Canada Goose makes the world’s warmest jackets right here in Canada using many Canadian materials. Selling top-quality, luxury outerwear geared toward extreme weather has earned the company an increasing number of fans around the world, but also a troubling number of imitators.
For Canadians who have lived in the north, the Canada Goose jacket can be a lifelong and lifesaving companion.
We talked with Dani Reiss, President and CEO of Canada Goose, about the adventures his jackets have been on, how he grew his family’s small business by 3,000 percent in the last decade and transformed it into an international brand, and how he is fighting the surge in counterfeit Canada Goose products.
The Epoch Times: Where have you travelled in your Canada goose jacket?
Dani Reiss: All over the world. I went to the geographic South Pole this past New Year’s, which was awesome. Everybody in the National Science Foundation division of Polar Research has been wearing Canada Goose gear for decades.
Epoch Times: What was there besides snow and ice?
Mr. Reiss: There’s a lot of nothing, but it’s huge. The continental United States will fit inside Antarctica. We flew into the only civilian base there and lived there for a week in a tent on the ice and did some climbing.
We found some lichen the size of a business card that’s been there for thousands of years. Obviously we were careful not to step on it!
Epoch Times: Was that your No. 1 coldest trip?
Mr. Reiss: I’ve done a lot of cold trips. I visit Northern Canada a lot and came back from Baffin Island a few months ago. I was in Iqaluit and went up to a small town called Pangnirtung, a very cool Inuit community. I’ve been to Alaska and have been to the Iditarod once—the world’s longest dog sled race. It’s a 10-day, 1,000-mile race.
We are partners with champion dog-musher Lance Mackey. His family has a legacy in raising dogs and dog sledding. He himself is a cancer survivor. He came back [from cancer treatment] and won the race four times in a row. No one had ever done that before.
The Yukon Quest is the second longest dog sled race. He won both races two years in a row. Nobody had ever won both races in a row.
I rode with him for the first 11 miles [of the Iditarod]. That part of the race is ceremonial, so it didn’t matter if I slowed him down, which I did. At one point I had to jump off because the sled was about to hit a bridge, which it did. Another time I just fell off, … it was amazing.
Epoch Times: Tell us about the Canada Goose Resource Centres.
Mr. Reiss: The north is a place we’re very connected to; it’s where we started. It’s been a big part of our story and still is. People who live in the north have been supporters of Canada Goose for decades.
Around our 50th anniversary, we brought two women down from Pond Inlet who are Inuit seamstresses. they sew jackets for their community. We worked with them to match their knowledge with our materials and technology.
We were showing them around our factory in Toronto and they asked [about leftover fabric and materials]. We realized there was a big opportunity here. It’s a way to give back to a community that’s been very supportive of us. We send materials up there and the local sewers come and get materials to make their jackets.
Epoch Times: You were Ernst and Young’s 2011 Canadian Entrepreneur of the year. You have no business degree. You have an English Literature degree from U of T! How did your liberal arts education help you to become successful in business?
Mr. Reiss: Everything we’ve done at Canada Goose has required creativity. The decision to stay “Made in Canada” when everyone else was leaving Canada was something any business consulting firm would have told us not to do.
We decided that Made in Canada was really important. We knew that people really did care where our jackets were made—not just Canadians, people in other countries cared too.
We decided Canada Goose was a quintessentially Canadian product. If you own one it is like owning a piece of Canada. We’re really like owning a Swiss watch. You can’t make a Swiss watch in Asia; and you can’t make a Canada Goose jacket in Asia either.
On top of that, we knew that if we could stay “Made in Canada” while everyone else was leaving, we’d be the only ones left. We saw it as an opportunity to be the leaders of this Made in Canada movement, which we are.
Next page: Responsible fur and down production, and how to tell if it’s genuine Canada Goose or fake.