I love luxury fabrics and linens. It’s a secret passion of mine, finding the best and enjoying the creativity in the home. Sarah Harf, featured in this piece works with luxury materials. But what would you say if I told you that her luxury materials are from Hemp? No, you can’t get stoned on them if they should burn. My late step-father would always lament that the best sailboat lines were made of hemp, but during his lifetime you couldn’t buy them in the United States because Hemp was illegal. He would buy the lines in place that were under a British flag, like the BVI. The nylon ones didn’t hold up, and when they broke they were impossible to fix at sea. Hemp cordage for yachts not only last a long time, but they are extremely durable in salt water conditions. And should a line break, repairing it is very simple, just tie a knot! The natural fibers of Hemp attach themselves like magic, no fire at sea required to repair a plastic line. Because Hemp is natural and sailing vessels have used Hemp lines for hundreds of years. My step dad used to complain in no uncertain terms that if you put some Hemp sailboat line in a pipe, (and) try to smoke it, all that you’ll get is a headache. So why is it illegal?
The answer to that is in timing. Hemp sailboat lines are now legal, no smoking necessary! And Hemp fabrics? Durable, colorful and robust. They outlast cotton versions of the same product and they retain their color more vividly than their cotton brethren. Natural fabrics, absolutely, but far more durable than regular cloth. Sarah is on to something here with her brilliant Hemp design company, MoonCloth Designs.
WB= Warren Bobrow: Where are you from? What was it like growing up in California?
SH= Sarah Harf: I grew up in beautiful Sonoma, California which means Valley of the Moon in the Native American tribal languages of Miwok and Wintun. My parents are hardworking New Yorkers who left the East Coast to raise a family in the West. They landed in the town of Sonoma 32 years ago. It was when the wine and hospitality industry was just getting started so it was a fruitful time and really magical place to grow up. I remember riding my bike home late at night, looking up at the moon and smelling the grapes being harvested. The fresh harvest grape smell fills the crisp evening September air and it’s a deep scent experience that will always be with me. I was definitely a Nor-cal creative kid who loved being in nature and could not get enough of it. At the same time, I grew up with my 2 younger sisters in a New York driven household and spent a lot of time back East. It was a great balance and I was very lucky to grow up in such a nurturing environment.
WB: Tell me about your dreams for hemp? How did you come to working with this plant?
SH: Growing up in Northern California I was always around the cannabis, wine and hospitality industry. Believe it or not, I use to work and trim on cannabis farms when I would come back from college in the summer and needed to make some extra money. I saw and experienced the cannabis industry as a drug industry. To this day even with legalization, I still feel it’s very much a drug driven by the pharmaceutical industry that has the potential to do great things but I feel there is much more sustainable good that it’s cousin hemp can bring to the world. I have worked most of my career within creative innovation and in design teams within the brand agency world. I was very lucky to receive exposure to lots of different industries and learn the power of how brands can live across digital / physical environments. I saw an opportunity to help bring brands into the physical spaces and starting working more within brand events and experiences through interior design. I always had a deep entrepreneurial drive and passion for sustainability but was not sure how it would unfold or when. I took some time off from doing corporate creative work and spent two summers traveling through Europe and getting inspiration for hospitality. 2016, the cannabis industry was starting to go through it’s legalization journey in California. I knew with time it would open up the doors to hemp to really thrive to be one of the biggest industries we have ever seen. I started doing a lot of research about hemp and all its sustainable possibilities and applications. Hemp is naturally resistant to mold and ultraviolet light. Hemp takes 50% less water to grow and produce compared to cotton + bamboo. This alone makes hemp a great green industrial resource. I started prototyping small products and doing small runs of product manufacturing with local teams. I felt hotels would be a great entry place to start and test the design and applications. Hospitality is also in desperate need of being more sustainable and eco luxury bespoke hemp designs can bring marketing brand value advantages that hotels can use against its competitors.
People are finally starting to learn about what else hemp can do and the opportunity it has to be a sustainable regenerative material that can be used for 1000s of product applications: Textiles, hempcrete, bio plastics, bio fuel, wellness ingredients and more. I have always been passionate about space design and how powerful our day to day design elements impact our lives and our relationships with spaces. I believe true wellness starts with our environments. Many people have no idea how things are made and all the toxins that go into the materials, how plastic is in almost everything and how many chemicals are used and make up most of our environments. My dream is to see hemp evolve into being our go to green standard material resource and for people to form a deeper connection to nature and design experiences from the outside in, working with nature rather than against nature.
WB: Tell me about your company. What do you do? What is your six month goal? One Year? Five Years? At MoonCloth
SH: MoonCloth is a hemp textiles + product design company. We use hemp to create environmentally conscious spaces. Our mission is to elevate the hemp industry, and bring it into the modern design and luxury wellness space. Due to outdated stigmas and general lack of knowledge about hemp, we are bringing an awareness to the incredible benefits hemp has to offer. We feel it’s important to bring hemp into the modern design + luxury wellness market in order to change the consumer mindset and help people start to see a much larger hemp based product opportunity that can positively impact our economy and environment. We are currently working with some amazing hospitality groups to bring more eco designs and wellness products to their environments. We have collaborated with Soho House, Sensei Resort, Design Hotels, Lyric and more. All of our manufacturing is in LA + Bay Area. We are excited to be collaborating with our friends at OSO Design Studio to launch the first eco luxury hemp furniture collection this summer. Their furniture manufacturing team is in Mexico City. We love working and collaborating with other creative teams and being a hemp based design and manufacturing resource for them as well as educating them on how durable, and sustainable hemp is.
We are really excited to be launching our own hemp home goods and wellness product line this summer. In our hope to bring hemp into a more mainstream market, we have partnered with Macys.com to feature some of our hemp products. We are also in the early stages of prototyping hemp bio plastic development for decor goods and cosmetic product packaging. I personally love hempcrete and can’t wait to partner with a hotel group on a project from the ground up, to use hemp as the foundation for all of the design, external and interior experience. At the core level, it’s important for everyone to see the possibilities of what hemp can do for our planet and our world. However, it won’t become a popular material or design resource if it’s not elevated into the luxury modern design world. Hemp allows us to design eco luxury products and environments without sacrificing anything.
WB: Do you cook? If so, who taught you? Mother? Father? Television? Do you have anything that you eat/drink that brings a tear to your eye? Why?
SH: I learned how to cook at a very young age. My parents loved hosting and having great parties growing up. Good local food, wine and hospitality are very important to me and my family. I’m not one to follow a recipe. I’m more experimental, I love cooking and playing around with different fresh California based ingredients. My mom’s homemade winter tomato soup or her chilled summer time avocado cucumber gazpacho with a hot piece of challah bread with fresh goat cheese from Cypress Grove Creamery. It’s just all melts in your mouth perfectly.
WB: If you could be anywhere in the world, right now… where would that be? Doing what? With whom?
SH: I’m exactly where I want to be and what I want to be doing, with the people and partners behind MoonCloth building something that is really exciting. I grew up sailing in the San Francisco Bay and spending a lot of time on the water. Hemp also has a strong historical connection to sailing, which is not surprising because it’s one of the most durable fibers out there. Travel is really important to change your perspective and continue to grow your inspiration. I will never say no to sailing in foreign waters with a small group of close friends.