High on Hemp: Challenging the Cannabis Stigma by Illustrating the Advantages of Hemp
High on Hemp is an Australian-based company dedicated to educating, empowering and elevating brands, influencers and people about the superplant, hemp.
The company’s founder, Tegan Scates, began her journey into the hemp industry in 2014. It is her goal, her passion, to educate the Australian people about the benefits and sustainability of hemp and the products that come from the superplant.
The social platforms utilized by High on Hemp focus on current news topics surrounding Australian hemp, its sustainability and brand advocacy. The company works with a variety of scientists, industry experts, sustainability experts and nutritionists who are focused on developing trusted educational sources for their audiences.
Recently, we had the opportunity to speak with Tegan Scates about her company and here is what she had to say!
Viride:High on Hemp strives to educate people about the benefits and uses of Hemp. What inspired you to create this platform?
Tegan Scates: First and foremost, we are a brand advocacy program, so clients approach us about advertising their products on our website or social media programs. As we started to learn more about the industry and started to travel more, we understood how important branding, marketing and advertising was. A lot of our client partners were approaching us about running their social media, advertising and marketing campaigns. We started to step into that role, but it is a lot different to the states, as an example. Hemp has only been legalized for twelve months now for human consumption. A lot of the businesses stepping into this industry are small start-ups, so they don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars to pour into marketing. They are utilizing social media now because it is the cheapest form of marketing. We are hoping to see a change in that in the next twelve months as businesses start to grow.
V: Your company focuses on marketing and social media. Is marketing part of your background?
TS: I had done marketing in the past. Not a lot, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with social media, like every woman does. There are a lot of great things about the social media platforms, like the opportunity to educate people, but we have a lot of roadblocks. Advertising and educating people on hemp is still illegal on Facebook and Instagram, so people have to find ways to get around those roadblocks. High on Hemp, because hemp is in the URL and business name, we can’t advertise or promote anything on our page. Under the rules of Facebook and Instagram, we would be advertising a schedule one drug. That is why we decided to educate on hemp and cannabis, but also sustainability because that opened a gateway for us to advertise sustainability. I think hemp and sustainability pairs well together. Having hemp in our business name made it a little more difficult for us, so we must be very smart about the way we try to sponsor and advertise our posts, which has been quite difficult. We try to focus on organic growth, but our social pages are our largest media platforms and it has been a bit of a struggle for us.
V: High on Hemp sounds like an awesome place to work. What kind of team have you put together that’s contributed to its success?
TS: We have a team of freelancers that work for us from designers to writers. We are also hoping to do more blogs next year and create readable pieces that include the work of scientists who have been studying the hemp plant. That is our focus for next year, pairing scientists with writers and bloggers and creating thought pieces for people to read to bring more credibility to the High on Hemp website, which is important for us. In terms of what is going on in the hemp industry, no one else is doing what we are at the moment and we want to make sure all the information that is in media about cannabis and industrial hemp is true and credible. I think overall, that is one of the biggest issues with the industry so far is that people are putting out information that isn’t necessarily true. We plan to align ourselves with the right people, so we can create pieces people can trust and find credible.
V: Your platform helps to elevate and educate consumers as well as giving a voice/platform to businesses that use Hemp in their products. How does your company choose which Hemp based products they will promote? For example, do you only represent companies that ethically source their products and use the cleanest processes to extract Hemp?
TS: We align ourselves with brands that essentially live and breathe the same ethos as us. In terms of the selection process, the companies we work with, relationships are key for us. People we see as being big players in the industry, not just for a short period of time. We are looking for people who want to be in this business for a long period of time. As the market continues to grow, we need to find people who have business plans and supply chains in place to be in this game for a long time. That is our focus when we are working for people. We want to believe they are going to be in the industry for a long time. However, in Australia, the infrastructure is a lot different to the states. For example, hemp extraction or dehulling, we only have a handful of hemp hullers here in Australia. Our infrastructure is still very, very small. Once the industry starts to grow, we will have more of an idea as to who is going to be in this industry for a long time.
