Every wonder what happens to your dollar after you buy gear?
Grab some of Parks Preserve’s fantastic products and rest easy knowing 50% of your purchase will go to support National and State Parks.
To find out more behind how Parks Preserve got its start and what’s in store for the future, Josh interviews Parks Preserve co-founders, Devin Cohen and Chad Markey
More about the episode...
Josh sits down with Parks Preserve co-founder Devin Cohen and Chad Markey. Many brands in the outdoor space giveback and make donations on behalf of National or State parks but, have you ever wondered how much support it really provides? This is exactly the question Chad Markey and Devin Cohen asked right before starting Parks Preserve. Parks Preserve is a brand dedicated to supporting National and State Parks by donating 50% of their profits to support these monuments to nature. We were lucky enough to sit down with Chad and Devin to discuss the struggle of building Parks Preserves on opposite sides of the country, the importance of passion and, the joy of giving back and immerse themselves in what they love, the great outdoors.
Have an opinion? We want to hear it! Join the conversation and leave a comment, check out show notes, and get all the links mentioned in this episode below
- Check out Parks Preserves website
- Grab some Parks Preserve gear
- Follow Parks Preserve on Facebook and Instagram
- Find out more about Parks Preserve donations and some of the parks they have worked with
What is Parks Preserve all about?
Chad: “We’re a mission driven brand with a purpose and we give 50% of our profits back to state and national parks. It’s something that we’re very passionate about because of some of the spiritual and transformative experiences we’ve gains because of these parks…”
What drove you to start Parks Preserve?
Chad: “For the past five years I’ve been building my company, Dekni Creations and, I’ve had an opportunity to harness my craft with woodworking and leatherworking...Devin and I had worked together in the past and it was very important for us to find something that gave us a strong purpose…”
Devin: “We wanted to do something that didn’t feel like work to us
Did you know you always wanted to start a business together?
Chad: “I think both of us had an entrepreneurial mindset...I took a trip to Zion and it really transformed me as a person and it brought me down to the core of who I was…”
Devin: “Me and this guy always had a witty repartee going back and forth between us. I’ve been blessed with a lot of opportunity to get a lot of experience in the New York tech startup scene…”
What made you decide to offer 50% of your profit to state and national parks?
Chad: “Well, we’re vertically integrated. We’re able to do a lot of manufacturing in house. We’ve taken an ecommerce approach so we’ve been able to know our numbers and crunch in...We’re passionate about it and we want to make the biggest difference we can. It has worth and it’s sustainable to us.
Devin: “We’ve talked about it and we see a lot of other brands out there who use these places as vehicles to sell products...we want to set the example…”
How did you build your relationships with these parks?
Chad: “We’re kind of old school and we’ll just pick up the phone and start calling...we started getting on the phone, we started calling the parks, we initially worked for Joshua Tree and developed a great relationship with their friends group over there and the nonprofit who works directly with the park…”
How do you determine which parks you donate to?
Chad: “Right now it just made sense to work with Joshua Tree...We did work with Mount Rainier...we plan to work throughout but, we want to really focus on the impact that we’re making. So we’re adjusting as we go to see how we can make that biggest impact and, how do we get involved not just financially but, physically…We will be expanding out...”
Did you have any mentors that helped you build Parks Preserve?
Chad: “For me personally, I learn through my mistakes and I had a company I have a company I started and I made a lot of mistakes...I’ve always been one to just go with it and see and make adjustments as I go…”
Devin: “We’re definitely relations up ourselves to figure things out. But, we also surround ourselves with people who are willing to give new insights and most importantly honest feedback…”
What have you done to grow and gain exposure since your launch on Earth Day?
Chad: “The biggest thing that we’ve seen is working with brands that align with our vision. We’re really big proponents of working together with other companies and organization so we can spread our message for both of us…”
What made you decide the sort of products that currently offer?
Chad: “During the past five or six years, when I was building Dekni, these were products that we developed in house, that we had more control over, and that we already had done all the product testing with. That’s why we started there and we have plans to go much further than that…”
What is it like running a business from opposite sides of the country?
Chad: “It could have it’s challenges at times with the three hour time delay from him to me. The internet and technology has made it way easier and he comes home pretty often...it’s had some struggles but over all we’re on a schedule…”
Devin: “The most difficult part is not being able to talk in person...that might be changing in the future, maybe I’ll be moving out west, who knows. I tend to be a night owl anyway…”
Have you started to raise money for these parks?
Devin: “We’ve actually been able to donate over $1,200 already. We donated $500 to Joshua Tree, we made a small donation to the Grand Canyon, and we’ve been working with the WNPF. If anyone’s interested in supporting Mt. Rainier, Olympic National Park, or North Cascades, they are the conservancy that actually does work within those parks…In addition to the money we already donated, we have a couple funds going...right now we’re raising money for the Bridal Veil Falls restoration in Yosemite...”
Chad: “The Bridal Veil restoration project is amazing because if you donate that, the government will donate to that dollar for dollar…”
What are some of the hardest parks about building Parks Preserve?
Chad: “I think it’s the distance, really that’s been a bit of a struggle...I think it’s not trying to get too big too quick. You have to have a grassroots movement, you have to be true and, in order for you to be sustainable you can’t be doubling over year after year…”
Devin: “Chad’s right on with that assessment...not to invoke Gary Vee, but the patience of watching it grow. Almost everyone out there who owns a business wants it to happen now…”
What is your biggest fear in regards to Parks Preserve?
Chad: “I have a big problem where I never want to be too perfect. A lot of times with design and creating you can really get wrapped up and try to have this perfect end product...It can get so extreme that it becomes kind of a handicap because, you move a little slower…”
Devin: “Losing any sense of purpose with our actions or our goals. Working in these tech startups in New York, you have the opportunity to see what they call culture and, what can happen to it as companies scale up. We want to make sure that we’re not just taking care of the parks and our partners but, taking care of people we work with, taking care of ourselves…”
What advice would you give someone that wanted to start a business?
Chad: “First of all you have to be passionate. If you don’t have the passion you’re not gonna make it. You’re not going to get through the hard times, you’re not gonna get through the sleepless nights, you’re not gonna get through the hundred and eighty emails...Use the assets that we have in today's world, to just go after your goals…”
Devin: “My best advice to anyone is to pick a problem they’re encountering and work to solve it. If it’s a problem that you are personally invested in solve that other people might be having as well, the passion and meaning is built in. Think about something you’re willing to work on for a decade and that’s a pretty good litmus test about how much you care about it…”
Where do you see Parks Preserve headed into the future?
Chad: “We’re going to continue to make functional product but, it’s more than the product. We want to develop a sense of community and that’s something we’re going to go over this next year. Getting involved with college clubs who are passionate about the outdoors. Strategically picking our ambassador program that we’re choosing to use to bring them onto our team…”
Devin: “We’re looking to become a value machine for people interested in giving back to parks and getting involved…”
What’s the best part about running Parks Preserve?
Chad: “Again, the purpose and drive and the determination to do something good...that’s what’s great about this. Everyday we get to do a little something to give back and to sell something that we’re passionate about it…”
Devin: “We’ve been able to turn our interest and love for going outside into work…”