With over 80 million trees planted, it’s become pretty well known that tentree plants ten trees for each item purchased, and they're just getting started. Based in Vancouver, Tentree is an earth-first apparel brand that creates sustainably and ethically-made clothing with a greater impact. In 2019, tentree won the Top Innovator Award given by Apparel magazine and it has been featured in Vogue Business, The Environmental Magazine, and Business Insider. Tentree’s mission is to motivate and encourage environmental stewardship through earth-first apparel. Read on to learn more about the two brothers and co-founders, and how our limited edition candle collaboration came to be.
What is your story?
My brother Kalen and I started a tree planting company when we were 16, that sold carbon offsetting credits to businesses, where we ended up planting over 150,000 trees. From there we decided we wanted to create a business that brings awareness to the planet while fueling a drive for positive change, but that is accessible to everyone. When it comes to why we chose apparel, really it started because it was an easy medium for us to get the message out there. Creating clothing wasn’t the initial plan - to this day we don’t think of ourselves an apparel company that plants trees, we think of ourselves as a tree planting company that sells apparel.
A big reason we’re where we are today is because of our community and supporters - they’ve constantly pushed us to do better in all aspects of the business from more visibility around our tree planting, to supply chain transparency. This goes to show that they truly value responsibly and sustainably made products, on top of giving back to the environment. After many years of learnings and growth, we only offer the most progressive and alternative materials out there, which is a true testament to the hard work that goes on behind the scenes at tentree. As a brand that uses apparel as a vehicle to plant trees, and that sits in a space where our product is consumer driven, we’ve held ourselves accountable to develop a product that leaves as little negative impact on the planet as possible.
With holiday shopping just around this season, do you have any tips and tricks to be more mindful of consumption this season?
Given this time of year is so consumer driven and overconsumption is encouraged, there are so many small steps that we can all make that will make a significant impact.
- Shopping at small, local businesses: I’ve been quite conscious about supporting locally, not just for gifting but also for any holiday needs and beyond. There are so many small businesses who hustle hard and passionately to get their products and services out there. This is the time to give them some love!
- Gift wrapping: these days there are countless wrapping alternatives out there from Stasher bags, to furoshiki wraps or even getting crafty with some twine, pine cones, or rosemary sprigs - you’ll be surprised at how put together a gift can look with nature-based items found outside your home.
- Consider experiences vs things: the last two years came with so many restrictions and closures, and we’re all eager to get back out into the world and spend time with our friends and loved ones. A nice meal, or an outdoor experience ticks off so many more boxes and goes a long way compared to a physical product!
What inspired the Mala x Tentree Candle partnership?
As an apparel business, it’s always exciting for us to test out new commodities, and doing so with value aligned partners who share our vision. Mala was a no-brainer when we decided we wanted to explore the home product space. Between the quality of their candle wax, the fact that they’re also Vancouver based, and their lineup of scents, we knew we had to get in touch and see if there was interest to collaborate. This is an exciting partnership for us!
What does a typical day look like for you?
My day has become a mixture of managing two businesses with the growth of veritree so there definitely isn't necessarily a "typical" day anymore! Generally speaking, two days are reserved for internal meetings, two days for external meetings, and I try to pencil one day in for more strategic planning work (which rarely happens). I'm at my best when I'm consistent which tends to include coffee in the morning and a dog walk, getting into the office (I still like going in) around 8, try to make it to the gym or out for a run around the seawall at 6pm, dinner, and then end the night by getting through some more work.
If you weren't running your business, what would you be doing?
My dream, before tentree, was always to go into medicine. I was always big into sports growing up so I wanted to be an orthopaedic surgeon and help people with sports injuries.
Favourite and not-so-favourite part of your business?
My favourite parts of the business are the people and the impact. We've been so fortunate to create an incredible team and the impact is we are having day-in and day-out is what makes everything worthwhile to me. The not-so-favourite often comes down to the areas where I come up short - process improvement, systems, etc. The larger we have grown, the more important these pieces become and the more attention they require. Fortunately, we have been able to hire people much smarter and more talented than I am to manage them!