Delicate but powerful. Elegant and utilitarian. One look at their Instagram and you can tell The Hemp Temple has cool girl style down pat.
But this Australian fashion label is about so much more than beautiful clothes. They want to change the world. How, you ask? With Hemp. “We have a big vision to be a part of the change that is happening towards re-creating balance for the Earth and for the people. Hemp is the vehicle of transformation we use to spread our philosophy.”
And you can’t deny that a global consciousness shift is taking place. Sustainability has never been more prevalent — and needed — as it is now. And social breakthroughs like the #metoo movement have started really important (if not grossly overdue) conversations about womanhood. Is it a coincidence that a global move towards sustainability comes at the same time women are rising up, speaking out, and embracing their femininity like never before? I don’t think so. Caring for the earth and feminine energy seem intrinsically related... and both are heavily at play at The Hemp Temple; a brand you’ll love for their clothes and their mission.
Read on to hear from the lovely Isabella Gillespie, writer and co-founder of The Hemp Temple, her thoughts on Hemp, womanhood, working for the good of the planet, Instagram, and body positivity.
SVN SPACE: How did The Hemp Temple start? What was the inspiration behind it?
The Hemp Temple was rebirthed only a couple of months ago, so you could say that is where we started. Rebranding from Friday Hut Road to The Hemp Temple was the moment we really came together with a clear vision of who we are. Advocators of Hemp and advocators of ourselves, the earth and each other as temples of transformation. Everything else has been a build up until now. So, I guess Friday Hut Road, was the road we travelled to discover the industry, and we discovered a lot of ourselves, our vision and how we work together along the way. The inspiration was simply to be a vehicle of change.
What was your first experience with hemp like?
We were doing a market and stumbled upon a man in a little stall selling a few hemp shirts. He was a big hemp enthusiast and we learned that these shirts actually got better with age — he had been wearing the one on his back for about 50 years! We fell in love with the fiber then and there and began our research. Then one day, out of the blue, our maker sent us a sample of this beautiful raw, softly woven hemp; and that was it. We changed all our designs to hemp and began the journey of discovery that took us from simply loving the texture, to advocating the plant.
How does your idea of femininity inform The Hemp Temple as a brand?
As women, treading on the outskirts of motherhood, we have really felt our own inner transitions from being a maiden to this next stage of womanhood. We have felt this transition very strongly in our perception and awareness of how the fashion industry, in particular how social media, plays a monumental and seriously dangerous role in the development of a girl’s idea of self-worth and the social ideals of being a woman.
Instagram is a matrix of self-sabotage and body hate; it’s a breeding ground for negative beliefs because it portrays a massive perfectionism as the norm. It’s a very tricky place to work because what you post and the ‘image’ you put out there, is like a boomerang; it comes back and hits your own self esteem like a ton of bricks. This is a recent and tender point of power for us, really stepping into shifting the voice of social media to start representing the truth of femininity. Empowering self-love has always been the message we want to deliver and a new layer of our passion has opened to rewire our social conditionings which is all a part of creating a new system for businesses.
We have done so much work to get to a state of self-love and acceptance. We are 90’s kids, we grew up on the brink of technology, and not just girls but the whole generation, have had the floodgates opened upon them. And I don’t think anyone understands the psychological damage that is happening. How could they? This stuff is new, and it’s fast; it consumes our attention and feeds into our subconscious with beliefs that we are not good enough. So, for our styles, we are working on expanding the range of styles and sizes to accommodate for all women body types, promoting a body positive image. Our models in the past have happened to always have been friends, but we are now re-focusing to use models who are essentially non-models, but real people. Because that’s who our clothing is for.
Describe the emerging hemp industry as you see it. Exciting? Totally fresh? Poised to replace conventional fashion textiles?
I see massive potential in the hemp industry. We may not see the full face of hemp just yet, but I feel there is certainly a lot happening in the undergrowth for new and current businesses. Essentially, we are co-creating a consumer trend that has huge implications for small to big business. The quicker legalities for different countries shift, the quicker we will see hemp becoming a big part of the global community. I think it’s totally exciting! You just have to maintain the perspective that conscious businesses are your allies. In my opinion, everyone working towards making the earth a better place is an ally. We believe collaboration needs to take over competition, that ‘lack mentality’ needs to give way to abundance... and businesses need to start working in new ways, creating new systems, that ultimately have the same big vision.
"I think what hemp provides is essentially a massive purification and detoxification of ourselves, our bodies, our earth and our communities."
Does this industry feel like it gives women an equal playing field?
