Despite owning a billion-dollar fortune, Yvon Chouinard felt reluctant when Forbes named him in the billionaires list.
Adventurous people are most likely familiar with outdoor clothing giant Patagonia. However, the brand’s founder – Yvon Chouinard – recently announced that he will give away his billion-dollar brand, using future profits to fight the climate crisis.
This information makes everyone eager to learn information about this strange businessman.
Athletes make a living selling homemade goods
Yvon Chouinard (born 1938) was one of the leading climbers in the “Golden Age of Yosemite Mountaineering”.
An avid mountaineer, Chouinard taught himself to forge in 1957 to create climbing gear that could be reused without polluting the environment. That same year, he purchased a used coal-fired forge and established a forge in the chicken coop in his parents’ backyard in Burbank, California, USA. He made his own pitons – pegs or metal spikes attached to the rock to support the climbers’ ropes.
Chouinard’s pitons quickly became known to many climbers. They helped make a living for Chouinard because he could forge two pitons an hour, selling them for $1.5 each (equivalent to $16 today), giving Chouinard the time and money to spend on adventure. save.
But around 1970, Chouinard became aware that the use of steel pitons caused significant damage to the cracks of Yosemite Valley. The success of the pitons led him to found Chouinard Equipment, Ltd.
Before long, by 1989, the company filed for bankruptcy protection to liability lawsuits. The company’s hard assets have been acquired by employees.
Chouinard with equipment for climbing (Image: Tom Frost)
The turning point of becoming an entrepreneur
The idea for an outdoor climbing clothing business came to Chouinard during a visit to Scotland in the winter of 1970. Chouinard bought several rugby shirts and sold them with great success. From this small beginning, the Patagonia company has developed a large selection of sturdy clothing.
Chouinard realized that financial success could help him achieve his personal goals. As a result, the American businessman is committed to making the company an excellent place to work and an important resource for environmental causes.
Patagonia’s mission has always been a reflection of Chouinard’s better work ethic. Since 2002, Yvon Chouinard founded the project “1% for the Planet”, representing the brand’s commitment to spend 1% of sales on environmental activities. This action continues to this day, and Chouinard’s company became the first to make this commitment.
In addition, the company also supports employees working on local environmental projects. Chouinard also promotes its brand to adopt sustainable methods, including making fabrics from recycled plastic bottles.
In 2018, the company changed its purpose to “we are in business to save this home planet”. Chouinard’s contributions set him apart from other wealthy businessmen.
Even Chouinard’s wife, Malinda Pennoyer, has never wavered in her goal of doing good and giving what they can.
Yvon Chouinard is best known as the founder of Patagonia (Image: Forbes)
The man who became a billionaire “reluctantly”
According to The Guardian, a 2017 Forbes article made Yvon Chouinard “really angry”. From mountain climber, reluctant Yvon Chouinard turned entrepreneur and founder of outdoor clothing company Patagonia. Forbes named Chouinard a billionaire and added him to its list of the world’s richest people.
While many people dream of achieving a nine-figure fortune, Chouinard sees this as a sign he has failed in his life’s mission: To make the world a better and fairer place.
“Instead of extracting value from nature and turning it into wealth for investors, we will use the wealth Patagonia creates to protect the source of all wealth,” Yvon Chouinard said. .
To do this, the Chouinard family transferred 2% of its voting stock into the Patagonia Purpose Trust to oversee and ensure that the brand stays true to its original value. The remaining 98% of the family’s shares will go to the new Holdfast Collective, a nonprofit that fights climate change. The family will pay $17.5 million in taxes and will not receive any tax benefits on its contribution.
Explaining his decision to quit the company, Chouinard told the New York Times: “I was listed as a billionaire by Forbes magazine, which really angers me. I don’t have $1 billion in my budget. bank. I don’t drive a Lexus.”
However, according to the most recent Forbes data, Chouinard owns a fortune of $1.2 billion. As for Patagonia, the brand is worth an estimated $3 billion. The company sells more than $1 billion in outdoor clothing and equipment, generating $100 million in annual revenue.
Chouinard “never wanted to be an entrepreneur,” he wrote in a letter to Patagonia clients announcing the plan. His passion for sustainability never ran out even as Patagonia grew.
In 2017, a Patagonia spokesperson told Forbes: “We strongly oppose being included on this list. Chouinard also never brags to his friends about being declared a billionaire.”
Chouinard isn’t afraid to call himself a “dust bag,” spending more than 200 nights a year sleeping outdoors. Today, Chouinard stays true to his humble roots and doesn’t have a computer or a mobile phone.
Photo: The New York Times