We meet Skye Patterson, one of four Directors of the newly launched company Australian Primary Hemp. Australian Primary Hemp they are passionate about supporting local farmers and creating a sustainable food source that can preserve and enhance the environment. Their Hemp is 100% Australian owned and grown, sourced from our local farmers around Australia. Aiming hard to provide their customers with premium Hemp products that are packed full of goodness and nutrition to keep us all healthy and strong.
Can you introduce yourself to us and tell us your story?
I am Skye Patterson, one of four Directors of our company Australian Primary Hemp. My story probably differs from many, as I grew up on a farming property in the Western District of Victoria. Like many rural farming families, I attended boarding school at the age of 11 to complete my education. After graduating I spent a lot of time travelling and pursuing my love for equestrian. In 2011 I settled into a life in Sydney, which I absolutely loved however after 5 years I felt I needed a change. An opportunity arose to head up an office in Melbourne for the company I then worked for, so I jumped at the opportunity, packed my bags and house, into my incredibly tiny hatchback and drove the 12 hours back to my home state.
It was after returning home that I caught up with a couple of old friends (and now fellow Directors), over probably one too many glasses of wine, and the concept of Australian Primary Hemp came about.
Like many businesses, the idea started in a garage that we fixed into our “head office”. Now in less than 2 years, we have grown to be Australia’s largest privately owned hemp food company, with more than 10 employees based in our facility in Geelong, Victoria. It’s honestly a story I could never have imagined being my own and is something I consider myself very proud to be a part of!
Can you tell us how you arrived at where you are now?
Like most people, I have had so many different experiences, both good and not so good, I have travelled and lived in countries such as the UK and New Zealand. But most importantly I have met some really amazing people over the years. It is the people I met while travelling and the people close to me today who have been the most influential in my decisions, leading me to where I am today.
A lot of hard work and hard decisions (sometimes my impulse decision making catches me out!) has been put in along the way, but I do consider myself extremely lucky for the opportunities I have had in my life so far, and it has allowed me to always view the sky as the limit.
What were the first few steps to set up the Australian Primary Hemp?
The initial steps in setting up the company were identifying the gap in the market for Australian hemp and it’s derived products. At the time, Australian legislation restricted the consumption of hemp, however, having seen the success of the industry globally, we were confident that it was a matter of time before Australia got on board.
This led to a lot of research and planting a trial crop, which really got the ball rolling and established the foundations of our company. For about 8 months we were gradually growing and really seeing some positive movements within the industry. With the long-standing lobbying from key industry people/associations in parliament, legislation was finally changed on November 12th, 2017, to recognise hemp as a food. Since then, we have seen astronomical industry growth and also in our business. A very exciting space to watch!
Can you tell us how you are developing a sustainable food source through Australian Primary Hemp?
Hemp is extremely versatile and has over 25,000 different uses including being used to make healthy food products, clothing, plastic, paper, construction materials, biofuel, and rope to name a few. But the major benefit of hemp is its environmental benefits, there is so many I could talk about, but my top three fun facts are:
One acre of hemp produces the same amount of paper as 4.1 acres of trees. One acre of hemp also produces more oxygen than twenty-five acres of forest. Hemp consumes four times as much CO2 as trees do. Hemp can absorb radiations, heavy metals and other man-made toxins from the soil.
Farming needs to become more sustainable, in order to produce foods that are not impacting the environment negatively. With farming and agriculture being a large focus of our company, we are working with a plant that is not only good for our health but also the environment.
Can you tell us about your Australian Primary Hemp brand DNA?
At the heart of our brand’s DNA are our incredible team and loyal customers. Our number one priority is our people and those involved with the company, both internally and externally. At the end of the day, we believe it’s the people who build a brand into what it really is.
Our mission is to support the Australian farming industry and to supply our customers with the best, premium, Australian grown hemp whilst maintaining 100% transparency in this developing industry which previously ran off imported produce.
This is why agriculture, premium produce and transparency are so important to Australian Primary Hemp’s brand DNA.
Who are the team behind Australian Primary Hemp and what does your company structure look like?
We don’t believe in having a set hierarchy, as we see every employee having their own valuable strengths. We believe in encouraging and empowering our team to make meaningful decisions, drive change and contribute to all areas of discussion, even if it falls outside their role. This Holacracy practice has worked really well for our company and I think is a great business model for innovative, startups.
