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Meet the mysterious Patagonia heirs who have agreed to give away their billion dollar fortune – Fortune | Casual Expat

On the TV show successor, adult children struggle through as heirs to their father’s media empire. But what if no one wanted to run the business from the start? You’d probably have a less dramatic (or funny) show, but you could be closer to the reality of the Chouinard family.

Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, 83, announced this week that he and his family are diverting their personal gains in a move that undermines traditional notions of how businesses are run and how wealth often falls below the 1% in the world USA is assigned the task of combating climate change. He has a reported net worth of $1.2 billion.

The Chouinards are transferring their profits and voting rights to a newly formed nonprofit, Holdfast Collective, and a new trust, the Patagonia Purpose Trust, both dedicated to fighting climate change. The family isn’t exiting the $3 billion company entirely, as they still make important decisions while overseeing the Patagonia Purpose Trust.

The Chouinard children — Fletcher and Claire — don’t cry out for the CEO title, they shy away from billionaire status. “It was important to them that they not be viewed as the financial beneficiary,” said Ryan Gellert, Patagonia CEO The New York Times of Chouinard’s children. “They felt very strong about it. I know it may sound frivolous, but they really embody this idea that every billionaire is a political loser.”

If the earth is Patagonia’s sole shareholder today and the beneficiaries are the children of the world and not Chouinard’s own children, who are these would-be heirs giving up the reins? Much like their father, Fletcher and Claire seem to have a tendency to disregard the stereotypical rules of the rich.

They tend to stay out of the limelight, keep a low profile, and rarely speak to the press. Both work for Patagonia but have their own interests within the company. Here’s what we know about them.

Fletcher Chouinard

A disinterest in becoming a billionaire wasn’t the only thing Chouinard passed on to his children. While Fletcher didn’t inherit Patagonia, he did inherit his father’s passion for being an outdoorsman. He loves to surf and kiteboard – he even has a surf trip diary from a decade ago to prove it. In conversation with The kiteboarder, he talks about how his father helped him get into kitesurfing, adding that he was inspired by Yvon’s interest in expedition sea kayaking. Fletcher himself became a father in 2018.

Fletcher runs the more than 20-year-old company FCD Surfboards, backed by Patagonia, with the slogan: “We build every surfboard as if it were our own.”

“We’re not just owners or board members,” Fletcher said The New Yorker 2016 by him and his sister who work for Patagonia. He was 41 at the time. “We have normal salaries,” he continued. “We weren’t brought up to give a damn about money. In fact, I think we were raised to be a little ashamed of that.”

When Fletcher speaks to the press, it’s mostly about surfing. He says his passion for designing boards started in high school. “It got me hooked,” he said of his surf design experience. “Eventually I lost interest in my college major and transferred overboard to sculpt full-time.”

As a surfboard designer, Fletcher was “instrumental in bringing environmental awareness to the surfing industry,” according to a 2007 Business 2.0 Magazine profile. When asked how to make surfboards green, he shared The kiteboarder in 2018 that he was a little jaded about alternative materials being the solution, and that unless there is a major breakthrough in this area, it’s most environmentally conscious to invest in a long-lasting board.

“Everyone has a footprint,” he said. “Even if I carve a natural deadwood tree into a surfboard, CO will still be released2 from the wood – we do our best to make a product that lasts.”

Claire Chouinard

Claire proves even more elusive than her older brother with a minimal digital footprint. A glimmer of her personality shone at age 12 when she went orange with Kool-Aid before a dinner with the Clinton family in 1992, a story her father once told The New Yorker.

She brought her artistic side to Otis College of Art and Design, graduating in 2006. Today she channels her creativity by working in Patagonia’s fashion side and being responsible for some of the brand’s designs. Loyal to the company and her family, Claire focuses on the environment.

“Our current creative director, Claire Chouinard, is truly setting the tone to inspire us to embrace our company’s purpose wholeheartedly: we are in business to save our home planet,” said Carrie Childs, Patagonia’s design director, in One last year Interview. “Every creative decision, every design decision is filtered through this overarching purpose.”

Claire co-designed Patagonia’s 2014 Truth to Materials collection, a line that focuses on “responsible manufacturing” and the use of “the purest materials.” “Let the materials shine in their own light. Don’t fight them; let them do what they naturally want to do,” Claire said during the ad campaign.

Much like her brother, Claire has expressed a vested interest in making sure Patagonia is consistent with her moral standards. Like she said The New Yorker in 2016, when she was 38: “If the company became something I don’t believe in or approve of, I wouldn’t want to be here.”

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Updated: September 19, 2022 — 5:38 pm

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