The SHEMP™ Promise
Our SHEMP™ promise is that, as we comply with USA production standards, we are working to ensure all our raw materials will be sustainably sourced and processed in the United States, delivering greater social and environmental responsibility throughout the industrial system and the ability to support circularity through regeneration of SHEMP™ yarn after the lifespan of the garment.
We’re developing new uses and products for the renewable blend of wool and hemp textiles for both commercial and government customers. We do this all while ensuring that the production of SHEMP™ enables economic growth throughout the USA supply chain, including wool and hemp growers, processors and manufacturers.
The story behind The SHEMP Yarn Company Inc. began five years ago. Susan Barnhardt and a group of wool industry producers and supporters from the American Sheep Industry and the American Wool Council initiated a discussion on the challenges to finding new uses for wool to develop new economic enterprises.
SHEMP Yarn Founder Susan Barnhardt worked with Mary Jeanne Packer, Founder of Battenkill Fibers Carding & Spinning Mill to develop a unique wool hemp knitting yarn in Q1 2022. The result was 4 variations of 3-ply, fingering weight yarn for hand knitters. They plan to work together to develop yarns for additional applications using the initial yarn development as a foundation. As both Susan and Mary Jeanne are mothers and grandmothers (and in Susan’s case, a great-grandmother), they recognize the need for a clean planet for our next generations. The two share an ongoing commitment to producing locally-sourced and sustainable processed yarns for use in the textile industry.
THE IDEA OF SHEMP
Susan’s research into this industry eventually led her to hemp, and she joined the National Hemp Association and became their volunteer director. Through this role, she met members of the American Sheep Industry and the American Wool Council. These members were looking for new uses for wool, and the legalization of hemp growing operations through the 2018 Farm Bill gave them the perfect opportunity. They approached Susan with an idea. They wanted to blend wool and hemp to create a revolutionary new textile using nature’s cleverest renewables.
MAKING IT A REALITY
This idea of a wool/hemp blend captured Susan’s imagination, and she dove into figuring out how to make it a reality. She and her team wanted to make sure the product could be produced 100 percent in the United States, but there were challenges. Because hemp only recently became legal to grow, there are very few industrial hemp farmers growing the sort of hemp that’s suitable for textile production.
Build, measure, Learn
BUILD: The Minimum Viable Product (MVP) would be a USA produced worsted textile yarn with unique performance, appearance, and environmental properties by using this innovative mix of nature’s cleverest renewables, wool and fiber hemp. MEASURE: Susan considered all functions of the early-stage venture: vision and concept, product development, marketing and sales, partnerships and distribution, and structure and organizational, with a customer-development methodology that creates ongoing revenue. LEARN: She got out of the building (digitally, as COVID-19 would allow) to validate with potential customers and users the value and growth potential of SHEMP™. The results were positive and her hard work paid off; today, SHEMP™ is producing limited quantities of yarn.
SHEMP moves forward
However, the work is far from over. The wool used in SHEMP™ yarn is sourced from Charguers in South Carolina, where they employ best management practices across all areas of environmental concern to ensure the lowest possible environmental impact. We are still working to procure hemp from US farmers that is fully processed and workable to meet the rigorous standards for three textile industries of outdoor apparel, home décor, and hand knitters, as well as US Military procurement. So for now, we must import hemp in its proper form from China and India.
What We Value
We work to ensure that our customers and partners are informed about every step of our process.
We deliver on our promises, whether that be to our partners, our customers, or the future.
We use nature’s cleverest renewables to craft a greener future for the textile industry.
We work with a group of like-minded partners who are dedicated to changing our world for the better.
Our well-qualified team includes farmers, university researchers, fiber processors, textile manufacturers, and product marketers whose physical proximity and combined experience enables us to collaborate easily and move our innovative product to consumers rapidly.
SUSAN BARNHARDTFounder & CEO
Our founder & CEO, Susan brings 40+ years of experience bringing products from ideation to monetization. She is a member of The Textile Exchange, Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals, and National Industrial Hemp Association. Her collaborative style has yielded outstanding results in the development and execution of revenue generating marketing solutions for all. Susan’s no stranger to emerging markets or textiles. Her first experience promoting and selling novel products that had no market performance precedence occurred when she was tapped to launch the first pantyhose product, L’eggs. Years later, her success in launching products in emerging markets, creating high profile strategic alliances and her personal passion for environmental causes and sustainability would converge into an unbridled passion for the potential and importance of industrial fiber hemp.
MARY JEANNE PACKER
Mary Jeanne Packer founded Battenkill Fibers in 2009 to provide value-added, custom carding and spinning services for fiber farms and makers; and to manufacture yarn and fiber products for wholesale and retail markets. The mill produces 100-150 lbs of artisan quality natural-colored and dyed semi-worsted yarn daily using refurbished traditional milling machinery. Since its founding, Battenkill Fibers has grown to provide 15 full-time and part-time jobs and was recognized as Washington County Small Business of the Year in 2015. Mary Jeanne has a bachelors degree in engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a masters degree in Communications Management from Syracuse University. Mary Jeanne has served on numerous boards including Cornell Cooperative Extension Washington County, NY Farm Viability Institute, NY Ag in the Classroom, the Forest Landowners Association, and Empire Council of Ag Organizations.
Lilly Marsh combines artisanship, scholarship, and community engagement in her work for decades. Her drive for engagement led her to assist in founding the Hudson Valley Textile Project, a group of farmers, processors, artisans, designers, and fiber enthusiasts who are working together to strengthen the fiber supply chain of local cloth production, and she continues as an HVTP board member (https://hvtextileproject.org/). Current projects include ongoing collaborations with local fiber producers to create finished blankets, throws, and wearables for their markets, and with Battenkill Fiber Mill, Greenwich NY, to produce Hudson Farm Cloth, a line of 100% Hudson Valley sourced, processed and woven fabric for garment and home décor use. Lilly’s work can be viewed on her website or Instagram.
Melissa Nelson is the owner and field research scientist at Performance Crop Research, an independent crop research facility in Great Bend, Kansas. Melissa works with a variety of companies around the world collecting data on crops grown in the Midwest with a focus on soil health, residues, and efficacy of new chemistries and varieties. Melissa is also co-owner of South Bend Industrial Hemp. South Bend focuses on helping grow the hemp industry in Kansas. South Bend also grows dual purpose varieties and is working towards developing the grain and fiber industry. Their goal is to provide support for farmers and create grower’s groups to supply South Bend’s decortication facility. Education and being advocates for agriculture is a passion of Melissa’s.
We Are Proud Members of
The SHEMP story continues, and you can be an important part of its future.
We invite you to visit our shop, purchase a SHEMP™ product
and be a part of creating the yarn that’s good for you and the planet.