Cotopaxi is a Certified B-Corp that creates outdoor products and events, and gives 2% of their revenue to alleviate poverty.
Cotopaxi – named after a volcano in Ecuador – was formed in Salt Lake City in 2014 by three young men with a passion for the outdoors and social change.
“I was always passionate about adventures and the outdoors” said 39-year-old co-founder Davis Smith, who grew up in Latin America.
The company was launched as an e-commerce retailer (they now also have one store in Salt Lake City) providing outdoor wear, camping gear, backpacks and accessories. But the founders knew that they needed to offer something more. Keen fans of outdoor pursuits and challenges, they decided to launch their brand with something called Questival. Described as “the world’s best outdoor race”, it’s a set of outdoor challenges that tours across the States each year.
In addition to offering action-packed thrills, Cotopaxi is all about giving back. Smith spent much of his childhood in South and Central America, where he witnessed extreme poverty and vowed to try and do something about it when he was older. Smith founded Cotopaxi with two friends as a brand built around social good.
The three were committed not just to donating profits to help make a difference but also to ensuring that materials are sustainably sourced and that manufacturing processes are fair.
The company is registered as a B Corp (private company certified to meet certain standards in terms of social and environmental performance) and donates 2 percent of annual profits to global charitable causes through a grant-making program. Cotopaxi collaborates with non-profit organizations and actively sources recipients of funding to ensure that they meet requirements.
Projects that have received funding from Cotopaxi include a girls’ education project in India, a refugee project operating in the Middle East and Europe, an orphanage in Bolivia and a health and education project in Nepal.
Cotopaxi works with factories in the developing world, in countries such as the Philippines, that guarantee things such as fair wages, good working conditions and even benefits such as maternity care. Workers are often involved in the design process and products – such as unique fanny packs made from left-over scrap materials and sweaters made by village artisans from local llama fibers – are all environmentally sustainable.
The company is confident enough in the quality of products that each comes with a 61-year warranty, although this unusually specific figure has a deeper meaning. It’s the average lifespan of someone in the developing world. A reminder from the company that something needs to be done about this.
"We believe we can make a positive impact on people’s lives through the products and experiences we create."