Llamas invade campus to promote humanitarian organization

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People on campus had the unique opportunity to really spice up their selfies by taking pictures with a visiting pair of llamas.

Davis Smith, founder of Cotopaxi, was on campus near the Harris Fine Arts Center with llamas to promote his organization and its upcoming event, Questival.

“I’ve never seen a bigger smile than when people have their arms around a llama’s neck,” said Cotopaxi’s marketing intern, Liam McNally. “Llamas are the best marketing strategy in the world.”

Smith said Questival is a 24-hour “adventure event” where teams race to win trips to Angkor Wat, Machu Picchu or Kilimanjaro. The adventures begin April 11 at 6 p.m. and end the next night at the same time. A benefit concert will follow after the event, featuring bands like Provo’s own The Fictionist and The National Parks. The concert is free, though donations are encouraged.

During the “adventure event” teams will face many challenges like hiking The Y, mountain biking and even milking a llama, hence today’s campus visit.

The llamas will be on campus for petting and pictures until later in the afternoon, and registration for the Questival and information on the benefit concert can be found at cotopaxi.com/questival.

The company started in October 2013 with a vision to eventually compete with outdoor companies like Patagonia and The North Face.

Smith, a 2003 BYU graduate, said he has spent the last 10 years starting different businesses. He said he is especially excited about Cotopaxi because it will give back to the impoverished communities he has come to love throughout his career.

“I wanted to build a business that had a positive impact on the world,” Smith said.

Ten percent of all proceeds made from sales go to humanitarian initiatives around the world. Each product is connected to a cause. One backpack, the Incapac, is connected to an orphanage in Bolivia, so 10 percent of each sale is donated to the orphanage.

McNally said Cotopaxi differs from other humanitarian-linked businesses like Toms because it doesn’t just give handouts. Most of the proceeds go to education, orphanages and clean water in developing countries.

“We’re creating a sustainable way to continually give back,” McNally said.

For now, the company only offers packs and water bottles, but it plans to offer a variety of outdoor products like tents, clothing and backpacking gear.

This adventure event marks the kick off of Cotopaxi’s online store, which opens this weekend.

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