In search of a new backpack? Kahush, a newly launched hemp startup, is reimagining the look of hemp bags. Until now, hemp bags and accessories were known for their high quality fabric, but not so much for their design. Kahush is looking to change all that. Recently launched on Kickstarter, this startup from St. Louis, Missouri is working to bring high performing hemp bags for the outdoor lovers. Their products range from outdoor backpacks, disc golf bags, to duffle bags (and more!).
We sat down with Jan-Michael, the founder of Kahush, to learn more about Kahush and its mission.
What’s the origin of the name? Your backpacks all have unique names as well (Asa, Hennep, Dr. Hanf, Hamp, and Dr. Hamppu) – how’d you come up with those?
The term, Kahush, stands for ‘grade A’, ‘premium’, ‘number 1’, ‘the best’, while also playing on the word “kush”. For our backpacks, we wanted to come up with a naming convention that represented the global usage and impacts of hemp.
That’s how we came up with our signature line – Asa. “Asa” is a Japanese term for hemp. The reason why Japan is significant for hemp is because they have a religious tradition that requires the Emperor to wear hemp garments. These hemp fabric traditionally came from a very small plot maintained for the imperial family only.
We took a similar approach for our other bags too – “Hamppu” is a Finnish term for hemp; “Hänf” is German; “Hamp” is Norwegian, and “Hennep” is Dutch.
What made you start this project? What made you design your products with hemp?
“This startup is all about making a significant impact on our environment and creating a sustainable product.
When we started product development in 2014, we wanted to create an outdoor bag and pack company that doesn’t rely on synthetic chemicals for production. This startup is all about making a significant impact on our environment and creating a sustainable product. As we learned more about hemp and how it could potentially have over 50,000 uses and benefits, we got more passionate about this material. We also came across several other hemp startups working in various product niches that all shared the same sustainability goal. We thought this would ultimately be an exciting community to be a part of!
Some reasons we decided to use hemp were:
- Hemp can substitute for anything made from trees, cotton, plastic, and petroleum. (As a matter of fact, The U.S. Declaration of Independence was drafted on hemp paper.)
- Hemp does not deplete the soil like other industrial crops do. It can clean soil of toxins and impurities such as phosphorus and radiation.
- Hemp can produce 2-3x more fiber than cotton using the same amount of land and it matures in only 4 months.
- Hemp requires no pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides and adds nitrates back into the soil, healing our planet.
I noticed you guys are from St. Louis, Missouri – How would this business be of benefit to your local community?
Hemp is still considered one of the planet’s most important natural resources. Hemp products are in a high-growing industrial revolution. Unbeknownst to most Missouri residents, Missouri was previously one of the largest growers of industrial hemp in the world. Because of recent revised Missouri statutes, hemp production and cultivation facilities now exist in Missouri but in limited numbers and production capabilities. With Missouri being the former hemp capital of the world and St. Louis having the fastest growing startup scene in the U.S. we couldn’t think of a better home for Kahush.
I know there’s a pretty strong disc golf community around the US – what makes the Hennep better than backpacks already out there?
“We saw an opportunity to marry an environmentally friendly textile with an environmentally friendly sport.”
While we are focused on your everyday carry essentials, we saw the opportunity to create an environmentally friendly product for what is the fastest growing sport in the US. The sport of Disc Golf is growing by leaps and bounds both domestically and internationally. With disc golf being a great deal more sustainable than regular golf, we saw an opportunity to marry an environmentally friendly textile with an environmentally friendly sport. Fact – it takes 2.5 billion gallons of water a year to maintain U.S regular golf courses.
This also gave us the ability to show off our product design skills and show how incredibly versatile hemp can be. Hemp is a very environmentally friendly crop. Hemp requires no pesticides and needs little water, yet it renews the soil with each growth cycle. In combination with disc golfs’ eco friendliness and a bag made out of hemp, we could see this being the most sustainable sport in the world.
Where do you currently source your hemp?
Hemp, in general, is mainly sourced from overseas today because it is typically unavailable here in the United States. Our hemp is sourced from China where it has been legal and masterfully crafted for centuries. They simply make the best hemp textiles on the planet. Hemp products are in a high-growing industrial revolution. As members of the sustainable business community, we aspire to be a part of the high-growing industrial revolution that changes antiquated laws, and re-legalizes the cultivation of industrial hemp in the United States.
What advantages does a hemp backpack offer customers?
Stronger and more durable than cotton. Sustainable. Versatile. Ecofriendly. Antimicrobial.
The market opportunity for Kahush is to take the strongest and most useful natural fiber (hemp), and create highly functional bags to reflect our love and devotion to the outdoors.
Kahush gear features hemp for a variety of reasons. Stronger and more durable than cotton. Sustainable. Versatile. Ecofriendly. Antimicrobial. The vast majority of products in the outdoor industry come from petroleum based products nylon or polyester. Cotton is typically grown with herbicides/pesticides. It is a weak material unfit for most outdoor packs, and consumes a considerable amount of water to be grown. Animal based products such as leather are even worse, as it uses a considerable amount of resource to produce.
You’ve recently launched a kickstarter campaign. How will the crowdfunding help your initiative?
The roadblock we are currently facing is raising the necessary funds for production to bring these products to life. For Kahush, Kickstarter was the best way to capture the attention of early adopters for our brand. We’re hoping to use this opportunity to educate consumers on the benefits of hemp and start a new trend in the backpack industry.
How can our readers get involved?
Support us on Kickstarter: Kahush | The Most Functional Hemp Bags Ever!
For more information on Kahush check us out: https://www.kahush.com/