Here’s the deal: Hemp commerce is exploding. Cultivated acreage is increasing tenfold in the U.S. for the third straight year, and the worldwide hemp boom is on. This is, of course, wonderful, a sooner-than-expected realization of the blueprint put forth in Hemp Bound.
But there’s a Be Careful What You Wish For side to this miraculous development for humanity. Let’s put it this way: I finally noticed that more than a few folks, from Slovenia to Alaska, were asking me some version of the same question: “Is there a space for the independent craftsperson when this dang industry is taking off faster than even the optimists (like you) thought possible?”
The repetition of this question in fragrant Asian markets and less-fragrant United National media rooms spurred me to action. It is fantastic that ventures, some fairly massive by any standards, are poised to transform, for instance, our plastics into petroleum-free bio-based products. And I’d love it if hundreds of thousands of U.S. acres were cultivated as domestic biomass energy feedstock.
But independent entrepreneurs of regenerative products should be supported, is my view. I’m overruling my normal distaste for presuming to have seance access to the departed, but I have strong reason to believe that’s what dudes like Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin would have wanted. And oh does the planet’s soil need it (lots of farmers caretaking independent, regional economies with a long-term mindset, all while making a living).
So that’s why I’ve created Hemptsy.com. It’s an artisan-friendly marketplace for folks in all fields who create from hemp or other bio-materials.
After months of development, the purpose of this Dispatch is to excitedly invite such artisans to please start uploading your work now. You’ll have seven days to open your shop, make your artisan statement, describe your products and prepare your pricing, before we’ll open it up to shoppers.
In a week, I’ll send another Dispatch like this one, announcing that Hemptsy is open for business. The subject line will include the words, “Open For Business.” There, putative shoppers, don’t you feel like you’re in on something?
Of course, artisans can always continue to upload products after the launch. But that’s when the wider world can start enjoying the one-of-a-kind and small batch items by-then populating the site.
And thus the world’s sustainable gift-giving worries will be, I hope, over forever. Along with its hemp heart yogurt garnish craving. And with every order a hemp gift card is available.
Eventually there will also be a 15 cent charge to artisans for product uploads, a token fee that gets a product on the site for six months. But for the first month it’s free for artisans to upload their work. That’s by way of thanks for proving that a successful hemp industry means the success of the independent artisan as well as the massive operator (who, let us repeat because it’s true, is also a piece of the puzzle, if we’re talking about species survival).
I and Hemptsy’s co-founder Mike Lewis, a Kentucky hemp farmer, would love to see products from purveyors of distinct, handcrafted work in all fields made from all bio-materials.
The site will include everything from shampoo to fine art, salves to super-capacitors, baskets to clothing, chocolate-covered hemp seed to livestock bedding (did you know the Queen of England beds her horses on hemp hurd? She must know about the plant’s comfort and anti-microbial properties).
Here’s a sneak peak at the Artisan Statement from two of our initial Featured Artisans (a monthly feature on the site):
Slovenian hemp toothpaste maker Vinko Škraban: “We at Planet Konoplje hope you enjoy our Hemp-Clay toothpaste grown by independent farmers in Slovenia. It provides extraordinary cleaning and re-mineralizing power for teeth.”
Maryland-based handcrafted paper maker Elishewa Shalom: “I make artisan hemp paper. Each handmade item offers a story and connects consumers to the farmers and artists who grow and process hemp fibers into beautiful and functional goods.”
Meanwhile, in other news: Lots of cool Literally Hemp Bound events coming up all over the planet this spring and summer: Hawaii in June (for Hemp History Week, great work with your terrific hemp bill, Aloha State, that passed unanimously in both houses), Colorado in July, North Carolina in August. (If you can’t make it to Maui for the June 4-12 celebration, I have friends putting on amazing Hemp History Week events in Kentucky, DC, Virginia, Colorado, Oregon and elsewhere. Hemp History Week is a very cool and effective organization. “On-message” is the phrase that comes to mind.)
And coming right up May 28-29 is a really special one. I’ll be teaching a two-day, practical hemp course at Sterling College in beautiful Craftsbury, Vermont. That’s this month.
If you’ve wanted to know how to join the hemp revolution, this is an ideal practical introduction to the burgeoning industry that includes both classroom instruction (in hemp agronomy, processing, and applications) and in-the-college-garden tips from myself and my Vermont hemp farming partners.
Huge thanks to Sterling College (“Working Hands, Working Minds”) for making the statement that a major industry is returning to New England.
Sterling is one of only seven federally-accredited work colleges in the U.S. And the only one I know of with an active maple syrup farm.
Register for one or both days of this practical Sterling workshop – you’ll see on the registration page that accommodations are available, both students and general public are welcome, and the keynote the evening before the course starts is free. For students this is a for-credit course. No hemp/cannabis experience necessary. This is an all ages welcome, family-friendly event.
You will learn how to cultivate hemp.
Space is limited and the course/workshop is in a few weeks, so I suggest registering fairly post-haste.
As for the prospect of cannabis in academia (Oregon State has a great course too, and I predict two dozen within three years), I think the message I’m getting is, “stay focused on cannabis/hemp long enough and eventually you get asked to be a professor.” Which is to say, stay in school, kids (ideally homeschool), and away from alcohol.
See you there and around the world, and you’ll be hearing from me in a week to announce that Hemptsy is ready for shoppers. (Remember, the embedded secret phrase “Open For Business.” For now, hold tight, is my message to what I hope is a legion of motivated fans of the site!) As always, please feel free to share this Dispatch From the Funky Butte Ranch far and wide.
And to all the artisans who comprise this Hemptsy craft marketplace adventure, I hope it’s a wonderful success for you. You deserve to make a living in the Digital Age. I know I’ll be a customer. And I love that every product comes from the soil.
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A Few Other Notes for Hemptsy Artisan/Vendors Who Are About To Set Up Their Shop:
–I found it pretty easy to navigate when I uploaded my own books. And it doesn’t take long. But if any artisans have questions during upload please email firstname.lastname@example.org. In fact I figure you good folks will be helping spot and iron out bugs over the next week.
–In addition to uploading your product(s), don’t forget to describe yourself and your shop in the “Store Description” section of Settings on the Vendor Dashboard. Even a sentence just to show that you are a real person, and an artisan at that, who worked hard at what you’re offering.
-And a very important note: Before you are able to navigate the site (and this is only for this week), you will have to register as a vendor (since the site is not yet open to buyers). In other words, If you go the special vendor Hemptsy link I’ve been including throughout this Dispatch and immediately try to go to the home page or other links, it’ll just take you to a “Coming Soon” page. But if you first sign up as a vendor/artisan, you’ll be able to go to your dashboard, and even hit “Home” to see what the home page looks like, to check out the Founders Corner, and to peruse other shops. Fun times! Can’t wait to see what y’all have created.