Well Made

Ep. 115 Navigating Difficult Times with Davis Smith

April 21, 2020 · RSS · Apple Podcasts

One of Davis Smith's favorite quotes is from German aviator Dieter F. Uchtdorf: "The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul."

Davis is the founder of Cotopaxi and to grow his team, he's built an environment where people can create. One of the most physical manifestations of those creations is the Del Dia Collection of bags. They're repurposed from remnants of fabric and each bag is a one-of-a-kind colorway, designed by the craftspeople sewing them.

As they've grown for the past six years, the Cotopaxi mission to Do Good has extended to new geographies with systemic supply chain shifts to start eradicating poverty in communities around the world. In this episode, Davis shares how he's always faced tough decisions by focusing on people first.

 Navigating Difficult Times
 Navigating Difficult Times

“I have a lot of confidence that this world's going to look a lot better and a lot different over the next several decades.”

 Navigating Difficult Times
 Navigating Difficult Times

Davis shares how Cotopaxi has handled the impacts of coronavirus as a team, and the tough choices he's had to make as a leader in a time of crisis (2:42). Six years in, Davis feels lucky that Cotopaxi is able to weather the storm, and he gives advice to founders of younger companies that are navigating these difficult times (7:23).

He goes back to the roots of Cotopaxi's humanitarian Do Good mission, growing up in the developing world (8:45), and how he believes companies can do good in a capitalist society (12:30). He dives into the supply chain to show how Cotopaxi empowers artisans for true systemic impact (16:30).

He considers each Cotopaxi team member to be a keeper of the flame. With space for creativity and a shared view of the mission, they can create exciting new innovations. In fact, one of his newest employees came up with the idea that blossomed into their job club (16:30).

With the help of two llamas — Coto and Paxi, Cotopaxi's first Questival made their launch date something to remember. A Questival is a 24-hour adventure of challenges to get people outdoors and into their community. Even with shelter-in-place orders around the world, Questival powers on with Questival Quaranteam on April 23 (26:25). Finally, Davis shares the story of Edgar, and how this powerful interaction with a boy and his shoe shining kit became a daily reminder of his personal mission (42:44).

Also mentioned on this episode: 

Find this and all future episodes on iTunes, Google Play, and here on the Lumi blog. This episode was edited by Evan Goodchild.

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