Sustainable fabric and yarn company, Canvaloop prove running a successful Kickstarter campaign can be a start in changing an entire industry
Kickstarter may not be the most obvious place to look for funding but Canvaloop is an example of how it can change everything for an independent brand with a strong idea.
Global warming has meant we have all had to change the way we approach our shopping habits. Although we are much more conscious about plastic use or single-use objects, there are still plenty of hidden environmental horrors in our daily lives. One of the ways we can practise more environmentally friendly shopping is to examine our wardrobes.
Consumers are looking for more alternatives to traditional fabrics such as cotton, creating a new industry that start-ups are prime to provide for.
This is in mind, there has been a rise in the number of companies offering hemp products from underwear and socks to knitwear. But the path to funding in the hemp clothing industry can be tough. One way in which start-ups are avoiding the heartache of funding rounds is to apply directly to the consumer through crowdfunding apps such as Seedrs or Kickstarter.
Canvaloop is a success story when it comes to taking this path.
The company launched their first-ever campaign in December 2020 at the height of lockdown. They decided to start with a line of hemp denim products that came in three colours.
Shreyans Kokra, founder of Canvaloop said: “In December, we concluded our first-ever Kickstarter campaign, Slow, which was our jeans line. They are the world’s first jeans made from the wild-growing cannabis in the Himalayan region. Our team started work on the campaign in April, during the lockdown. Canvaloop is a B2B company creating alternative textile fibres and yarns from bast crops using proprietary technology.”
Their campaign proved to be incredibly successful by raising thousands of the $10,000 proposed. This was raised by 86 backers across 20 different countries who were promised some of the first pairs of denim jeans when the company went into production. It has subsequently paved the way for the company to put more items into production.
Shreyans said: “We started with a blank canvas, a novice team with no direct experience and a beginner product photographer. We managed to raise $14,000 which was funded by 86 backers across 20 countries. Our team at ‘Slow’ had an amazing time running the campaign. Despite the challenges that come with running a successful Kickstarter campaign, we believe that using a crowdfunding campaign is one of the best ways to launch a brand or novel product. It helps to build a strong community for your products.”
So what are the environmental credentials behind using hemp?
The fashion industry is notoriously bad for using a large amount of water. It’s accountable for 20 per cent of all industrial water pollution. When it comes to denim, Levi Jeans claim that it takes more than 3000 litres to make just one pair of their iconic 501s. This breaks down to 49 per cent used in growing cotton to make the denim than a further 45 per cent used by consumers in washing their jeans. The final 6 per cent is consumed during manufacturing.
Hemp offers a way out of all the wastage.
It takes on average 50 per cent less water to grow hemp in comparison to cotton. Hemp is able to bioaccumulate pulling carbon out of the air as it grows to help areas that struggle with pollution. This is why it was planted during the 1990s in areas such a Chernobyl to help decontaminate the soil. It is also a notably durable fabric that can withstand a lot of wear and tear.
For their ‘slow’ denim, hemp was an obvious choice for Canvaloop.
Shreyans said: “There are so many materials claiming to be sustainable but hemp stands out. It requires significantly less water to grow, no insecticides or fertilisers of any kind. It rejuvenates the soil that it grows in and probably has the lowest carbon footprint among textile fibre crops. It solves many problems that the fashion industry is infamous for.”
One of the performance benefits includes how naturally antibacterial it is due to the high lignin and pectin content in the fibres. This means it has less odour, reduced chances of skin infection, can withstand multiple wears without washing and has natural anti-UV properties that act as a natural shield for your skin against harmful rays.”
He concluded: “It is also one of the strongest natural fibres and is at least three times more durable than cotton. The porous structure of the hemp fabric means its extremely breathable keeping sweat away. It makes it more comfortable to wear the jeans for long periods of time.”
When it comes to sourcing hemp, Canvaloop turned to Himalayan hemp which grows naturally in the mountain ranges of India and Nepal. It has been growing without interference from humans for over 5,000 years. Natural rainfall is the only source of water the crops receive. The seeds are not sown by anyone either but by nature twice a year. The hemp takes just 90 days to grow in comparison to the 160 days that cotton needs to be ready for harvesting.
As a result, the crop grows faster, can be harvested quicker and has a better turnaround time than traditional fabrics.
Demand for denim will never slow down. It is estimated that on average, women own seven pairs of jeans each while men own six. However we only really wear four of these items on a daily basis. Most fashion houses such as Tommy Hilfiger or Armani moved into the industry making it more commonplace for designers to have a denim line.
As well as water wastage, denim is also responsible for a certain amount of microplastics being released in the environment along with dye spillages which have destroyed drinking water in areas of China.
Chemicals turn up in water sources near denim factories. This includes the synthetic dye needed to make the indigo blue colour. The Xintang river in China is now a permanently dark blue shade as a result of the dye in the water. The factories there produce about 300 million denim items per year.
