Ten Tree Apparel
A few weeks ago I watched an episode of Dragon’s Den that featured Ten Tree Apparel, a new, yet extremely successful company that has incorporated sustainability into their business model. The Regina-based company, which was started by three recent university graduates, has addressed the growing environmental concern of deforestation. In conjunction with WeForest, Ten Tree plants 10 trees for every apparel item sold. Trees are planted across Canada, as well as in foreign countries such as Ethiopia, Haiti, and the Philippines, to match existing species of local forests.
Watch: Ten Tree on Dragon’s Den
This pitch particularly stood out for me because it showed the conflicting opinions of the dragons/investors with regards to business and sustainability. Typically, the dragons and presenting business owners argue over the valuation of a business, or the equity at stake. In this case, we see the extremely successul dragons debating over the sustainable business model and profit margins driven up by local sourcing. On one hand, Kevin O’Leary articulates somewhat of an archaic, profit-focused opinion on the business, akin to insights from Milton Friedman. He’s hard-pressed to think that sustainability is anything but a mere trend in today’s market that will eventually fade. On the other hand, the remaining dragons, particularly Arlene Dickinson, advocate the importance of sustainability in forward-thinking businesses, keeping in mind the three aspects of the triple bottom line discussed in class (People, Planet, Profit). They are keen on supporting these types of businesses that act as stewards in the interest of the environment. This dialogue is a great example of how sustainability and marketing are related, and touches on a consumer’s growing willingness to spend on sustainable products. Watching this pitch definitely reminded me of similar successful BOGO companies like TOMS and WeWOOD. Ultimately, Ten Tree made a deal with dragons Bruce Croxon and Arlene, who is often considered the marketing maven of Dragon’s Den.