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Shawn Donnille

Shawn Donnille
Shawn Donnille

“My parents were apolitical,” says Shawn Donnille, who grew up in Orange County, California, a Republican stronghold. “Every summer we spent two weeks in Nevada City, an old mining community, and connected with plants and wildlife.” At age 15, Donnille started an environmental club at Villa Park High School. “We planted trees on campus,” he notes, “and organized monthly debates.” After high school, he moved to Nevada City and took part in Earth First! campaigns to save redwood forests and to ban sport hunting of cougars. In 1999, at age 24, he took a job at Mountain Rose Herbs, a home-based mail-order business in nearby North San Juan. “There were two employees and me,” says Donnille, who was asked to run the business while the owner, herbalist Julie Bailey, was navigating a life transition. He moved it towards organic certification and built a website at a time when no one else in the industry was selling online. “It was an enormous success,” he says. In 2001, Bailey and Donnille moved the business to a small house in Pleasant Hill, Oregon, to be near farms and recreational opportunities. Today they are domestic partners and co-owners of a company with 200 employees in six separate Eugene facilities, including a newly opened retail store. They set their own wages at not more than 3.5 times those of their lowest-paid employee. An executive team of three now runs the company. “I devote my time to environmental causes and groups,” Donnille says. “That’s my job these days. I was chief petitioner for a ballot initiative to ban aerial spraying that almost made the ballot. We’ll revisit it next year.”