It’s becoming more difficult to ignore the damage we are doing to the environment when confronted with blue rivers, microplastics and pacific garbage patches. This is why Shreyans wanted to work in something sustainable in order to make a difference.
“I got three degrees in finance by the age of 24 and went to the US for a Masters degree in entrepreneurship. I had a clear plan of starting a fintech venture or working for one. But, as they say, life is what happens when you are busy making plans,” Shreyans said.
“The idea of sustainability stuck with me in the US and I wanted to do something about it. We clearly see air pollution by the burning of fuel and the enormous impact of plastic pollution on the plant and Surat, my hometown is the hub of synthetic textiles.
In 2016, I started on a journey to make the most sustainable textile or fashionable material. This is how our core business of sustainable fibre began. We asked ourselves, what do we love as much as being sustainable? The answer was denim and that’s what started our line.”
It’s not just hemp that the denim is made from but nettles too.
Another sustainable fabric the company works with is Himalayan stinging nettles. Which grow wild in the same area as the hemp. It has similar but not as many benefits as the hemp does including being adaptable to different weathers due to being a hollow fibre and being microbial as well. The quality of the Nettleloop improves with washing.
Other fabrics include Banloop which is extracted from the stem of the banana plant which was considered a waste product prior to this. It is then processed into textile grade fibres and yarns using green technology. The company also use Pineloop which is made from pineapples although this isn’t launching until quarter 1 in January. Pineloop may present as an alternative for silk.
Shreyans said: “We are growing across all segments in both the fibres and our denim brand. We will be expanding our fibre operation in the coming months and also launching the denim line across the globe within the next 60 days. We will also be coming out with interesting denim options including hemp and bamboo blended denim and also a Hemp Yoga Mat.”
Cannabis Trades Association now under new leadership
The UK Cannabis Trades Association has appointed a new executive director.
The Cannabis Trades Association (CTA) has appointed Marika Graham-Woods as its new executive director.
Graham-Woods was voted in by the CTA board in November as executive director.
The trade body is Europe’s largest representing the interests of the cannabis and hemp industry, and the only Association formed to work with Government to create a legal and sustainable European cannabis industry.
Graham-woods brings specialist experience in strategic international marketing and market development as well as business growth and change leadership.
The CTA stated: “Over the last year we have become an outward looking organisation which exists to support our members, and their businesses by opening up the Hemp and Cannabis Markets in the UK, EU and further afield.
“The UK markets are set to open rapidly with legislative changes during 2022. The CTA is at the centre of these changes helping to remove the legal barriers to hemp and cannabis markets and enact legislative change.”
Speaking in a public post, Graham-Woods, stated: “I am the new Executive Director for the CTA, and together with my fellow Executive Director Sian Phillips we are changing the CTA together. I was elected to my role at the end of November…
“The CTA is forming the Industrial Hemp Marketing Board to organise and market growers, production facilities and the products that vertical integrated markets needs eh building materials and bio-fuels.”
In July 2021, the body struck a deal with a local UK authority, Oxfordshire County Council, to help it navigate regulations – a relationship is known as a primary authority partnership.
The partnership was formed due to Novel Food regulations on CBD products – for which the Foods Standards Agency, recently announced local authorities will need to ramp up efforts of enforcement as applications make their way through the approval process.
“Every milestone we go through as a business gives me a moment of pride.”
Matthew Anderson shares his journey from marketing to the CBD wellness space with the launch of his new business, RAIN.
Matthew Anderson, managing director of RAIN speaks to Cannabis Wealth about his start in the CBD industry.
Matthew was inspired to enter the CBD industry after it was recommended to him during a stressful period in his life. As he began to feel more relaxed, he wondered if there was a way he could combine his marketing skills with wellness products.
“I tried CBD after a friend gave it to me to help me with how stressful things were at the time. I had no experience with CBD and zero knowledge about it other than it was related to cannabis. It blew me away and I was surprised by how much it helped me,” he said.
“That was the beginning of my curiosity on a purely personal level. I began to realise that the career I was in wasn’t sustainable in a lot of ways. I had been interested in wellness and the area of CBD was becoming something I was interested in.”
By chance, Matthew was introduced to Harry Jameson, the personal trainer and wellness consultant. Together they developed the idea for RAIN. The brand launched in 2021 with a selection of three products including their RAIN cloud CBD pen, a balm and a candle. The candle is described as containing a “fragrance contains only non-synthetic essential oils which evoke delicious notes of the cannabinoid sensory experience… without unnerving the neighbours.”
Matthew explained the reason behind the name. “We liked it as it is symbolic of renewal. Cleanse the old and tend the new is our line which is what rain does. It embraces the natural world which is what the brand is about. Everything we do is 100 per cent natural in terms of ingredients in our products, even our pens.”
