Trees are a lifeline for the planet. That’s why Chris at Tree’s for Life is working on solutions for the growing problems trees face. Chris is using Teemill as a platform to connect with people who want to be part of the solution. In this blog, you can find out how Chris has gained attention on these issues concerning trees through clothing, why he decided a store was the solution to spread his message and what they have planned next for the near future.
It’s always good to see someone using Teemill to do some good! We have so much to ask you about Trees for life, so could you tell us a little more about what you guys do, a bit about how this is relevant in the world today and what drives you?
Trees for Life’s vision is to rewild the Scottish Highlands by saving and restoring the globally unique Caledonian Forest and all the wildlife it contains. Only 1% of the original extent of the forest remains – a situation which reflects the huge global threat that deforestation brings to many native woodlands across the world. We aim to create a wild forested landscape from valley to mountaintop, where wilderness and people thrive, in the Highlands through three key activities:
• Bringing the wild, native forest back – through developing innovative approaches to native tree propagation and planting to the management of the established forest.
• Giving a helping hand to forest wildlife – reintroducing missing species, such as red squirrel, to the wild forest.
• Inspiring communities and individuals of all ages and abilities to be involved in rewilding – helping to improve their health and wellbeing and providing opportunities for new skills development. Since planting its first tree in 1989, Trees for Life has planted over 1.5 million more with the help of over 5,000 volunteers.
That is so rad! Why did you decide to branch out to a store?
We’d been selling t-shirts by ordering in bulk stock of one design in several colours and sizes. The t-shirts took up lots of room in our cramped office space and we had a high admin overhead to satisfy orders.
We knew that we wanted to have t-shirts available because they help to raise awareness of our work and our supporters like them, but we also needed to find a way to reduce our overheads and free up staff time to do other things. And that led us to Teemill store.
That’s why we are here! What is your plan for marketing, any specific strategies or tactics you’re trying to make the most out of your store?
We have used t-shirt designs to help raise awareness of particular appeals that we are running eg for beavers and red squirrels. We’ve sent t-shirts to celebrities who have taken and tweeted selfies of themselves sporting their new attire to help raise donations for our appeals. We find that supporters like the free postage offer so we always promote those. And we try to keep refreshing the designs whilst also keeping our most popular designs available.
Can you tell us something you’re excited about with this project?
We love coming up with new ideas for t-shirt designs – particularly slogans, which we want to do more of.
Where do you hope the ambition goes with your store?
We’ll keep reviewing what the most popular designs are to ensure we continue those. We’re currently interested trying some limited edition designs, which we can create a buzz on our social media. We’ve just added some children’s t-shirts. It will be great to see how they do at Christmas.
How did you approach this project in terms of your values, what do you want to get out of it and what are you looking to achieve?
As a nature conservation charity, it was hugely important to us that Teemill has environmental sustainability at the heart of its operations.
Which product are you most excited about and why?
We’re planning a new tee – with a great new slogan which we think will appeal to the growing numbers of people who understand the importance of wild, natural places.
What advice would you give someone in a similar position trying to spread a good, strong message and how do they get started?
Have some fun! Kick around ideas for messages and graphics. It’s easy to get a bit lost in the choice of tee designs and colours, so we started with just a few and have added to them over time.
Ask the Teemill team for help. Make the most out of the promotions.
During your time running the store was there any part of it that’s been tricky and how did you overcome it?
Getting buy-in from our colleagues. Some of them loved the idea of print on demand instead of having heaps of one design of tee in the office, others were skeptical and thought we would lose income. We explained our rationale, Teemill’s environmental credentials and we wear the t-shirts in the office to ‘model’ them. People usually say – oh that’s really nice, can I have on one?
There are plenty enough tee’s for everyone! Trees are important to not just us, but the entire planet and we are always so stoked to be a part of something supporting the idea of helping trees. We hope to see many more powerful designs for you guys up there in the trees! Take it easy Chris!