“I love everything organic,” says Elston Menezes, co-founder of B. E Hemp India. Three and a half years ago, Elston and his cousin Benson Martis decided to convert this interest and love for natural hemp products into something fruitful. They began to source organic hemp products in India, distributing them at flea markets and furthering the social cause of natural hemp material by facilitating awareness. Beautifully crafted dream catchers, wrist bands and ankle bands kicked off their idea, and it only grew from there.
During the start of their project, the brothers kept their day jobs and moonlighted as hemp entrepreneurs. Last year, however, their concept turned into a full-blown company by the name of B. E Hemp India with another co-founder, Sayandhan Halder, joining in. Menezes quit his day job to focus on his passion for hemp and organic items, and now freelances as a content editor and voice over artist on the side. Their products graduated from fibre to fabric in the from of clothing, hemp oil and hemp seeds. “The hemp industry is big in Nepal,” Menezes explains, since most of their belts, flipflops and other accessories are sourced from there, along with Himachal Pradesh, Jaipur and other parts of north India. With the recent legalisation ofcommercial cannabis in Uttarakhand with licenses for farmers, B. E. Hemp has begun associations with Pantnagar Institute, which is conducting research on the subject.
While a company that deals with natural hemp products and organic materials is a valuable venture, the founders had to bring their parents on board. Months of research went into building a viable business plan, and eventually their idea took flight.
The most recent phase for the organic company is hemp smoking paper sourced from China, but with a unique touch. Menezes, who grew up in Kuwait with a commerce education background, tells us, “I’ve always loved art.” As he moved to Bangalore, he realised that every endeavour of his life needed to have something to do with art. And bringing that into smoking paper, the trio now packages their 100 percent organic hemp rolling material with gorgeous artworks displayed on the covers. With the first batch being designed by Sonali Zohra, there are more artists to come, using rolling paper covers as their canvas.