Hemp-Based Lip Balm Business Bring Family Together

Hemp-Based Lip Balm Business Bring Family Together
Posted by FoM on December 09, 2001 at 22:51:00 PT
By Jerry Harkavy, Associated Press
Source: Associated Press
A home basement business that makes lip balm and other skin care products derived from hemp has reunited a family of four in Waterville, putting them in touch with their back-to-the-land roots. The Maine Intellihemp Co. reflects environmental concerns and interest in medicinal herbs shown by Howard and Stephanie Pruzansky and their sons Seth 26, and Davy, 24, who are together at home for the first time in years. 
''This has brought us together as a family. We're really close now,'' said Seth Leaf, who does not use the family's last name. The company's lip balm, healing salve and massage oils have a New Age appeal and are available in more than 400 health food stores, convenience stores, coffee shops and boutiques nationwide, Leaf said. Recent growth will force the business to be moved to an outside location to accommodate higher volume and bigger machinery, he said. The top seller is the lip balm, an all-natural Chap Stick alternative that comes in five flavors, including Maine wild blueberry, the newest addition to the line. The primary ingredient is hempseed oil, which Leaf says is high in essential fatty acids that nourish the skin. Because federal law prohibits the cultivation of hemp in the United States, Maine Intellihemp buys its hemp oil from Canada. Leaf maintains that hemp has gotten a bad rap because the public associates it solely with marijuana. ''People don't really know the difference between the two,'' he said. ''Marijuana has been hybridized, taken and bred over centuries to increase the potency.'' ''I've always been into the nutritional aspects of hemp, and also the versatility of it,'' he said. ''It is one of the single most important plants on the planet. You can do anything with it, literally.'' Leaf's interest in organic gardening dates from his boyhood in the rural town of Canaan. His parents moved there from New York five years before he was born, built their own house and learned to live off the land. ''I felt at peace and in love with the woods and the animals,'' he said. But when he was 13, the family opted for a more conventional lifestyle and moved to Waterville. His mother works as a school nurse, his father as a family counselor. Neither of the boys adapted to city life and they were quick to leave home after high school. Leaf worked on a commercial organic farm in Athens, then moved to the Oxford Hills to prospect for tourmaline and other gemstones. Davy joined him there later. After being apart for some time, the Pruzanskys got together in 1998 for a three-week trip to Denali National Park in the Alaska wilderness, where the idea for a home project that would be fun for everyone took root. The family started producing lip balm in a basement storage room, basing the formulas on recipes Stephanie had saved during her 30 years of studying herbs. Davy handled the production end of the business and Seth concentrated on sales, spending months on the road while visiting shops across New England. Howard came up with the company name and provided support. Unsure of the results of their product, they passed out samples to friends and neighbors in 1998. When they got requests for replacements, they knew they had a winner. First-year sales were roughly $5,000, but have more than tripled every year since. The products build on the brothers' interest in gemstones. The oils are infused with ''gemstone vibrational elixirs'' made from tourmaline, aquamarine and amethyst, among others. ''We incorporate the energies of it in the oils,'' said Leaf, acknowledging that ''a lot of people think it's kind of New Age.'' ''It heals at more of an emotional level,'' he said. ''It makes for a product that goes deeper than just healing lips. It makes people happier, whether they realize it or not.'' Complete Title: Hemp-Based Lip Balm Business Brings Family Together On the Net: Intellihemp: Source: Associated PressAuthor: Jerry Harkavy, Associated PressPublished: December 9, 2001Copyright: 2001 Associated PressRelated Articles & Web Site:FTE's Hemp Links White House Watch: THC Madness Policy is Put To The Taste Test University Promotes Hemp 
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