We speak to Maxine Shea who, along with her husband Mike, are the founders of Hemp Collective. Based in Byron Bay, their conscious and sustainable business does much more than just sell hemp hair, body and pet care products; is also contributes to the ongoing education of the misunderstood hemp plant.

When do you feel wild? What makes you feel alive?

For us, growing hemp and producing hemp products feels like a pretty wild ride! We are pushing boundaries to help people love everything hemp. This drives us to keep doing what we do. Really, it comes down to helping people live a sustainable life.

Our personal life is about connecting with nature daily; that’s when the true magic happens! It’s like a mini adventure everyday — whether we are sea kayaking, surfing, snorkelling, bushwalking or camping, it’s always such a grounding and an alive feeling. We live in one of the most amazing parts of the world in the Byron Shire — how can anyone not feel inspired to be alive?

When and what inspired you to create Hemp Collective?

Hemp Collective started from our own need for natural solutions. Nine years ago, we were initiated into parenthood. Our journey began with the birth of our son, who suffered severe eczema. We realised the foods and products we “thought” were safe were actually doing more harm than good.

About the same time, my health began to decline with chronic headaches, depression, fatigue and hormonal problems. I was diagnosed with a rare brain tumour. Western medicine offered more ultimatums than suggestions. Even though they operated, the tumour kept growing. We wanted to investigate other less toxic options.

In our research, the hemp plant kept coming up — time and time again. The statistics and clinical research studies were astonishing, including hemp’s medicinal and environmental advantages, but we struggled to understand why the world had turned its back on such an incredible plant.

As our knowledge grew, so did our love for all things hemp. We introduced hemp into our everyday life and decided we wanted to share this versatile plant with others. That’s when Hemp Collective was born. Our business is built on conscious, sustainable and ethical principles which have been well received by our community. We do more than sell our hemp hair, body and pet care products — we’re involved in the ongoing education of the misunderstood hemp plant.

What are some of the ways Hemp Collective gives back to the planet?

Many ways! By being eco-conscious and respectful to our earth. We have always lived, learned and taught others about sustainability practices by producing zero-waste, microbead-free and circular hemp products; by growing Hemp that absorbs CO² while it grows through natural photosynthesis which makes it carbon-negative, a natural giveback process.

The current throwaway culture is being challenged by consumer awareness of the perils of plastic waste, increasing our awareness of environmental issues and predominant need for physical and mental wellbeing.

What are some of the unique ways we can use hemp?

Hemp can replace almost everything, from plastic and concrete to cars, shoes and cotton. It improves body care, skincare, nutrition and even improves healthcare. Hemp could disrupt the world as we know it.

If you could imagine a new world, what would it look like?

My new world would ensure we were all a bit more “native”. Close to nature and supporting our communities and each other with locally grown and foraged native foods, communities growing hemp to support regional production, bartering and treading lightly on the earth. We could reconnect with each other and the planet in a much lighter way without mass consumerism and treat the earth as a gift, not a right.

What does a typical day look like for you?

A typical day for is to rise up with the sun. My family and I try to do a few minutes meditation and appreciate the day ahead, but like any young family we race to get lunches made and out the door for school drop-off and into the office for a check of emails before the meetings begin. Although every day is different, we meet with suppliers, other hemp growers, our distribution partners and support staff. We have a collaborative team of like-minded people who enjoy sharing, giving and working together. Mike does the hemp farming and handcrafts our products. We both work on new product development. I enjoy finding new ways to tell more people about hemp, so I am on social media every day and, as a professional photographer, I get very passionate about the Hemp Collective brand and how it looks to our customers. We swap days after school hours and our son helps out most days in the office. He enjoys being a part of our business.

Any beauty secrets you swear by?

I believe in simple, sustainable and quality ingredients. I find using hemp seed oil in our shampoo and conditioner bars does the most amazing things to dry, damaged hair. Because hemp is high in omegas, it really is a superfood and nourishes the inside and outside of the body.

What’s next for you personally?

I’m all about making a positive footprint on this earth, not only for my son but future generations too. My journey is all about creating change, educating people about their daily impact, helping them understand the alternatives to plastic and to share with others my experiences using hemp.

What’s next for Hemp Collective?

2021 will be a really exciting year for us as we expand into our pet range, hemp farming, new scents, plus new ways people can learn more about hemp.

For more, visit hempcollective.com.au