Tree Talk| 6 min read

The Story Of tentree

With nearly 35 million trees planted, it’s become pretty well known that tentree plants ten trees for each item purchased.

With nearly 35 million trees planted, it’s become pretty well known that tentree plants ten trees for each item purchased. We’ve come a long way since our first ten trees planted, so let’s take a look back at the story of tentree – where we’ve been and where we’re going.

As a brand that got started in Canada, tentree is proud of its deep, Canadian roots. We got our start in 2012 in Regina, Saskatchewan and have remained headquartered here in Canada. To honor our Canadian roots, we’ve put together a timeline of our journey as a brand. We couldn’t have done it without all of the amazing people supporting us as well as the support of our home country.

How did tentree get started?

Kalen Emsley, who in 2012 was working as a tree planter, reached out to an old friend of his, David Luba, who was living in Hawaii at the time. Kalen wound up catching a flight out, and while there, they were inspired to start a clothing brand that gives back. And that’s where the idea of tentree was born.

The next step was roping Derrick Emsley, Kalen’s brother, into the company as well. Derrick gladly came on as our CEO. Initial support from the community in Regina, SK was overwhelming and offered us an amazing launching point. There was a lot of excitement and enthusiasm behind the idea of trees being planted for each item purchased.

Our first office

Initially, we operated out of Kalen’s basement. The business was tiny and just getting moving. We handled all operations out of that basement until we eventually outgrew it and had to move on. Although there are some that allege we got kicked out of the basement, the world may never truly know.

Up until this point, we’d been doing all of our printing on American Apparel products, but we started focusing more on sustainable fabrics. We didn’t just want to plant trees, but provide the best, most environmentally progressive clothing possible and act as a challenge to the clothing industry to do better by the planet.

Dragon’s Den appearance

In March of 2013, David, Kalen, and Derrick appeared on an episode of Dragon’s Den, a Canadian television program, to pitch the idea behind tentree and secure some much needed funding. We wound up being nominated as one of the top 10 “Game Changing” pitches from the first 8 seasons of the show.

Watch the full clip here.

1 million trees planted

On March 27, 2014, we announced to the world that, in partnership with international non-profit organizations, we had reached 1 million trees planted. Not only had 1 million trees been planted, but we created 160,000 hours of employment for locals in developing countries.

“A million trees was a major achievement for us, but by no means are we finished there.” Derrick Emsley said at the time. “We will be planting anywhere from two and a half to three million more trees in 2014, and expect that number to continue to double year after year as we expand into new markets and people respond to the message that we’re sharing.”

2014 was the same year that we introduced our tree registry program, which allows our customers to track where their trees are being planted and what kind of impact they’re having. At the time, our products were sold in more than 330 retail stores.

Becoming a B Corp

In May of 2016, we became a certified B Corporation, or B Corp for short. A B Corp is a business that meets the highest standards of verified social and environmental support, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. In order to become a B Corp, your brand must have a score of at least 80 points on their scale. We scored in at 124.

15 Million trees planted

On August 29, 2017, we announced another major tree planting milestone: 15 million trees planted!

“15 million trees is a major milestone for tentree, but ultimately, it is just the beginning,” said Derrick in a press release. “As tentree grows, so does the impact. Our goal is to become the most environmentally progressive brand on the planet and we are targeting over 1 billion trees by 2030. These trees are going to change lives.”

“It has always been our goal to bring the customer closer to their impact,” added Derrick. “Their purchase is what allows us to plant trees, provide jobs, and help an incredible number of people. We want every customer to feel emotionally connected to their impact. The tree registry program allows us to do this by highlighting where the trees will be planted, the type of tree, and then allows us to provide updates on the progress.”

Moving to Vancouver

Regina is our home and we’ll never forget our time there, but in August of 2016, we decided to uproot and move our home base to Vancouver, British Columbia. We were inspired by a city that mirrored our values. Vancouver aims to be world’s greenest city by 2020. As a secondary benefit, Vancouver is also home to the most beautiful outdoor spaces in Canada, and by virtue attracts the exact type of people that want to work for an earth-first apparel brand. Vancouver allowed us a chance to get back to our roots, closer to nature, to find talented and passionate employees to grow our team and plant more trees!

Our first office was small – only around 800 square feet, allowing room for only about 11 people at most. We quickly outgrew the space.

Mobius kickstarter

In September of 2018, we did something we’ve never done: we launched a kickstarter for the Mobius backpack. Joey Pringle, our accessories designer, came up with the product that not only uses sustainable material in the main body of a backpack, but also in the minor parts such as the clips, straps, and buckles. What you will be getting is what we’ve been building toward all along—a backpack designed and constructed with sustainably sourced materials, and can still take you from city to sky.

We were blown away by the support. Our goal was to raise $35,000 for the backpack, but we wound up receiving $270,240 in pledges from 2,153 backers. Mobius is now available on our website.

Most sustainable post

Much like our Mobius kickstarter, on Earth Day 2019, we wanted to try something different. So we took to Instagram and created the world’s most sustainable post. We partnered up with Eden Reforestation Projects to plant a tree for every 10 likes our post on Instagram received. We quickly reached the goal of 500,000 trees planted and kept it going! Currently, the post sits at 15 million likes. If it reaches 20 million, we’ll plant another 500,000 trees!

30 million trees

Following shortly after Earth Day, on March 31, 2019, we announced another major milestone: 30 million trees planted. This was the culmination of 7 years of work. With the passion of all our incredible supporters, we’ve set roots from Madagascar to Indonesia, working with local communities to rebuild homes, rejuvenate environments, and reforest the planet.

What does the future hold?

What comes next for tentree? It’s hard to say for sure. Even from day 1, every single day presents an exciting opportunity to plant trees and protect the world we play in. Our biggest goal is still ahead, 1 billion trees planted by 2030.

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