In 1973 Yvon Chouinard founded Patagonia, a company with focus on clothing and equipment for the outdoor-life, unaware of the future impact this would have on the entire market and world. The company has built its empire with focus on benefiting humankind and the good of the planet. In 2022 Chouinard announced a final, mic dropping decision, before transferring his ownership. A move that affects not only the company’s future but the world itself.
It all began with a 14 year old Chouinard testing out rock climbing and directly became an avid fan. He and his friends’ eagerness to climb meant that they quickly outgrew the local climbing tracks and therefore were in need of new challenges which made them move to Yosemite in search of greater
The first signs of Chouinard’s entrepreneurship was in 1957 when he started teaching himself how to blacksmith pitons in coal-fired forges. His homemade pitons resulted in a small business where friends and others interested in climbing started buying his crafts. The business expanded and during the late 60’s he and his new companion, Tom Frost, refined almost all existing climbing tools. The successful company soon became the largest of suppliers on the market and as their environmental awareness increased, so did the inventions of new eco friendly products and the foundation of Patagonia was created.
So what makes Patagonia such a unique company? The answers to this are many, not only do they offer quality pieces that last for a long time made of sustainable 100% organic materials. But they also have been highly engaged in voluntary work and charities, such as opening thousands of child care-centers. They have donated 1% of sales to groups fighting for the planet since 2002 which have inspired other companies and organizations. Besides getting a more sustainable supply chain, the company also involves their customers, such as creating the Patagonia Action Works which connects them to the environmental groups. The organization therefore can be seen as more than a clothing company but also as a movement against a brighter future. “I am dead serious about saving this planet’’ – Chouinard.
Even though all written examples above are tremendous and more than most companies, this wasn’t enough for Chouinard. Last year he announced that the successful brand will donate every dollar (besides those that reinvests in Patagonia) to good causes for the environment. ‘’Instead of extracting
value from nature and transforming it into wealth, we are using the wealth Patagonia creates to
protect the source,” said Chouinard.