Lawyer turned furniture store owner, Nicole Wakley followed her passion for sustainable living in 2005. She started Tree, a company which blends contemporary design and traditional hand-craftsmanship while using eco-conscious materials.
While building the company, Wakley moved to an Australian farm to truly learn how to live a sustainable lifestyle and found a way to blend those values into her business.
Today, the company offers a wide range of items like dining tables, chairs, beds, coffee tables, and cupboards. Over the years, Wakley has built relationships with artisans around the world to be able to access small batch artisanal pieces. While the furniture options are meant to suit every home interior, the key is the eco-wood.
The company focuses on three primary kinds of sustainable woods. She and her team source eco-wood pieces from a variety of places and even use reclaimed wood from abandoned houses or boats. They also use FSC™-certified wood.
As their specialty material, teak is often chosen because of the natural sturdiness and weather resistance. Each piece has its own qualities, and no two pieces are exactly the same. For a crisper, more modern look, the team looks to European white oak for lighter looks and American walnut wood for a more chocolatey look.
In addition to their signature wood pieces, Tree also creates artisan rugs from natural and toxic free materials such as seagrass and jute. The team often works in upcycled items like denim and wool.
Their cushy sofas are also chemical free and made with organic fabrics. As an added bonus, these items are flame retardant since they aren’t made with chemicals.
The company also gives back to different communities. By working with Trees4Trees, a non-profit foundation that protects national forests, Tree has already been able to plant 77,000 trees while providing jobs for farmers. They plan to continue planting thousands more trees with Trees4Trees this year.
Tree is also partners with Forterra, a non-profit environmental organization which helps areas such as wild lands, farms, and forests stay in good condition. Wakley and her team work with Compass-360 Association as well. As a non-profit organization, Compass-360 Association helps other non-profits have access to technologies which allows them to help others more efficiently. For good measure, Tree also plants an additional 1,500 trees for every guest who attends the special events they partner with.
More recently, Wakley has moved to the Pacific Northwest and plans to keep expanding the company in the US. Their latest store is located in a historical heritage showroom in downtown Tacoma, WA.
Even though Wakley had no prior business experience when she first started her new career path, her eco-friendly dream has turned out to be a huge success. Last year Tree reported a revenue of nearly $10 million. According to Forbes, Wakely says she is committed to using eco-friendly pieces and stick to its sustainable root regardless of how large the business grows.