Lessons From A Small Business With Big Plans: Tentsile 2017

Header Photo Credit: Michael LaMartin

photo credit: Michael LaMartin

Tentsile would like to thank each and every one of you for supporting our business and helping us achieve such great things in 2017. With your help, we have planted over 150,000 trees this year and saved over 50 hectares of primary growth forests over 3 locations worldwide by putting people in Tree Tents at the very front line of the bulldozers! You can see that we really do sell Tree Tents to save (and replant) trees!

Also in the past year, we have expanded our production in order to cope with demand, ensuring the 8-week delivery times we saw in the Summer of 2016 were not repeated. Thanks for sticking with us, and following the progression of our revolutionary Tree Tents and Hammocks. We have doubled our staff in the UK and the USA opened a new store in Bend, Oregon AND hosted 2 Tentsile Camp Out events over the Summer at stunning locations in Italy and California. Next year’s events promise to be even bigger and more spectacular, watch this space for more details on these early in 2018…

Tentsile Camp Out Stack

World Record 7 Tentsile Stack at USA Camp Out!

photo credit: Ryan Clowers

It hasn’t all gone according to plan though, and I know how much you guys like to hear about the reality of running a small business. Let me give you a rundown of the things that also went wrong – so you can get some perspective!

We found the bigger US retailers particularly hard to work with, in 2017. Two of our biggest accounts put in huge orders for the Spring of 2017 and so we ramped up production to meet their demand. Then at the last minute, they canceled parts of their orders leaving us to cover the production costs to cover their mistakes! In Europe, we have found that the “buyers” are much more conservative and realistic. This makes them a lot easier to work with and strengthens our partnership by increasing trust.

We tried and failed at partnering with Marvel to make a Spiderman Mesh Hammock to launch alongside the new movie release. Then, just as we were on the verge of being accepted in 3 of the biggest US National Parks as a recommended Leave No Trace camping solution, new Government guidelines threw the National Parks into spiraling confusion over changes to policy. Sadly, they had to shut down all new ideas until things settle down and become clearer. Keep up the good work National Forest Service, we’re ready when you are. We’re also still trying to make an impression on new markets such as South Korea, South Africa, Japan, Africa and Australia - and we’re not giving up yet…

 “As is the case with all new businesses, you must to take the rough with the smooth. Progress in one area is coupled with dead ends in another. You need to be able to take those and turn them around to your advantage - or learn to drop them fast so they don’t sink your ship!”    - Alex, founder of Tentsile 

All the time, Tentsile tries to walk a moral and ethical line, making decisions that aim to both educate our audience to the importance of trees and forests to our personal health and that of the planet as a whole. Sustainable businesses walk a tight path, but as a new member of 1% for the Planet, we are in good company. Working alongside some of the biggest Outdoor Brands helps us to find ways to minimise the impact of our industry and protect the future of the natural environment so that generations to come can enjoy and benefit from it. Together we are stronger - and if we’re all hanging out in the trees, they can’t chop them down.

In 2018, we invite you all to be part of the bigger picture, to submit your ideas for how we might make a better impact and how together we might be able to reach further and achieve higher goals. Share your news with us, your pictures with us and your stories. We may want to come to your local area and get involved in environmental actions that impact your community. Just because we are a company does not mean that we aren’t listening. We might be small, but our voices are powerful! 

December 19, 2017 — Alex Shirley-Smith

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.