Despite growth, Utah outdoor brand lays off employees

Cotopaxi says it will focus on ‘its most important business priorities’ in 2024

(Sean P. Means | The Salt Lake Tribune) A weathered label from a Cotopaxi messenger bag. The Salt Lake City company laid off 22 employees in mid-January 2024, according to a company spokesperson.

Cotopaxi, the Salt Lake City-based outdoor apparel company known for its colorful coats and “gear for good” ethos, laid off 22 people last week as part of a “redesign,” according to a company spokesperson.

“Cotopaxi had strong top line growth this past year, but as with any company evolving to meet future needs, the company redesigned its organization to focus on its most important business priorities and on delivering the brand mission that has helped set new impact-driven benchmarks in the industry,” the spokesperson said in a statement Thursday.

According to the company’s 2022 impact report, Cotopaxi finished that year with 209 full-time employees, 81 part-time workers and 29 temporary workers. More recent figures were not readily available.

The brand built a reputation on colorful, sustainably made backpacks and jackets, adorned with its llama mascot, plus an ethic of giving back — 1% of Cotopaxi’s revenue goes to nonprofits that “help communities experiencing poverty,” according to its website. The company is named for a volcano in Ecuador as an ode to founder Davis Smith’s upbringing abroad. Smith stepped down as CEO last year to serve a three-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Brazil.

Cotopaxi recently announced it is branching into the cinematic universe as a sustaining sponsor at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. As the festival began Thursday, a special edition of its most popular jacket had been given to the festival’s filmmakers and jurors.

The company said it expects to grow in 2024. The spokesperson said she could not give more details about the layoffs or the company’s “redesign.” Former employees who posted about the layoffs on LinkedIn included brand managers, marketing directors and project managers.

Shannon Sollitt is a Report for America corps member covering business accountability and sustainability for The Salt Lake Tribune. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by clicking here.