I had the best job on the planet. I worked for Patagonia, Inc., a privately owned experiment in social change, masquerading as a successful outdoor clothing manufacturer. A company that puts relationships before transactions, and, thanks to the vision and passion of it’s owners, Yvon and Malinda Chouinard, is able to maintain the courage of its convictions, working to blend business and philanthropy in forming a new model for corporate responsibility and behavior.This incredible company draws people of like minds, and the resultant culture is an amalgam of the values of the owners, and the generations of dedicated, passionate employees who share those values. It’s a culture that blends work and play, activism and athleticism to form an enterprise unique in the outdoor industry, and in the business environment as a whole. Patagonia is truly one of the most progressive and evolved companies doing business today.
So why leave? Well, the decision was hard but the rationale was simple. The model that Yvon and Malinda created requires replication in order to truly be a sustainable model. Patagonia needs offspring. It’s time to take everything I’ve learned from the best teachers one could ever have, and develop the next generation business, dedicated to blending philanthropy and commerce in new ways. To embody the same core values and communicate them through new avenues, to new audiences.
The point of Patagonia’s existence was never about simply selling more products to more people. That was a means to an end, the end being an expanded sphere of influence, in order to affect a more lasting change. By creating more companies based on that same ideal, we will exponentially increase that sphere of influence. I would hope that there are a dozen companies formed in the coming years from the foundations that Patagonia has laid, each new entry strengthening the industry through healthy competition, but more importantly, each one striving to change the role of business, and the ability of the business sector to affect positive lasting change.