Rose Marcario struggled to sleep. It was November 9, 2016, aloof hours afterwards Donald Trump had been adopted president, and the CEO of Patagonia was abashed about how his White House ascendance ability agitate not alone her company’s business but the planet’s future.
From the bedchamber of her Ventura, California, home, she aching over Trump’s attack pledges–to accompany aback coal, dismantle accessible acreage protections, and disentangle efforts to activity altitude change–which represented aggregate Patagonia, a athletic apostle of ecology issues, had continued fought against. “It was disappointing on so abounding levels,” recalls Marcario, who acquainted “a absolute threat” that all the aggregation stood for was “on the line.”
By 4 a.m., she had had enough. The 52-year-old practicing Buddhist got out of bed to meditate. This was activity to be a continued one. Marcario centered herself on Patagonia’s 45-year history. While some CEOs were salivating at the anticipation of a added laissez-faire authoritative environment, Marcario intuited that this was the moment to embrace Patagonia’s amount DNA–“to bifold bottomward on our activism.”
This wasn’t an end, Marcario thought, but a beginning. She confused to her laptop and began punching out a company-wide email. It was added than her adaptation of “Keep calm and backpack on.” In her note, she fatigued the coercion “to avert wilderness, to avert air, soil, and water.” She basic to “galvanize” the Patagonia association about these issues, she says, reminding her bodies that they charge “continue to [use] their voice” and “deepen our boldness to assure what we love.”
She hit SEND about 9:30 a.m., again collection to the office. She bumped into Yvon Chouinard in the parking lot. Chouinard, the Patagonia architect and administrator acclaimed for authoritative amazing aboriginal ascents on Fitz Roy and El Capitan in the 1960s afore architecture the aggregation into a all-around brand, acquainted the same. If anything, he basic Marcario to advance the aggregation further. “Keep going,” Chouinard exhorted her. “Let’s get accessible to fight.” It was aloof what she’d hoped to hear.
Since then, Patagonia has alone agitated its efforts. Incited by Trump’s agenda, the aggregation has upped its charge to ecology activism, authoritative an aberrant bet on accumulated amusing responsibility. This has served not alone to animate artefact addition and business but to abound the company’s cast acquaintance and sales. Marcario has overseen a quadrupling of Patagonia’s acquirement in her decade-long administering with the company, advancing investments in sustainable architecture and accomplishment and in startups affiliated with Patagonia’s mission. The aggregation has congenital a angelic flywheel, like an Amazon for do-gooders: The added it invests in its behavior and its products, the bigger Patagonia performs, develops artistic solutions, and maps out a adapt for added businesses, big and small, to follow. “Doing acceptable assignment for the planet,” Marcario says, “creates new markets and makes [us] added money.” That’s the Patagonia way.
Marcario’s success serves as a acknowledgment to companies that bind civic appulse to a second- or third-tier antecedence in the accumulated world. “This isn’t the time to be lazy, to be reserved, to be complicit, to be quiet,” she says. “We’re active in a time aback it’s so important for business to drive this new economy, this new view, this aspirational approaching of business as a force for good.”
Patagonia’s accumulated campus in Ventura feels added like a bank boondocks association academy than home to one of the world’s best affecting accoutrement brands. Solar panels dot the parking lot, area surfboards and wet accoutrement are splayed aloft Priuses and beat-up trucks. The aboriginal tin afford area Chouinard aboriginal formed out advancing pitons to advertise still sits accomplish abroad on its aboriginal site, and accents the rustic vibe you’d apprehend from a aggregation whose architect authored a book blue-blooded Let My Bodies Go Surfing.
On a brilliant morning aftermost November, I accomplish my way to the additional attic of the company’s basic building, area Marcario works in an accessible controlling office. Dressed in jeans and a atramentous Patagonia belong over a checkerboard shirt, with adoration chaplet about her wrist, she greets me at her desk, which is draped in a behemothic chicken banderole emblazoned with abide in atramentous letters. Hanging aloof alfresco the window abaft her, an American banderole acclaim ripples in the Pacific breeze.
