TGW Business Spotlight - Cotopaxi
We're big fans of adventure and the great outdoors here at This Good World. You could say we're a bit obsessive at times. Fortunately, this leads us on personal research and journies to discover and share brands doing good things and encouraging people to unplug, get out and take in the freshest of airs. One such brand who inspires in this way is Cotopaxi. Cotopaxi creates innovative outdoor products and experiences that fund sustainable poverty relief, move people to do good, and inspire adventure. #gearforgood in every sense. We were lucky enough to have a chat with Davis Smith, the founder and CEO of Cotopaxi, about how the brand got started, the drive behind Gear for Good, and so much more. Enjoy, friends.
TGW: Your mission states the Cotopaxi goal of inspiring people to do good by encouraging adventure. How do you think living an adventurous life can result in someone doing more good--for themselves, for others and/or for the planet?
Davis: The idea for Cotopaxi was largely inspired by the fifteen years I spent living in the developing world during my childhood and part of my adult life. As we are exposed to new places, people and cultures, it is impossible to not be impacted in a life-changing way. Cotopaxi creates innovative outdoor products and experiences that fund sustainable poverty relief, move people to do good, and inspire adventure. Our hope is that our products and events will drive people to adventure and push themselves to try and see new things. As our customers are adventuring with Cotopaxi products, they know that this just isn't another piece of gear. Subtle hints in our design and the "Gear For Good" tagline on all of our products are a constant reminder that each product has made an impact for good and that we need to do more good, no matter where we are.
TGW: The work of your nonprofit partners is nothing short of amazing and it's great to know Cotopaxi purchases help support those efforts. Can you talk a little bit about how you select those partners?
Davis: We select our partners very carefully, making sure that their main focus is on making a positive and sustainable impact. All of our nonprofit work is facilitated through our Chief Impact Officer (CIO), whose main focus is to make sure we follow through with our promises and make a sustainable impact on the world. We believe meaningful change doesn’t come through handouts, but through empowerment. We work closely with our partners to find ways to empower and provide opportunity to those living in these impoverished communities.
TGW: Cotopaxi is certainly leading the way when it comes to connecting the consumer with the impact their dollars can have when spent with purpose. What's been the response to telling the stories of these close relationships? For example, your transparent/tangible donation model, your Human Lifespan Guarantee, etc.
Davis: It really makes a difference. We're working hard to improve this process and our messaging since the recent hiring of our CIO, including telling the stories and impact that are happening with our nonprofit partners. Consumers want to know where their money is going and how their purchase makes a difference. Mentioning the human lifespan warranty, it also means that our products are built to last. So far, the response has been very positive.
TGW: Has the discovery and relationship development process for ethical factories been difficult? Can you talk a bit about why sourcing responsibly and sustainably is at the core of how Cotopaxi operates?
Davis: Just as we are passionate about making a sustainable impact with each purchase, we know that we need to do the same with our supply chain. With the background and relationships that have been built by our product development team, we have been fortunate to find some of the most amazing factories where workers are treated and paid fairly and love to go to their jobs. We always use factories that have been audited and have signed onto certain agreements, but we also perform two other audits. One is inspecting the factory on our own. The other is through hiring a local journalist to interview employees to gain a sense of their general well-being. There’s actually a really cool product we released yesterday that perfectly embodies our mission of empowering people and allowing them to have a voice. You check out the product here: http://cotopaxi.com/collections/technical-packs/products/luzon-18l-limit...
TGW: Are there other businesses or organizations from which you gain inspiration in the realm of doing good things as a business?
Davis: Our biggest inspirations have come from TOMS shoes, Warby Parker and a few other brands who have successfully shown that you can do well as a business while also doing good. I went to business school with the founders of Warby Parker and they actually invested in Cotopaxi, along with Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS. There has been a lot of learning that has happened about how to give most effectively, so we have watched closely so that we can avoid any pitfalls that others have already uncovered.
Now that you've met Cotopaxi and learned a little more about Gear for Good, go grab some! Our team can personally vouch for the quality, connection and amazing style that comes with these bags, apparel and accessories.