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Why Hemp Is Still Controversial In America And A Challenge For Entrepreneurs

When this entrepreneur quit his day job to sell hemp products online, he ran into trouble with Facebook, Shopify, and more.

Why?

Hemp, though not marijuana, is often associated with it. While it originates from the same plant, cannabis sativa, hemp does not have significant levels of THC, the ingredient that gives you a high. In fact, hemp has less than .3% of THC; marijuana has anywhere from 10 to 30%.

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Yet, the plant is nutrient-rich, contributes to the health of the soil, and grows in drought climates well.  The fibers of hemp have been used for centuries to produce weaves, suitable for clothing or home decor items. Elements of hemp are healthy for the body as well, making it a popular health food and an essential ingredient in soaps and lotions.

Despite its eco-friendly nature, hemp is still not allowed for widespread cultivation in the US; rather only small-scale pilots are allowed in a few states around the country.

Gunhee Park founded Ministry of Hemp, an online marketplace of hemp brands, using his own funds, to promote hemp-based products products such as clothes toiletries and food. “Our vision is to popularize this plant and its applications among the mainstream,” he says.

Read the story at Forbes.com

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The Naked Truth Behind Denim: How One Swedish Brand Is Cleaning Up Its Supply Chain

This Swedish company is showing that ethical supply chains and commercial viability can go hand in hand even in the fast-paced fashion world. Nudie Jeans, the Gothenburg-based brand, is basically the Patagonia of jeans.

Though the company now sells t-shirts, jackets, and other apparel, they started with jeans. That is organic cotton types of denim, which come in dry, salvaged, and washed varieties in unisex designs. However, the brand has evolved in the last 10 years from just manufacturing jeans to one that rallies for fair labor practices, organic farming, and toxic-free dyes.

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While in the last three years a new crop of fashion brands have been talking about restructuring supply chains in textiles, Nudie Jeans began venturing down this path in 2006 — a decade ago, when the company shifted to using only organic materials. At that point, Nudie was only 20 percent organic. The founder Maria Erixon invited their suppliers to a meeting in Gothenburg where they broke the news: they were going in a different direction. Even though they lost some of their suppliers who didn’t want to adopt the organic cotton practices, Nudie continued. Four years ago, the company announced that they had become 100 percent organic.

When asked if fashion brands can be mindful and profitable, CEO Palle Stenberg says confidently, “Yes, of course, everybody can.”

Read the full story at Forbes.com.

Is The Future Of Non-Profits In For-Profit Models?

Ubuntu Made from Kenya is betting on business and tech, not charity.

Zane Wilemon describes himself as the “white guy from Texas who bought himself a one-way ticket to Kenya” in search of something bigger than himself. He spent the next 15 years, building a friendship and a business with a Kenyan minister, Jeremiah Kuria, in Maai Mahiu, a small town on the outskirts of Nairobi.

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Ubuntu founder says that business has to be the answer to creating long-term fruitful change in the communities.  Photo Credit: Georgina Goodwin.

Their friendship helped give rise to a cafe, an organic farm, free clinics and medical testing, a school for special needs kids, and a sustainable accessories line.

Ubuntu Made line is available online and in select retailers such as Whole Foods. Photo Courtesy of Subject.

Ubuntu Made is available online and in select retailers such as Whole Foods. Photo Courtesy of Subject.

Read the full story at Forbes.com.

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How To Start A Business With No Contacts And Little Money: American Lawyer Launches Shoe Brand

A former California lawyer and television host, Michael Paratore started a shoe business with no supply chain, no formal funding, and no contacts in the business. That too, sourcing from the villages of India.

Paratore’s story is movie material. In 2012, after having worked at a law firm for nearly two years, post a career in television at Current TV, Paratore was ready for something else. “It was now or never,” he says.

With no children at the time and a supportive wife (who had a full-time salary), he began on a journey to turn a beloved leather sandal, made by artisans in villages on the outskirts of Kolhapur, into a business.

Read the full story at Forbes.com

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Why Wool Shoes Are Making A Come Back In New Designs

With a population of 4.6 million people and 29.5 million sheep, New Zealand has roughly six sheep for every person. And now, the wooly beasts are helping drive a new movement: farm-to-foot.

Typically, most of our footwear is made from either natural materials (such as leather or canvas), or synthetic, petroleum-based materials (such as rubber, plastic or cloth). Few manufacturers opt for wool, though. Yet, unlike other natural materials, wool can absorb moisture, is breathable and offers a sustainable alternative to rubber, making it perfect for use in footwear.

 

Apparel companies are already taking note. Swiss brand Baabuk now sells wool sneakers; following a recent successful Kickstarter campaign for $170,000, the brand will launch its first US e-commerce site later this year. London-based Mahabis, which sells to American customers online, makes a wool slipper that transforms into an outdoor shoe with a detachable rubber heel. Head of content and partnerships at Mahabis, Alice Apsey, said the clever design has brought the company £10m ($13.1m) in revenue in two years.

Read the full story on The Guardian.com

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After Pampering Celebs In Hollywood, This Entrepreneur Is Ready To Take On The Goliaths Of Beauty

Celebrities don’t want you to know that they’re using other beauty products than the ones they endorse, Jean Seo, a skin care expert to Hollywood stars, says.

Seo has spent the last decade catering to the who’s who of Beverly Hills with her anti-aging skin care line, Èvoluè.  But now she’s launching a more affordable option, Luè, which is already available on Amazon and her own site.  Made of natural, and often organic ingredients, Seo’s new line is as much a business as it is a defiant gesture to the goliaths of the beauty industry. 

“Skin care in America is really messed up.  These companies have so much money for advertising that they make you think you need all this.  When in reality, it’s just an ugly cycle to get you to buy more and more,” she says.

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Jean Seo of Lue and Evolue, two brands made of natural, organnic ingredients, sourced from around the world.  Photo Courtesy of Subject.

Read the full story on Forbes.com

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Does A Higher Minimum Wage Work In All Industries?

Minimum wage increases seem like a great idea unequivocally. But are they truly good for small businesses in all sectors?

Dylan Hull, owner and CEO of Select Home Care, a California-based company that provides private non-medical care to seniors, says no: “I want to be able to pay people more. I really do. But realistically, it’s driving costs up to the point that many senior citizens just cannot afford to have a private caregiver at home anymore.”

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Dylan Hull, CEO of Select Home Care.

Select Home Care opened in 2005. Three years ago, Hull says that a private full-time caregiver would have cost $6,000 a month. Now, it’s in excess of $15,000 a month, making it an elusive reality for most seniors.

What’s causing the price increase, aside from just inflation?

Hourly wages have increased from $8 to $10 (and are on path to go up to $15). In addition, the state passed new legislation requiring caregivers to be paid for sleep time. “That means while the caregiver is sleeping at the residence, you’re paying for him or her,” he says.

Read the full story at Forbes.com