Cotton is everywhere. Odds are, something you’re wearing right now is made with cotton. After researching alternatives to cotton, however, University of Utah student entrepreneur Eliasib Paredes wants to use a recently legalized and more environmentally friendly material to produce fashionable streetwear: hemp.
Hemp? People often ask Paredes, is that the same as marijuana? Not exactly; it’s a cousin to the plant people smoke, with a much lower concentration of the THC compounds that give marijuana its potency. Still, hemp was approved for industrial farming in the US only in 2018 and has yet to become the staple that cotton has become over the last couple of centuries.
Paredes sees this as an opportunity: hemp is grown faster, is better for the land it’s grown on, and can even reduce body odor and moderate body temperature when worn as a garment. Unfortunately, consumers looking for hemp are still very limited in their options. “When I was starting out, I searched up some hemp clothing brands and saw they were somewhat bland, with small, simple designs, whereas all the cotton brands have insane graphics, embroidery, everything you could want,” Paredes said.
He launched his company, Organic Vestitus, to provide this more sustainable and comfortable material with the striking designs that aren’t available elsewhere. Paredes wants every part of the final product to be organic and vestitus, a Latin word meaning clothing.
Paredes is a political science student at the University of Utah, where he has received both inspiration and funding for his venture. He said that the starting point on his entrepreneurial journey can be traced back to an entrepreneurship class in his first year at the university. The class was ENTP 1010: Entrepreneurship and Society. “I was registering for classes in fall of 2021 when an entrepreneurship class interested me,” he said. “For the class, each week centered on my business growing, and as I started taking steps to develop my business, I realized I was an entrepreneur.”
In February 2022, Paredes took a big step forward and won a grant from the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute’s Get Seeded program. He has since used that funding to purchase his first round of inventory — a shipment of sweatshirts — which he then sold and gathered feedback for his next round of product.
“The next step for me is to branch out and order more product in different colors and then transition to organic ink graphics so that every piece of the product is organic,” Paredes said. “In the future, I’d love to design and create this clothing independently.”
You can check out Organic Vestitus and their products on Instagram @organicvestitus.