My blog is dedicated to the exploration of industrial hemp in America including the rich history of all forms of cannabis, the evolving law and politics of hemp and marijuana, the many products made from cannabis and the capacity, real or imagined, of hemp to re-industrialize rural America and revitalize the American family farm.
Three high-school friends are simultaneously working toward a more fashionable and eco-friendly future in Iowa.
Hasan Mujeeb Ahmed, Nick Gorham, and Sachin Sehgal, who all graduated from Valley High School in West Des Moines and currently reside in Iowa City, created the clothing brand Earthreads. Its Kickstarter was launched on April 1.
Ahmed, who thought of the name of the brand, said the name indicates everything the brand stands for — Earth, for eco-friendliness, and thread, for clothing.
Besides providing clothing, Earthreads also hopes to increase knowledge and awareness about the sustainability of growing hemp, bamboo, and organic cotton fabrics. The founders hope this awareness materializes into a changed agricultural landscape in Iowa, with hemp playing a more prominent role.
Former University of Iowa student Sehgal said the three friends decided to start the clothing line because there was enough to set it apart from others, including the quantities produced, materials used, and overall vision.
“No one has really come out with a sexy, sustainable hemp and bamboo alternative, something that really benefits the environment, instead of putting a Band-Aid on it,” Sehgal said, whose previous involvement with the Iowa Hemp Association helped him gain insight to the sustainability industry.
The Iowa Hemp Association is a nonprofit that works to reintroduce hemp as an agricultural crop in Iowa.
Sehgal said he wants to bring industrial hemp production to Iowa.
“As Iowa farmlands continue to go through crop rotations of corn, soy, corn, soy, it slowly starts to deteriorate our farmlands, whereas if you throw hemp into the rotation, its roots will dig deep into the soil and regenerate it,” he said.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, in 2014, President Obama gave universities and state departments the go-ahead to grow industrial hemp. Currently, Iowa does not allow the cultivation of hemp.
Hemp is a close relative to cannabis, which is widely used as a recreational drug and medicine. The trio said they’re steering clear of any perceived involvement by the brand with cannabis.
“We’re trying to go for that eco-friendly, organic look,” Ahmed said. “We’re not trying to go towards the cannabis route at all, because that’s not what we’re trying to show about hemp. People don’t know hemp is such a durable material.”
Former UI student Gorham said the group is also working with a company in China to procure bamboo fabrics, one in India for hemp fabrics, and another in Colorado for wholesale T-shirts. However, the group members said they ultimately hope to end the need for transcontinental transportation of hemp.
They hope to raise $13,500 in their Kickstarter campaign to fund a summer clothing line that will come out in May. They also won $500 in the UI Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center 2016 Business Model Competition.