We had the good fortune of connecting with Brooke Henderson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brooke, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
The brand new Hemp industry – where to begin!
Many people in the US are unaware of the hemp plant – it was illegal to farm in the US until January 2019 (dating back decades). They call hemp “the wonder crop”; it has a lot of properties that make it a great fit for today’s environmentally focused consumer.
When planted, hemp roots draw out heavy metals and toxins, while absorbing large amounts of CO2. This prevents soil pollution and keeps our land healthier for longer periods of time. Compared to cotton, hemp requires 1/3 the amount of water to grow – a huge difference – and produces 3x the amount of fiber per acre. It’s also naturally resistant to pests and mold, requiring much less chemical protection.
After cultivation, hemp can produce thousands of different byproducts including paper, plastic, wood and textiles – many of which are greener alternatives to their conventional counterparts. This is partly what led me to found Botana.
The other part is that I am, personally, big on sleep. Curling up in bed and getting a good 8 hours is arguably my favorite activity. The environmental benefits of hemp bedding were immediately clear to me, but I also knew that when it comes to bedding, most people aren’t going to sacrifice comfort just for sustainability’s sake. So I set out to make the most comfortable bedding you’ve ever had – made of 100% hemp.
I liken it to Tesla and EV’s. Tesla knew to boost EV acceptability they didn’t just need long range and a clean carbon footprint – it had to be cool, and fast, and stylish. Eco-luxe. That’s what I’m going for with Botana Bedding.
It’s time we make the shift to sustainability in every part of our lives – not just the cars we drive or the clothes we wear, but also the food we eat, and, yes, the bedding we sleep on. We hope that with Botana we’re doing our small part to make the world a better place, and that you’ll join us.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
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 ended up quitting my job without a plan of what to do next. That was definitely hard. I spoke a bit before about the mental game with starting a business; in speaking to other founders, I’ve noticed everyone has 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 no manual telling you what country to look for a manufacturer, or how to get through customs, or how to create an LLC.
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!”
I felt a new spark once the ball started rolling. Leading a sustainable lifestyle is a cause that I’m passionate about, but I knew nothing about starting a company. What I did know was that it wasn’t going to be 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!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
One of my favorite things about LA is all the different parts of the city, but since I live in Venice I’ll start there.
I love walking through the Venice Canals. Parts of Venice can be a bit crazy, but once you step in the canals it’s so serene and the houses are all so unique and fun to see. I’d recommend Gjusta for coffee and a bite. Their patio is top notch and it’s probably my go-to restaurant in the area. For dinner I love Wallflower – it’s a smaller restaurant that serves amazing Southeast Asian food with delicious cocktails, natural wines and good tunes.
Summer is approaching so a beach day or hike in Malibu would be required. There’s a few different spots but I usually go to Carbon or Escondido Beach, and my favorite hike is Solstice Canyon. On the way there, pick up a sandwich at Jeff’s Garden or a breakfast burrito at Country Kitchen. My husband jokes that the playground at the Malibu Country Mart is the happiest place in America. On the way home, if the line isn’t insane (let’s be real – it will be insane), fish and chips at Malibu Seafood always hit the spot.
No trip to LA is complete without a visit to the Eastside, where I believe some of the best restaurants in LA are. Head up to the Griffith Observatory to get quintessential views of the city and after you can hop over to Silver Lake or Los Feliz to eat. Unfortunately due to the pandemic my favorite restaurant Mh Zh closed, but some other favorites are All Time and Pine & Crane. Something about walking around Sunset Boulevard and popping into places for a drink or a vintage shirt really feels very “LA” to me.
Little Tokyo is another favorite area of mine – I’m obsessed with Japanese food and culture. They have the best mochi place called Mikawaya. When you’re cruising around LA in the summer months, always have a dessert spot like that lined up to cool off.
LA’s greatest quality is the vibrancy and variety. There are so many little pockets with their own distinct style, food, residents, you name it. I’m so glad things are starting to get back to normal and we can all get out and experience the city together once again. I’m going on year nine and still have so much to explore!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Shoutout to my husband! I had recently quit my job with no plan of what to do next. At the time, he worked in the hemp industry (specifically CBD), and through his sales calls (for once, I was glad how loud he talks – ha!), I started learning about the versatility of this incredible plant. CBD soon became a big craze, and I found myself wondering what other hemp products were coming down the pike. I got to thinking, researching and planning. Eventually, it hit me: “What about bedding?”
When presenting the idea to my husband he was even more confident in the potential success than I was. He’s been supporting me since I first quit my job, which allowed me to focus all my time and energy on creating an amazing product. More importantly, he’s my big Hype Man. Any time I’ve doubted my vision or if I had what it takes, he gassed me up. Starting a business for the first time can be scary! I’ve found it’s natural to have these thoughts, especially early on, or when you inevitably hit a roadblock or make a mistake. Did I bite off more than I can chew? Do I have any idea what I’m doing?
Over time, you learn to quiet those thoughts and press on. Confidence builds with each overcome obstacle, and you start to realize: I can do this. Getting to that point can take some time, so I’m grateful that he helped me take that step.