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Carbon-Neutral Cotopaxi Nabs $45 Million

Cotopaxi, an outdoor gear and apparel brand and certified B Corporation, secured $45 million in funding led by Bain Capital Double Impact, the impact investing arm of Bain Capital that funds socially and environmentally mission-driven companies.

With the investment, the manufacturer of carbon-neutral jackets, fleeces and travel bags, among other outdoor merchandise, plans to fuel its global growth initiatives, sustainable products strategy, and impact on addressing poverty and supporting community development.

Cotopaxi, named after a volcano in Ecuador—one of the highest active volcanos in the world—was founded in 2014 with a mission to create sustainably designed outdoor products and experiences that inspire adventure while also leading people to do good by supporting poverty relief efforts. Cotopaxi products are sold in its five retail stores and on its e-commerce site, and at select national outdoor gear and apparel retailers, including REI, Moosejaw, MEC and Backcountry.

The Salt Lake City business recently released its Fall 2021 collection, with new key styles including the women’s Fuego Down parka, the Coso 2L hip pack, the Moda 2L backpack and the Teca fleece pullover.

“We are just getting started in the growth of this brand, and together with Bain Capital Double Impact, we will continue to prove that business can be a vehicle for positively impacting people, the planet, and our communities,” said Davis Smith, co-founder and CEO of Cotopaxi. “Like Cotopaxi, Bain Capital Double Impact leads with their values and commitment to sustainability, and we could not be more excited to collaborate with one of the most respected investors in the impact space to advance a shared vision.”

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Cotopaxi recently became Climate Neutral-certified, and already tracks its carbon footprint via emissions from electricity, raw materials, manufacturing, shipping, air travel and other supply chain activities. To counteract the emissions, the brand purchases carbon offset credits. But that’s not all. Cotopaxi is in the midst of implementing a reduction action plan to slash emissions from its own operations and supply chain.

This year, the outdoor label is recycling, repurposing or responsibly sourcing 100 percent of product.

To achieve this, Cotopaxi is retooling its athleisure line to match the sustainable materials in other product lines, and prioritize repurposed materials such as deadstock over recycled materials. Currently, the company says it has incorporated recycled compounds into 94 percent of its products.

Additionally, the B Corp set the goal to transition to 100 percent eco-friendly packaging by eliminating all single-use plastic from packaging by the first quarter of 2022. In collaboration with supply chain partners, peers and third parties, the outdoor brand will eliminate plastic polybags and research and explore other options to reduce packaging impact throughout the value chain.

Beyond its own supply chain sustainability initiatives, the retailer is giving back. The Cotopaxi Foundation awards grants to outstanding nonprofit partners who are selected for their track records at improving the human condition and alleviating poverty. To date, the foundation is estimated to have impacted more than 3 million people experiencing poverty through proven methods of effective giving.

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the Cotopaxi Foundation has awarded 36 focused grants, assisted over 822,000 impoverished individuals, received over 10,000 customer contributions, and donated masks to more than 110,000 people.

As a part of the investment round, Cotopaxi is adding Cecilia Chao of Bain Capital Double Impact to its board of directors.

“Cotopaxi is setting industry standards for mission-driven brands by integrating positive impact into every aspect of their business—from innovative designs and sustainable product development strategies to a commitment and culture of driving positive social and environmental outcomes,” Chao said in a statement. “Their customers, retailers, employees, and non-profit partners have incredible affinity for the brand, and we are thrilled to partner with Cotopaxi to scale its reach and impact by accelerating its global omnichannel and experiential retail strategy while strengthening their sustainability mission and efforts to address poverty.”

The sustainability-driven brand is also a member of Pledge 1%, a nonprofit organization that enables brands to pledge any combination of product, equity, profit or time to the charity of their choice.