BOUT THE FOUNDER
“Profit flows from higher purpose: that’s the ethos behind KushKush’, says founder, Jo Hope, of the recently launched e-commerce store and content portal that caters to, and celebrates, South Africa’s #WomenInWeed.
Shortly after the controversial ruling in September 2018 by the South African Constitutional Court where they gave the official thumbs-up to the private use of cannabis, Jo Hope – a fashion and lifestyle entrepreneur – found herself in a seedy ‘head’ (slang for a shop that sells ‘pothead’ paraphernalia) shop on Long Street as an unsettled bystander, waiting for her boyfriend to find a particular vaporiser.
Cluttered, dingy and crammed with an array of wildly disorganised product piled high on dusty shelves, Jo skulked in the corner, willing him to hurry up.
Was she traumatised? Yes. But inspired too. ‘I know plenty of women like me who love art, fashion, décor, design and weed so if I felt out of place in that space, so would they,’ she says. This epiphany shaped her vision for KushKush: a beautifully curated showcase of premium cannabis-related products; but also an ecosystem that connects, educates and inspires other women within this important social revolution.
For the girl who grew up in a small farming community in the semi-desert of the Karoo in South Africa, launching KushKush is the culmination of a lifelong dream to build her own brand that also underpins her passion for sustainable business.
‘I’ve always loved fashion but had to get creative to find it,’ she laughs. She taught herself to sew on her grandmother’s machine, and long before the days of e-commerce ever existed, would call stores in far-away Johannesburg and harass them until they agreed to post her specific items that she’d seen in her favourite fashion magazines.
Although she studied fashion design, her self-confessed love of spreadsheets and magazines saw her naturally gravitate towards the publishing industry where she has combined her love for both of these disciplines. Jo also launched and managed two high-end retail concept stores where she learned how the import/export market operates and the art of curating the world’s best brands for the local market.
‘But the more I learned about the business of fashion, and how destructive it is, the more despondent I became,’ says Jo, adding that the turning point for her was in 2013, when the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which housed five garment factories, collapsed, killing thousands of people (mostly women and young girls) and injuring thousands more. Rated amongst the worst industrial accidents on world record, it exposed the inhumane conditions that workers in the ready-made garment sector in third-world countries like India endure on a daily basis.
Searching for a way to become part of the solution, Jo enrolled in a Postgraduate Diploma in Sustainable Business through the University of Cambridge. ‘I discovered companies that have reverse-engineered every element within their supply chain to be kinder to the planet and, despite the naysayers, remain hugely profitable.’
She also learned about sustainable alternatives like hemp – a water wise crop used for thousands of years to make biodegradable products like paper, rope and cloth – and the booming success of commercial cannabis in countries like Canada and the U.S.
‘Many of these cannabis start-ups were founded by incredible female entrepreneurs that were open, friendly and happy to share their stories with me,’ Jo says. The penny dropped and she realised the local market was wide open for a brand like KushKush. It was also at the cross section of so many facets she is so passionate about – design, sustainability, storytelling and women.
‘We’re taking it slow and will only offer our customers brands that align with our standards and values.’ Plus, she laughs, the KushKush team review each and every product, ‘so you know it comes with a guaranteed feel-good factor!’
As for the future, plans for an in-house range and exciting line-up of events are all in the making; as is rolling out monthly content that showcases the lives of the incredible women that make up the ever-expanding KushKush tribe.
“KushKush is more than just an e-commerce platform,’ says Jo. ‘It’s our safe space to gather together, connect on many different levels, and grow the #WomenInWeed movement together.’
ABOUT THE BRAND
KushKush is all about building a community of both new and experienced recreational and medicinal cannabis consumers.
Created by women, for women, our mission is to cultivate a refreshing and inspired representation of cannabis culture, in South Africa and abroad, that educates, illuminates and shifts public sentiment.
We also curate a selection of beautiful but functional premium cannabis lifestyle products and nifty, specialised tools – everything you need to enjoy cannabis just the way you like it. Because if you can’t do it in style, why do it at all?