Who is? Kentucky Hempsters – (from left to right) Alyssa Faith Erickson and Kirstin Bohnert; best friends, roommates, soul sisters – who fell in love with agricultural hemp after researching current industry practices and realizing how they are effecting our environment, economy and human rights. We could not fathom what the world would be like in 20+ years knowing how we are treating our earth, so we knew we had to make a change.
I literally stumbled upon an article on industrial hemp my freshman year in college (2009). I wrote a persuasive speech on why it should be legalized and presented it to my communications class. After that I didn’t think much of it until Alyssa and I were throwing around ideas on how to change the world around this time last year. We knew that helping to make a difference the rest of our lives would be the only way we could truly be happy. _ Kristin
I remembered her speech and something about a Henry Ford car that could withstand an ax blow. Making some joke about riding around in a hemp van and preaching about hemp being a dream job, we sort of just went off of that and started really looking into hemp and it’s potential as a viable crop. _ Alyssa
It took very little time for us to realize its truth. We thought well heck, why not then? We were 22 at the time, both just finished internships that neither of us enjoyed and realized we had spent four years in college with absolutely no idea of what we truly wanted to do. Both of us just wanted to be happy and wake up every day knowing we get to do something we love. Shortly after the pilot projects were announced, and sure enough one would be located just down the road from our apartment.
We knew it had to be fate so we spent our last college semester meeting with people in the community, farmers and members of the university about our plan to promote and help rebuild the hemp industry in Kentucky.
Initially we saw ourselves forming some type of managing agency for farmers, industries, and investors looking to work with Kentucky hemp. We created a small model and spoke to people about our idea, receiving extremely positive feedback. After a number of opportunities to work hands-on with hemp and meeting some influential hempsters within the industry, our path began showing us a new direction. In October, we launched our social media with the intention of finally having a place to share all of our hemp adventures and passion for the plant.
Alyssa: With a background in public relations, especially social media, I knew this was the easiest way to start building some type of voice. I went with what I knew and we started posting everyday, uploading albums, informational posts as well as other hemp related news and updates.
Kirstin: It was after we uploaded the album of our last day harvesting hemp the pilot project we had been working with that people started giving us a lot of attention. We had posted albums prior, some with us in the field, others with great people we’ve had the chance to meet, but all featuring hemp and information we felt was important for people to see. If we are going to create a market for hemp then we have to get people excited about it. A lot of people saw the album for what it was – a big moment in American history – ALMOST everyone seemed to really support us for what we are doing! It received over 700 shares and almost 1,000 likes so it gave us the opportunity to reach A LOT of people. We had people reach out to us in return asking our help in promoting Kentucky hemp as well as some hemp products. Long story short, we aren’t sure where this is going but we’re happy and along for the ride! Just recently we began working with the Kentucky Hemp Industries Association and have plans in the works for a tour in 2015. Our business is to promote hemp in every aspect possible.
Do you have other businesses? Right now, no. In fact, we aren’t really sure what our “business” would be considered now, other than some type of hemp promotional group – it changes everyday! But, it doesn’t mean we are necessarily giving up on our original business idea. We are passionate about spreading the message of hemp and that’s our real business!
What is your personal philosophy/credo, vision, mission for this precious life? As Kentucky Hempsters we want to encourage others to receive the message of hemp while inspiring them to seek their inner light and true purpose. For us, a lot of college was spent making choices that steered us onto some difficult paths teaching us some tough lessons. It wasn’t until that last year we were lucky enough to (what some like to call) “wake up” and realize our deep connection with Mother Earth and our Universe. As soon as we sought our purpose we received our answer – Hemp. Not only do we hope that we help others avoid making some of those same choices that kept us from realizing our true potential, but we hope that by pursuing our dreams we can harness and showcase the power of our perfect creator!
