Mark Brand


Mark Brand

Social Entrepreneur | Restaurateur

“There is nothing more invigorating than understanding how flawed you are and still believing you can do good,” says Mark Brand, one of Vancouver’s most recognized and celebrated entrepreneurs. A restaurateur and retailer, Brand is best known for resurrecting the Save on Meats enterprise in the city’s downtown eastside. Committed to making the store a true social enterprise, Brand shares his message on the importance of sustainable business models with numerous audiences throughout North America, and has also spoken for the world renowned TED Talks series.

After opening his first restaurant, Boneta, in 2007, Brand went on to open an independent clothing label and storefront called “Sharks + Hammers,” followed by The Diamond tapas restaurant and lounge, Seamonstr Sushi, Catalog Art Gallery, Persephone Brewing, and—his largest undertaking to date—Save on Meats.

Save on Meats had been a Vancouver landmark from the time it was originally  founded in 1957, serving the local community with a butcher shop and lunch counter.  Brand resurrected Save on Meats, restoring the building back to its prime while becoming a leader in the charge to make the social business model independently sustainable, at the same time supporting the local community. Money generated from Save on Meats’ operations go directly towards supporting people in need. The store employs over 65 workers, many of whom live in the community and struggle with employment barriers, and boasts a meal program that serves 450 people per day, seven days a week.

Mark is also the co-founder of A Better Life Foundation, an organization dedicated to raising funds to put toward providing food security to those in need.

In addition to speaking on sustainable business, Brand also speaks passionately about building better communities, the impact of an unconventional solution, using our past to guide our future, food security, and social values in business.

Business with a Conscience

Mark Brand believes that good business doesn’t have to come at the cost of doing good. Discussing the tenants of blending corporate and community leadership, Mark draws on his own decades-long experience of successful social entrepreneurship to guide and encourage audiences in their own endeavours. Fully customizable, Mark can discuss his own experience (and lessons learned); the best practices for employing people who traditionally have had barriers to employment; mentorship; the importance of leverage and partnerships; thinking outside the box; and sticking to your philosophies during tough economic times.

A Better Life

Mark Brand’s “A Better Life Foundation” works to facilitate empowerment and a sense of wellbeing for those who struggle with addictions and mental illness issues by providing food security, education, and employment training. Speaking on the organization’s conception to its present-day incarnation, Mark stresses the importance of community involvement to create a meaningful life, as well as the current and future state of non-profits in Canada and beyond.

Building Better Communities

Successful and vibrant communities are built with real inclusion.  Mark Brand works in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, a community long recognized as being in flux.  The space of  one city block separates million dollar condos and 8×10-single-room occupancy’s dedicated as housing for the mentally ill and addicted.

Brand’s work in the DTES encompasses food security, training, employment, and strategic partnerships with developers and social enterprises alike.  He works to change  policy municipally–and perception nationally–in an effort to help create and build better communities that are rich, inclusive, and wonderful places in which to live and work, and  where residents  look after one another.

He speaks on this topic with the passion that translates to all levels of business and society, regardless of color, creed, or financial status.