Douglas Tompkins is an American environmentalist and a former businessman.
Tompkins was born in Millbrook, New York in 1943, the son of an antiques dealer and decorator. While attending high school at Pomfret Boarding School in Connecticut, Tompkins was expelled during his senior year.
The year was 1964. Aspiring San Francisco designer Susie Russell slowed down to pick up a hitchhiker on the road near Lake Tahoe, California. He is Doug Tompkins, tree-topper and Olympic hopeful skier. Both were 21. The pair married 6 months later.
Four years later, the pair's dressmaking business with partner, Jane, was expanding fast. In 1971 Doug and Susie met Michael Ying who became the founder of the predecessor of Esprit Far East Group which acted as a principal sourcing agent for the U.S. business. Doug and Susie became shareholders.
In those early days, head office was the Tompkins' San Francisco apartment, and the back of their station wagon served as a showroom. Nevertheless the business grew fast. By the early 70s, the company was incorporated as 'Esprit de Corp.' and 7 product lines had been developed, each with its own label.
In 1981, Esprit Kids was launched with its own mail order catalogue.
1990 also saw Doug and Susie going their separate ways. Susie, Michael Ying and Jürgen Friedrich now shared ownership of the company worldwide. Meanwhile, Doug set up the Foundation for Deep Ecology and moved to Chile, where he eventually turns over 800,000 acres of virgin Andean forest into a nature reserve.
He subsequently decided to focus his investments in the protection of nature. His first project was in Canada and he has since created reserves in Argentina and Chile.