Saturday, November 28, 2009

Successful Innovative Companies: Volume 8

The Successful Innovative Company of the week is: Patagonia.
What they do right: They care about more than just profits. The founder Yvon Chiounard, the same guy that founded Black Diamond, had this environmental idea that he would try to make performance clothing with the least damage to the environment. That means he uses recycled materials, nontoxic dyes, organic cotton, safe labor environments in third world countries, and actively recycles old Patagonia products among other eco-friendly initiatives.

Patagonia promotes The Cleanest Line of products as a world leading brand in putting the environment before profits. They also helped to start the 1% For the Planet charity. Patagonia is surely one of the leaders in environmental production and does well informin their customers about their initiatives.

They also make some great clothing! I bought a R1 Hoody last year for $95 marked down from $135. At the time I thought I was crazy. It fit well and had nice features like thumb loops, a hood, an offset zipper and chin mask, a chest pocket and it was warm. I thought it would be a nice addition to my stuff to take to Pakistan. I wore it for two days while ice climbing and hiking in February. Oh my it was good! It breathed so well that if I wore it alone I could run or hike hard when the temperature was well below zero and the sweat would quickly vent off of me. It really provides no protection from the wind but that is no problem for most situations. As soon as I would stop hiking and stand there, as long as there was no wind, it would quickly heat up so there was no need to throw on another layer. To adjust the ventilation I could take my hands out of the thumb holes and slide the sleeves up my arms or I could take the hood off and zip the zipper down until my bare chest, head and neck were venting to 15 degree New Hampshire. I wore the R1 Hoody every time I went above camp one on Broad Peak this summer. I wore it on Longs Peak in August. I wore it running the Presidential traverse in September. If there is one shirt I will use when the temperature will be below 40 it is the R1 Hoody. I even bought a second one for $85 in March when I saw it on sale. I was so paranoid that they would quit selling them that I have it still with the tag on in my room just waiting for me to break the one I currently use.

But Patagonia, also known as Patagucci, does not only sell amazing hooded shirts. They cover the entire mountaineering range of clothing as well as city dweller clothing of sweaters and pants made of cotton and cashmiere.

Finally they have created a website called The Tin Shed. It is a collection of stories told with videos, pictures and words of the Patagonia environmental effort as well as their sponsored athletes.

What they could improve: Personally I think they send too many emails. I seem to get two or three emails a week sometimes twice a day announcing new sales or new items or the new surfing catalog. While it is nice that they are so proactive about telling people what they are doing they are trying to hard and I have archived several of their emails just from reading the subject.

They are also a very expensive company. None of their clothing comes cheap. This is the price of their hard work making The Cleanest Line yet for a poor 23 year old like myself it is prohibitive. That is not a bad marketing strategy, in fact they are doing quite well, but unless you can afford it it is too expensive.

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