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Patagonian climber-surfer who inspires millions


Mountaineer, surfer and founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, is no ordinary business mogul.

His path to entrepreneurial success took a different route – or different mountains and waves.

The legendary impresario followed his own convictions and stuck to a pact with nature while developing his work, profession, profession and career.

Chouinard has shown the world that there is a way to make money, create quality, sustainable products, and meet customer needs without compromising our environmental footprint and our respect for each other.

Yvon chose the dirty side of the track to follow his dreams, respect Nature and achieve the height of success.

But how do you measure success? Is it all about numbers? Maybe not.

The self-taught alternative businessman has taught us inspiring lessons on how to view the world and our lives as a fleeting journey. We are only guests on a temporary planet.

Did the Yoda of Sustainable Capitalism Make Mistakes? Definitively. But Yvon learned from them and drew lessons from the future.

The adventurer with French Canadian roots developed, shaped and refined his personal philosophy.

Ecological awareness and the preservation of natural habit are part of its way of life, culture and education.

In a way, the history of Patagonia is in a way the mirror of the life of Yvon Chouinard. He is without a doubt one of the greatest American entrepreneurs of all time.

If there’s one thing the quintessential outdoor enthusiast has taught us, it’s that a business’s growth should never be measured by its bottom line alone.

Here are some surprising and astonishing facts about Yvon Chouinard, philosopher, thinker, innovator, environmentalist, inventor, philanthropist, mountaineer and surfer.

Patagonia: Yvon Chouinard is a passionate climber and surfer |  Photo: Patagonia

1. Yvon Chouinard was born on November 9, 1938 in Lewiston, Maine, United States;

2. He was raised surrounded by women in Lisbon, Maine, and attended a French school. Her father, a French-Canadian mechanic and plumber, was a struggling thug who once used a pair of pliers to pull out his teeth in order to avoid spending money on dentures;

3. When he was only a child, Yvon dreamed of becoming a fur trapper like his French-Canadian ancestors;

4. In 1947, the young man’s mother, Yvonne, convinced her husband to move to Southern California. Yvon struggled to adapt to English public schools and became a geek and a loner;

5. His life began to take a new direction when he discovered the Falconry Club. Yvon and his new friends began rappelling down the cliffs in search of falcon nests;

6. After learning the basics of rock climbing from one of the most experienced falconers, 16, Chouinard traveled to Wyoming in a custom rebuilt Ford and made his first solo ascent of the Gannett. Peak in the Wind River Range.

7. Before founding Patagonia, he worked as a private investigator in his old brother Jeff’s investigative agency and spent his free time on rock climbing and surf trips;

8. In 1957, YC learned blacksmithing on his own so he could forge reusable climbing tools that would not harm the environment. He wasn’t happy with the European pitons, which were immovable and expensive, so he made his own and sold them for $ 1.50 each to friends;

9. With $ 820 borrowed from his parents, he then began producing his signature carabiners in a small workshop behind his parents’ house;

10. Chouinard eventually found a way to surf and climb Yosemite, Shawangunk Ridge, and the Alps by traveling with portable blacksmith gear and spending the night resting in a sleeping bag;

Yvon Chouinard: entrepreneur, philosopher, thinker, innovator, environmentalist, inventor, philanthropist, mountaineer and surfer |  Photo: Patagonia

11. In 1962, the project sent him to South Korea and to the mountains near Seoul. Yvon spent over a year in Asia before obtaining an honorable discharge and returning to Yosemite, where he completed the first ascent of the North American Wall, the southeast face of El Capitan;

12. Chouinard Equipment’s first revolutionary innovation was the aluminum wedge, a piece of equipment intended to replace pitons that could be used and removed from cracks without damaging the mountain;

13. After meeting and marrying the love of his life Malinda Pennoyer in 1971, the couple started selling clothes after an inspiring trip to England and Scotland. One of their first successful clothes was a rugby-style shirt;

14. The company’s 1972 inaugural catalog featured a manifesto for responsible escalation, leaving no traces;

15. When clothing sales outperformed the hardware store, Chouinard felt he needed to create a recognizable brand. So, in 1972, Patagonia was born in Ventura, California;

