Beaver Theodosakis, founder of prAna, answers questionsBeaver Theodosakis, founder of prAna, answers
What work do you do?
I’m founder and president of prAna.
What does your business do?
prAna’s core business is men’s and women’s lifestyle apparel and accessories. The brand — grown from deep roots in rock climbing and yoga — has always strived for positive change and is grounded in the ideas of sustainability, in terms of the materials we use and the energy consumed to produce the product.
What do you really do, on a day-to-day basis?
Thirteen years after founding the company, I continue to have input on the design of the men’s line as well as oversee the marketing. Ultimately, the guardianship of the brand and its messages — whether conveyed through our product or our communications — is my bailiwick.
What long and winding road led you to your current position?
The road here may have been long but not necessarily all that winding. Back in the ’80s, I owned and ran a surf-gear company and have since helped launch and lead other projects in the action-sports industry. In the early ’90s, my personal interests were moving toward the outdoors and climbing specifically. It was only natural that my business interests would follow.
How many emails are currently in your inbox?
I am still very much the paper-and-pencil guy at prAna. I’ve never been too tied to computers and prefer the old-school hands-on approach. I try to spend less time behind my desk and more time out in the workplace and marketplace.
Where were you born? Where do you live now?
Chicago. Currently my family lives a few miles from prAna in Southern California.
What’s your favorite place or ecosystem?
At the risk of sounding self-serving, I would say prAna is my favorite ecosystem. As a business grows and becomes an entity, it is very rewarding to observe and influence the interplay between people and ideas. I think the “sustainability” platform under prAna only enhances that, since everyone in our business works hard to remain aware of the cause and effect of the things we do. From that spring ideas such as organic fabrications and our Natural Power Initiative, which displaces conventional energy used by our retailers with wind-generated power.
Who is your environmental nightmare?
It is difficult to admonish the person driving the Hummer or even the captains of big business collectively. I am very sensitive to the hypocrisy in that: I drive a car, I burn those fossil fuels, and I certainly buy products made at the expense of natural resources, although I do my best to remain conscious of it and am always looking for ways to reduce that consumption. But the guy tossing garbage out the car window is making absolutely no attempt.
What’s one thing the environmental movement is doing particularly well?
Increasing public awareness and debate of environmental issues. And improving the connection between idealism and the application of those ideals, including factoring environmental programs into the business models of companies.
What’s one thing the environmental movement is doing badly, and how could it be done better?
We need to highlight more models of excellence — those who are demonstrating authentic wisdom and helping lead us to more harmonious living with the earth. The key to branding is engaging people of differing levels of belief or conviction with propositions that are meaningful.
For the pragmatic environmentalist, what should be the focus — political action designed to change policy, or individual action designed to change lifestyle?
Cultural change. Politics is simply a reflection, warts and all, of the society that keeps it in place. If a groundswell of right thinking can turn into right action — and achieve a degree of popularity or even critical cultural mass — we have a tipping point. Then legislative improvements are sure to follow.
If you could institute by fiat one environmental reform, what would it be?
Placing more comprehensive environmental education into public-school curricula nationwide.
If you could have every InterActivist reader do one thing, what would it be?
Value success in increments. We would all like more good things to happen faster, but real progress is just that: progressive. I am proud that prAna as a whole has adopted a more process-oriented approach; it has been a steady march toward softening our impact on the environment.