Q&A with Babble and Hemp Founder, Charlie Thomas

Q&A with Babble and Hemp Founder, Charlie Thomas

Generous APE

Charlie is the Founder of Babble and Hemp, an incredible brand that produces beautiful Hemp shirts, sustainably

What was the inspiration behind creating Babble & Hemp?
A group of us were travelling around India getting a behind the scenes tour of the cotton industry as part of an Edinburgh Uni Sustainable Fashion trip back in 2019. I was shocked to see how much water, chemical and pesticide were pumped onto the fields to grow cotton, and couldn't believe we were so reliant on such a resource hungry fabric. 
We then learned about hemp - an ancient fabric that grows organically using only rainwater and through modern milling now feels like fine linen. There and then I knew everyone had to start wearing it instead of cotton. Long story short, but being the only Business undergrad on the trip and a lifelong lover of shirts led to Babble & Hemp! 

Why is Hemp a more sustainable choice when it comes to materials?
I could talk forever but I'll stick to three main points. Firstly, the hemp plant needs a small amount of water - rainwater is enough. Making one hemp shirt uses 5x less water than cotton. Secondly, it grows without the need of chemicals or pesticides (which also require a lot of carbon), so doesn't impact soil or animals. Thirdly, an acre of hemp yields 5x more fibre than an acre of cotton - so way less inputs and far more fabric!

What's a hemp fact that surprises people?
It was one of the most used fabrics on the planet until the 1800s when the invention of the cotton gin and it's natural whiteness saw cotton's popularity skyrocket.

Which environmental issue do you feel most passionately about?
The waste of freshwater by mixing it with chemicals and pesticides which then runs off into rivers nearby causing endless damage to people, fish, biodiversity - cotton is of course a useful fabric but not at such a cost.

As a young entrepreneur, who is your idol/hero in the business world?
Nick Wheeler (Charles Tyrwhitt) and Yvon Chouinard (Patagonia). One makes great shirts and the other promotes activism through clothing.

What has been your greatest challenge to date?
Bootstrapping. Sometimes I'd love nothing more than to live in London with mates and have busy weekends and holidays to look forward to - but I get huge fulfilment from what I do.
Where would you like to see your business five years from now?
As a pioneering force shifting consumer patterns away from cotton and towards hemp through colourful men's shirts. Having done a significant EIS raise and sold in 100 countries. 65 more to go!
For anyone out there who is looking to set up their own business, what one piece of advice would you give them?
A person landing on your website for the first time gives you 7 seconds in which they want to understand you. So do one thing and have one main USP.