Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Hemp has been a staple crop for thousands of years, at one time the world's most traded commodity. In some ways it has a very macho fell to it, especially as it was the material of the navy, with up to 200,000 lbs. of it on a British man-0'-war in the 19th century.
Women have featured prominently in hemp going back ages to Cambri Formosa, a British princess who taught women to sow and weave hemp in 373 BC. Catherine de Medici was known to wear hemp, Queen Victoria used hemp medicine, and Mary Todd, Abraham Lincoln's wife, came from a hemp growing family in Kentucky.
In more recent times women have been at the forefront of the hemp industry's renaissance; Mari Kane and Candi Penn in California kick started the US industry, which went from nothing to hundreds of millions in revenues in less than twenty years...you've come a long way baby.
Pictured above is Mina Hegaard of Minawear, whose Santa Monica, California based company has been going strong for the last 7 years.
In the UK the hemp movement has its share of women as well, including Candice Meskin of Quintessential in Cornwall, Gail Dunsbee of Hempish in Wales, and Jane and Tania Blonder who run The House of Hemp in Cornwall, designer Bushra Sarker of The Hemp Trading Co. in London, and Jane Taylor of Positive News, who does not run a business but is very instrumental behind the scenes organising events and networking. Jane's efforts reach as far as Africa, where she has helped to get a hemp project started in Kenya.
Today hemp is not used much for ropes, its products tend to be more for the health and fashion markets, where a feminine touch can be quite welcome.