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A Brief History of THP

Hello, and welcome to The Hemp Project's first-ever blog post. We are launching this blog as a way to complement what we have been doing on other channels, mainly Instagram. It's as a way for us to connect with our followers, and have a platform for us to dive deeper into topics that would otherwise be hard to cover in an Instagram caption. For those of you not finding us through our Instagram channel, you can find us @the_hemp_project.

This particular post will serve as an introduction into who is behind The Hemp Project, why did we start it, and what we have done so far. So without further ado, let's get into it. 

The Hemp Project is run by two of its founders, Markus and myself (Ben). It wasn't always this constellation, in fact, the project has seen many contributors, more on this shortly. Markus is from Cologne, Germany, and I come from Melbourne, Australia. However, we both currently reside in Cologne. 

When we aren't trying to spread hemp, we can be found making music, playing sports, spending time in Cologne's parks, gardening or travelling. 

Markus (right) and I (back) playing in a Spikeball competition in France

The first seed, so to speak, of the Hemp Project, was between Markus and me when we were discussing different ways we could have an impact. We were unsatisfied with our current career paths which we felt weren't having a positive effect. I was a Software Salesman at the time, which had me wanting to do more.

Markus had started telling me about hemp. I had heard a few things from some podcasts I'd listened to years ago, but it hadn't entirely left the impression that Markus was making now. Markus spent his formative years around industrial hemp, working at the European Industrial Hemp Association's Conference in Germany.

  "this can do what?!" - Ben

When I found out how many different uses it had, and how sustainable it was compared to some of the alternatives that we used - I was dumbfounded. It almost offended me in a way. I considered myself pretty well informed, and yet at 27 years old, I was just finding out about a plant that had thousands of viable uses, that was far better for the environment than what we currently use. There didn't seem to be a good reason why it wasn’t a household name. We decided that hemp was very relevant to a growing trend within our generation and broader society, to litter less, use fewer chemicals, and treat the environment in a gentler way. We thought this was something more people would care about if they had the opportunity to hear about it. Thus began our project.

This wasn't something that the two of us started alone. We ended up recruiting another five friends to join us. We began by first testing if anyone was actually interested in learning about hemp. We knew we could get someone excited one on one, but that wasn't scalable. We are all kids of the internet and more recently, social media, so we knew the power that these platforms had to spread a message globally. We began simply by posting facts about hemp on our Instagram channel to see if anyone out there appreciated it.

Our original Hemp Project Instagram page 

The response from Instagram was quite amazing. We had many positive interactions. People really did enjoy learning about hemp! This motivation pushed us forward. Pretty quickly, we realised that there was way more knowledge than what was currently circulating around Instagram. We knew we would need to start diving into scientific papers to find more and more information. It was at this point that we expanded our group further. We began reading scientific papers to convert what was often quite heavy scientific language into digestible information for the non-scientific community. We were blessed to have many biologists in our group that were a great help in this area.

The (Original) Hemp Project Collective + Banner!

As this continued, we had weekly meetings and workshop days and we kept distributing as much helpful information on hemp as we could online. We then decided to spread our hemp knowledge in person around Cologne. We published flyers and circulated them at various festivals and shops around Cologne to try and start a conversation about hemp. As I think back, probably the highlight of our' boots on the ground' work was when we gave an informative talk at one of the street festivals in the city. It wasn't a huge building that we were in, but we had people lining up outside the door to try to get in and listen. It was great to see the hunger that people had to learn more.  

Early on we got together and decided on what we were trying to achieve:

To educate people on the benefits of hemp and make it easy for everyone to easily incorporate hemp into their lives. 

We were definitely doing a lot of educating, both on social media and in-person. Still, we knew we wanted to bring hemp to the people, not just hemp knowledge. 

In late 2019, the group met to discuss the project as a whole and how we could best move forward to maximise the reach and the impact it had. Unanimously we decided the best way forward was to move from being a part-time hobby to a fulltime business. At this time, with the blessing of the group, Markus and I took over running The Hemp Project fulltime. We are grateful to have this vast network of friends who have spent many days and nights supporting the project.

In today's global marketplace, there are countless ways to source and sell a product reasonably quickly. We didn't just want any white-labelled product, we wanted something unique, sustainable and ethical. This is where we challenged ourselves. 

We wanted our product to fulfil the following criteria:

1. Be easily accessible for people to purchase
2. Demonstrate hemp's strengths and benefits over conventional materials
3. Be a significant environmental improvement over the alternative

While there are many things that met this criterion we felt that clothing, in particular, ‘basics’ would be the best area to move into. 

Everyone buys clothes (many people even buy too many clothes), hemp fabric is far superior to regular cotton and it is much better for the planet than what most brands offer. 

We’ve spent over a year now working with suppliers, testing, prototyping, trying to perfect our Hemp T-shirt and bring to the market. And this is where we are at now. 

One of our Hemp T-Shirt Prototypes - not quite finished!

Going forward this blog will cover a range of topics including; Industrial Hemp (of course), more details of the project as well as peripheral topics such as sustainability, fashion, minimalism, and entrepreneurship. 

We hope you enjoyed our first post. Feel free to share, recommend to a friend or leave any thoughts and questions in the comments below, and we will respond.