Business owners are inspired by the story of Patagonia because it proves that profits and purpose aren't mutually exclusive. At the heart of its success is absolute clarity and commitment to the values that underpin its culture and drive its mission.
- Rags to RichesVoyage & Return
Last updated: June 13, 2023
Lean Story Canvas
Relationships are built around shared values about protecting the environment and enjoying what it has to offer and is anchored in the story of Patagonia's founder Yvon. As a young climber Yvon was determined to climb without leaving a trace. To do this, he taught himself the blacksmith skills to make reusable pitons that he also sold to fund his adventures. Today's customers - from climbers to surfers - are attracted to the minimalist style in their lives as well as their sports. Like Yvon, they "like climbing rocks, not corporate ladders" and wear their weathered 10-year-old fleece with pride.
Today's ordinary world for Patagonia and its customers is the reality that all life on Earth is under threat of extinction.
As a values led organisation, their better world is beautifully captured with a mission statement that has powerful simplicity and honesty. Build the best product. Cause no unnecessary harm. Use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. It's a better world that can be lived everyday. And the vision of the future is more values-led businesses, looking after society and the environment.
Human activity that damages the environment. From the old steel climbing pitons that damaged the rock face in Yosemite Park the 1960s to the US Government and Donald Trump reducing the Bears Ears National Monument by 85% in 2017.
Call to Adventure
The message of ‘cause no unnecessary harm’ is at the core of Patagonia's activity, from the Please Don't Buy This Jacket campaign to initiatives to create industry leading supply chain transparency.
Crossing the Threshold
Patagonia is continually looking to encourage activism but while the opportunities to get involved are provided, they trust their customers to do the right thing for them, rather than overtly 'sell' the first step.
Three difficult but confidence-building hurdles to be overcome
- Building the best product. The philosophy at Patagonia is to see clothes as tools and this means a rigorous process of looking at functionality. Also important is repairability and durability.
- How to engage and support its community in front-line environmental activism. Patagonia has done this for over 40years and has committed over $100m.
- Living up to its values. They have built the largest garment repair facility in North America.
Allies and Gifts
Patagonia's community is huge and multi-layered. At its heart are its ambassadors who test their products in the field and give them feedback.
Mentors and Gifts
Patagonia says "we'll use the resources we have, our business and our investments, our voice and our imaginations". Their impact comes from the fact they walk the talk. The story of founder Yvon and the origins of Patagonia are important today as demonstration of the longevity of a values-led business. But what they continue to do in pursuit of their mission and living their values is what counts; from product and service innovation with initiatives like the Iron Clad Guarantee and Worn Wear, to spending over $100m on environmental activism and launching 1% of For the Planet.
Minimalists at work and play
Threat of extinction
Negative human impact
No unnecessary harm culture
Do the right thing
Patagonia walk the talk
Building the best product
Living their values
Call to adventure.
Crossing the threshold.
Mentor, allies and gifts.
Driven by a desire to not damage the mountain while climbing, founder Yvon started a company that 50 years later, is: still guided by the same values; a pioneer of corporate activism; and tops best employer lists.
As Yvon said it “Regardless of what you sell, your business itself—including your culture and your values—is your product.”