June 17, 2024

Getting to know Tellus – bringing adventure with purpose

Founded by outdoor and environmental enthusiasts Melissa and Joe Basta, Tellus is a
newly established Colorado company focused on sustainability and giving back.
Upon creating the company, Joe and Melissa’s mission was to build an environmentally
conscious, ethical outdoor brand in the historically problematic clothing industry from the
ground up. They envisioned creating high-quality, eco-conscious outerwear and actively
providing customers with a means to give back.

One hundred percent of Tellus products, which can be found in its Fort Collins retail
store and its e-commerce site, are made using some form of recycled materials — and
the vast majority are made using nearly all certified recycled materials.
Through its GiveBack100 program, Tellus allows you to explore and restore the planet.
The company donates 100% of all net profits to organizations that directly combat our
biggest environmental challenges through The Nature Conservancy, including coral reef
protection, land and water conservation, and reforestation.

We recently spoke with company co-founder Melissa Basta, who shared the story of how this unique company came to be, its product line, and how it discovered X-Pac® fabrics. We hope you enjoy it!

Please share more about how Tellus came about.

Tellus is a creation that evolved from my husband Joe’s passion for backpacking and the outdoors. He has wanted to participate in this industry for nearly 20 years. In 2019, he sold Rodelle, a food products company he was a partner in. Soon after, COVID hit, and that’swhen the wheels started turning, and the idea of Tellus hatched. It took over two years to get through the design and production phase. But we made it and are very happy to have successfully launched our e-commerce site in November 2023 and our
flagship store in the heart of Old Town Fort Collins, CO in December 2023!


You and your husband spent several years in the Peace Corps during the ’90s —it’s actually where you met! How did this experience influence your vision for Tellus?

One of the things that impacted us both during our time in the Peace Corps was
experiencing the daily challenges of people living in developing and underdeveloped
countries, especially in countries with extreme poverty and political and environmental
problems. We lived in communities where we were the only Americans and foreigners.
As volunteers, we lived at the same level as the people in our communities, the people we worked with, and our neighbors. It opened our eyes to how hard life is for many people, not just in Haiti but all over the world, and the lack of access to basics like
housing, food, clean water, and education.

We are deeply aware and concerned that the textile/fashion industry is one of the
largest polluters in the world, a major contributor to climate change, and known for its
poor labor practices. So, upon researching our entrance into the outdoor apparel
industry, we knew we needed to develop a product line and a company committed to
making products that would be kind to both people and the planet. This is where that
give-back piece came into the picture for Tellus. Giving back 100% of net profits to
combat some of the most significant environmental challenges facing us today, and we
do this by donating to three programs at The Nature Conservancy — coral reef
protection throughout the world, reforestation in our home state of Colorado, and land
and water conservation across the 50 United States.

What is the significance of the name Tellus, and how did you choose it as your company name?

Tellus Mater is an old Latin word that means Mother Earth. Understanding the industry’s
negative impact on the environment, we knew we needed to be thoughtful in how and
what we made our products with. One hundred percent of our products are made using
recycled and organic materials. That commitment to using more environmentally friendly
materials combined with our 100% GiveBack program to environmental initiatives, the
name Tellus, really communicated our brand ethos.

How did you find X-Pac® materials?

We worked with a local designer here in Fort Collins, charging him that all textiles used
to develop our product line must have a high level of certified recycled and/or organic
material. We want customers who walk into our store to feel confident that the products
they choose are high-quality and performance-driven and made with recycled and
organic materials that have a lighter impact on our environment. We were excited to
learn about X-Pac’s RX36 laminate, which is made with durable, 100% recycled post-
consumer polyester. We went to Vietnam to see some of our prototypes made with the
material, and it checked all the boxes. The fabric is high quality, good-looking, and
durable! It’s in all our bags. We have everything from a cross-body sling bag to two
different size duffel bags, and a backpack all available in two exclusive Tellus colors —
dark sapphire and neutral gray.

How has the reception to Tellus and your store been since the launch?

It’s been great! Fort Collins is a small, very connected community, and people are loyal to supporting local businesses. As more and more people come into the store and talk about it among their friends, the more people come in. So that’s been incredible, and
word of mouth is powerful. Our primary focus has been building support for the store in our local community and then rolling into promoting our online store second. We’re slowly working on our online strategy. Still, if our outdoor company can succeed in our backyard at the base of the Rocky Mountains, we can make it anywhere! The products we’ve created really cater to the Colorado community.


It sounds as though you are building a real community with Tellus. Can you share more?

One of the things that’s been interesting for us is that we’ve seen a very positive
response because of our GiveBack100 program. We’ve been working with local
organizations who are asking about holding fundraisers in the store. We did our first one
with a local high school. They had a class project called the Colorado Coalition. The
students were looking for ways to raise money for their trip to the Florida Keys to
participate in a hands-on effort to learn about coral reef depletion and participate in reef
conservation firsthand. They had three days to invite people to the store to shop, and
they benefited from the sales, which were used to help fund their trip, where they
worked in an underwater reef nursery cleaning and hanging coral for future reef
restoration efforts! And that’s what it’s all about for us, raising awareness of our planet,
what we’re doing to it, and what we can do to improve it. And supporting individuals and
organizations like these kids who are actively working to be part of the solution.
We love these kinds of events. They are all about building and supporting the
community, and they are directly related to our mission, our GiveBack pledge, and our
tagline, Adventure with Purpose. We recently hosted the Reptile and Amphibian Center
of the Rockies and plan to host several more fundraisers throughout 2024, including
Diamond Peaks Ski Patrol and an outdoor education program at Fort Collins High
School that connects disadvantaged youth to the great outdoors!

As a team, we are active in the community. In 2023, we participated in two local tree
plantings to help with reforestation in the Cameron Peak burn scar, which resulted in
1,100 new trees being planted. This year, we’ve participated in a river cleanup and have
plans for a seed/cone collection in the fall and a highway cleanup.
Regarding our brand and the brand ambassadors we choose, we’re focused on real
people — people who are actively doing great things in the community and adventuring
with purpose! When we look for people to partner with, we look for people actively
contributing and giving back. It’s in their DNA.

Thanks so much for taking the time to learn more about Tellus! For more information on
the brand and its recycled and organic outdoor wear and gear collection, please visit its website: