“Hemp is a miracle plant!” “Hemp will save the world!” These well-worn statements have become so commonplace in the hemp and cannabis blogosphere that their content is almost invisible. What do they mean, really? Are they serious positions or empty slogans?
It depends who’s saying them. From the mouth of a marketing director looking to cash in on the CBD wave, “save the world” rings hollow. The same goes for “miracle.” It is not enough to say that hemp is miraculous, or that hemp will rescue the planet from annihilation. The potential of hemp must at some point mature into the reality of hemp.
We were lucky enough to speak with Rob and Bernardo, discussing sustainability, the unique challenges of hemp-made clothing and the future of hemp as a textile. What they have to say is enlightening for any hemp or cannabis enthusiast, advocate or entrepreneur.
Jungmaven: Hemp-Made Essentials With a Big Vision
Before the 2018 Farm Bill, before the CBD rush, in the early nineties, hemp was a thing. A small group of guerrilla brands used imported hemp to create everything from rope to apparel.
Robert Jungmann is one of those trail-blazers. In 1993, he started his first clothing brand, Manastash, followed by Two Jupiters in 2001. Both brands included hemp-made clothing and were accompanied by a conservationist message.
With Jungmaven, the veteran activist and entrepreneur has built a 100% hemp-made brand. Robert spoke with us from his office in Vancouver, WA.
“A complete degradation of our natural landscape.”
By the time Robert Jungmann entered college, clear-cutting had already ravaged Washington state’s pristine forests. “They [timber companies] just mowed entire hillsides off,” recalls Jungmann. “Then the rains came, and then landslides, because there were no trees and roots to hold up the hills.” Inspired by a third-year professor, Jungmann directed his energies toward conservation.
So when Jungmann talks about hemp as “a good crop for our biggest challenges” that “gobbles up C0₂” and “purifies soil through phytoremediation,” one gets a sense that he really knows what he is saying. That knowledge separates Jungmann from arm-chair activists; he’s not concerned with doom and gloom; he’s a solutions guy.
“Hemp can help make this planet a little bit healthier.”
“How do we make everything we do healthier?” asks Jungmann, semi-rhetorically. “I think hemp is one of the cogs in the wheel. That’s why it’s been my passion for this long. That’s why I keep doing it.”
With respect to hemp, Jungmann sees room for collaboration between CBD companies and textiles companies. “We need multi-use crops. First, you use it to make CBD, then you make T-shirts out of it, or make fire log bricks, or build a house. That way you get the most yield out of the crop.”
The barrier to efficiency is, according to Jungmann, based on the fact that the U.S. hemp industry is underdeveloped. “Everyone thinks just because we legalized it six months ago — all a sudden there’s a giant industry,” Jungmann says. “But there are no decorticating machines, no de-gumming machines, at least on a large scale, so there is no business here to do what we need to do.”
Ultimately, says Jungmann, he and hemp-advocates can change the game by educating farmers about hemp. “They’ve been lied to and told hemp is a narcotic. We have incredible growers here that could do a good job with it who are not being utilized.”
“People make change. Vote with your dollar.”
Jungmann (and his clothing brands) do not shy away from politics. Always practical, the entrepreneur sees apathy as the biggest obstacle to change.
“Everyone’s gotten really good at misinformation, so people think it’s all bogus, that they’re all corrupt,” says Jungmann, referring to politicians. “Well, you just need to look at how they voted. Because at the end of the day, that’s what counts.”
And then, there’s the trade war with China. The Trump administration placed tariffs on imported hemp, making it more expensive for companies like Jungmavem to produce their products. “We’re slapping 25% tariffs on hemp,” says Jungmann. “My biggest expense is the cost of goods to make the fabric. The tariffs increased that cost by 25%.”
“I moved to New York…into the fashion world”
At Jungmaven, optimism is aesthetic and form.
Colors vary between earth tones and rich red, yellow and blue pastels. Tie-dye t-shirts are carried off without irony — the right way.
Vibrantly-colored shorts come down two inches above the knee, encouraging activity. You won’t see any logos.
“People don’t want to be a giant billboard anymore,” remarks Jungmann. “They want to be themselves. They want to be individuals.”
(Sure, Jungmaven’s models may strike plain expressions for the camera, but it looks like they’d rather smile.)
Making a Miracle: “Everyone in a Hemp Tee by 2020”
In 2010, Jungmaven unrolled a bold initiative: “Everyone in a Hemp Tee by 2020.” The goal is to raise awareness about hemp as a sustainable alternative to cotton. It sounds like a good marketing campaign, but that was never Jungmann’s intention. “We never said, ‘Everyone in a Jungmaven Tee.’ We started this thing with the hope that people would think ‘That’s freaking awesome. Let’s do that.’”
Well, isn’t 2020 coming up fast? Jungmann assures us that’s not the point.
“I want to put a carrot out there that seems unattainable, but at the same time is exciting and fun and there’s a possibility of it. Something that lights a fire,” says Jungmann, adding, “Lots of companies are doing hemp t-shirts now.”
As his brand grows, Jungmann sees hemp — “one little cog in this wheel” — as a way to view conservation in a wider sense. “So, it’s kind of like looking at a farm: how do we manage this land so that it can continue producing food, so it sustains a family? Well, now we have to look at the world that way, right? We’re smart enough. We can do this.”
DopeKicks: Hemp-made. Water-proof. Sustainable.
In October 2018, DopeKicks founder Bernardo Carreira called for a brainstorming session. Late into the night, Carreira and his colleagues’ supply of hemp’s psychoactive counterpart ran out. “Someone said, ‘Hey, let’s smoke a shoe’,” recalled Carreira in a phone call with GLH last week.
Carreira had experienced a moment of clarity, but his colleagues weren’t convinced. “I said, ‘Maybe we can make a shoe out of this, huh? Everyone was like, ‘No, that’s crazy, that’s never going to work.’”
A year later, Carreira’s hemp-made, waterproof, all-purpose sneakers blew up on Kickstarter, securing more than $250,000 in donations. DopeKicks was born.
“We wanted to do something different. We didn’t know what. We didn’t know how.”
Bernard Carreira, half a world away from Rob Jungmann, operates with the same value system: backing up his company’s commitment to sustainability and environmentalism with real quality and performance.
“The vision of the company is simple,” explains Carreira. “We want people to have superior shoes that are ecological [environmentally-friendly]. The only way for us to actually stand out and help people to change is by creating superior products.”
For DopeKicks, quality is in the build. Re-purposed rubber makes for soles that balance rigidity and flexibility. Made of re-purposed cork, insoles are breathable and odor-resistant. Naturally-treated hemp repels water — as demonstrated in clips of Carreira’s friends splashing in streams and walking through near ankle-high puddles of water.
“Not only are they better than plastic substitutes, but they are also ecological,” says Carreira of rubber and cork. “And they don’t stay in the oceans for one million years. Hemp is stronger than cotton and better for the environment.”
Carreira has focused on quality for a reason. Hemp is expensive. Right now, DopeKicks sources its hemp from Canada and China, rather than Carreira’s native Portugal. That’s because Portugal is in a similar position to the United States: Anti-drug policies destroyed a healthy domestic hemp industry, putting Portugal back at square one.
“The most challenging part of the project”
“Hemp was banned after the revolution,” says Carreira, referring to the 1974 uprising that deposed dictator Marcello Caetano. “There was a miniature drug war in Portgual. Essentially, we made all hemp, marijuana and derivatives from cannabis illegal.”
The result? According to Carreira, “Hemp is three to four times more expensive than leather.” He pauses. “I mean, that’s crazy. That was not the case sixty years ago. Hemp was cheaper than cotton and paper.”
DopeKicks went through multiple designs and suppliers to find the right materials. “So we have a small world of producers to find a very specific type of hemp that is resistant to water.”
Carreira accepts the difficulties as part of doing something new. DopeKicks is one part business, one part advocacy.
“If we wanted to drive change, we had to go for hemp,” says Carreira. “That was a difficult decision because we knew that, at first, we wouldn’t be able to compete on price.”
So, is DopeKicks a luxury brand? It’s a tough question, unexpected in friendly territory. Carreira doesn’t miss a beat. “Our strategy was, ‘OK, let’s price it higher, have the best quality and whenever the market gets more mature, we can start offering even more competitive solutions.”
But don’t get the wrong idea. For a boutique item, made from 100% renewable materials and waterproof hemp, the price is reasonable at $109 USD. DopeKicks are available for pre-order here.
Bernardo Carreira and the DopeKicks team are optimistic about the future. Their first shipments go out October 2019, and they expect to make more shoes as worldwide hemp policy liberalizes.
“Fortunately, the industry is changing a lot,” said Carreira as we ended the interview. “I am talking to a lot of people who are starting to farm it and starting to plant it. That is super exciting to me.”
CBD Oil and Hemp Textiles: Let’s Support Each Other
Can hemp save the world? Is hemp a miracle plant? The answer to both questions is, “Yes.” But saving the world and making miracles takes effort — tons of it. Whether it’s full-spectrum hemp oil or hemp clothing, the road to success is bumpy. We’re all in this together.
To our friends and partners, we hope that you enjoyed hearing from Rob and Bernardo. We’d love it if you’d take a look at their products. If you’re curious, connect with them on
- Facebook: @weardopekicks (DopeKicks) and @twojupiters (Jungmaven)
- Instagram: @weardopekicks (DopeKicks) and @jungmaven (Jungmaven, of course.)
Until next time, goodbye!
- Your friends @ GreenLotusHemp