It’s been about absolutely a year aback Marcario wrote that post-election letter, and her acuteness still burns. Her Zen address is counterbalanced with a refreshing, no-bullshit bluntness. Whenever Trump’s name comes up, she all-overs her arch in frustration. She has little backbone for leaders who she feels act out of self-interest. Best CEOs? “So, so phony,” she says. Shortsighted investors? “Destroying the country.” The titans of Silicon Valley? “Pathetic. I couldn’t face myself every day if I gave the affectionate of weenie answers they’ve been giving on these issues. All these guys [at Facebook, Twitter, and Google] are rich. Why don’t they aloof do what’s right?”
When I ask about her own administering style, Marcario says she strives to embrace accident by acting “quickly and decisively,” but not by sacrificing the future, abandonment what she calls the business world’s “suicidal” addiction to annual earnings. Business VP Cory Bayers tells me that aback advisers proposed that the aggregation accord abroad all of its 2016 Atramentous Friday sales to grassroots ecology organizations, Marcario green-lighted the plan aural 30 annual via argument message. (The aggregation aloft $10 actor and active up 24,000 new barter that day.) Lorna Davis, above CEO of the multibillion-dollar amoebic CPG amassed DanoneWave, who counts Marcario as a abutting adviser, says she pushes those about her to assignment on a “30-year framework,” to accept the all-embracing after-effects of business decisions, rather than alone what will move the aggravate abutting ages or abutting year. “There isn’t too abundant of that accident in the U.S. appropriate now,” Davis says.
Marcario didn’t consistently assume destined to become a accumulated rebel. Aback she was 10, her parents breach up, and “we went from accepting a nice, common activity to actuality on abundance and aliment stamps,” she says, abacus that she developed an “underlying neurosis” in the afterwards years to never end up in her mom’s acute banking situation. “I was consistently abashed I wouldn’t accept abundant money.” She advised accounts in college, acceptable her MBA at Cal State in L.A., and by her aboriginal thirties was branch up M&A at a West Coast advance firm. She became CFO of General Magic, the Apple aftereffect that birthed such Valley stars as Android architect Andy Rubin and Nest architect Tony Fadell, and again confused into clandestine equity.
But Marcario begin this cord of achievements unfulfilling. Her career and claimed activity weren’t aligned. Afterwards profiting from the banking system, she says she austere out and faced “a moment of reckoning.” In 2006, she quit, and spent allotment of the abutting two years traveling in India and Nepal. “I went through a affectionate of claimed transformation,” she says. “Studying Buddhism, aloof addition out who I was as a person. . . . If you don’t booty that to your assignment and the world, again I don’t anticipate that transformation is complete.”
At one point, Marcario alike advised acceptable a Buddhist nun, but a adventitious appointment brought her aback to the business world. An old acquaintance who formed at Patagonia told her the aggregation was gluttonous a new CFO and appropriate she allege with Chouinard. An ardent charlatan herself who loves kayaking in Big Sur and hiking in Joshua Tree, Marcario alone knew him by acceptability as a abundance climber who, in her words, never “sold out.” (As Chouinard tells me, “I couldn’t accord a bits about how abundant money we make.”) She admits that she was agnostic of whether the aggregation would alive up to its hype, but begin in Chouinard an controlling coach and a affiliated spirit.
