Ever dreamt of traveling the world, helping the planet – and making a living while you’re at it?
Well, that’s exactly what the folks at Tree Tribe are doing. And they’re doing it well.
Founded by 3 guys named Joe, Sharif and Dylan, Tree Tribe is a natural lifestyle brand that specializes in premium wood and bamboo sunglasses.
They plant 10 trees for every sale. And their goal is to plant 1,000,000,000 trees in 6 years.
Ya, you read that right. One billion trees planted in 6 years! And they plan on reaching this goal with a 10x milestone each year, that looks something like this:
10,000 > 100,000 > 1,000,000 > 10,000,000 > 100,000,000 > 1,000,000,000.
They’ve already hit their first milestone of 10,000 trees at the start of 2016 – so I think it’s safe to say their mission “to build a cool natural fashion brand that does awesome things for the planet”, is well on its way to being fulfilled.
They also aim to lead the charge of companies who use natural materials and give back to their communities, to strengthen the bond between humans and nature and to build a global Tribe that shares the same positive vibe towards the planet.
The Tribe embraces the travel culture, so while their home base is in San Diego, the founders actually live and work from different locations. And no matter where they go, they get involved.
I caught up with Joe who’s now living out of two backpacks in Columbia, to learn the Tree Tribe language, straight from the source.
Who are the members of Tree Tribe?
There’s myself, Joe, I’m one of the founders; and my co-founders Sharif and Dylan. Sage, a wellness coach, takes care of our social media marketing and adds a much-needed female perspective to the business. She’s becoming an important part of the team. We seek kindred spirits; that’s how we bring people on. Sharif is a friend I met in NYC, and I met Dylan, who’s from Canada, when I was living abroad in Chiang Mai. I had an instant connection with him because we both had a passion for helping the earth, nature and traveling. We have this build a tribe mentality and we try to vibe with people who are positive and want to help the earth.
What inspired you to create this organization and give back with trees?
A few years ago when I was living in San Diego, I spent a lot of time making stuff in my background, wood working, spending time in nature, gardening and composting. And somehow I got into working with bamboo. So I started sourcing bamboo from a company in San Diego (where you can buy bamboo tubes, slabs, etc.) and began creating a bunch of stuff in my backyard. That’s when it hit me, that I want to build things with sustainable materials. I’m passionate about the earth. It started off as more of a hobby, making jars and other things, and wasn’t yet a business. As I developed more business savvy, I started to realize that I didn’t have to manufacture everything myself, I could get things manufactured for me and make this into a scalable business. The California sun made sunglasses the natural first step. The whole idea was to create a business that gives back and that uses natural, sustainable materials. I’d like to see everything going that way – because consumerism isn’t going anywhere. I wanted to get involved with “One Percent of the Planet” – they were who I was originally looking at, but 1% just didn’t seem like enough; I wanted something really tangible. So that’s when tree planting came to mind. Trees improve the earth’s ecosystem, provide oxygen and help the soil. We found the organization “Trees of the Future”, so for every sale, we plant ten trees with them. They’re one of the most reputable organizations and they’ve been around for 25 years. They taught me that it’s an anti-poverty movement as well. Most of our tree planting projects right now are forest gardens, which help local communities by providing food, shelter, and income. We plan on growing and doing more for the earth on a larger scale.
Your goal is to reach a 10x milestone each year for trees planted. That means a billion trees planted in only 6 years. Wow! What gives you the confidence to set such an ambitious goal and how do you think you’ll achieve it.
First of all I think it’s essential to set ambitious goals no matter what you’re doing. That’s how you achieve a high level of success. The 10x model was made by making projections for investment funding. We should be able to reach the 100,000 mark this year. These numbers are all based on our plan of our extension. We’re getting into clothing this summer, and there’s a few different accessories we’re working on – along with a retail strategy. We’re currently in a couple of stores but we haven’t had enough stock to do more than that. We plant ten trees for every product sold, but just a few weeks ago, we announced that we were planting 2,500 trees in Haiti with Eden Reforestation Projects. We plan to achieve our goals by expanding our product line, sales channels and our global market; this is what we’re counting on for that success. Our goal is to be synonymous with cool and natural. And as the company grows we plan to give back more. Like ‘hey we want to plant a 100,000 trees in the Amazon right now or give $10,000 to this organization to plant trees’. Things move fast and a lot can happen in 6 years. Our model is to donate as a company. It’s not just selling sunglasses that’s going to get us there, it’s a product extension, donations and tree planting projects that aren’t directly tied to product sales.
Do you have any advice on how to scale a business for entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
Find your target audience and then find a way to connect with them and create a brand that resonates with them. For us, instagram is a really great channel; it’s where we do most of our activity. Our mission, our products and our lifestyle are all the same. We run our business based on our 4 core values: nature, adventure, community and travel. The decisions we make and the things that we do, reflect our values, and we strive to connect with people who also share and do the same. Find your values and work from there.
Your aim is to strengthen the bond between humans and nature. Can you explain why you think that’s important?
Ya, it’s important for a lot of reasons, but mainly because it’s pretty clear that the health of our environment is getting worse as we progress with technology and disassociate from nature. It’s a good experiment to leave your phone at home and go out into nature. There’s an overwhelming sense of calm in a natural environment. You kind of lose track of that in a fast paced life. It’s about coming back to a more natural healthy lifestyle – and breathing fresh air.
How can people join your global community?
Describe Tree Tribe in one word:
Earth. It’s the whole reason we’re in business – we want to help the earth.