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  • President Trump traveled to Utah today,

  • where he dramatically cut back the size

  • of two national monuments in that state.

  • When president Donald Trump announced plans

  • to scale back two national monuments in Utah,

  • there was outcry from a lot of people.

  • One company in particular.

  • Patagonia really is a resistance brand.

  • They embraced the liberal resistance

  • against President Donald Trump,

  • and really put themselves at the forefront of that movement.

  • In 2017, it sued the Trump administration

  • for sort of slashing the size

  • of these two national monuments in Utah

  • that were kind of meccas for climbers.

  • It said at the time joining the legal fracas

  • was both extraordinary and obvious.

  • So the company's general counsel said

  • it took exactly one email to the board

  • to decide to actually do this,

  • and the case is still out.

  • Well, I think the only thing

  • this administration understands is lawsuits.

  • We're losing this planet,

  • and we have an evil government,

  • and I'm not gonna stand back and just let evil win.

  • This year, it got even more active.

  • It changed its mission statement to,

  • "Patagonia is in business to save our home planet."

  • And then it manufactured these little tags

  • on some of its clothes that if you flip them up

  • it says "vote the assholes out."

  • Very implicit running up to the election,

  • and it launched a digital tool

  • to help people find their polling place,

  • and on that digital platform

  • it says "vote the climate deniers out of office"

  • again and again on a loop.

  • This isn't the first time

  • that taking a stand has paid off for Patagonia.

  • The business, which is now worth over a billion dollars,

  • was built on it.

  • I couldn't care less about making more money.

  • But by doing the right thing,

  • it always ends up making me more money.

  • So is this all a strategy,

  • a sort of premeditated strategy?

  • Who knows? I mean, Chouinard's been very vocal

  • from the start and makes no bones about,

  • he calls himself a dirtbag climber

  • and an accidental entrepreneur.

  • So I don't think he's fudging this,

  • but what's important is that

  • it's sort of a textbook marriage of philanthropy and profit.

  • If you wanna understand the entrepreneur,

  • study the juvenile delinquent,

  • 'cause you know, they're saying,

  • you know, "This sucks,

  • and I'm gonna do it my own way."

  • Of course, like every other teenage kid,

  • I had no idea what I want to do with my life.

  • When I was 16 years old,

  • I took off, and drove across the country,

  • went into the Wind River Range, and discovered mountains.

  • Patagonia was born out of rock climber

  • Yvon Chouinard's first business, Chouinard Equipment,

  • which made and sold climbing supplies.

  • Yvon Chouinard was a blacksmith in the '50s,

  • and he started selling climbing gear

  • out of the back of his car

  • that was less harmful to rock faces.

  • This is sort of the origin story of the company.

  • It's called itself the activist company,

  • not a activist company.

  • Six months out of the year,

  • Yvon Chouinard is a blacksmith.

  • He makes mountain climbing gear.

  • The other half of the year he climbs.

  • In 1968, Yvon Chouinard and four friends,

  • including Doug Tompkins, the late founder

  • of The North Face brand,

  • embarked on the ultimate road trip

  • from California where they were based

  • to Patagonia in Argentina.

  • The mountain was in a good mood,

  • dazzling sun, calm air all day.

  • If this weather holds,

  • they could be on the summit within days.

  • This trip became a documentary

  • about these friends who were hippies in the '70s

  • climbing in Yosemite, where the sport became a lifestyle,

  • and how these friends became pioneer

  • of the outdoor industry.

  • Chouinard moved from selling pitons to polyester,

  • and in the '70s, Patagonia was born.

  • In 1973, Chouinard and his wife Melinda opened

  • the very first Patagonia store in Ventura, California,

  • where the company's headquarters remain today.

  • Melinda Chouinard was the driving force

  • behind many of the employee benefits,

  • like on-site childcare, that helped the company achieve

  • an impressive 4% employee turnover rate.

  • The retail and consumer product sector average

  • is more than triple that at 13%.

  • I do think that Patagonia was a leader,

  • one of the first corporations

  • to take into account, you know,

  • the human capital, and make sure that their staff,

  • all their employees were cared for in many ways,

  • not just wages, but also they just cared about their people,

  • and knew that that's a good business model.

  • Patagonia began donating 10% of its profits

  • to grassroots organizations in 1985.

  • This later became the 1% of sales

  • that Chouinard labels an earth tax.

  • I don't think it's philanthropy.

  • It's rent for us living on this planet.

  • While Patagonia was creating the blueprint

  • of how to be a socially conscious brand,

  • it was also turning a profit.

  • It even made Inc. magazine's list

  • of the fastest growing privately held companies.

  • So every time the company makes a decision

  • to do something socially, environmentally active,

  • it is met with success, and that isn't lost on Chouinard,

  • or any of the other leaders of the company.

  • The more money Patagonia made,

  • the more it gave away under its philanthropic program.

  • Between 1989 and 1991, the payroll grew by 40%.

  • But trouble was on the horizon.

