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Hemp (a variety of Cannabis sativa plant species) was a huge part of Deepika Sharma’s childhood while growing up in Delhi. Her parents who hail from Shimla, Himachal Pradesh were familiar with traditional healing benefits of the plant. In fact, Deepika says some of her earliest memories are of her grandmother preparing hemp seed oils used as a moisturiser and to ease her body aches in winter. She also grew up savouring the Bhaang Chutney (Hemp Seed Dip) that her 85-year-old grandmother would prepare.
Though Deepika has a master’s degree in journalism and mass communication, she took the entrepreneurial route by starting Hempstrol to spread the benefits of hemp in India and the world. The journey Jaipur-based Hempstrol would not have seen the light of the day if not for Deepika’s trip to the interiors of Rajasthan. She came across a woman who was struggling with menstrual cramps and did not have access to basic feminine hygiene. “I felt helpless at that moment and wanted to solve this problem not only for her but other women like her who struggle every day,” she recalls.
After a year of researching, product development and testing, Deepika introduced her first product Menstrual Cramp Relief Oil, which is a blend of Himalayan Hemp Seed Oil and Himalayan Lavender Oil. She claims the rich content of Gamma Limonic Acid (GLA) and Magnesium in hemp is effective in reducing various symptoms during menstrual cycle.
According to the founders, Hempstrol’s products fall under the guidelines of FDA. “In many cases, it has also helped decrease breast pain and tenderness, hormone imbalances and inflammation as well,” she adds.
The use of Cannabis to relieve menstrual pain is an ancient practice that has helped historic figures such as Queen Victoria of the UK. It is also one of the five most sacred plants, according to Vedic texts. Monetising the plant’s medicinal benefits, the startup has also introduced Hemp Extract (CBD Oil) and Pet CBD Oil and mask made of hemp fabric, which is priced at Rs 999.
In line with the domestic and international standards for hemp-based products, the startup operates on the B2B model globally and works in the B2C retail space in India. Bootstrapped with investment from friends and family networks, the startup has reinvested its profits into research and development of new products.
The entrepreneur emphasises on the need to develop quality products as “customers are willing to pay the price if the product works”. Additionally, Mayur Rajput, her co-founder and a researcher of hemp brings his knowledge of the plant and international business to the table.
Market competition and the road ahead
The startup currently caters to a customer base in Tier I and II cities with customers from Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, New Delhi, and Chandigarh and Tier II cities including Udaipur, Jaipur, Ranchi, and Kanpur. While brands like The Body Shop and Juicy Chemistry have introduced hemp seed oil products in India, the entrepreneurs share that there is little competition when it comes to CBD Oil category in the domestic market. “Currently, we don’t face any competition in India as only one or two companies claim that their CBD oil follows traditional extraction methods and they don’t display the right information about the plant’s source,” Deepika says, adding that they are currently looking to work with global designers to explore the hemp fabric industry. She is also happy with the support she has received as an entrepreneur. “The industry has been highly supportive of men and women who are open-minded to the needs of feminine menstrual health, breaking all taboos associated with menstruation.” In fact, most of her customers are men purchasing the product for their wives, best friends, and daughters who suffer severe period pain.
By Tenzin Norzom / your Story.
content courtsey : Her Story ( Your story)