Hemp. A four letter word (or shall I say plant) that holds so much hope and promise for US farmers, entrepreneurs and the US economy. A plant that has been mislabeled and mistreated for more than 70 years in United States society that many are now betting their whole livelihoods on.
The hemp industry has become synonymous with the same energy exhibited by industries such as cryptocurrency, e-commerce, and blockchain. Driving down your street you’ll see “CBD sold here” claims from convenience stores to retail stores to billboards claiming hemp can solve your anxiety and more. In my opinion, that’s one tall order to put on one plant crop!
That’s why I have gravitated towards connecting with people and businesses that are creating products that use hemp to solve problems instead of jumping on the trendy bandwagon and taking advantage of consumers in this wild west of an industry. Because I do not believe that CBD which is derived from the hemp plant is a one-stop shop for all of your problems. I believe it has performance features that can help you whether it is ingested or used topically but that what it presents is far more alluring - the opportunity to connect with our soil and the future of manufacturing.
Most people do not know that the US imports more than 99% of our textiles from other countries, including hemp textiles. The hemp that is being grown in the United States is not the variety needed to be grown for textiles. Furthermore, even if it was, we do not have the manufacturing capabilities to process and cut and sew it into garments that would be at a price point that American customers could afford.
When I designed the Anact towels, I was super excited to get rid of the mildew smell that had long accompanied my plush bath towels made out of conventional cotton (if you did not know, hemp is biostatic which means resists the growth of bacteria due to its molecular structure) but I was also really excited about educating Anact customers and our community as to why we cannot manufacture here and the history of textiles in the United States so we could innovate the future of textiles using hemp.
Since we are re-introducing hemp for the first time since 2014, there is very little supply which means there is enormous opportunity for innovation, automation, robotics - you name it. The sky's the limit to apply an Elon Musk Tesla style approach to how we manufacture hemp as we know it for whatever industry it will be sold in and tell the story of the farmers, the soil, the process, the factory worker and the problems that the end product is solving for you as the customer.
That is why I believe it is ultra-important to ask questions and thoroughly research brands selling hemp-based products before you buy from them to ensure that they are here to solve your problems while doing justice to the hemp crop instead of manipulating a plant only to land us back into the capitalist structure that exploits people for profits.
Hemp is the future - but only if we truly let it be without applying preconceived notions of the past and the thought process of “this is just how we’ve always done it.” Cheers to hemp paving the way for our next iteration of capitalism: conscious capitalism. Welcome, it is nice to meet you.
- Brianna Kilcullen, Founder, Anact