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Hidden Gems: Meet Brooke Henderson of Botana

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brooke Henderson.

Hi Brooke, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
After graduating college, I spent the first few years of my career working at a startup in Los Angeles. Like many people in my generation, I had no idea what I really wanted to do, but I felt strongly that there had to be more to life than tech software. Tech has a sort of mystique around it, especially in hubs like SF or “Silicon Beach”, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that what I was doing was not fulfilling. Is helping a plastic surgeon with his website really making the world a better place? Maybe a little, but it certainly wasn’t stimulating or challenging. I found myself wanting more.

I had never considered starting my own company and I had no experience in textiles or home goods, but once I dug in I felt a new spark. I take a lot of pride in how I’ve handled every aspect of my business. It started as an idea in my head, and before I knew it I was getting samples from overseas, I was mocking up prototypes, I was negotiating rates. One day you look up and it’s like – “I’m really doing this!”

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Well….. roughly two months after I ordered my first sample shipment from overseas the pandemic hit the entire world very hard. From shutdowns, supply chain issues, port congestion – I was getting hit with obstacles left and right. And those haven’t stopped, and never will!

One thing that most founders have in common is going through a period of time where they think, “How do I learn how to do X?” There’s no boss instructing you anymore; you are the boss. There’s not a manual to tell you how to navigate container ship bottlenecks or how to survive a pandemic, but your research and learn, go through trials and errors, and continue to grow.

I knew nothing about starting a company. What I did know is that it wasn’t easy, but if someone else could do it, so could I. That is the biggest lesson I’ve learned throughout this process. I saw a quote once that said “the expert at anything was once a beginner” and I think about it often. Just roll up your sleeves and get to it!

We’ve been impressed with Botana, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
When first introduced to hemp, we were in awe of the versatility of the plant and knew we wanted to create something with it. After learning about hemp fabric properties, bedding was a natural fit. Apart from the sustainability benefits, hemp fabric is antibacterial, antimicrobial, hypoallergenic and thermoregulating – it’s clean, strong, and stays cool in the summer. Over time, repeated washings make it even softer, like your favorite old t-shirt. This fits with a central tenet of sustainability: buy things that last.

What makes our bedding unique is that it’s made from 100% hemp, which not all hemp bedding brands are. Many use a blend of hemp & cotton, but with 100% hemp, you get all the amazing benefits of hemp fabric without any sacrifice. Bigger brands recently started coming out with hemp bedding such as West Elm and Crate & Barrel, which we think is great because it allows for more exposure on hemp bedding and its benefits. But running Botana completely on my own and producing small-batch, high-quality products will always differentiate me from the big fish and I’m so excited to share my brand with the world. And I won’t stop at bedding – my goal is to create a home goods store where everything is made from hemp.

What matters most to you? Why?
Spending my time and energy doing a job that is fulfilling and makes the world a little bit better. I spoke briefly about my post-college startup tech job and while I did learn a lot over the years, I was unsatisfied, felt no spark, and didn’t think my work truly mattered. I felt dull and drained and I knew I had to make a change.

I think a lot of us get trapped into jobs that we aren’t passionate about and it’s often hard to leave. But, life is too short to settle on anything – everyone deserves to find what’s best for them. I quit my job with no plan of what to do next, and while that was scary, it allowed me to take a break and open my mind. After being introduced to hemp I not only learned of all of its sustainable and superior byproducts but its power to help save and nurture our environment. I knew I needed to create something with it. I never planned on starting my own company, but once I dug in, I felt a new spark.

Leading a sustainable lifestyle is a cause I’m passionate about and practice every day. With Botana, I hope I’m doing my part to make the world a better place, and if I can help move the needle in some small way, that’s work I can be proud of.

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Image Credits:

Sara Ligorria-Tramp

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