Stamets and his wife, Carolyn “Dusty” Yao (in their home office), have run Fungi Perfecti longer than a decade. The two became a couple in the late ’90s after Yao, an herbal medicine practitioner, took a temporary job as bookkeeper for the company. When Yao moved into Stamets’ ant-infested farmhouse, Stamets was inspired to invent a fungal pesticide, for which he was eventually awarded several patents.
Yao also helped Stamets branch out into the nutraceutical mushroom extracts that now form a major part of the business. She co-wrote the book MycoMedicinals: An Informational Treatise on Mushrooms with Stamets, and she regularly accompanies him on foraging expeditions. “Dusty finds at least four times more mushrooms than I do,” Stamets says. “I just follow her around, and she brings them to my attention.”