This week, founders of Ten Tree Apparel David Luba and Kalen Emsley will face off against the dragons on CBC’s Dragons’ Den. It’s the kind of business we’re excited to see reaching millions of Canadians – one that doesn’t just create a high quality, well-branded product, but one that is dedicated to investing in environmental protection with every item it sells.
The apparel line that feels more beach than snow is not what you might expect to emerge from Regina, Saskatchewan where an average winter day is a brisk 5° Fahrenheit. But after a life-altering trip to O’ahu, Hawaii, during which David and Kalen took on any challenge the natural environment threw at them, the pair not only gained a deepened respect for the tropical paradise, but also a sense of urgency to protect it.
Ten Tree reflects their sense of adventure, deep commitment to the environment, and combined 20 years of experience in the forestry industry. For every article of clothing sold, ten trees are planted. This direct approach will help safeguard the atmosphere, helping to protect the world in which David and Kalen love to play.
It’s a business model with mass appeal if you ask me – heck, we’ve already seen a very positive response to the brand in the few short months since we’ve started working with them. People want to feel good about what they buy, and knowing that ten trees have been planted just because of your purchase makes that “Bunny Hug” (aka hoodie for those of us not from Saskatchewan) stand apart for all others.
But is it a concept the Dragons will love?
It’s hard to say. They said no to other amazing impact-focused brands like Oliberté Footwear back in 2009, who are now establishing their own factories throughout Africa and creating quality jobs along with their great shoes.
In more recent years however, we’ve seen the Dragons warm up to more businesses with a social mission. FrogBox (eco-friendly moving supplies) and yours truly, Ethical Ocean, both landed deals on the show in 2010. Plus, the show is now running a online series called Game Changers in which they are featuring 10 socially-responsible businesses that have been on the show.
If you ask me, all signs point to yes on Ten Tree landing a deal. But even more important, as of Wednesday night millions of people will have heard of this amazing brand.
If you were a Dragon, would you make the investment?