Hi, this is Kate, guest posting today. Climate change poses an existential threat to humanity. Sources of environmental toxins lie in unexpected places, including some of the building materials used in furniture construction. Now, one savvy entrepreneur seeks to change that. Nicole Wakley is a former lawyer who is the founder and curator of TREE furniture. Her international line marries style and sustainability in unique ways. Innovations like hers pave the way to an eco-friendlier future.
Nicole Wakley in business
Wakley grew up in a small town outside of London, where she fell in love with an antique shop that captured her attention as she passed. She vowed that one day, she would have a small furniture store that evoked the same vibe of hominess and small-town charm.
When she reached adulthood, Wakley attended law school and accepted work at one of the top firms in London. Her childhood dream remained in her mind. In 2005, with the support of her then-fiance and pilot partner, she used her savings to open TREE’s flagship location.
Wakley sources her goods from around Asia, where she traveled extensively. At first, she struggled to launch her line. The aesthetic in Hong Kong, where the brand got its start, values the clean, perfect lines of mass-produced wares over lovingly handcrafted items. Fortunately, eventually, the quality and uniqueness of her goods brought customers in the door.
In 2006, TREE opened their second location, and by 2008, Wakley relocated to Australia with her new spouse and family. Today, they live a sustainable life in New South Wales while she runs her international company. They help their clients bring their design dreams to life with curated collections and design advice.
Wakley considers ecological responsibility a fundamental value of her business. To date, TREE has contributed to the planting of more than 77,000 trees throughout the world. They partner with Trees4Trees, an Indonesian nonprofit, and Forterra, a Washington-based land protection effort.
Why we need more female entrepreneurs
As of 2013, women ran only three out of every 10 businesses in the United States. This lack of female leadership creates unnecessary hardship for young girls who dream of opening a business someday. It also deprives society of the contributions women have to offer. Along with their unique perspectives on life, on average, women tend to have higher levels of education than their male counterparts.
As the gender that brings forth new life, women share a unique connection with the earth. They often understand the critical need to preserve an inhabitable planet for generations to come. They don’t base their desire for sustainability on vague altruistic ideals but rather on practical reality. They want a safe world for their children.
Nor is society’s need for more females in positions of leadership entirely swimming in maternal warm fuzzies. There’s a pragmatic and economic component to the need as well. Startup companies headed by women show better business returns and payout ratios than male-led ventures. They also display a high degree of creativity and innovation.
While the tide continues to shift, women remain only half as likely to start a new business as a man is. That’s why the world needs pioneers like Wakley to lead the way.
Related reading: Your guide to green home decor
Nicole Wakley: Eco-friendly products for a changing planet
Scientists have discovered that many everyday household items contain toxic substances called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Particular solid or liquid materials emit harmful gasses that may have long-term health effects as well as environmental impact. You can find VOCs in paint and some brands of household furniture.
When you bring these furnishings into your home, they contaminate your indoor air. One victim describes the problem as an overwhelming odor emitted by the furniture. It caused symptoms such as throat burning and difficulty breathing. Unfortunately, these substances can remain in the air long after you remove the offending dresser or bed set.
If you’re in the market to buy new home furnishings, seek out Greenguard-certified products. This certification ensures that the product meets some of the world’s most rigorous and comprehensive standards for low emissions of VOCs.
You can also search for unique creations, like TREE, that display beauty without the use of harmful chemicals during production.
Combating climate change through innovation
Hopefully, more female entrepreneurs will follow Wakley’s lead, as the world needs their innovation. By changing to sustainable business practices, we can create a healthier planet and combat climate change.
About today’s writer
Kate Harveston is a lifestyle and wellness journalist from Pennsylvania. She particularly enjoys writing about topics related to women’s health and well-being. If you like her work, you can subscribe to her blog, So Well, So Woman.