A life or death ski accident dramatically changed Bryan’s perspective on life. That moment created a ripple in his life that transformed the way we do business as MiiR. It’s taken him near and far from Boise Idaho to Buchanan Liberia where’s he’s been inspired by the joy and resiliency of those he has met.
On April 15, 2006, lying against that tree not knowing if I would live or die, I thought, what would people say about me at my funeral? And that question cut to the core of who I was.
Having inherited his grandfather’s entrepreneurial spirit, it wasn’t until a life-or-death ski accident at the age of 20 that Bryan Papé fully realized his vision to begin building a legacy of generosity. That clarity, coupled with design opportunity in active lifestyle products, led to MiiR’s launch in 2010.
A Product to Project™ company committed to trackable giving, MiiR gives 3% of revenue to partner organizations with an aim to provide people with access to a better future. Every product we design is built in-house with an emphasis on innovation, timelessness, simplicity and sustainability.
MiiR partners with some of the most respected nonprofits in the world to create sustainable giving projects in the clean water, health and food sectors that address both domestic and international issues. To date, we have given over $600,000 and empowered the lives of 100,000+ people worldwide, and invite customers to track the impact of their purchase through our Give Code™ registration process.
By being authentic, generous and transparent, we’ve been able to improve our business results, proving that there need not be a disconnect between business and philanthropy.
Outside of MiiR, Bryan has many passions including teaching his daughter to explore, bird hunting with his vizsla and building his family’s cabin in the middle of nowhere. He enjoys skiing and mountaineering, and has successfully summited Mount Rainier on four occasions, two of them with his wife Rebecca. Born and raised in Boise, Idaho, he considers the Pacific Northwest home after having lived in Seattle for close to fifteen years.
In 2016, Bryan was named a 40 Under 40 business leader by the Puget Sound Business Journal, the same publication that named MiiR the third fastest-growing private company in Washington in the same year. He received the first Young Alum of the Year award from his alma mater Seattle Pacific University in 2009, and in 2015 was awarded the first Young Alum of the Year in the SPU School of Business and Economics. Bryan and Rebecca were honored as Supporters of the Year by One Day's Wages in 2013.
Bryan’s broken femur
Bryan’s wife Rebecca
Repaired femur with stainless steel rod and screws
On April 15th, 2006 I was filming for Stevens Pass after 12” of freshies fell overnight. Despite being a fairly advanced skier, I took a bad turn trying to post up for a shot of my good friend Chris Rudolph (may he rest in peace). My right ski hit a hidden stump and flicked my leg open, where upon I smacked my inner thigh against an elderly pine. It won. I cracked my femur in half and lay in shock against another tree. The thing is, when you break your femur, the bone shards can hit your femoral artery and you can bleed to death internally within 10-15 minutes. I knew this because a friend did something similar a few years before.
I sat against a tree not knowing if I would live or die. As I contemplated death, I distinctly remember thinking two things. The first being I needed to marry my then girlfriend (and now wife of nine years) if I survived the accident. The second was if I died today what would people say about me at my funeral. This thought shocked me. People would certainly come as I was a funny guy/class clown (put a VW bug on our high school’s roof) but NOBODY would say I cared about the people around me or in my community. Certainly nobody would say I left a legacy or inspired anyone. This struck me because I had grown up admiring my grandparents and the legacy they were leaving through business and philanthropy. I committed at that tree to start leading a more generous life serving others over myself. I began to noodle on what it would look like to merge business and philanthropy.
Once in a Lifetime
Bryan at Little Hotties Warmers
In the summer of 2006 I started working at my mentor’s best friend’s new startup Little Hotties Warmers. I became Rick Wood’s (the founder) first employee and earned sweat equity. At 21 I was running supply chain and marketing for the brand. Most things in small business I learned from Rick. He is a world class strategist and salesman. Under his wing I learned first hand how to negotiate with vendors, suppliers and close the biggest accounts in the world from REI to Costco.
We had the unique opportunity to sell the business for a premium at the height of the recession. I knew this was my opportunity to start my own business.
MiiR Takes Form
Design drawings from MiiRs first bottle line.
MiiR’s first bottle line.
In 2009 I was frustrated with the lack of a simple and functional water bottle. Sounds funny but I had two brands I also used. One was a giant plastic bottle with a wide mouth and lid attached with a strap. When I drank from the bottle I would normally spill water all over my face because the opening was too big. If I didn’t spill water, the lid was always hitting my face. If that wasn’t enough to drive you crazy, the width of the entire bottle was so large it never fit in cup holders which meant it rolled around in my back seat while driving. The other bottle I used was an aluminum bottle, apparently it used to be a camping stove fuel canister (yikes!). The lid took about 100 twists to unscrew and if the liner cracked (which it did) it exposed my water to the aluminum body, which happens to be toxic.
I thought, why not make a super simple bottle. One twist opening, fit in cup holders, perfect sized opening to chug but not drown your face. I’d also make it from a stainless steel, a safer/non-toxic material. After all, I had a stainless steel rod in my body.
Today, we design all our products from the ground up and most are patented or patent pending. We’ve made a commitment to never sell off-the-shelf product that is poorly designed and copied quickly.