Patagonia has locked in its new leadership, as selected by its board on Thursday.
Ryan Gellert will assume the role of chief executive officer of Patagonia Works, the umbrella company for divisions like Patagonia, Inc. (the apparel company), Patagonia Provisions (responsibly sourced food) and Patagonia Media (films and multimedia projects).
For more than five years, Gellert has overseen Patagonia’s international business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Along with the apparel, food and multimedia categories, Gellert will helm Patagonia’s Lost Arrow Solutions, Fletcher Chouinard Designs, Inc., Tin Shed Ventures, LLC and Worn Wear, Inc.
“I am honored and humbled by the opportunity and keenly aware of the responsibility to lead this company in this critical time,” Gellert said. “No one’s expectations of Patagonia are higher than our own. Everything we do needs to ladder back to our mission of being in business to save our home planet, and we need to do that in a way that is just, equitable and inclusive of all people. Ambitions don’t get much bigger than that. And while there will be more tough days ahead as we challenge norms, I am excited to do the work alongside Patagonia’s talented and passionate professionals. And, I am certain we will also have some fun along the way.”
The board selected Gellert for his deep servitude to the company and passion for Patagonia’s product and activism. Prior to joining Patagonia in 2014, Gellert served as president of climbing company Black Diamond Equipment, for nearly a decade.
“Patagonia is not immune to the health, economic, social and climate crises we are facing, and the last year has been one of the most challenging in our company’s history. But this is our time, and as a company we are prepared to lead and to help citizen activists and businesspeople of conscience create a healthier planet for all life,” said Kris Tompkins, board member and first ceo to the company. “We are committed to the lifelong work of being better anti-racists and to being more inclusive as we live up to our mission of saving the planet.”
Continuing, she added, “Ryan is the right person with the best experience and leadership approach to guide our company. He will be supported by our incredible leadership team, both new and ongoing, and staff of all levels, who have helped make our company what it is today. The work ahead promises to be more important and satisfying than anything we have done so far, and we are beyond excited for what the future holds.”
Patagonia also announced Thursday that it promoted Jenna Johnson to a new role as head of Patagonia, Inc., overseeing the apparel and equipment division.
Also a Patagonia veteran, avid climber and new board pick, Johnson will work to align the business more strongly with its mission and sport communities. She joined the company nearly a decade ago working up the ranks from product line manager for its alpine division through leading Patagonia’s technical outdoor business.
“With 20 years as an outdoor industry professional, Johnson is a lifelong climber and embodies Patagonia’s deep roots in sports communities,” the statement announcing the news noted.
In another executive changeup, Patagonia product team veteran Lisa Williams was promoted to head of innovation, design and merchandising. Williams will oversee Tin Shed Ventures and Patagonia’s Worn Wear business, which focuses on repair and reuse as part of a broader mission to accelerate creative and regenerative materials development. She will continue to report to the ceo in this new role.
In early June, Patagonia’s chief executive officer Rose Marcario stepped down after serving the company for 12 years and elevating its performance to new heights. During her tenure, Patagonia saw its most prosperous years with revenues quadrupling since Marcario joined the company in 2008 (she became ceo in 2013).
Positioning the business for success in what’s considered uncertain times will prove challenging but not impossible. The company’s bold activism, which included stitching “Vote the A**holes Out” on the back of select sewn product labels, is already generating positive publicity among consumers.
In September, Patagonia’s vice president of global sportswear Helena Barbour spoke at WWD’s sustainability conference, further outlining the company’s bold emphasis on tackling everything from consumption to climate change — with a focus on regenerative practices.
The brand will continue to operate with the intent “to save our home planet,” with profitability as just part of the equation.