It’s not often that a brand’s image accurately reflects company values. Or, conversely, it’s rare to see companies practice what they preach. Pantagonia’s Yvon Chouinard (a fellow French-Canadian!) has succeeded not only that, but also in creating a personal and professional life that are one and the same.
Among the few times I saw him truly light up: When he spotted some ring-necked doves on the shore near his house; when he showed me a new pair of Patagonia aluminum crampons that he’d had a hand in designing; when he described the best wave he’d ever caught, which happened at age 50, off the South Pacific island of Moorea. He still occasionally blacksmiths in a little tin shed on the Patagonia campus, and he showed me his latest project, a metal mussel knife that he’s been beating into perfect shape—sharp at the blade to pry open the shells, blunt at the handle to knock away the barnacles. He was dissatisfied with all extant mussel knives. So he made a better one himself. He looks forward to testing it in the shoals.