Cotopaxi: Sustainability Inspired by the Ecuadorian Community

Editorial TeamEditorial Team
December 12th, 2022
12:04 PM

Inspired by the desire to fight global poverty, especially in production countries, Cotopaxi has integrated Andean geography and culture into its collections and expanded its market with sustainable products. 

Originally, Cotopaxi was a volcano in the Andes that inspired the name of the sustainable outdoor brand from Salt Lake City. Founded in 2013, Cotopaxi draws on the most ethical practices to create its innovative outdoor apparel.

Founder David Smith wanted to establish a brand that produced ethically-made outdoor clothing for climbing, hiking, or traveling. Having grown up in Ecuador, the company's name is also inspired by South America. It’s also motivated by the desire to fight global poverty, especially in production countries actively.

Smith hopes that the brand helps others to realize the needs of such communities, and it contributes 1% of its annual profits to foundations that fight poverty in Ecuador and the rest of the world.

The Cotopaxi brand has a wide range of sports equipment such as backpacks, jackets, and items for hiking and an active lifestyle. With no stores in the U.S, Cotopaxi focuses on its online store and distribution through general stores to reach its clientele.

However, in 2020, Latin American stores began selling the brand, which manufactures most of its products from recycled materials. Although headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, most of the items are manufactured in the Philippines.



Helping Those Who Need it Most

Cotopaxi was established as a public benefit company, a type of organization that assumes as its purpose to act in a moral, ethical and responsible manner with respect to society, the environment, and the world in general.

Its social commitment continued to consolidate in 2015, the year in which it received the B Corporation certification for being a company that is committed to continuous improvement and value generation to enhance positive impacts on its stakeholders.

In the last seven years, Cotopaxi has worked with foundations in four of the world's five continents. The brand annually allocates 10% of its revenues to subsidize non-profit organizations related to its three pillars of sustainability to fight poverty: education, health, and livelihoods.

It currently supports five foundations that focus on creating sustainable solutions that help build resilience in a community through practices that generate positive results and have the ability to scale those impacts.



All these measures have been aligned with a business model that makes a difference from its very operation, with initiatives such as the Del Día collection, a series of exclusive backpacks in which no two models are the same, made by Filipino workers from textile material left over from factories.

They also have policies that allow their employees to spend one out of every ten days of their work in outdoor activities or helping rural communities with volunteer programs that aim to solve the needs of these people, thus positioning itself as a brand that turns social awareness into an adventure.

Giving is at the heart of the brand's business model. 1% of sales, more than one percent of profits, is donated to charitable partners, including international agencies such as the International Rescue Committee (IRC) or Mercy Corps. Similarly, scholarships and programs are organized by the workers and benefit the people in the production facilities.

As a B Corporation, Cotopaxi is committed to independent ethical, social and sustainable standards and conducts every step of the production chain as responsibly as possible.



Each Backpack is Unique

Cotopaxi designs its products to leave behind as little waste as possible, and 94% of our products currently contain repurposed, recycled, or responsible materials. These materials help it to limit its dependence on fossil fuels and reduce waste.

Overall, 90% of Cotopaxi's products have an integrated sustainable feature, and by 2025 all of the brand's parts must be made from 100% recycled or reused materials. Brands such as Cotopaxi have been able to integrate Andean geography and culture into their brands and expand their market with sustainable products. Like Cotopaxi, Quechua began to recognize the Quechua community with which it shares its name by contributing a percentage of the profits from its twentieth-anniversary edition.

Possibly the lack of capital and technology has prevented Ecuadorian and Latin American entrepreneurs from exploiting their resources and launching global brands inspired by the geography, communities, and culture endemic to their place of origin.

These lost opportunities characterize an industry like Ecuador's, which is an exporter of raw materials and not focused on finished products that stimulate the local economy and provide jobs to more specialized sectors within the business field. Supporting brands like Cotopaxi increase the recognition of our geography, in addition to helping communities in need in the rest of the world.