“If you want to understand the entrepreneur, study the juvenile delinquent. The delinquent is saying with his actions, “This sucks. I’m going to do my own thing.” -Yvon Chouinard, Founder of Patagonia


Even though we won’t open our doors for another 15 months, we’re proud to announce we’ve received our first official applicant, Ibada Wadud. And if Iba is setting any kind of precedent for the caliber of participant that Mycelium will attract, we’re in for a very exciting ride. Iba has worked as a professor in Spain and with leaders of social transformation at Yale University. She is the founder of ETHOS-DISEñO, a creative think tank, design lab and green consultancy. With a focus on human rights, sustainable development and innovation, Iba is using the vehicle of fashion to eliminate the divide between ethics and aesthetics in the fashion industry.

We asked Iba what drew her to The Mycelium School:

Iba: There are a few things, one, I really appreciate how it’s holistic and interdisciplinary. It’s so important if we’re involved in social change that we see how our work connects to everything else.

I also like how it’s action-centered. I’m currently at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and while there are many things great about it, we don’t work with our hands. So much of the learning happens when we do and unfortunately so many schools miss that.

Mycelium also focuses on the individual, which I think is another huge part of the picture that most institutions of learning don’t acknowledge.

Mycelium: How do you see Mycelium adding value to the world?

Iba: We need to invest in innovation and solutions. Social design and social entrepreneurship are really important for the 21st Century. We need problem solvers that can navigate a rapidly changing world. I see Mycelium supporting this kind of work. You guys are flexible and not cookie cutter and in that I see it being able to teach to the individual. The more individuals there are that are learning and growing in a way that makes sense to them, the more value they’ll be able to add to the world.

I also see it hugely important that we bridge the gap between nonprofits and business. I’ve been involved in a lot of so-called development work and I’ve found that so much of it provides money or things, but doesn’t empower people. People can be empowered by investing in them, not giving to them.

Mycelium: If you could give one piece of advice to us as we develop our program, what would that be?

Iba: Keep the focus local even as you begin to welcome “global citizens/folks” into the program. Trying to delve too deeply into unfamiliar territories can be counterproductive. Leave that for the local agents who comprehend the needs of cultures and individuals foreign to you. I think it’s about membership and community. If you’re not a chef and you don’t live in Valencia, how likely is it that you’ll learn to make the best paella? We always have plenty of needs in our proverbial backyard and that’s where we’ll be most valuable.


Iba is currently launching a campaign to draw attention to all the children in the world who can’t afford shoes. Click here to find out more about what she’s doing and learn how you can support her efforts.