I’ve loved the ethos of Patagonia for about 10 years now.
I was a little late to the Patagonia train.
I’m usually into fashionable designers and stores, and I didn’t think Patagonia’s clothes were particularly fashionable. In fact, I probably only own 2 items from Patagonia.
However, I’ve had outdoorsy friends who swore by them, and my husband has bought a LOT of clothes from Patagonia over the years.
In fact, the first time I went into a store with my husband and saw their values of conservation and environmentalism displayed alongside fleece jackets and hoodies, I could tell this was a different kind of store.
So, I signed up for their mailing list and started to receive their catalogs.
If you’ve ever gotten a Patagonia catalog, you’d be surprised (or not) to see that they don’t really focus on their clothes.
Above - photos of what their kids' catalog looked like in 2016. Yes, the children are wearing Patagonia, but the photos are really all about the majestic mountains, the grand canyons, and the articles were about allowing children to learn from nature, how children who take risks led to healthier adults, voting with your values AND there was a blurb about how Patagonia started childcare in 1983, 10 years after Patagonia was founded.
There was another catalog and a book, called Family Business, that went into detail about how Malinda P. Chouinard, who founded Patagonia alongside her husband Yvon, started up a daycare to help employees and themselves. They wanted their children close by. They wanted to have lunch with their kids, and Yvon had written something about how he didn’t realize the impact of what his wife did, until one day, he went to the school and asked a child, “How’s school?” And that child said that he was working! That his mom or dad was working in that other building, and he was working in this one.
Yvon thought to himself, how powerful it is to have your children understand completely what you do for work and at work instead of disappearing all day, coming home and seeing them for only a few hours at night. Yvon also wrote that if they could do it, any company could because they didn’t really know what they were doing. They just knew it was the right thing to do.
When I read that catalog, I fell in love with Patagonia.
I’ve been inspired to build a company like theirs.
Of course, I’m not selling clothes. However, I would love to build a company that stands behind my values in the truest of all ways.
That’s why I was so inspired when Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, announced a couple of weeks ago that he and his family were transferring their ownership to a specially designed trust and a nonprofit organization that combats climate change and protects undeveloped land around the world.
In an exclusive interview with the New York Times, Chouinard, said:
“Hopefully this will influence a new form of capitalism that doesn’t end up with a few rich people and a bunch of poor people.”
I believe that this is the crux of the story here.
Money isn’t the problem.
Making money isn't an issue either.
Patagonia is still going to exist, and it’s still going to have profits. In fact, it’s even more important that Patagonia continues to increase profits, now that all of the proceeds go to environmental and conservation causes.
The company has made the Patagonia founder a BILLIONAIRE, which he didn’t want to be (He was actually angry that Forbes put him on their Billionaires' list and it’s what prompted this transfer), and the company makes about $100 million per year. So, it’s really not about making money.
Instead, what do you want money to mean for you? How do you want to make the world a better place through your financial resources? How can you vote with your money?
To me, what’s really astonishing isn’t the fact that the Chouinard family gave away their future fortunes, but that they didn’t even take a tax deduction, like a lot of billionaires and huge corporations do, when they give away profits or donate to causes.
Because they donated their proceeds to what’s called an irrevocable trust (meaning they can’t pull the money back out for any reason), it created a taxable gift, so they personally have to pay $17.5 Million!
(So, not only did they give away their company and all future profits and not receive a deduction, they actually had to pay more in taxes because of what they created.)
Now, that’s commitment, don’t you think?
They also couldn’t get a deduction for their donation to a nonprofit organization called Holdfast Collective because it’s a 501(c)(4), which allows it to make unlimited political contributions, which are not deductible.
So what are your values?
What are you committed to?
How can you use your resources to make the world a better place?
The easiest thing we could possibly do is to always vote with our money.
We need to be more vigilant about where each dollar goes. By buying products from companies, like Patagonia, that are trying to stand up for something, we are making our own impacts, and collectively, that impact shows that companies that are only in it for a quick buck are not what we want.
Patagonia is the opposite of Depeche Mode, or Fast Fashion. Did you know that you can always get Patagonia to repair any clothes you do have?
They don’t want you to keep buying new clothes from them.
We’re all in this world together. Let’s use our resources to help each other to make everything better for ourselves, our children, and our children’s children.
With lots of LOVE and Gratitude,