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  • Why Hemp?

  • 4 min read 11 Comments

    The vast majority of our products are made in China and I'm not in the least bit ashamed to say that. When most people think of Chinese manufacturing they think of cheap flimsy goods made by under age, under paid, overworked employees that need nets to prevent them from committing suicide during their time off. I had these concerns myself when I started this company but I soon realized I had a lot of misconceptions and, in the cases where there were problems, I could actually help to change things for the better.  

    Lets get into manufacturing quality issues first. While I admit it is difficult to get quality goods made in China, I believe this is largely due to a history of pressure from overseas companies to cut costs, and factory owners willing to make inferior products to meet those demands. This also gets into a larger economic issue that effects most countries, that being a need for constant growth. In order to maintain that growth it helps to produce and purchase products that do eventually fail which keeps people employed to make more and sell more.

    I'd argue that this is disgustingly short sighted, and for me it's not the way to do business or run an economy. Yet I have seen this mentality even in some of the most intelligent thoughtful people I know. I once had a family member working on making a new type of light bulb and one of the companies main concerns was that it didn't fail in less than ten years. So they went about trying to find a way to engineer the bulbs to fail within a few years at the most so they could continue to sell them and remain more profitable. I have never taken this route and it upsets me greatly when our products fail, which they sometimes do (albeit at slightly less than standard industry rates). I am always trying to make our products last a lifetime. This isn't easy while trying to make our products affordable, but I am trying to make this work. This means working closely with factories in China that listen and are willing to put in the time to make a very high quality product so long as we pay a fair rate.


    One of our factories in China

    Which brings us to issue number two, labor practices in China. While surely their has been a history of abuse (much like in the USA in the early 1900s), I think China has improved their working conditions very quickly. Sometimes due to international outrage and sometimes due to good companies simply demanding better working conditions (the later sounds like a fairy tale but I know many people in some very well known companies that can attest to this). In many ways the exploitation of China and other countries is a double edged sword. In can encourage worker abuse, but it can also bring prosperity.

    Perhaps even more disturbing is the effect manufacturing has on the environment. So much of China is heavily polluted and I fear what will become of it if they do not put some protective measures in place soon. But I do hope that by manufacturing our hemp products in China, not only are we supporting China's long history of working with hemp (archaeological evidence shows that the plant was grown in China for fiber some 4,000 years ago), but we are also helping to restore it's environment. Hemp requires little or no pesticides, it actually enriches the soil and also cleans the air rather well. More hemp production in China will also free up areas used for cotton production (which requires much more area for the same fiber yield), those areas can then be used to grow food.


    One of the Datsusara hemp fields in China


    You might wonder why I don't simply import the hemp from China and have our goods produced in the US. The answer may surprise you because it isn't just the cost. For one, not only is it very hard to find a factory in the US that can do the manufacturing we require, but from what I have seen the conditions are actually equal to if not worse than the conditions in China. No one wants to hear that but it's true. I have visited multiple factories here and they are filled with overworked immigrants who endure long hours, chaotic cramped conditions, in terrible neighborhoods. Many of them hardly live any better than a factory worker in China if at all. It's really quite disheartening to see. While there may be some exceptions to this I have yet to see them and I suspect it's only possible for large companies that own their factories directly.

    Finally, on a more personal note, I don't have any more or less compassion for a person living in China vs. person living in the US. After all, these lines we draw on the land are artificial and we are all one people traveling on a rock flying through space. The welfare of the planet and every living being on it is my concern. If I can help the environment and the people of earth by manufacturing in China, then that is what I'll do until a better option presents itself.

    I realize many will not agree with what I have said here and I also know I still have a lot to learn. Please keep in mind this is just my opinion based on my experiences thus far and I might not be right about everything. I am very open to all comments and I hope we can all look to make the world a better place through an exchange of ideas on issues like this.



    11 Responses


    July 19, 2016

    My issue with goods made overseas and brought to the U.S. is the energy (oil) it takes to ship from point A to point B. The giant freighters that travel between the U.S. and China are really bad for our oceans and marine life. On the other hand it is insane that it is illegal to grow hemp in much of the U.S. It is such a wonderful plant with many great uses and it is sustainable. Hopefully when hemp becomes legal to grow in all 50 states you will be able to source it locally and cut down your carbon foot print even more. In the mean time I guess it’s just the way it is.

    Chris Odell
    Chris Odell

    March 25, 2013

    Leon, most of it comes from the Yunnan province but hemp can grow in just about any rural area.

    Eric, thanks!

    Eric Côté
    Eric Côté

    March 20, 2013

    It’s almost 5 o’clock in the morning here in Montréal and I was waiting to read something like that to be able to go to bed, it gives me hope! Long life to your company!
    “The greatest warrior wins without fighting.”


    March 14, 2013

    Hey man, interesting post… Love your products btw, is there an area in China known for hemp?

    Chris Odell
    Chris Odell

    March 01, 2013

    Thanks all (Mert, Jason, Bixen, Joe, & Ton) again for the excellent feedback and support.

    The line about the guitars made in Mexico provided a hearty laugh here heheh


    February 17, 2013

    It’s like anything, there’s the good and the bad. Obviously no law can stay consistent and perfect, therefor creating loopholes that allow political criminals to monetize off of the weak and poor. That being said, China is huge.. it’s hard to put a generalization on anything with that much population and economy structure.

    Good blog and nice read.


    Jason from artofgrappling.com
    Jason from artofgrappling.com

    February 12, 2013

    Chris, I’m really glad to see someone with first-hand experience blogging about this. I’m sick and tired of people slagging on goods made in China when in reality, China now has 30-40 years experience in manufacturing all of the worlds goods! This is including premium products like iPhones etc. Sure a lot of crap products come from China, but just like you say, that is due to pressure from the overseas companies! What I see from China is that they are capable of producing any range of quality from premium phones to dollar store toys.

    What you said about manufacturing conditions in the states is also something I don’t think a lot of people realise. I once read something on a Fender guitars forum. Fender has a series of guitars from Mexico and one series from the US. The quality of the US made ones are better, but perhaps not 3x the price kind of better. The quote on the forum went something like this, “You can have a guitar made by a Mexican in Mexico, or pay three times as much and get a guitar made by a Mexican in the US”.


    January 26, 2013

    Great post. It is needed from time to time that somebody says loud that the borders and the countries could (should?) help us to organize ourselves, but we are living in the same place, and when you do something really good, is good for everybody else.

    Inspiring words. Thank you.

    Chris Odell
    Chris Odell

    January 05, 2013

    Thanks Ton :)

    Thanks to you too Joe. It’s a subject that most people don’t speak very honestly on and I wanted to offer a new perspective on things.

    Joe Brieger
    Joe Brieger

    January 03, 2013

    Great article Chris.. You make some very good point that you wouldn’t read elsewhere.

    Ton van Mil
    Ton van Mil

    December 18, 2012

    awesome read, keep up the good work!

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