Day in the life of these Kentucky Hempster Girls? As best friends, roommates, and now business partners we do spend about 75% of our time together. However, we do have to separate ourselves for a while sometimes so we don’t spend TOO much time with each other. But honestly, I don’t think anyone else would want to but up with both of our extreme love of hemp, cats, and Netflix documentaries. We’ll both congregate into the living room where we discuss the day’s social media content, email responses, upcoming meetings and deadlines along with plan out our day. We want to be living and breathing hemp 24/7 but it’s hard when you have to spend time focusing on “making money”. It’s not about making money for us, it’s about being happy. As long as we’re doing what we love, even if it means barely getting by (which we are more than blessed right now, but if it does!), we will be happy.
Who is your target audience you wish to influence? As Kentucky Hempsters, we’re really trying to reach out to farmers, industries and investors looking to work with hemp in Kentucky and the surrounding states. We believe education and promotion will be the key to restoring hemp’s reputation. As we partner with the Kentucky Hemp Industries Association we are hoping to host multiple events across the state, providing educational and promotional outlets that will specifically target these groups. Between the both of us we have ties with allot of college students, and Murray State University we will be looking to get interns to help this upcoming spring semester. We are excited about working with students who are looking to get an opportunity to make history while doing something so positive. It’s important to us that we show students that they have the ability to think for themselves and can do anything they truly put their mind to.
As a brand we will really appeal those looking for Eco-friendly, reliable, cost-efficient alternatives – which should be everyone!
We provide a youthful, passionate and transparent voice for hemp to help bridge the gap between those who are educated and those who aren’t.
Social Activism? We would love to be a part of any kind of activism that directly relates to the green movement, cleaner industry practices and human rights. Both of us are continuing to educate ourselves on harmful foods we intake due to GMOs, chemicals in every-day use products, as well as the toxic waste polluting our atmosphere.
We really want to advocate for any TRUTH especially behind HEMP but also for everyone who thinks that they don’t matter. This isn’t about us, or you, or me… its about everyone working together to give ourselves and our children the future .
Your favorite books that influenced your lives? We read works like the Epic of Gilgamesh and Plato’s Meno Diaries, all pieces that broadened my view of spirituality, reconnected me to our ancient past and led me to start asking the questions that would change my life, “who am I and why am I here?”
A Course In Miracles , which became my new bible. Reading it was really a cleansing process for me. I found out a lot about my self, my past, my present and that my future depends solely on my perception of it.
Our hemp journey began with a few books like Hemp Bound, by Doug Fine Doug, is actually a friend of ours and his book is the PERFECT resource for anyone interested in learning about hemp.
Green Jobs “A Guide to Eco-Friendly Employment” Green Jobs inspired our idea to look into the green revolution; it really helped us brainstorm ideas for the hemp movement.
Any films; reality documentary, Indy film, Hollywood cinema in the past three years that have fascinated you with its newness, with its narrative-form, with its truth?
I AM a documentary film by Tom Shadyac was probably one of the first ones we watched that really led us to start seeking the “truth”. _ Alyssa
Surviving Progress and The Vanishing of the Bees really opened our eyes to huge problems happening around the world and made us feel like we need to be a part of to helping fix them. _ Kirstin
Hempsters: Plant the Seed that helped inspire our mission further and gave us even more validation that we were on the right track.
Kirstin: Because hemp will save the world! It’s ancient, a plant put on this Earth to provide for us – naturally! That’s exactly what everyone needs right now, something other than synthetic, man-made, toxic chemicals in products! The facts are clear, the evidence is there, and it just makes sense.
Alyssa: We’ve seen how hard people have worked to get legislative reform into place that will allow farmers to grow hemp, sometimes we feel guilty we weren’t able to be a part of that. But now it’s time we do what we can to play our part in the movement. We have the skills, passion, drive and knowledge to help make this something big.
We’re young AND BLESSED; neither of us have anything tying us down- we are in the perfect place, at the perfect time, doing exactly what we’ve been called to do.
Hemp for HOPE: Health, Opportunity, Peace and Environment. We’ve got nothing else to count on.
We love to connect with you all!