Q&A 8000kicks: The Shoes Bringing Hemp Back into the 21st Century

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Join us as we chat with 8000kicks founder Bernardo as he describes why he’s on a mission to bring hemp back into the 21st century.

Can you tell us more about yourself and the brand you run?

I am Bernardo, I am a 29year old entrepreneur from Portugal and together with my 79th year old grandma we started 8000Kicks, which sells the world’s 1st waterproof hemp shoes and the world’s 1st waterproof hemp backpacks.

8000kicks founder Bernardo
8000kicks founders Berndardo and his Grandmother Otília

Our goal is to bring back hemp and make it mainstream, because that’s the  way to make the fashion industry sustainable.

Well, what makes hemp so special?

One of the biggest KPIs when picking materials is the Carbon footprint. The Carbon Footprint consists of the amount of CO2 emitted to the atmosphere. Let’s compare the 3 fibers:

  • Polyester – 9.52Kg of CO2 emissions per ton of spun fiber
  • Cotton – 5.90kg of CO2 emissions per ton of spun fiber
  • Hemp – 4.05Kg of CO2 emissions per ton of spun fiber

Just for you to have an idea, leather fits a whole new scale with almost 110kg of CO2 per m2 of leather, especially due to cattle farming. Crazy right?

But besides being a low emissions fiber, Hemp has other advantages:

Requires no pesticides to grow

  • Cleans the soils
  • Absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere
  • Requires 5 times less water than cotton
  • Super strong and durable (even more than steel).
  • How Dope is a pair of cannabis kicks?

10% Off – Use code ECOTHES for 10% off a pair of 8000kicks!

What were the biggest challenges you’ve faced when starting out? How did you overcome these challenges?

Hemp is a natural fiber, and that is in itself a whole new game, which means that we need to adjust when making products. For instance, the dyes will “attach” as easily compared to leather or synthetic fibers. But in general, hemp is a challenging fiber because we, humans, lost the knowledge of how it is done as we spent 50 years without doing it, and we have to relearn how to work with it.

Also, having started in 2019 with our Kickstarter campaign, there were obviously tough times with the COVID-19 effects. We had to look for alternatives and were able to produce hemp masks, which served the population’s needs and kept us in the market. We also supplied thousands of those to our local institutions.

You also use algae blooms for your soles, how did you come up with this idea and why did you choose to use this instead of rubber or other alternatives?

Phenomenons like eutrophication can destroy entire marine ecosystems if not controlled.

We partnered up with Bloom Foam to create a super light algae bottom with increased durability while sponsoring the removal of harmful algae.

The best of both worlds!

Can you tell us more about your manufacturing? How do you ensure your shoes are created ethically as well as sustainably?

In order to make this planet a better place, we took a 360º approach to define our own responsibility as a business. This means empowering customers to opt-in for a more sustainable lifestyle by providing a superior eco friendly footwear solution.

It means caring to protect the most needed members of our community, by providing them comfortable and durable hemp products.

It means looking at our own footprint but also our partners’, to minimize our carbon emissions.

Regarding our supply chain, we demand that they pay fair wages, control the water waste and use renewable energy sources for production. To ensure that, we visit the factory’s and growers every time before working with them.

On the other hand, we also make sure to use sustainable materials (such as hemp, recycled rubber and plastic and algae blooms) that are also 100% vegan.

How does the carbon footprint of 8000kicks differ from regular shoes on the market? Are you working to reduce your emissions further?

Several parts are taken into account during the calculation such as raw materials, manufacturing and transportation. Each one is different but all of them equally important to deliver the best quality product and service.
Although Hemp grows almost organically and it helps clean the soil and the air, unlike cotton or polyester, there is still a big amount of energy required to process the fiber.

  • Raw materials: 2.1 Kg of CO2
  • Manufacturing: 1.8Kg of CO2
  • Transportation: 0.2Kg of CO2

8000 Kicks estimated carbon footprint is 4.1 Kg of CO2

To reduce this, we do it in two ways. The direct way is by working with our factory partners to increase the dependency on renewable energy sources.

So far our Portuguese factory uses 45% to 55% and our China factory uses 30% to 40% of clean energy sources and is improving.

The other way is by investing in capturing CO2 with hemp farms and the plantation of trees. Every newly planted plant removes an average of 50 kilograms of CO2 from the atmosphere each year during its growth period of 20–50 years.

Bloom is our CO2 capture and water cleaning partner which mission we sponsor with our sales – they do this by collecting the algae bloom we use in the outsoles of our shoes.

How do you balance the fast growth your brand has seen, with ensuring you keep producing as sustainable as possible?

Actually, our fast growth is opening new possibilities to make an even more sustainable product. Scale means we can invest in more sustainable processes and materials.

Have you tried a product from another brand that you love?

You guys should talk to Rita Dobrões, from Musa – a brand doing glitter cream. They have a great product.

Do you have a favorite 8000kicks product you can’t live without?

We can’t live without our waterproof Hemp Shoes, but the everyday backpack is a must everytime we leave the house or the office!

Is your packaging sustainable?

We have created a sustainable packaging to carry our sustainable shoes.

8000 Kicks hemp sneakers

1- Recycled cardboard. All our shoes, backpacks, wallets, hats and socks come in cardboard boxes that have been made using recycled cardboard, which allows us to close the circle in terms of sustainability

2- Corn starch mailer bags. All our products are shipped inside a corn starch mailer bag that is fully biodegradable and can be disposed of by simply dropping them in the compost bin.

What does the future look like for 8000kicks?

We have been quietly working on some new products that we want to launch later this year, in the winter, but I cannot reveal anything yet.

Very exciting times are coming. Also, we have a new backpack coming soon. I cannot give much details, but I can confidently say that we are finally bringing hemp to the XXI century in terms of rivalling with other synthetic fibers.

8000kicks hemp footwear

Wrapping Up: 8000kicks interview

We want to say a huge thank you to Bernardo and the 8000kicks team for chatting with us!

If you want to go behind the scenes of other sustainable brands like Baabuk, Votch, Neem, and Thought, check out our articles today.

Bethany
Bethany

Bethany Worthington BSc (Hons) (she/her) is the Sustainable Fashion Editor and Co-founder of Ecothes. She has a passion for the environment, and a long love of all things clothing, and combines those two interests with Ecothes. In her free time she loves dancing, hiking in the countryside, and laughing with friends.

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