Chip and Shannon Wilson on why they give back

Chip and Shannon Wilson | BCBusiness
Chip and Shannon Wilson.

A conversation with Chip Wilson, founder of Lululemon Athletica Inc., and Shannon Wilson, one of Lululemon’s original designers and co-founder of Kit and Ace

“As Lululemon gained more momentum and became more successful, Chip and I realized we had the opportunity to give,” Shannon explains, adding that the couple now focuses on technical design and children’s education as “the areas we love and are committed to in our life.” Through imagine1day, she says, “It’s been amazing over the years to see how education in the communities is elevating families. I think in general giving is about people wanting to make a difference in the world.”

Two years ago, gave $8 million to the Chip and Shannon Wilson School of Design at Kwantlen Polytechnic University; established imagine1day, a children’s educational charity focused on Ethiopia, in 2007.

Describing their overarching drive to give back, Chip explains that donating takes away the frustration of “wanting to see things happen but not being able to do anything about it,” which they experienced before they had funds. “You’d look at things and not know what to do,” he says. “Now we have an ability to make that frustration come to fruition in a way that is very rewarding. By giving, we can be the catalyst to make something happen.”

Their love of technical design was an obvious draw, too. They saw an opportunity for the school, which is due to open this year, to close the gap between what the industry needs and the qualifications of the students.

“We see possibility, and the world hasn’t caught up to it yet,” Chip says. “We have the ability to move the world to that place quicker.”

This is the first in a series profiling eight local powerhouse philanthropic duos. Stay tuned.