“Earnings per allotment is a like a alternation about the close of the country,” says Marcario, who advocates for a convalescent anatomy of commercialism that additionally takes into annual bodies and the planet. [Photo: ioulex]Joining Patagonia in 2008, Marcario formed bound to analysis accumulation chains and accumulate production, allowance the aggregation annihilate decay and balance packaging. She additionally helped appear new technologies, alive with supplier Primaloft to developa recycled insulation, for instance, which ultimately adapted not aloof Patagonia’s articles but curve from Adidas, Nike, Helly Hansen, and the North Face. In 2014, Chouinard animated her to CEO. Aback then, by allotment small, environmentally amenable ventures, Patagonia has helped aftermath above strides in abstracts science as able-bodied as adorning agriculture, arch to a surprising attack into affairs aliment beneath the banderole of Patagonia Provisions. By absorption on abbreviation decay and extending the activity of its gear, the aggregation now has a blooming new bazaar for acclimated goods. By agreeable barter in its activity for a convalescent planet, Patagonia boosts its power. Marcario tells me her airy adventure from her pre-Patagonia career and activity now feels complete. “My accomplished cocky is here,” she says. “My values, my passion, my faculty of urgency.”
On the outskirts of Reno, Nevada, four dozen technicians angular over bed-making machines, bond abroad central the bigger garment-repair ability in the United States. Racks of best Snap-T fleeces and Fitz Roy bottomward parkas anticipate their attention, a bubble of awakening pastels and neons. This adjustment centermost reflects a cogent bound advanced from the company’s aboriginal above move into what’s now cheekily accepted as recommerce. In 2011, Patagonia purchased a full-page ad in The New York Times, which featured a simple attack of a bleed beneath the banderole “Don’t Buy This Jacket.” The ad encouraged barter to adjustment and reclaim as abundant of their accouterment as possible, and Patagonia created a bazaar with eBay for barter to barter items they no best needed. The Common Threads Initiative, as the aggregation again alleged it, repaired added than 30,000 items in 18 months. Ironically, the added Patagonia campaigned on this anti-consumerist message, the added bodies bought its products. Sales added about 30% during 2012, to $540 million.
The abutting year, Common Threads spawned a activity dubbed Worn Wear, which began accepting acclimated commodity in flagship stores, from Austin to Chicago to Seattle. Afterwards accumulating abundant gear, Marcario accustomed a committed Worn Wear area aural anniversary retail outlet. Through Patagonia’s VC arm, Tin Afford Ventures, the aggregation acquired a pale in a startup alleged Yerdle. Cofounded by Adam Werbach, the onetime arch of the Sierra Club who had pushed Walmart adjoin added acceptable practices, Yerdle helped booty Worn Wear online. Aftermost April, Patagonia added Worn Wear to its own website, alms barter allowance certificates for approaching purchases if they beatific in acclimated clothing.
Patagonia is sometimes labeled, derisively, “Patagucci,” the high-end cast of best for one-percenters swooshing bottomward the slopes of Chamonix. Worn Wear has served as an antidote, buoying Patagonia’s eco-friendly acceptability and evoking the #vanlife address Chouinard pioneered decades ago in Yosemite afore it became a accepted Instagram hashtag. “[Worn Wear] makes our cast added accessible to academy kids and others who are attractive for lower amount points,” says Patagonia chief administrator of accumulated development Phil Graves. Patagonia awash $1 actor account of acclimated clothes via Worn Wear in the aboriginal six months of its site. “It was a air-conditioned abstraction to accumulate our accessory in use longer,” Graves says, “but now it’s this apprentice e-commerce business that we appetite to abound in a big way. The ambition is to animate every above cast to accept their own recommerce armpit abaft their apparel.”
This abstraction of alarming added businesses to act abnormally is an basic allotment of Patagonia’s mission. Patagonia Provisions, for instance, the company’s beginning aliment line, appears to be a analytical abreast to the bigger business of affairs activewear. But it is anon affiliated to the company’s charge to activity altitude change, which Marcario says threatens adverse “water and aliment scarcity.” Marcario and Chouinard see Provisions, which has 17 products, as an addition lab for developing standards in adorning amoebic agriculture, a blazon of acceptable agronomics that uses beneath assets and is bigger for the soil, in the hopes that it can animate others to chase its lead. “We’re at this antecedent moment about amoebic agriculture, area bodies appetite to baptize bottomward the standards,” Marcario says. Beneath than a ages afterwards she makes this assertion, Secretary of Agronomics Sonny Perdue withdrew an Obama-era angle to strengthen amoebic requirements for livestock and poultry.
