Our favorite plant, hemp, can sometimes be found where we least expect it. Several clothing brands use it to make their collections. One of them is sold in one of our favorite Nantes stores: House of California. We went to meet Alexis, advisor at House of California, to understand how hemp was received by customers. We even quickly mentioned cosmetics.
Alexis welcomes me in the hidden basement, in the heart of the secrets of future collections. In House of California, we are more than a guest, we feel like staying with a friend. We are served tea and we discuss without seeing the time pass.
Hello Alexis, can you quickly introduce House of California?
The store has been open for three and a half years. The story is quite simple. The manager's brother is Californian, so he is inspired by the lifestyle of this region to develop the “concept store”. We don't really like the word “concept” but we haven't found anything better since we organize exhibitions or event evenings for traders. We do not only sell clothing (Editor's note: there are also decoration, books, works of art).
Regarding clothing brands, we want them to stick to the spirit of the shop and bring added value compared to other Nantes stores. This is why we have rare brands like Deus Ex Machina or the collection Carhartt Women.
I came to you interested in the Australian brand Afends, which you have recently been marketing I believe. It markets a clothing collection based on hemp. You referenced it only for its composition?
We refer to it first because it's an Australian brand that sticks to the spirit of the shop, with a surf and nineties atmosphere. In addition, it turns out that they work with hemp, for us it is a little more. We have recently been interested in it because it is an interesting culture. In terms of clothing, hemp also gives an interesting material that is similar to linen.
Do you talk about hemp with customers? What is their reaction?
We only talk about it when we show the products concerned, because it represents a small part of our collections. I don't know if it's a sales tool but it creates astonishment, a reaction from the customer.
We have a fairly large clientele, young and old, so we have different reactions, but not negative ones. The appropriate word would be “taken aback”. They only know the other virtues of the plant (Editor's note: cannabis).
And do you think that hemp will democratize and become a trend?
I don't have enough perspective to be able to say this kind of thing. On the other hand, especially with what you showed me (Editor's note: before the interview, I spoke to Alexis about the Les Chanvres de l'Atlantique project), I think that it can be a big wave like organic! The green side, the empowerment of consumption, that is entering this wave. From there to saying that it will become an influence, I do not know.
Did you know that it is used in many other sectors? Insulation, food… and also cosmetics?
No it's a discovery! I learned its use in clothing because I work in this sector, and when we have toured an area, we pull the strings to see what is happening on the sides. I only knew of its use in clothing, I'm quite impressed to see its use for quite different things. It's cool !
Before tackling cosmetics, a subject that concerns you, would you have a final word for people who do not know hemp?
I would approach it first as a very interesting plant. We must not pay attention to what we say in the negative image. It is a subject which is becoming potash. It is an ecological plant, which brings a different way of consuming. Its virtues must be enough to convince. You have to educate yourself, see it as something new.
You told me about skin care earlier. Do you use it because your profession of representation in front of clients pushes you to do so? How do you choose your products in terms of shops or ingredients?
Yes, I use light cosmetics on a daily basis: day cream, concealer if I work a lot, hand maintenance. It is linked to my work, but also to my education. It's a sensitivity that was passed on through my parents, who always took great care of them.
I have a fairly sensitive skin, it is a criterion that comes into play for my choice. I take a look in drugstore for example. On the other hand, I would not go to big shops like Séphora. I prefer small shops, even on the internet. At one time I had a fuller beard, I bought on the Sang d'Ancre site, a Quebec site. I pay attention to what I use and seek advice. Then, if I like it, I keep the product for the long term. I am a fairly loyal consumer.
Regarding the ingredients I want to avoid anything that can cause irritation. Then the texture and the smell are important. And then the price is also a question that arises.
I am looking for efficiency even if everything is relative. Sometimes the effects come over time. Sometimes it becomes a habit. Even if it is not necessarily effective, the gesture remains. At least I feel good and I keep this habit.
To sum up, I pay attention to the composition, the fragrance and the price.
In the meantime, take a look at the e-shop House of California or directly in their store in Nantes. The atmosphere is always pleasant and you will discover your next favorite brands. And then you now know what you have to do to be on top when it comes to hemp and cosmetics.