Meet Tessa Ghenender, Founder & Creative Director of Amber Fort Hemp Bedding. Amber Fort creates meaningful, artisanal and sustainably made products that will withstand the test of time while keeping you cozy through the night. Their hemp bedding is skillfully handmade and hand block printed by fair trade groups in India. Their mission is to minimize their carbon footprint, empower artisans and bring life to bedding, because who needs another cookie-cutter sheet set that is bound to end up in a landfill?
1. Tell us a little bit about your background and why you wanted to start a Hemp bedding brand.
I have worked in production for the apparel industry for almost a decade and while I love the connections that are made with people around the world and seeing a product through from innovation to execution, contributing to waste, pollution and consumerism always ate at me.
I started a bedding brand because I LOVE bed. A good night’s sleep is priceless to me, and it’s something I look forward to after a long day. I wanted to start a bedding company for years but was looking for a way to create something sustainable and meaningful with personality. I started wearing hemp and completely fell in love with the material and its many superpowers. With Amber Fort, thought goes into every aspect of the production process from the farming of the hemp, to the fair trade certified artisans that lovingly handmake our bedding. It’s shipped from India without polybags, and shipped to customers in recycled boxes, with recycled tissue paper in reusable block printed cinch bags.
2. Where does the name Amber Fort come from?
Amber Fort is an insanely beautiful palace located in Jaipur, India – the same city that the bedding is handmade and hand block printed in. Every corner is full of life, color and inspiration, filled to the brim with decorative carvings and hand painted murals. If you are ever in India, I highly recommend you add it to your list of places to see.
3. Your bedding is made in India. Can you tell us a bit more about the process, we love that some of your products are made with hand block printing.
I have always been inspired by hand block printing and was really excited to implement it on a more modern, sustainable material (hemp) when traditionally it’s done on cotton. We work with all fair trade artisans who are keeping the century-old Indian tradition alive. The amount of skill that goes into carving one of a kind blocks and then hand stamping every inch of fabric is just crazy, and I love being able to showcase it. Once the fabric is printed, each piece of bedding is handmade, also by fair trade artisans.
4. What are some of the benefits of using hemp bedding versus say, linen or organic cotton bedding?
Not only is hemp one of the most sustainable materials on the market, but it has a slew of properties that make it perfectly suited for your bed. It’s thermoregulating which helps keep you cool when its warm and vice versa. It’s hypo-allergenic which is ideal for folks with sensitive skin, and it’s antibacterial so it actually stays cleaner longer and requires less washing and water use. It’s mildew and odor resistant, so it’s totally acceptable to leave it in the wash for a day or two. It’s one of the most durable natural fibers, so while it will continue to get softer over time, it will maintain its quality and will last you years. Hemp is a weed, so it grows without the need for pesticides of fungicides, so while hemp has not yet been “certified organic” it naturally is organic and one of the best things you could have close to your skin while you snuggle up at nights.
5. Do you have any exciting new products that you are working on that you can tell us about?
I am working on a few really exciting collaborations with artists local to the Ventura area, along with the addition of hemp quilts which are coming very soon. I have been “wear-testing” a sample quilt for a while now and am absolutely in love. I use it in place of a flat sheet… when it’s cold, we have the quilt and duvet for extra warmth, and in the summer, I just throw the duvet off and use the quilt.
6. What does a day in the life at Amber Fort look like for you?
Early mornings and late evenings are dedicated to “WhatsApp-ing” with my factory partners in India. Because of the crazy time difference, we have to maximize our time to make sure deadlines are met. I run all aspects of the business, so days are filled with packing orders. Maintaining the website, social media, coordinating photoshoots and working on new ideas and designs for future seasons. There never seems to be enough time in a day, so it’s all about prioritizing to do lists and making sure the big ones get tended to.
7. If you were stranded on a deserted island and you could have any 5 things with you, what would they be?
Oh man…. Is it cheesy if I say a bed? I LOVE MY BED. Is my Fiancé a thing? A warm shower, a deck of cards and an endless supply of wine.