re fans. But it’s who is behind Allbirds and understanding their true intentions that made us go find Tim one night while he was visiting NYC recently.

The following is an interview between Tim Brown, Allbirds Co-CEO/Founder and Whalebone Magazine and is about things such as Danny Meyer, a good place to meet your future wife/husband, and what is the best dog cop movie of all-time.

If there was one person in the world that you would be excited about if somebody sent you a little text and said “Just saw [this person] wearing Allbirds,” who would that person be?

Tim: We’ve been fortunate to have some good ones, but one of my favorite moments was when my mom called me and said that the New Zealand prime minister was wearing a pair—that was pretty awesome. But you know, I have to say that now, being based in San Francisco, the best would be if I heard Jony Ive was wearing a pair. Jony is a famous Apple designer. Allbirds is bringing an industrial and product design approach to the world of footwear, and we focused insanely on over two hundred possible versions to try and get it right, and I think just the consistently and the discipline is a little bit cliché but with Jony and what he’s done to build that over such a long period of time, it would be a big compliment to see him in a pair.

An unexpected answer, but well played. Favorite part about New York City?

Tim: I met my wife here so that’s my favorite part.

A fortune cookie piece of advice that you would give anybody starting out on a new project, or a career path?

Tim: Seek feedback. Ignore feedback. Get advice from others but have the courage to go do what you want to do.

Seek feedback. Ignore feedback. 

Who are the five people that you surround yourself with the most?

Tim: I feel like I’ve leaned on a couple of people. Jenny who keeps me going. Then I met my good friend, Joe, my co-founder. I have a good relationship with Joe’s wife, we met in college, and not only did she introduce us, she saw something that maybe we didn’t see. Something larger than the business. Theirs is a friendship that we’ve always been very, very careful to protect. And Joe, he is my Co-CEO. The Co-CEO is probably a new one, I would imagine that it is going to be increasingly popular. The co-leader model is an antidote to the loneliness sometimes of leading a business and building a company. I think if done very carefully the idea is that you can go further together than you can individually, and I’m incredibly proud of the relationship that I’ve built with Joey and what we’ve built together. I don’t think that either of us could have done that individually.

Can you name us a good book?

Tim: Setting the Table by Danny Meyer. I don’t know if you’ve actually heard of that. The book talks about the ability to show up every day and being consistent and doing your job. Have you read that?

Pretty solid pick. We don’t know Danny but we know Randy Garutti, a great guy.

Tim: At some point, I’d like to meet that guy because he actually went to college with my father-in-law, and he put me on to the book. I just loved that book. Usually, sometimes you read the first couple of chapters of a business book and you get it, but that was something different.

Now can you name us a good movie?

Tim: Turner and Hooch. But one other, if I’m allowed to pick two, is DiCaprio’s documentary. I think what’s interesting about him is he’s come aboard the Allbirds team and supported us from an early stage. And he started his foundation focused on the environment, I want to say maybe in 1993, way before it became a political issue and I think that he’s just super interesting the way that he’s approached things. I think sometimes celebrity folks can be a little bit disingenuous, but he is really authentic. So Turner and Hooch and Before the Flood.

Three brands that you believe are also doing good things in the world?

Tim: Levi’s stands for innovation, I feel. But what’s so interesting is that they’ve been able to stand for something in a really smart way. I think it’s such a great model for this new emerging idea that business can be a force for good and that doing good and building a great business doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive. They’ve also been able to support some pretty potentially divisive issues around voting rights and votes in a way that just felt authentic and genuine, and apolitical, and completely connected to their story. I really appreciate what they’ve done.

The second for me would be Warby Parker. If we’re standing on the shoulders of giants, it’s Dave, Neal, Jeff,  Andy, and the founders of that brand and their consistent understanding to the importance of brand execution and the idea that they have a social core to their business that they’ve consistently delivered on. Neal, in full disclosure, is on our board but what they’ve done is blazed a trail that many other companies have benefited from.

And finally, I’ll go small to finish, it’s a company called Two Chairs, which is a very small San Francisco business focused on the idea of counseling and I think that it’s run by a young guy, a very smart guy called Alex Katts. Mental health and well being generally is a topic that’s starting to come out of the shadows and the idea that in the digital age it’s about to become more important as people strive to understand what happiness is all about. I feel like it’s an interesting business and an interesting space.

Overall, I think we could all do with a larger dose of humanity more than ever.

Overall, I think we could all do with a larger dose of humanity more than ever.

In the world of Allbirds, one good thing that you guys will keep going after?

Tim: Finding better ways to make shoes. This opportunity isn’t exclusive to Allbirds. But we have an openness to share solutions to drive costs down so we can stop talking about sustainability because we solved it. This is where we need to get to, and it’s going to take a shift in mentality, and in a very tiny way, I think Allbirds has shown a little bit of how that shift can be done by solving the problem and doing it because we said that we would share the solution, and I think that once you start thinking like that this things will move and move very quickly.

Nicely done. We appreciate your time and safe travels. Thanks again for coming out.

Tim: Thank you, guys. I’ll see you later.