By: Levi Opsatnic
As Pennsylvania welcomes a new season, Appalachian Outdoors has also opened their doors to a new brand. As I’ve said in the past, it’s not every day that we bring in a new company, and we often like to be certain that these vendors do more than just “make clothing” or “make gear.” Luckily with Cotopaxi, we got a brand that not only creates awesome products that make it easy to chase adventure, but they also have a diverse brand history and pretty unique approach to designing their products.
Cotopaxi’s story began when its founder, Davis Smith, was growing up in Latin America. Smith spent his youth exploring Ecuador and the surrounding wilderness of Cotopaxi National Park. Whenever Smith wasn’t exploring the park, he often found himself admiring the hard work ethic of those living in the Andes and gained a respect for their ability to remain happy while living a comparatively impoverished life.
Following the life that he lived in Latin America, Smith moved to the United States to pursue an education in business and international studies. However, Smith didn’t leave everything that he learned from his youth in Ecuador, but instead brought it with him to the United States and quickly started up a few different e-commerce businesses. Two of these businesses lead him to live in Brazil from 2010 to 2013. While these years spent in Brazil were integral to Smith, he found himself looking back on his youth while also looking into another state of poverty. Taking note of this problem, Smith decided to start a new journey that would seamlessly merge his love of travel with his drive to help poverty-stricken areas. With that, Cotopaxi’s first chapter began to write itself as a tale that created useful products that also helped communities like those he saw in Brazil and Ecuador by ensuring that a portion of each sale he made had some of its profit going to help impoverished areas.
Smith named his new brand “Cotopaxi” after an active stratovolcano located in the Ecuadorian region of the Andes that was revered by the locals, but also as a way to “represent the spirit of adventure, optimism, and determination that he’d experienced during his time in Ecuador.” With a deep-seated set of values and a commitment to crafting quality outdoor products, Cotopaxi was a brand that quickly gained popularity. This popularity was integral to the company staying true to its sets of goals and allowed Cotopaxi to become a Certified B-Corp company, give two percent of its revenue to reducing poverty, and work alongside many helpful organizations that shared the same goals of improving things like quality of life, education, and health in these areas.
While Cotopaxi sets a primary goal of helping areas in need, the brand is also committed to developing high-quality outdoor products that take an innovative and environmentally-friendly approach to their design. One of their key practices is to reduce wasted material, and their method is simple: take the leftover scraps and turn them into one-of-a-kind products that provide the consumer with an appealing look that’s unique to itself. While this process does a wonderful job at reducing waste and recycling material, Cotopaxi looks beyond this and also works to reduce the amount of synthetic material that their products use by incorporating llama fibers as an all-natural insulator that doesn’t rely on petroleum for its construction. If you’re questioning the quality of llama fibers and leftover materials, you need not fret, as all Cotopaxi products carry a 61 year warranty. This timeframe was chosen as a way to represent “the average lifespan of a person living in the developing world.”
Today, Cotopaxi has remained dedicated to their original intent of creating useful products that do more than just earn a profit, and they’ve helped make important strides in improving communities. Not only that, but Cotopaxi’s products, especially those colorful one-of-a-kind pieces, are loved by many and have been popping up on trails and busy sidewalks all over the globe. Reasons like these are exactly why we are so proud to carry an assortment of products from Cotopaxi. Whether you’re looking for a windbreaker to cut the alpine chill on a summer day or a colorful pack to bring on your next festival adventure, Cotopaxi is a company that you can count on to ethically give you just what you need.
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