Pierre Barlier: CEO, KeepCool

As a pioneering CEO in the U.S. and abroad, Pierre Barlier has been working to eliminate single-use bags one shopping trip at a time — via his reusable shopping bag business, KeepCool, established nearly 20 years ago.  At KeepCool Pierre’s visionary and eco-conscious thinking quickly propelled him to the forefront of the market, while simultaneously jumpstarting a social awareness that has forever changed consumer behavior.  KeepCool has since been quietly changing the landscape for shopping bags and promoting stronger environmental consciousness among consumers.  Today, KeepCool is the leader in designing, manufacturing, and distributing reusable shopping bags to major mass retailers in North America and Asia. Costco, Walmart, Whole Foods, Barnes & Noble, and Staples (to name just a few) have long been customers, all aligned around the principle that small everyday actions can produce big impact.

As a business leader, Pierre is recognized for his relentless commitment to innovation within an ever-changing marketplace. He introduced the Better Bag — the first reusable grocery bag made of recycled plastic bottles, supporting a circular economy of collecting plastic waste — and has continued to focus on improving the environmental profile of his bags’ materials. His transparent approach and willingness to go the extra mile, whether in solving structural conundrums or overcoming cost challenges, have earned him business partnerships that have lasted decades.

What do you love most about Your City?

Orinda exemplifies all the qualities Northern California is renowned for. It’s laidback, picturesque, and full of some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met, which is why Forbes named it the country’s second friendliest city a few years back. Plus, it’s just a short hop away from San Francisco and all its culture, which, as a former Parisian and New Yorker, is very important to me. I enjoy being able to go to world-class museums and performances, then returning to a village where, seen from afar, you almost can’t see the homes among the trees. It’s really the best of both worlds. I’m not just happy here, I’m content.

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

I enjoy waking up with a cup of local granola from NutHouse! Granola Company. It may look like birdfeed, but it’s absolutely delicious. I don’t go to restaurants for breakfast, but my favorite local restaurant is Rêve, a French bistro that, even if it’s just for as long as it takes to finish my coffee, makes me feel like I’m back in my home country.

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – Sleeping. I stay up late due to the different time zones we work with, so I usually sleep until seven, if I’m not traveling.

10:00 AM – At work talking to the East Coast, having already caught up with Europe

12:00 PM - Favorite Lunch spot/meal?

Siam Orchid is a quick walk from our offices in the Vintage House. The restaurant is upscale but low-key, and their yellow curry is some of the best I’ve had outside Thailand.

7:00 PM — At work wrapping up calls to Asia

11:00 PM – Strolling the trail near our house and chatting with the wildlife, particularly my deer and raccoon friends.

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

Coffee (as in espresso) and wine (as in a good bottle of Burgundy)

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?

I’m not much of an app user, but once in a while I’ll look at the Instagram account for Sustainable Contra Costa to see what our neighbors are up to and to get inspired.

What should everyone try at least once?

Being a good listener. It’s a very underappreciated skill, even though it’s so very intrinsic to every relationship we have. Listening wins over new friends and deepens your existing relationships. I even credit listening with forging some of my longest-standing business partnerships.

Where do you enjoy getting lost?

In a long conversation with a friend.



Photo Credit: Ricky Middlesworth