Yvon Chouinard: America’s “Most Unlikely Business Guru”

May 1, 2012 By: Marshall Cutchin

Patagonia’s business strategy has been chronicled and studied by the Harvard Business School and branding gurus—perhaps because the dominant personality of Yvon Chouinard has played such an important role in the missteps and extraordinary successes of a company that seems to evolve every year into a more current, more savvy version of its previous self.

In The Wall Street Journal, Seth Stevenson writes about Chouinard’s life, his business ethics, and how he has managed to turn corporate responsibility into a brand. “At 73, Chouinard is a short, thick fireplug of a man who still looks barely 60. He is fit and tan from surfing, which he does any day there are half-decent waves. He prowls Patagonia’s headquarters, in Ventura, California, checking in on new designs (he showed me a sturdy down jacket that felt about as heavy as a paperclip and then said he’d kill me before telling me how they make it) and tinkering with a lightweight camp stove of his own invention at his desk.”