  • I think for 1991 we are looking at a recession.

  • The question is how deep that recession is going to be,

  • and how long we'll be in it.

  • Sales fell flat,

  • and the bank called in the company's revolving loans.

  • A company that prided itself on taking care of its own

  • laid off 120 people, roughly 20% of its workforce.

  • That was when we decided

  • that we were gonna start doing things differently.

  • We were gonna start running the company

  • as if it's going to be here 100 years from now.

  • With a renewed sense of purpose,

  • Patagonia was ready for what it called business unusual.

  • It started with the costly move

  • to recycled and organic materials

  • before launching a clothing repair service

  • to discourage fast fashion,

  • and Patagonia's influence was growing.

  • What was intended as Chouinard's philosophical handbook

  • for employees became an international blueprint

  • for sustainable business printed in 10 languages.

  • What's interesting to me is that all this,

  • I hate the term on brand, but it's very on brand.

  • It really works for the kind of company he's created.

  • It works for the kind of employees

  • he's been able to recruit and retain.

  • It all, it is very seamless in terms of the identity

  • of him and the company and what it means in the marketplace.

  • So over time, the company's mission

  • and its marketing have become the same thing.

  • The inflection point came in 2011,

  • actually Black Friday.

  • Patagonia took out a huge ad in The New York Times

  • that said "don't buy this jacket,"

  • and it sort of got into the nitty gritty on, you know,

  • the carbon footprint and the water footprint

  • that goes into, you know, a piece of apparel like a parka,

  • and at the time Chouinard said

  • the best jacket for our planet is one that already exists.

  • So the company at that time said it needed to address

  • the issue of consumerism,

  • which coming from a for-profit business

  • hits pretty hypocritical.

  • As the company encouraged its customers

  • to buy less, its annual sales increased by almost 40%.

  • The stance of this is hypocritical was loud,

  • and constant talking about consumerism in a critical light

  • while very much being a part of it.

  • Fast fashion is top on the list

  • of environmental destruction,

  • and not just destroying the environment,

  • but impacting human health.

  • They are in the fashion industry.

  • They're a clothing retailer,

  • and to come head-to-head with that is courageous.

  • You're not only just trying to create a product

  • that'll last, but you're also educating

  • an entire generation of people to understand

  • that whole ideology that we don't need

  • to change out our outfits.

  • In 2014, Rose Marcario was appointed as CEO.

  • During the next six years, she grew Patagonia

  • into a billion dollar company,

  • while also scaling up its environmental goals,

  • and bringing a more political voice to its activism.

  • Yvon had this model where he was basically saying

  • you can have a great business, you can make quality product,

  • but you can also do the right thing

  • by the environment, by your employees, by your community,

  • and that to me was the most holistic vision

  • of business that I'd ever seen.

  • So right now, Patagonia has a team of about 20 people

  • solely focused on activism and grants,

  • and this all comes at a time in the past decade

  • when consumers are paying much more attention

  • to the social footprint of companies

  • and where they buy their goods.

  • So what's happened is all this is

  • good business for Patagonia.

  • In the past 10 years, revenue and profit at the company

  • have roughly quadrupled.

  • It's private, but the estimates are it does

  • about a billion dollars in annual sales, which is sizable,

  • and that's part of the reason why

  • it's been such a fortuitous cycle.

  • As it's ramped up its activism,

  • and become more vocal on these things,

  • it's resonated with the market.

  • As the company branched out into other areas,

  • including a venture capital fund for environmental causes,

  • and sustainable food, revenue reached a new peak

  • of over $1 billion in 2017.

  • But this was still small change compared

  • to fast fashion heavyweights like Nike

  • who made $37 billion that same year.

  • Patagonia's conscience hasn't always been reflected

  • in its customer base either.

  • Personalized vests have become the go-to corporate uniform

  • and the expensive price tag has helped the brand

  • earn the nickname Patagucci.

  • It's expensive stuff, it's expensive apparel,

  • and that is part of their calculus in terms of the activism.

  • You know, a lot of the more sustainable parts

  • of the supply chain, there's a premium

  • for organic cotton, or sustainable down.

  • The Patagucci label is a symptom of that.

  • So Patagonia products are very popular

  • of course with people who are active in the outdoors,

  • but also with people are not as active.

  • For instance, you know, people in finance

  • wear the Patagonia vest to go to the office

  • and that's because of the image that the brand projects.

  • And so, they asked to live with the fact

  • although they, you know, preach for the environment

  • and want to stand for good,

  • they're victims of their own success.

  • Patagonia set sales records

  • in the first three years of the Trump administration.

  • Now in 2020, things have changed.

  • As COVID-19 brought the business world to a halt,

  • and the American people voted in a new administration,

  • Patagonia appointed Ryan Gellert as CEO.

  • As far as its CEO transition goes,

  • this one's happening quite strangely.

  • There's no real budget for next year yet,

  • because of everything that's going on,

  • and all the uncertainty around that.