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Start Your Business Success Stories

Small Business Snapshot: Cotopaxi

Small Business Snapshot: Cotopaxi Credit: Cotopaxi

Company name: Cotopaxi
Website: www.cotopaxi.com
Founded: 2014

CEO and founder Davis Smith shared the story behind Cotopaxi, a company that creates innovative outdoor products and experiences that fund sustainable poverty relief.

The photo is from Cotopaxi's nonprofit partner, Health & Ed 4 Nepal. It shows the faces of those who are directly impacted by our work. Located in Kumari, Nepal, this primary school was destroyed by the recent Nepal earthquakes. Cotopaxi is working with Health & Ed 4 Nepal on rebuilding efforts to get the school back up and running to provide these children with an education.

My family moved to the developing world when I was four years old. My dad was an adventurer, so I grew up not only seeing heartbreaking poverty, but also spending a lot of time adventuring in the outdoors. After spending ten years as an entrepreneur, building a couple of different e-commerce businesses, I decided I was ready to build a business that was more meaningful to me. I moved back to the United States from Brazil, and launched Cotopaxi, an outdoor gear brand with a humanitarian mission at its core. We have a wide variety of products from water bottles, to technical backpacks, to lifestyle apparel and are continually working on new products and product lines to launch in the near future.

Like any new brand, one of our biggest challenges is finding ways to build awareness around our brand. The outdoor category is very saturated, but we’re doing some really unique things to build brand awareness including our Questival adventure races and other experiences. Our Questivals have been an amazing way to create brand ambassadors, with thousands of racers participating, wearing our gear and sharing social media posts about our brand. We're always looking for unique ways to build brand awareness, particularly in ways that engage millennials. 

Along with giving back, it's important to us that we also work to sustainably and ethically manufacture our gear. One great example is our Luzon Del Dia pack, which is made entirely of repurposed material — fabrics that are remnants from the manufacturing of other brands packs. We gave our sewers creative license to use the materials and choose their own color ways. The result is that every single pack is completely unique, helps reduced waste going into landfills, and showcases the creativity of the people who actually make the gear.

Brittney Helmrich

Brittney M. Helmrich graduated from Drew University in 2012 with a B.A. in History and Creative Writing. She joined the Business News Daily team in 2014 after working as the editor-in-chief of an online college life and advice publication for two years. Follow Brittney on Twitter at @brittneyplz, or contact her by email.