Meet 8000Kicks, the waterproof hemp sneakers startup. The friends behind the company started with one vision in mind, to build the coolest shoes that was eco-friendly, made from vegan materials, waterproof and still accessible to everyone. They may be on the verge of doing just that.
Hemp is actually the “sober cousin” of marijuana. It has a minimal amount of psychoactive components, and for that reason it is legal everywhere in the world. The team has traveled across Europe, China and the US with the hemp shoes, and all you get is a bunch of excited security officers wanting to take a picture of them.
In order to make this planet a better place, the company took a 360º approach to define their responsibility as a business. This means empowering customers to opt-in for a more sustainable lifestyle by providing a superior eco-friendly footwear solution. It means looking to their own footprint but also their partners’, to minimize carbon emissions. It means caring to protect the most needed members of the community, by providing them comfortable and durable hemp products.
Below is a Q&A with Bernardo Carreira, founder of 8000Kicks. Bernardo is a former semi professional football player and studied at Purdue University, Zhejiang University, and Emlyon Business School.
How did you decide to start 8000Kicks and make a hemp sneakers?
It all started one year ago. We wanted to create something ecological, vegan, and cool. We were not really sure what and how. Then we were all a bit high and someone suggested we make a hemp shoes. At the time I was not sure it was even possible. After a few months and many many suppliers later we finally found one that made exactly what we needed.
Our first idea was not to make a sneaker, but actually a formal shoe. But than we quickly dropped the idea and started working in something we would use. Something we could be proud and something cool enough to make people opt in for a “green sneaker”. A few iterations later 8000Kicks was born. 😀
What are hemp sneakers? Are the shoes made from actually cannabis?
So cannabis has two main branches, marijuana and hemp. The first one is the one everyone knows about, the illegal one, the drug. Hemp is the sober cousin, it is super strong, very ecological, and it was once a very important fiber that was cultivated by George Washington himself to make ropes and sails.
After WW2 and the war on drugs, Hemp was put on the illegal bag together with cannabis. Also the cotton and paper industry lobbied to ban it back in the day. Nowadays it is coming back. People start to understand that benefits on cannabis, both marijuana and hemp.
Nowadays Hemp is legal everywhere in the world, but heavily regulated for its similarities with Marijuana. Hemp is starting to be used once again to make apparel, car parts and many other things because of its big advantages.
So, our shoes are made of hemp which is a cannabis branch.
The apparel industry is one of the largest polluters in the world. How do these hemp sneakers prevent more pollution?
Great question. This is definitely a challenge. Here’s what we did:
- We choose eco-friendly materials instead of polyester and other plastics.
- We don’t plant trees. We plant cannabis. The more people support us the more we are helping farmers and this plant succeed as an alternative to other materials.
- Cannabis consumes 3x less water than cotton and it is soil friendly
- We use recycled soles from old shoes which would otherwise be filling landfills or worst in our oceans.
- We use cork insoles. Cork grows on oak trees and regenerates every nine years. It is a super material like hemp
What other items can cannabis hemp fabric be used for? Are there plans to make more styles of hemp sneakers and other apparel?
Great question. Ford once built a Hemp car that ran on hemp oil. George Washington would sell it to make sails and ropes. Lately I have seen shirts, socks, underwear, paper, but most of them very early stage projects.
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Grant is the founder of Causeartist, one of the most influential impact business platforms in the world. Since 2013, Causeartist has been read in over 200 countries. Grant has personally interviewed over 600 impact entrepreneurs from around the world, highlighting innovations in ethical fashion, climate change, ethical technology, impact investing, and sustainable travel.