Even as the Trump administering retreats on added ecology commitments, Marcario is bound to use business to accomplish what government won’t. Patagonia deploys both its advance basic and ascendancy to this purpose. Why does it advertise addle jerky? Because Agrarian Abstraction Buffalo, a South Dakota startup that Patagonia backs, uses adorning practices to accession its bison and advice restore threatened prairie grasslands. Why did Patagonia acquaint beer to its card in the abatement of 2016? The aggregation basic to prove the bartering activity of a agrarian atom alleged kernza that improves rather than depletes topsoil. (Its accumulation comes from yet addition Tin Afford portfolio company, alleged Cairnspring Mills.) “We acquisition [ideas in tune with our goals], we advance in infrastructure, we body a path,” says Birgit Cameron, chief administrator of Patagonia Provisions. Thanks to the aboriginal success of its Continued Root Ale, Patagonia has evangelized kernza to Nestlé and General Mills, and it’s working with Stanford University and UC Berkeley, amid others, to advance courses on ascent adorning organics. Says Marcario, “When we attending 25 years into the future, we don’t see a lot of abstinent abstracts in accumulation chains, so we’re aggravating to acknowledgment those challenges.”
Marcario has not been shy in application her company’s annoyer belvedere to beef government decisions that it has agilely disagreed with, speaking out adjoin the Keystone Pipeline and aghast to Scott Pruitt’s choice to advance the EPA. (“We accepted the affliction [with a Trump administration], and we got it,” Marcario wrote in a letter appear on Patagonia’s blog.) But she has taken things a footfall added by productizing the company’s activism.
A year and a bisected ago, Marcario accomplished Patagonia bare a new weapon. As abundant as its association ability assemblage abaft the causes the aggregation stood for, there was no way for bodies to absolutely participate above cutting its iconic logo as a cast of honor. So she tasked her aggregation with creating an “activist hub.” Patagonia had continued captivated a biennial appointment to abutment agreeing ecology organizations. Now, Marcario basic to advance a account that systemized its grassroots action. “People absolutely appetite to do something,” she says. “This makes it easier for them to get involved.”
Patagonia Activity Works, which came out of beta in February, is a agenda belvedere that’s allotment amusing network, allotment recruiting tool. It allows everyone, from Patagonia’s barter to 720 admission organizations, to confab about causes, accost donations, column agenda events, and seek out volunteers. “This [is a] apparatus that helps bodies accord skills,” Marcario says, “to volunteer, [attend] a burghal board meeting, run for office, alpha their own NGO.”
In beta testing, Ventura-based Los Padres ForestWatch acclimated Patagonia Activity Works to allure 677 accessible comments on a proposed oil-drilling exemption, a 342% access on the cardinal it calm for a agnate antecedent campaign. “Being able to advantage Patagonia’s abject and assets aloof put our articulation up a accomplished added level,” says the not-for-profit’s controlling director, Jeff Kuiper.
“Getting bodies out to contest is huge,” says John Goodwin, Patagonia’s cast artistic director, who is amalgam Activity Works into the company’s e-commerce site, so barter can buy into causes at the aforementioned time they’re affairs products. “It’s all about beastly connection, not aloof about signing a petition. We don’t appetite this to be a clicktivism site.”
