We visited the Salt Lake City-based brand for its launch last weekend. I sat down for lunch with the Cotopaxi founder and CEO Davis Smith. He explained to me how a gear company can make the world a better place.
“We’re developing gear and creating a business that can actually make a positive impact on the world,” he said. Easily said, but how will they do it?
Brands like Warby Parker and TOMS Shoes have business models that connect commerce to charity. It’s refreshing to see a similar model applied in the outdoors industry.
(It’s also no huge coincidence; Smith is friends and was classmates with the founder of Warby Parker. He told me that he was one of the first customers to buy the company’s now popular glasses.)
Cotopaxi links each piece of gear to a humanitarian cause in some of the poorest regions of the world. The description of each product explains where the money from each purchase will go.
For example, the purchase of an India water bottle provides water to one person in need in India for about six months.
Purchase a Cusco backpack and one child in Cusco gets an onsite tutor for a week.
The gear is solid; I tested the Cusco pack around Salt Lake City this weekend on bike and foot. The nylon/canvas pack with 26-liter carrying capacity looks good, has a padded pocket for a laptop, and plenty of pocket space.
It’s a bonus knowing the purchase will give a child in Cusco some extra education, too.
There are eight items in the line right now. Prices range from $20 for a water bottle to $80 for a backpack. The company plans to expand in the near future and each new item will continue to aid a charity around the world.
I’m looking forward to following Cotopaxi and watching the brand grow for years to come.
To learn more about Cotopaxi, visit the website, and follow the brand on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.