The signature product for the brand is their CBD pen which contains 40 per cent of high-quality broad-spectrum CBD with a carefully selected array of terpenes. The pen has a citrus flavour and contains terpenes such as linalool, citral and terpinolene. The pen design is sleek and it can fit easily into a pocket or handbag.
“Our RAIN CLOUD sums up the real essence of the opportunity we saw. On a formulation level, we saw the chance to make a product that is genuinely cleaner than others by using the best ingredients. The vape industry was lacking an elegant beautiful device as vapes were traditionally clunky, big devices.”
With his background in marketing, Matthew has a head start on how to position the brand or advertise. But, the CBD industry is a difficult one to advertise in due to restrictions and now, social media bans.
Matthew said: “Social media is not our friend in the way it is to a lot of brands at our stage. It is the go-to marketing channel for early-stage consumer business and there is no getting around that. We would like it to be for us as well and we can do that but to a very limited extent. We can’t put any money behind paid marketing on a lot of platforms.”
He added: “It can be incredibly frustrating when you are trying to figure out a strategy, how to scale or grow your business. You may not have the money to put into traditional advertising channels and PR isn’t a cheap thing to do either.”
As with a lot of brands, the changing nature of the CBD industry has had an impact on the products Matthew and Harry have decided to launch. The novel foods regulations have meant they decided not to launch an oil.
“The novel foods regulations have been the biggest headache for the business. We would have had a sublingual oil on the market were it not for that regulation. It has been a big frustration for us. We refocused what we wanted to do and hopefully one day we can make a product like that.”
RAIN is Matthew’s first business and as a result, he feels incredibly proud about what he has achieved. He has been delighted by the success of the business but feels that the reaction from customers has made it even more worthwhile
“As it’s my first business, every achievement is cool. The fact that people wanted to put their hard-earned money into the business I run is something in itself. Then there is having a business which is on the shelves in shops, including Selfridges as well, he said.
“The most meaningful thing has been the customers who love the products. The feedback has been phenomenal. We really believe in our products like our balm. We’ve had people find it incredibly useful for things like arthritis and I use it when I play tennis.”
“On a professional level, just about every milestone, we go through as a business gives me a moment of pride.”
Productive start to 2022 for Apollon Formularies
The company has secured new agreements, confirmed the renewal of licenses and has appointed a new non-executive director.
After ending 2021 initiating the treatment of cancer patients in Jamaica, UK-based Apollon Formularies has continued with a productive start to 2022.
International medical cannabis company Apollon Formularies has announced the appointment of Roderick Claude McIllree as a non-executive director of the company.
McIllree, who was instrumental in bringing the company to the AQSE Growth Market via a reverse takeover in April 2021, has advised, funded and run public companies across multiple global exchanges in several sectors for more than 20 years. He has specific experience in technology, mining, international logistics and finance.
The news follows announcements across January 2022, including the renewal of its licenses in Jamaica which will enable the company to operate its new pharmaceutical processing laboratory, as well as to operate consumer dispensaries and provide spa services. It also announced the signing of new agreements with Jamaica’s Cannabis License Authority (CLA) licensed cultivators allowing access to high-quality flower, working with Jamaican farmers.
CEO of Apollon, Stephen Barnhill, MD, commented: “We are delighted to welcome Rod to the Board as a non-executive director.”
McIllree currently owns ordinary shares in the Apollon, representing approximately 29.06 per cent of the issued share capital.
“Rod, a significant shareholder in the company, has a long-established career with a demonstrable record of growing small-cap companies and creating shareholder value of many business ventures over a long career,” continued Barnhill.
“He brings a wealth of financial and directorial experience to the team, and I look forward to working with him as we move our business towards the global rollout of Apollon’s product range and medical expertise to supportive jurisdictions.”
Currently charmian of AIM-listed Bluejay Mining Plc., McIllree has been a long-time advisor to, and investor in, Apollon. The company has stated that it believed his appointment strengthens its board at a time that the company expects to experience significant growth.
In July 2021, Apollon announced results of third-party independent testing of its medical cannabis formulations, which demonstrated they were effective in killing hormone-resistant and hormone-sensitive prostate cancer cells in 3D cell cultures.
McIllree commented: “Apollon is an excellent example of utilising research and development to help improve people’s lives.
“The compelling results of Apollon’s formulations killing cancer cells in 3D-cell culture and the upcoming opening of the International Cancer and Chronic Pain Institute in Jamaica are important milestones for the company and offers outstanding potential on many fronts.
“I look forward to working with Dr Barnhill and the wider Apollon team at this exciting time for growth as the company looks to execute on the various business partnership opportunities becoming available.”
Apollon expects to appoint further high-profile directors to the board in the coming month.