Yvon Chouinard

Yvon Chouinard sitting on a log by a river wearing a ballcap and a green Patagonia jacket

Yvon Chouinard is the founder of Patagonia.

Yvon Chouinard is the founder of Patagonia. The billionaire businessman is a climber surfer, kayaker, and falconer and is particularly fond of tenkara fly-fishing. A leading climber in the 1960s with many first ascents (including the North American Wall and the Muir Wall on El Capitan in Yosemite.

In 1957 he started making steel-forged pitons out of his garage for his climbing exploits. This was the beginning of Chouinard Equipment, which later became Black Diamond.

In 1973, he founded outdoor apparel company Patagonia. From the beginning, Chouinard did things differently. He devoted time and money to environmental causes: deforestation, global warming, habitat protection, dam removal, and many others.

In 1986 Chouinard decided to begin committing one percent of sales or ten percent of profits, whichever is the greater, to environmental activism causes. He also began paying employees working on local environmental projects so they could commit their efforts full-time.

In 1996, after learning how detrimental the growth of cotton is to the environment, Chouinard committed to using only organic cotton, setting a standard which has been adopted by many other outdoor companies today.

Chouinard is the author of three books, including best-seller, Let My People Go Surfing, which chronicles his journey from dirtbag climber to billionaire businessman through unconventional, radical ideas.