16. In 1981, Yvon, Rick Ridgeway and a team of mountaineers were caught in an avalanche at Gongga Shan, a peak in China. The crew lost one limb and all the others were seriously injured;

17. In the late 1980s, Frost and his wife sold their share of Patagonia to Yvon and Malinda;

18. Kris McDivitt was CEO of Patagonia throughout the 1980s and until 1993. She was a key figure in the development of the company as one of the most important outdoor clothing companies and the most successful in the world while embracing an conservationist and environmentally friendly mindset in its business decisions;

19. Patagonia was one of the first American companies to have on-site child care. In 1985, Malinda founded Great Pacific Child Development Center, a preschool program for company employees;

20. Patagonia almost went bankrupt in the early 1990s during the decade’s first global recession. Yvon Chouinard was forced to lay off 10% of the company’s workforce;

Tom Frost, Royal Robbins, Chuck Pratt and Yvon Chouinard: on top of El Capitan on October 30, 1964 |  Photo: Archives du gel

21. Patagonia was one of the first multinational companies to impose the so-called “Land Tax” on one percent of sales;

22. In 2002, Chouinard and Craig Mathews founded 1% Percent for the Planet, a global initiative that encourages companies to donate 1% of their sales to environmental organizations;

23. In 2011, Patagonia ran a full-page ad in The New York Times encouraging customers not to purchase the company’s products on Black Friday. “Repair or reuse” was the message of the “no-buy day”;

24. Patagonia was the first Californian company to become a B Corp company, which means adopting good employee and environmental practices. The 2012 certification led to a deeper examination of all social and labor practices in Patagonia’s supply chain;

25. In 2017, Patagonia’s revenues reached $ 1 billion;

26. In 2018, the Ventura-based company launched the Patagonia Lost Arrow Project, a collection of specialized clothing solutions for extreme environments, thanks to the company’s experience in material innovation, technical design and precision manufacturing;

27. Yvon Chouinard has always said he would like to keep Patagonia in the family. “Going public would be the death of this company. It is impossible to be a public company and to be responsible,” he once said;

28. Throughout his life, the entrepreneur championed and embraced several causes, including fly fishing (not bass fishing), highland bird hunting (not deer hunting), surfing (not water skiing) and long distance trucking (not delivery guys);

29. Chouinard once confessed that he cried during the July 4 parades “when the flag bearers ride on horseback”;

30. The founder of Patagonia Inc. encourages his employees to stop work and surf as soon as a good swell arrives;

Patagonia: the iconic logo of one of the world's most successful outdoor clothing and equipment companies |  Illustration: Patagonia

31. The anti-business hero owns a cell phone but rarely turns it on and does not use email as a means of communication;

32. Ventura, California is its primary residence and Patagonia’s world headquarters;

33. Chouinard met and married Malinda Pennoyer in 1971. They have two children, Fletcher Chouinard and Claire Chouinard. When his daughter was born, Yvon fainted;

34. The owner of Patagonia has always loved rock climbing and surfing, but he would sometimes disappear into the wild for six months to go kayaking, skiing and fishing;

35. Although admitting to being a businessman for 60 years, the master of corporate responsibility admitted that the word “businessman” is “difficult for me to pronounce”. Chouinard says it’s as if someone confessed to being an alcoholic or a lawyer. “I have never respected the profession,” he once said;

36. Yvon Chouinard has an estimated net worth of $ 1.8 billion;

37. Patagonia headquarters does not have closed workspaces or meeting rooms – it is a fully open space concept. There isn’t even an office for YC;

38. Yvon Chouinard has written and co-authored several successful books, including “Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman”, “The Responsible Company: What We’ve Learned from Patagonia’s First 40 Years”, “Climbing Ice “,” Simple Fly Fishing: Techniques for Tenkara and Rod & Reel “,” 180 South: Conquerors of the Useless “and” Climbing Fitz Roy, 1968: Reflections on the Lost Photos of the Third Ascent “;