With style and grace. Meeting Yvon Chouinard, Founder of Patagonia

Patti and husband John with Patagonia Founder Yvon Chouinard

Patti and husband John with Patagonia Founder Yvon Chouinard

Patagonia’s commitment to the environment and trailblazing efforts in the realm of corporate responsibility and citizenship is well-known, and its founder (dare I say dreamer) is as inspiring and humble as we thought he’d be.

We had the pleasure of experiencing Yvon Chouinard one-on-one at the Santa Barbara based non-profit Channel Keeper’s 13th Annual “Blue Water Ball” this year, where tribute was paid to Patagonia (located in neighboring Ventura, CA). What an amazing man.

Yvon didn’t talk “business” once. He spoke softly about the groundbreaking notion of taxing himself for living on this planet. He said that to ensure Patagonia’s mission is carried out, each employee must have a commitment to our incredible planet and a volunteering attitude (they receive over 900+ applicants for each job opening, a testament to what a great place it must be to work. They also allow employees to take a leave of absence to serve non-profits). Words like “quality,” “transparency,” and “impact” were honestly spoken to a room full of admirers. It is hard to name any one single individual who has done more than Yvon to support sustainability in business. Although there are many authors writing “the book” on this issue, he is a major contributor and leader in the effort. For that reason he has been called on by industry titans like Walmart, Nike and the Gap to advise them on how to better manage their businesses sustainably.

And we think about our own work: John’s company Trikke continues to move forward in the green transportation arena, developing and selling their electric vehicles as clean transportation alternatives, and we at Waxing Poetic are busy recycling silver, using the plaster from our molds to improve the local streets near our factory, and supporting our workers’ communities. We are inspired to do even more through our businesses in the days and years to come. Yvon encourages this possibility, this duty, and we deeply admire and respect this company and all they have modeled for us to follow.


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