What if a company’s goal is to plant one billion trees? How would they go about making such a thing happen? Answer: launch a sustainable apparel brand to support their noble cause by planting 10 trees for every item sold. And thus, tentree was born.
We have circled back with Arthur Kononuk, Creative Director & Co-Founder of tentree to get caught up on the state of the company since Centric last spoke to him over a year ago.
Can you tell us about tentree’s growth over the past year or so?
We’ve grown our team tremendously in product, design and development and sourcing over the past year. We are almost at-capacity in what was our new office about a year ago. At the speed at which we’ve grown – from 33 to 53 people – I don’t think it would have been possible without Centric’s Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution and a lot of other choices that we’ve made along the way. It’s the approach that we’ve taken in the business: thinking big while we were still at a small size, and looking at the tools we’ve needed to scale effectively.
Cloud-based Centric SMB is scalable for our needs, easy to use, fast to implement and affordable. Those are all reasons that we picked Centric: we bought the shoes that we are going to grow into, and now we are starting to grow into them!
How many more categories and how many more retail stores?
Our focus is on our own direct-to-consumer business. We’re still growing our retail but growing e-com at a faster rate…
The retail outlets now top out at 1000 and tentree has established a retail presence in Europe. We have increased the number of categories – especially in accessories. Dog collars, towels, blankets, wallets, water bottles, backpacks and socks are all new. This is part of the shift to direct-to-consumer, so we don’t have to fall into the wholesale schedule. We are quicker-to-market and can be more competitive.
Brains of the Outfit
Has PLM helped to manage growth?
If the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is the heart of company – the PLM is the brains, so equally important. When we first decided to get a PLM, not a lot of other brands that were our size were even considering it – our references had 300-person teams. At the time we were 12 people, but we just really saw the benefit of having something to streamline our communications and connect the dots.
If we didn’t have a PLM it would have been a complete nightmare to get products on our website. It’s the link to ERP and design and product development – if we take the PLM out, we take out a link of the chain.
So how has PLM helped with growing the direct-to-consumer business?
The importance of data integrity in the PLM is so vital to getting our product online. It goes back to the short lead-time needed – to make sure that the information is 100% correct.
We have a lot of lofty goals for how we want to be reaching more of our direct-consumer side of the business – creating products really fast, testing them, iterating on them and doubling down when we strike a nerve. We have the ability to quickly build and manage products in PLM, get them into ERP and get them onto our site. Read more about achieving sustainability in retail.
What about the environmental impact of the brand?
Everyone is worried about what is going into your body; they eat organic food, have healthy diets but most people don’t realize that skin is the largest organ of the body. So if that’s the case, we should be considerate of every piece of clothing that we put on our skin… rephrasing that conversation is an impact that we’re super interested in moving forward.
Plant dyes, organic cotton – these things end up being better for the environment because fewer hazardous-chemicals are used and there are better certifications. PLM allows us to keep track of the suppliers in our system with their respective certifications, that in turn allows us to have the required trail for our certifications, which brings us to the next aspect: recyclable and biodegradable streams for end-of-life.
We are going to reach a very powerful milestone at our business this year which is that our compostable clothing will launch by Q4. This will be a fully-certified biodegradable product (by an institute called cradle-to-cradle) where every little facet of an item has to be approved – the label, stitching, printed size, dyes, etc. so that the item will have no negative impact on the earth when it is fully decomposed.
And finally, the trees?
We just celebrated 25.5 million trees; that’s about 8 million more trees planted since we last spoke.