Patagonia Activity Works is a adventurous attack to augment Marcario’s own activism. Aback Utah governor Gary Herbert signaled his intentions to antechamber the Trump administering to cycle aback federal aegis for Bears Ears Civic Monument, the 1.35 million–acre swath of aerial arid that Admiral Barack Obama appointed a civic cairn aloof afore abrogation office, Marcario launched a protest. With industry ally including Atramentous Diamond and REI, she persuaded the advantageous Outdoor Retailer barter show, which had continued been based in Salt Lake City, to backpack to Denver. (The show’s attendees represent a accumulated $5 billion in acquirement and 7.6 million jobs.) Again in December, aback Trump appear that he would absolutely compress Bears Ears by about 85%, Patagonia switched its website to a abrupt atramentous awning with the words “The Admiral Stole Your Land.” The aggregation appear it would be demography the Trump administering to cloister over the move and issued posts on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Marcario, whom Admiral Obama accustomed with the Champions of Change accolade in 2015, has already acquainted the chaw of counterattack. The U.S. House Committee on Accustomed Resources, chaired by Utah adumbrative Rob Bishop, declared via Twitter, “Patagonia Is Lying To You.” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told The New York Times, “You beggarly Patagonia fabricated in China?”
For a cast of Patagonia’s almost bashful size, isn’t it alarming to face off with the federal government? Marcario laughs. “I acquisition it funny advancing from a guy like Zinke, who said he was activity to be like Teddy Roosevelt, and again he aloof took abroad [more than a] actor acreage of accessible land,” she says. “In agreement of area our articles are actuality made, we’re 100% cellophane about that. You can go to our armpit and trace everything, which is added than you can say about what’s accident with the federal government. I don’t anticipate we can assurance that they’re activity to do annihilation that is in the absorption of the American accessible landholder and not the oil and gas industry.”
Pioneering a archetypal of association as civic-engagement agitator comes with risks. In the accomplished year, companies from Amazon to ESPN accept been fatigued into the ability wars about the president. But as Marcario sees it, “customers expect” Patagonia to angle for its behavior behindhand of the consequences, alike if it agency cartoon the Twitter acerbity of Admiral Trump. November 9, 2016, may accept been the best aggravating moment of Marcario’s administering at Patagonia. But “in the end,” she says, “what came out of that was Activity Works, the best campaign we’d anytime done for accessible acreage about Bears Ears, and conceivably the best advancing move I’ve apparent my artefact teams accomplish on fair trade. At the time, it acquainted like things like angry for the planet and attention agrarian places were bottomward through our hands, but all this amazing being has appear out of that night.”
CEO Rose Marcario thinks in a 30-year time frame. Actuality are her abiding bets to access business to chase her lead.
1. Men’s Wind-Shield Vest—Used, $80This repaired and refurbished Patagonia belong is allotment of the company’s new Worn Wear “recommerce” platform, which incentivizes barter to barter in old accessory while additionally alluring a adolescent customer for added affordable, repurposed goods.
2. Canned MusselsPatagonia Provisions, the company’s beginning aliment line, promotes advantageous aliment systems and adorning agronomics that produces beneath carbon emissions. Its abutting artefact is canned mussels, “one of the best acceptable forms of beastly protein,” says architect Yvon Chouinard.
3. Women’s Long-Sleeved Slope Runner ShirtTin Afford Ventures, the company’s cardinal VC firm, invests in food, energy, water, waste, and accoutrement innovations. One portfolio company, Above Surface Technologies, has developed environmentally affable bolt treatments that use accustomed solutions to accomplish fabrics water-repellent and moisture-wicking. They are already in use in Patagonia’s yoga and trail-running styles.
4. Men’s Lightweight Synchilla Snap-T Bleed PulloverSince Marcario took over in 2014, Patagonia has developed its abiding of fair-trade articles from 10 to 480. They’re sewn in eight countries, including India, Thailand, Colombia, Vietnam, Nicaragua, and Mexico, and branch workers accept aggregate benefit payments that can be broadcast as banknote or democratically acclimated for a amusing advance like daycare.
5. Patagonia Activity WorksPatagonia created this agenda hub to affix barter with the grassroots organizations the aggregation supports. Los Padres ForestWatch, a not-for-profit that protects civic monuments, acclimated Activity Works to allure 342% added accessible comments than it about drums up for such initiatives. “At the end of the day,” Marcario says, “it’s the barter who will change the world.”
Patagonia is No. 6 on the 2018 World’s Best Innovative Companies list. Check out all 50 companies here.
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