I’m going to start this with a caveat. We don’t need any of this. Anything that we as a business are offering, we don’t need. We are here because we’re basically accepting of the system and structure we live in. However, if capitalism and/or democracy lives on a spectrum, it can be awful, damaging and exclusionary or it can be not awful and can be mostly inclusive. Arguably, tolerance lives somewhere in the middle and tolerance and can be a slippery slope towards where we are today. I want things to be better. I believe that some inspiration might be found in people who are running a lot of the businesses that we choose to represent.
Once upon a time, a friend of mine shared an arcane quote with me from some sort of business philosopher. She was one of those people who intellectually sits at a level that’s hard to comprehend. I’ve long since lost touch with her but the gist of the quote still exists in the white matter of my brain. The basic thought was that in the age of consumerism, everyday folks essentially model our business leaders in which we directly are exposed to and interact with their values through our interactions with their companies.
When I started Intrinsic Provisions, I had an idea of the types of businesses I wanted to work with. That is by and large, good companies, founded by good people who wanted at their core to leave the world a little better off than they found it.
I didn’t know how important that would be and I didn’t know how important that would be right now.
Everyone has a choice about how they consume and the products and brands they want to support. And now there are more brands than ever to choose from and we find ourselves in a place where our brand identity is incredibly nuanced and nowhere near as loud as it once was.
We find ourselves being in a place where we can be conscientious consumers and there are companies that are actively trying to do things that have less environmental impact and more social impact.
And this is where we come in. What I didn’t know when I started this business is the stories and people behind the brands and how compelling and inspirational they were. Of course, Patagonia just dropped the mic. As it was, we as an industry owe Patagonia a debt of gratitude. And as we’ve changed our business model and focus to be on social impact, the overwhelming question we get is will we carry Patagonia. The answer is, maybe. However, the better question is will we work with Patagonia? The answer is, extremely likely. What that relationship looks like we’re not sure right now but we’re actively in discussions with them about things centered on the intersection of equity in the outdoors and the impact of global warming on urban/inner-city/impoverished communities.
We also don’t wish for Patagonia to cannibalize other brands that are all of value to the industry. Progress doesn’t exist in silos. There is innovation happening at lots of different companies and we know for a fact that if a best-in-class practice is conceived of that has less impact on the planet, Patagonia would be the first in line to give them an award for it.
As it stands for innovation, one of the companies we’re watching is Houdini (and we’ll proudly carry this season).
Nearly every brand we deal with has a sustainability story and those stories are pretty amazing.
But then there’s the values.
Corbeaux Clothing out of Aspen, CO is run by two pro backcountry skiers, Darcy and Adam. Their baselayers meet a sustainability standard but if you were to follow Adam on Instagram you’d realize that he’s screaming Black Lives Matter from the rooftops. You can have his rad ski content but you have to listen to him and his feminist, woke ideals. This world needs allies like that.
There’s Vermont Glove, owned by Sam Hooper. They make handmade goatskin gloves right there in Randolph, VT. When he's not taking a class for white male entrepreneurs for how to be an anti-racist, he's out there running a company that's about as progressive as they come. He net-zeroed out his 100 year-old factory and as for being ally, his biggest challenge has been filling his labor force which requires a very specific skillset and training. So he’s working with the state on refugee resettlement, job training and paying a living wage. But because Vermont is faced with so many challenges for affordable housing, he bought an old nursing home and converted it to apartments to provide affordable housing.
There’s MiiR which is a product to project company and has given away some $2.6 million in grants. There’s Janji (spring ’23) which donates proceeds to indigenous communities. There’s DU/ER in which they’re using fabric from plants and Toad and Co in which the whole company is built on sustainable fabrics. Topo Designs has inclusion as one of the three pillars of its platform of The New Outdoors along with sustainability and utility.
Nearly every brand we deal with ties back to social impact in some way. Many of the companies we represent are Certified B corps, are part of 1% for the Planet, are Climate Neutral Certified and/or Net Zero 2030 companies. And it’s not a gimmick. We actually vet for that by the way.
Our hope and goals are centered around working with companies who are all kind of little Patagonias. We know that as we help them grow that the more success they have, the more good they’ll do. And we’ll help to hold them accountable.
These are just a handful of the stories and brands we’re excited to share.
We’ll have new warehouse space as of early October. Fall/winter goodness is arriving by the day. We’ve just made our first formal hire (you'll meet Alyssa soon) and there will be more to come. Stop in or reach out with any questions. Know that when you’re shopping with us, you can feel good about who you’re buying from and what you're buying.
Looking forward to seeing you.