Earth Day Small Business Spotlight: tentree
A Regina-based clothing company is transforming the world we live in, ten trees at a time. tentree ethically and sustainably manufactures clothing and accessories for women and men. For every item sold, 10 trees are planted in areas where they can influence a greater transformation. So far, tentree has planted about 4.9 million trees in countries such as Madagascar, Senegal, Cambodia, Nepal and Canada. A noble goal, they aim to plant 5 million trees by Earth Day on April 22, 2015.
Two brothers Kalen and Derrick, and their friend Dave founded tentree out of their love for the natural world. They live by the motto: protect the world you play in. It was clear to the founders that there was a gap between socially-minded companies and environmentally-minded companies. Many clothing manufacturers aim to reduce the impact they have on the environment, but only a select few genuinely make a difference. That’s when tentree set out to break the mould.
The founders started by selling a test order of 100 T-shirts to friends and family late in 2011. Selling hundreds of shirts at a time, their story spread as their brand’s popularity grew. To meet growing demand and to reach people outside of their hometown, the founders enlisted the help of their cousin (and co-founder) Stephen to lead the e-commerce side of the business. Under his direction, tentree built an online store with PayPal as their exclusive payment partner. The tentree team chose PayPal because it meant that in just a few clicks, they could start accepting money, moving them closer to their tree planting goals. A year later, the team completed their first major plant in Madagascar.
Due to extreme poverty in Madagascar, locals cut down forests to use the wood for fuel and construction materials, or to clear land for agriculture. This deforestation deprived the soil of its fertility and strength, leaving villagers without land suitable for growing food and generating income. Through tentree’s efforts –2,819,700 trees have been planted in Madagascar. The variety of trees planted has helped revitalize the coastline and offered a sustainable agriculture industry for the local residents. Many can now afford to pay for healthier food, decent clothes, and healthcare.
In 2012 the tentree team was able to plant again, this time in Senegal. For this plant tentree joined forces with Trees for the Future, a Senegal-based group. Before their arrival, locals found employment working as peanut farmers – most making less than $200 USD a year. tentree and Trees for the Future saw an opportunity to improve the social and ecological status of the region. They provided locals with vegetable and fruit tree seeds and taught them how to turn unsustainable crops into profitable farms. A year after the Senegal plant, tentree founder and CEO Derrick Emsley returned to find a transformed landscape. On a visit to a farmer’s home to discuss the progress, Derrick remembers one particularly touching moment where a little boy offered him a piece of fruit picked from a type of tree planted by tentree.
Over the past four years, the tentree team has grown and their online store has evolved. Now, they are using PayPal Payments Pro to power their business. In the years to come, tentree wants to see their message and efforts stretch well beyond Canada, both in the apparel they sell and the environmental impact they make.
“We want to be viewed as the premier environmental brand on the planet. We have high hopes for where we can take things and the impact we can have.” – Derrick Emsley, CEO, tentree

Deborah Raymond, Manager, SMB Engagement Marketing

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