I think the equality of the workplace is heavily dependent on the company you work for who the leaders are, the integrity of their ethos, their own selves, how much they walk their talk. I think if you land yourself in a job that you really believe in, that your boss created because they believe in it, and your co-workers too; then the collective vision is stronger than social conditioning and gender takes the backseat when the whole group has all of humanity, and the earth in mind.
How important is it, in your opinion, to have women as leaders in this industry?
I think it’s super important. Namely because, as a global community, we are still insanely out of balance in male/female power roles — especially when it comes to roles of leadership. I still abide by the notion that quality of leadership is not based upon being a man or woman, but rather being an honest, transparent and eco-minded person who works towards constant self-transformation and radical ownership; and living an integrated life, where the vision of work is the same vision you maintain outside of the ‘office’. However, I believe that having women in leadership roles is crucial to inspire young girls, to show them that they are leaders and they are just as powerful, actually they are more powerful, than the patriarchy.
What excites you the most about hemp and the growing industry behind it?
Oh, where to begin! For me, I get very excited about hemp paper being a massive alternative to deforestation. The medicinal part of the plant is hyper potent and beyond incredible, but I am still a novice in this area. I think what hemp provides is essentially a massive purification and detoxification of ourselves, our bodies, our earth and our communities. You can literally live inside hemp walls that absorb the co2 you breathe out and provide fresh air. Hemp clothing holds the same electromagnetic frequency as the skin, this is why static is never created. So often we overlook the toxins in our clothing, our cleaning and beauty products that are absorbed directly into our bloodstream through our skin. Hemp creates a bridge for us to get back to a state of balance.
What’s the best part of your job?
The excitement of connecting and collaborating with like-minded people and visionaries. Also, the magic moments where we have been called to take risks and leaps of faith and we have been swept up in synchronicities and things just seem to work out. You start to realize that the work isn’t just about you, and you are doing something good for the world, that’s definitely the heart of it. I think this current moment is probably the biggest milestone we have reached, after setting down in Sydney two years ago with suitcases full of products, two shops, many markets and a total rebrand later, we are getting back on the plane to head to Nepal! We have hit a state of expansion where our followers have really caught on to the beauty of hemp. It actually feels like people have been waiting for beautiful clothing to be made from hemp for a long time, and now we can respond to that need. This will be our favorite and biggest project so far, as we are planning to get right into the heart of the community, on the ground meeting and documenting hemp and the culture of it for the Nepali people. We are also crafting up some new connections and community projects that give back to the people. So, stay tuned!
Who do you look up to as inspiration in your work?
It begins with the ancients, the indigenous people, and the way in which our ancestors saw themselves as nature and worked in co-creation with the earth in harmony. But the essence of what inspires our work is to ‘Know Thyself’, the ancient Viking rune that was painted upon the doorway of the Delphi temples. Knowing ourselves deeply, as interconnected beings to nature, to one another, to our past and futures is the cornerstone of what inspires our work. Our pursuit of self-discovery inspires our work, the desire to ‘break the mold,’ to be of service to the greater good, to work for something greater than ourselves, and uninhibited creative expression. People dedicated to their own journeys, to creating a better world, and truth inspire us. All things revolutionary inspire us. The Dead Poets Society and the beautiful work of Dumbo Feather and Womankind.
What is the most common misconception about hemp that you work to overcome through hemp temple?
The biggest one would be that you can smoke it. The whole stigma around hemp is that in the past only people who smoke weed and live a hippie lifestyle wear hemp. Our work is to disassociate the stigma by honoring the work that hemp does as its own sovereign plant. And also as an incredibly beautiful soft fiber. Hemp clothing has always been limited to a certain range of styles, that only really target that ‘hippie’ market. People also hold the misconception that hemp is a scratchy and hard material. So, we have really had to spread awareness and overcome the stigmas by presenting hemp in a clean, basic and beautiful way. Using simplistic designs to really hit a large audience and let the magic of hemp weave its way into the industry faster.
What’s your favorite piece from the current collection and why?
I’m loving the Astraea at the moment. A loose style off the shoulder frill crop, I love the femininity of it and how it accentuates the neckline. I love our staple colors because it gives space to funk it up with beautiful jewelry, head scarves, hats.
What do you want The Hemp Temple to offer?
I want it to be a breath of fresh air. I want people to feel like they are a part of the change! I want them to feel beautiful, the real reflection of their natural selves, and totally at home, comfortable in our clothing and in their skin. I want to offer them a chance to be a part of a movement towards stepping up and making a stand to reclaim our natural beauty, our worth and our power. To say ‘no’ to what society is telling us about the role we must play, how we must look and what the world ‘looks like’. That saying ‘that’s just how the world is’, it’s totally bullshit. The only constant is change, and we are all the carriers of that choice. I want our customers to feel free, to be their authentic selves.