Excerpt via FastCompany
For the first few years of its existence, Minneapolis menswear brand Askov Finlayson‘s focus was both on its products–namely, its signature North hats–and a fundamental redefining of its chilly corner of the midwest. Instead of just another northern section of flyover country, CEO and cofounder Eric Dayton wanted his home state to be recognized as the northern paradise he holds it to be. Specifically, the North. And judging by Askov Finlayson’s growth, as well as how others in Minnesota have embraced the notion, it’s working. The upcoming Super Bowl in Minneapolis is branded “Bold North,” and the local pro sports teams have tucked it into their own taglines: the NBA’s Timberwolves’ “All Eyes North,” NFL’s Vikings’ “This Is the North,” and MLS’ United FC’s “The North Is Rising.”
But now, as Askon Finlayson is setting its sights on expanding its brand presence beyond Minneapolis, Dayton is making the company’s ongoing support of climate change awareness a part of its bottom line. This week the brand is announcing its “Give 110%” initiative, in which it measures its carbon footprint, calculates its financial cost using the Social Cost of Carbon, and then gives away 110% of that amount to leading-edge organizations working to solve the climate crisis.
To start things off, Dayton is committing to donating $1 million over the next five years.
“If we lose our winters, if we lose our cold, we’ll lose a lot of what the north means to me,” says Dayton. “So it’s a way of tying the business to a cause I feel passionate about, but also a natural fit. It also just happens to be one of the biggest, most pressing issues of our lifetime. So that helped too.”
The 37-year-old CEO is the son of Minnesota governor Mark Dayton, and his great-great-grandfather George Draper Dayton founded Dayton’s department store, which later became Target Corporation. Long an outdoors fanatic, in his twenties Dayton went on expeditions with Arctic explorer Will Steger. In 2015 the brand began its Keep The North Cold program, which gave money to local organizations, but as Dayton started to think about his growth strategy going forward and the opportunity to expand Askov to a national level, he wanted to take it further. “It wasn’t just good enough to offset a little bit,” says Dayton. “What would it really take to say we’re having a net positive impact on the environment and the world?”