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James McKinney’s guest this week is Keith Eshelman, the co-founder and CEO of the Parks Project. The Parks Project is a social commerce company that has sells clothing and has donated over 50% of their profits to more than 50 partners such as Yosemite Conservancy, Sierra Club and the National Park Foundation.
After a weekend volunteering in the Santa Monica Mountains in 2014, Eshelman and his co-founder, both TOMS employees at the time, were struck by the challenges facing America’s underfunded and underappreciated National Parks. They set out to harness consumer power to help support the enormous backlog of underfunded projects within the national parks system by creating collections of apparel and accessories that would further connect consumers with the parks they love.
Within this episode you will hear quite a bit about the influence that Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS, had on Keith’s journey. And that’s the beauty of entrepreneurship…it’s not a solo journey.
In this episode, you’ll hear:
How Eshelman was born in northern California and grew up around career professionals. He had a conventional path pursuing education that would lead him to a successful job.
How he wanted to be a doctor and went to UC San Diego Medical School, but left after his second year as he couldn’t consume the detailed information required for med school. He graduated with a management science degree, minor in Spanish that allowed him to travel.
How TOMS allowed him to have his first taste of entrepreneurship by being allowed to run popup shops.
How he found his problem and why he pursued founding Parks Project, and what he is doing to fix it.
How he started his company from his garage and has been growing his team ever since.
You can listen to the complete interview here.