Canada Goose parkas have become iconic status symbols, with their recognizable shoulder patches making wearers targets for robberies. Celebrities like Selena Gomez, Ryan Reynolds, Jennifer Lopez and Hugh Jackman have been spotted wearing the $1,450 jackets. When you buy a Canada Goose jacket, you’re buying into a piece of Canada.
That heritage is important and can’t be replicated, according to Dani Reiss. He took over the family business at age 27 and transformed it from a small operation into the leading maker of extreme weather outerwear.
The company was founded by Dani’s grandfather Sam Tick in 1957 as Metro Sportswear Limited. It was a tiny factory with just 5 or 6 employees making wool vests, raincoats and snowmobile suits for the local Toronto market.
In the 1970s, Dani’s father David got involved after marrying Sam Tick’s daughter. David was an inventor and entrepreneur who grew the business considerably. He created a down filling machine that automated what had previously been a manual process, enabling mass production of down jackets.
Metro Sportswear became a major manufacturer of private label outerwear for brands like L.L. Bean, Timberland and Eddie Bauer. But after some clients went bankrupt or moved production overseas, David launched his own label called Snow Goose to sell premium down jackets.
A Reluctant Heir
As a child, Dani was made to wear the family’s products but didn’t want to, like most kids with parents in the business. He worked summers in the factory doing odd jobs but never planned on joining the company.
After graduating with an English degree in 1997, Dani wanted to travel and write. But when he ran out of money, his parents convinced him to work at the factory for a few months to earn cash.
He ended up staying and rising through the ranks, going to trade shows and realizing people loved the products, especially because they were made in Canada. The quality materials and construction also made them perform extremely well in the harshest environments.
Taking the Reins
In 2001 at just 27 years old, Dani took over as CEO from his father. It was a small operation, with less than 30 sewers and only $2.2 million in annual revenue.
One of his first moves was changing the Snow Goose name to Canada Goose to emphasize the Canadian heritage. By 2003, the parkas were retailing for over $400 and gaining popularity abroad.
Dani didn’t even want CEO on his business cards at first. But he started focusing more on the brand and using sponsorships and product placement to raise awareness. Canada Goose parkas have appeared in numerous films and TV shows shot in cold locations.
Expanding the Brand
In 2011, Canada Goose expanded into lightweight jackets and launched its spring collection in 2015. It opened an e-commerce store in the U.S. that year and the first flagship stores in Toronto and NYC in 2016.
Revenues soared to $291 million by 2016. Dani wondered if growth would ever slow down, but once the company reached a certain size, he realized there was no limit.
To fund rapid expansion, Canada Goose sold a majority stake to private equity firm Bain Capital in 2013. The company went public on the NYSE in 2017 at a share price of $18 and a market cap of $1.1 billion.
Dani retained 30% ownership at the IPO. He currently holds over 10% of the shares, stating he loves the company and it’s his life’s work.
Challenges Along the Way
Growing a global luxury brand hasn’t been without hurdles. The stock price recently hit an all-time low amid a weak consumer environment and unseasonably warm weather.
Animal rights activists have also protested the use of coyote fur and down feathers. In June 2021, Canada Goose announced it would stop using fur in new designs but continue selling existing inventory.
Despite cheaper overseas production costs, Dani has kept manufacturing largely in Canada. He believes the quality materials and skilled labor justify the premium pricing. Canada Goose now has 7 factories in Canada and around 60 stores worldwide, with plans to open 16 more in 2023.
Canada Goose brought in $878 million in revenue in fiscal year 2023 by selling over 1 million parkas annually. But Dani sees plenty of room for growth, especially in the U.S. and China where brand awareness lags.
He plans to keep innovating while staying true to the company’s heritage. An old mentor told him, “Don’t make it cheaper, make it better.” Canada Goose will keep making small batch, high quality outerwear designed to perform in the harshest environments.
If the company sticks to its values, Dani believes the revenue growth will continue for years to come. He’s proud to represent the Canada Goose and Canada brands globally. By making outerwear that’s coveted worldwide, this family business has become a national symbol of quality.