If you’ve mailed in Cotopaxi gear for repair, chances are you’ve also been lucky enough to receive a homemade calling card signed ‘Love, Mama Marge’ along with your repaired item. But who is Mama Marge, exactly?
She’s a crafty DIY queen who loves puzzles and gardening, she’s a mother to five and a grandmother to fourteen, and she just celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary with her husband, Ryan. Over the years she’s made 700+ pairs of slippers to sell around the holidays, 70+ quilts, and 65 Christmas stockings for her own family. In her own words, “I always have something in my hands that I'm doing. Always.”
On top of all that, she’s the driving force behind Cotopaxi’s product repairs.
One of her sons, Ren, is the Director of CX at Cotopaxi. He started interning in 2017 and immediately noticed a way to help bolster the Do Good spirit. As a gearhead and outdoorsman from a young age, Ren was constantly exploring the outdoors, which caused a good deal of wear and tear on his gear over the years. His solution? Give it to Mom for a good, old-fashioned fixing up. His mom, Marge, was crafty, resourceful, and wicked with a sewing machine. She could fix anything that Ren and his siblings would throw her way. So Ren got to thinking, why couldn’t Mom do repairs for Cotopaxi, too? According to Marge, “[Ren] said, ‘What do you think? Would you want to do this?’” To which she replied: “Why not?” From that day forward Marge was known as ‘Mama Marge,’ and she became a fundamental part of the Cotopaxi herd.
Before the Cotopaxi repairs program became official, Ren started asking customers on the side if they’d be interested in getting their gear repaired. From there, he would give the gear to Marge to patch up. After receiving an overwhelmingly positive response, Ren officially pitched the idea. “He went to [the CEO] and we did a little pilot program and then it's just gone off from there and I get them from all over the United States,” Marge recalls. “I've just had to figure out how to fix all this stuff on my own. There's no class to go to, so I just fix all kinds of stuff. Backpacks, sweaters, jackets, chalk bags, bags.”
Since its inception in 2018, Marge has repaired over 1,000 pieces of Cotopaxi gear.
Mama Marge Makes an Impact
Of the 1,000+ pieces of gear that Marge has repaired, each one has been mailed back with a handwritten card. Marge explains, “I have like a little calling card that I send out. They are the llama decal, and ever since I started this from the very first one, I signed it, ‘Love, Mama Marge.’ So when they get it, they know it's coming from Mama Marge.” Over the years, Marge has received numerous ‘Thank You’s for her thoughtfulness, communication, and high-quality work.
Regardless of how large the rip or how stubborn the fabric, Marge has always been up for the challenge. “Well, it's fun. The team will either ask me if I think I can fix it or Ren will send me pictures and say, ‘Do you think you can fix this?’ And I always say, ‘I'll give it a shot,’” Marge shares. Marge’s resourceful, can-do spirit has blended perfectly with Cotopaxi’s, and with her help, Cotopaxi has been able to keep more gear out of the landfill and give it a second life.
In a time where replacing an item can be simpler than mending it, easily accessible repair programs can help eliminate copious amounts of waste. As Marge explains, “Well, a lot of people just think, ‘Yeah, I'll just go buy a new one,’ when there's still plenty of life in that. It just needs a little stitching.” Marge’s dedication to spreading the Do Good mission shows up clearly in her work, and her impact doesn’t go unnoticed. When Ren speaks to Marge about her work, he says, "Mom, you're helping us educate customers about the importance of functional repairs, just like you taught us as kids."
The Program’s Impact on Marge
While Marge has had an undeniably positive impact on Cotopaxi’s sustainable practices, the repairs program has had an impact on her as well. When asked how she feels about the repairs program, she explains, “I love it. I love it, and plus it gives me a little spending money. The very first big purchase that I made was, I have grandkids that come here, and so I went and got the bunk bed with the full bed on the bottom and that was a huge deal. I've [also] planted trees in my yard with the money, [and] I use the money for Christmas, so I'm very grateful, I really am.” She went on to express, “If I didn't have this, I couldn't do that. So like I say, I'm so grateful. So grateful. And it's a great company to be a part of.”
Guaranteed for Good
Truly sustainable design includes a backup plan. Whether that means repairing gear with Marge, replacing gear if it’s defective, or trading gear in for a store credit, our goal is to provide you with sustainable solutions. With help from people like Marge and thoughtful adventurers like you, we can work together to curtail unnecessary waste, extend the life cycle of Cotopaxi gear, and reduce our overall environmental impact. Guaranteed for Good is growing, and the repairs program is only the beginning.
Learn more about Guaranteed for Good.