V: Are you exclusively representing people in Australia for now?
TS: We support Australian businesses and try to make that our focus, but at the same time, one of the biggest issues in the industry here is it is still in its infancy and we haven’t seen much in the way of product innovation. Currently, the market is saturated with bulk hemp oil, hemp protein and hemp oil in a five-hundred to one kilo bag. In terms of innovation, there isn’t much happening. Two years ago, we aligned ourselves with Manitoba Harvest, which is one of the largest hemp companies in the world. They create a range of products that are built for the on the go consumer, which Australians very much are. They create everything from hemp snacks to protein bars. We aligned ourselves with them and they are now selling their product throughout Australia and we are providing them with some seasonal content that they can use here in Australia to market. Also, educating them as well on the Australian market and how to market here in Australia was important. We are building an influential marketplace for them to use when they come to Australia.
V: It seems the world is slowly working on legalization of cannabis from medical to recreational, CBD and hemp. Do you see cannabis legalization happening in Australia?
TS: In terms of medical or medicinal cannabis, it is available here in Australia through prescription and certain GPs (Doctors). It is only in certain states, and there is a lot of trailing that is happening through universities as well in Australia. In terms of recreationally, there is a big question mark around that here in Australia. Personally, I don’t believe there will be a dispensary set up like you would see in the United States. I don’t see it working logistically. I think there is a long road to go until we get to that point. I believe it will happen, but the way in which it happens will be different from how the other countries have done it so far. We have to learn from the mistakes of other countries. I tis confusing that it isn’t legal in one state but is another and people can’t cross boarders with it. Since Australia is smaller, I think it will work, we just must use the same infrastructure we have here in Australia.
V: What kind of products do the companies you represent produce?
TS: We specialize in four different industries: Food, fashion, home and beauty. Everything that we work with is just industrial hemp. That is all we have available in terms of CBD, it is still considered illegal except through prescriptions. We have had a great start in educating people in what industrial hemp is, so we can then education them on CBD, and move into educating people on medicinal cannabis. The way we are structured is great from an educational perspective. We are taking the people in Australia on a journey because we are starting with industrial hemp.
V: How do you think the people in Australia feel regarding these changes?
TS: People in Australia are not aware of the products available, like the CBD bath bombs and transdermal patches available in the united states. People don’t associate those products with cannabis or hemp. I see it essentially as a wellness product that can be used on a daily basis. When I tell people, you can sit in a bath that has CBD in it for people who suffer from pain, they are surprised by this. That is probably what will happen next in Australia. Those products will become available from an activated hemp extract. People will be shocked when they come because they don’t associate those products with cannabis or hemp. I think it is the lack of education here in Australia as those products being available is what our biggest issue is.
V: Education and having access to correct, scientific information is incredibly important, especially in a developing industry. With there being an overwhelming amount of information on everything from hemp to cannabis, what do you think will be the best way to educate the people of Australia?
TS: There is a wealth of information out there. I’ve been in this industry for four years and continue to learn something new every day. I think information in small increments is the best way to give people information so that they aren’t overwhelmed. As more people enter into this industry, which I like to call the hemp rat race, very quickly people can figure out who is in it for the long run and who is in it to make money. In the first meeting, you can tell if people are passionate about the product and its benefits or the fact that it is a billion-dollar industry. I look for brands that are for the people and are ‘people people’ and it is important we align ourselves with the right companies from the beginning.
V: Do you have anything exciting or new you plan on working toward in 2019?
TS: Next year, we really want to focus our time on the marketing and advertising in the agency. More people are going to have money to invest in the industry next year. The last couple of months we have been lucky enough to work on the first hemp related billboards here in Australia. We had eight billboards which were slightly controversial in that we really played on its association with cannabis. We used cute photos of dogs and it has people curious enough to start having conversations. I think for the next year it is important to grow the agency side of the business. There is a lot happening in terms of brands we are working on and representing next year. I can’t go into detail on that at the moment, but we are working on some cool brands and are very excited about them and bringing them into Australia. Activated hemp extracts are the next step, followed by CBD products.