I always enjoy getting to know the investors in our community—how they got into impact investing, where their interests lie, and what makes them tick. I recently spoke with new member Jake Sargent and am pleased to share his story with you now.
Jill: Tell me a bit about yourself.
Jake: I grew up in Marin County, California and most recently spent five years as the President and Creative Director of the fashion brand Simon Miller. I’m passionate about the ways brands and consumption impact our daily lives and the planet. While I loved our products and our commitment to quality and US manufacturing, I became disenchanted with the amount of waste being generated throughout the fashion industry.
I came to the realization that I could continue on this track… but I may miss the boat. Our world is changing quickly, and I wanted the opportunity to jump on a more sustainable and innovative track.
So I sold my shares and resigned in December 2015.
Jill: Brave! Then what?
Jake: I considered so many ideas and last fall decided to raise a venture fund so that I wouldn’t have to commit to just one. Softmatter was formed with my partner Matt Scanlan – our first two investments are in Naadam, a sustainable cashmere brand, and True Botanicals, a toxin-free skincare line. Through Softmatter and our personal investments I believe that we can shape the future with a focus on sustainable supply chains in industries that we know and love: fashion, food, and consumer products.
Jill: So that sounds like you’ve got some unique expertise to offer the IC network.
Jake: I’m excited to be a part of Investors’ Circle. Strategically, I’ve worked in organizations building consumer brand market opportunities and some B2B as well. I believe that design drives market growth and consumer adoption, so I look at opportunities through a design lens. I am eager to share that knowledge when IC looks at those kinds of companies.
Jill: What matters to you as a new impact investor? What kind of impact do you seek?
Jake: I want to find companies that consumers can buy regularly, daily. I believe in starting at the top in terms of influencers, and so I like the luxury orientation. There is no need for trade-offs. Look at Tesla – they started very high end and now provide an affordable alternative. We want to create shifts in consumer behavior towards reflexive sustainability.
Jill: What are your investing goals for this first year as an IC member?
Jake: I want to make investments outside of our Softmatter fund. Of course I will also refer Softmatter companies and encourage them to apply to pitch to IC, too. But I really look forward to being a part of the group for due diligence conversations, listening, and learning.
Jill: What attracted you to Investors’ Circle, how did you hear about us?
Jake: I had heard about Investors’ Circle for years! It’s an unavoidable name in impact investing, and all roads pointed back to IC. Most recently, an advisor and IC member, Threshold Group, encouraged me to go to an IC meeting.
Jill: What advice would you share with others who are considering joining an impact investing group like IC?
Jake: Well, we’re living in a time of lots of critical junctures – be it environmental or in terms of the human condition. I like this quote from Chris Grantham, a portfolio director at IDEO in London. He said, “Sustainability is a narrative of abundance if we can get the system right in the next decade.” So I say, let’s build that kind of future!