I recently had the pleasure of meeting Ron Alcalay, the creator of the popular clothing brand, Vital Hemp.
Before Vital Hemp, Ron Alcalay had achieved success by anyone’s standards. He earned a Ph.D. in Literature from prestigious Berkeley, and was set to head through life on cruise control. All he had to do was just sit back and enjoy himself.
But something didn’t feel right. Something was missing.
Then, while on a road trip to Northern California, Ron stopped into a hemp store on a whim. Although it was stereotypically decorated with plastic marijuana leaves and a giant photograph of Bob Marley, the owner took his business seriously. The two chatted for a while and discussed how hemp was the fabric of the future. It’s stronger and more durable than cotton, breathes better than any other natural fiber, and doesn’t require pesticides.
Ron and the owner exchanged phone numbers, and then Ron was on his way. Never did he think this chance encounter would change the course of his life.
The next day, Ron received a phone call from the hemp store owner who had a surprising question: Did Ron want to become partners in the hemp clothing business?
Would it be crazy for Ron to give up his secure academic life? But maybe this was just what he was looking for: a chance to make the world a better place.
So Ron said yes.
Things were great for a while, but soon the hemp store owner wanted to go his own way, leaving Ron with a garage full of hemp clothing, and nowhere to sell it. So, Ron did what any Southern Californian does with nowhere to turn: he headed to Venice Beach.
Amid fortune tellers, snake charmers and unemployed musicians, Ron sold his hemp clothing on the Venice Beach promenade. And when he needed help? He hired the homeless people he met on the promenade. For a couple of years, Ron was content to sell his merchandise here and at green festivals up and down the coast. But he knew that one day Vital Hemp would need a permanent home.
Today Vital Hemp does indeed have a permanent home on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica. Vital Hemp’s clothing is hip and young, with a carefree attitude. But the best part is, by purchasing this clothing, you’re sending a message that it’s time for a change.
For Ron, working in a community with like-minded environmentalists has proved much more edifying than rubbing elbows with academics. Every day, Ron has the satisfaction of knowing he is actively making the world a better place.
Please visit Vital Hemp’s website at vitalhemp.com and sign up for their monthly newsletter. Then head to the 3rd Street Promenade and purchase some of their awesome threads. By supporting ethical companies like Vital Hemp, you, too, can make a difference.SHARE THIS