Brand Spotlight: Hemp Sheet Studios
It’s not often that you meet a couple of twenty-something-year-olds on a mission to change the way we sleep, but that’s exactly what Eliza and Karla from Hemp Sheet Studios are doing. With business degrees behind them and a whole lot of research, they’re motivated by their shared passion for sustainability and ethical small businesses.
The duo co-founded Hemp Sheet Studios with their partners, Jake and Jai, in their hometown of Lennox Head in NSW. From the outset, they wanted to provide a certified organic and sustainable bedding alternative that wouldn’t cost customers a ridiculous amount of money. I caught up with Eliza and Karla over Zoom to learn a bit more about their start-up.
Using their business degrees and Eliza’s major in entrepreneurship and self-employment, Karla and Eliza had the perfect combination of skills to get things off the ground. They researched their fabric options and their competitors, finding a lot of claims from companies, but not necessarily a lot of certifications to back those claims up. Determined to be authentic, they set out to find suppliers and manufacturers with certifications in order to build a wholistic sustainable business. They put out adds for suppliers, filtered through the respondents, and assessed samples until they found the right fit both in terms of quality and sustainability.
“Being environmentally friendly and sustainable has always been at the forefront for us” — Eliza.
When researching fibres for their range, they looked at various options such as linen and bamboo and even recycled fabrics, but hemp stood out as the obvious choice. It’s far less thirsty than cotton. It’s also antibacterial, antifungal, durable, and thermoregulating, so it keeps you cool in summer and warm in winter. Hemp Sheet Studios also use natural dyes, so the sheets are completely biodegradable. “Hemp isn’t what it was,” says Karla, it’s not thick and scratchy like the hemp fabrics of the past, it’s soft and breathable, and super comfortable (trust me, I have hemp sheets too).
The Production Process
Initially, the plan was to find suppliers in Australia, but when researching hemp suppliers, Eliza and Karla found that “Asia is the powerhouse for growing hemp”, and so a large majority of the suppliers were there. At the moment, everything is grown in Asia and sewn in China, but the team would love to move their production to Australia one day in the coming years when they’re more established.
Karla noted that, “the market for growing hemp here [in Australia] is pretty small,” but the demand for hemp is growing (excuse the pun) with things like medicinal cannabis oil influencing the market. What many people don’t realise is that different hemp plants are used for different products, so the plant needed for making textiles is not the same as the plant used for cannabis oil. Australia is just starting to facilitate the growing of hemp for medicinal purposes, but we’re a long way off sustaining a hemp textiles industry here. And no, in case you were wondering, the sheets won't get you high.
It’s important to the Hemp Sheet Studio team that their products are authentically ethical and organic. To ensure this, they only work with companies that have certifications (such as GOTS) and align with their values. Having these certifications was particularly important while setting up a business during the pandemic, as travelling to visit international suppliers hasn’t really been an option.
"Made to order is the way the industry should be heading" — Eliza
Now in their third month since launching (after about six months of groundwork), the Hemp Sheet Studios range is not only beautiful, but there’s integrity woven into every thread. So where to from here?
Given the antibacterial and antifungal properties of hemp, Eliza says they’ve “talked a lot about towel ranges and things like that for the future”. But it’s early days, “I don’t think we’ve even come to terms with the sheets yet,” she says. For now, they’re looking to tweak some things and expand their colour range, and also develop their understanding of their customers in order to develop future products.
As for their business model, Eliza said that “made to order is the way the industry should be heading,” so they’d love to switch to an on-demand manufacturing process with local suppliers in the future, when it’s a more feasible option.
They’re also wanting to avoid having a large inventory and excess stock, so quality over quantity is the goal. “Maintaining low quantities was something we wanted to aim for from the start,” but “suppliers make that difficult,” says Eliza. She also noted that a lot of suppliers have minimum orders, and it’s a “terrible environmental stain… having so much clothing [and textile] waste. There are consumers who want to make sustainable decisions, and there are companies who want to provide those solutions, but the infrastructure isn’t quite there.”
Where can you find Hemp Sheet Studios?
Thanks so much to Eliza and Karla for chatting all things Hemp Sheet Studios and sustainable business!
All images provided by Hemp Sheet Studios.