As an overall structure, however, we have four main departments & teams which are: Agriculture & Farming, Processing & Packaging, Bulk Supply Sales, APH Brand Retail
How are you planning to expand Australian Primary Hemp?
We hope to expand by continuing to foster our existing relationships and develop new partnerships within the Australian farming community to really solidify ourselves as the Australian Number 1 Hemp “go-to”. We would like produce and process quantities as large as Canada & Europe (world’s current largest hemp producers) over the next 5 years.
The most rewarding moment in your personal life?
It is so hard to pinpoint one particular moment! But being a country girl and coming back to my roots to offer farmers an alternative crop in such a fast-paced industry, is something I have found very rewarding.
As some of you may not know, it has been a difficult time for Australian farmers with extreme weather conditions, increasing expenses and large corporations cutting prices. Growing up in a rural community, I have witnessed many of my close friends and people in the community having to sell and move elsewhere due to the financial strain and pressure of farming.
I believe the world needs more farmers and needs more sustainable, profitable solutions in terms of crops. I hope with more research and development industrial hemp will become exactly that. Given hemp is in such early stages in the Aussie Ag sector, the support from local Australian farmers already willing to give it a go is truly amazing.
What do you think makes a great entrepreneur?
Someone with a lot of perseverance, drive, and dedication. Being an entrepreneur takes a lot of hard work and a passion for what you are doing and trying to achieve.
What gives you ultimate career satisfaction?
Career satisfaction comes from seeing those around me, in particular, my team, achieve their own success within our business. Knowing my colleagues and employees are doing well and scoring goals in some of the most stressful situations, due to being a startup – gives me the ultimate satisfaction in what I am doing. Because, at the end of the day the most crucial part of Australian Primary Hemp succeeding, is the amazing team behind it.
Can you tell us what areas you have struggled with the most whilst building Australian Primary Hemp?
I believe there are always going to struggles when developing and growing a startup business. I had little to no experience with retail and the health food market, it was an industry I had never dealt with before. Coupled with a product from an entirely new industry with a huge lack of education surrounding it, made things sometimes pretty tricky.
There wasn’t really a clear pathway for what we were trying to achieve, because there weren’t many other competitors in the industry at that stage. This led to a very quick learning curve! We have had to work around the struggles and find solutions for each problem that arises. The team and I have been able to overcome these struggles so far with a lot of hard work and a “yep, we’ll do it!” attitude.
Have you ever had a mentor? If so how has this benefitted you to grow?
I am lucky enough to have a lot of amazing people around me who have all been provided mentorships in different ways. Although, the one who has always been there along the way and really influenced who I am today is my papa.
My dad has taught me the importance of being a good person and to always focus on doing the best you can, no matter what you’re doing. Put simply, my Dad has always taught me to live by the values as set out in a poem by Rudyard Kipling poem “If”, which he regularly recites. And if you haven’t read it – I strongly urge you to!
What outlets do use to market Australian Primary Hemp?
I am really proud to say we support local independent retailers here in Australia, as well as having our own online website. We work with a lot of incredible people across the country that share the same passion and values, not just health food retailers but chiropractors, wellness coaches, and nutritionists to name a few.
What is the best piece of advice you have received to date?
My friend and fellow business partner Charlie Mann have always instilled 10 two letter words in me, which have proven to be the best advice I have received so far. These are: “if it is to be, it is up to me”. Charlie has also been one of the very influential mentors in my life, I have learned an invaluable amount from him, particularly in the past few years. Charlie has a knack for making me see things from all different perspectives, even sometimes when I don’t want to and has really influenced who I am today.
What is the number 1 critical lesson you have learned since building Australian Primary Hemp?
That everything takes time and things do go wrong haha. But with perseverance, patience, and an excellent team it will always work out.
How do you create an evenly balanced work and personal life?
Well, my partner currently hides my phone when I get home! But on a serious note, as everyone knows it’s so hard to have a clear line between your work life and personal life, specifically with how technology plays such a huge part in our lives – we are always online. I am trying to make more of an effort to switch off those devices to have time with my friends, myself and my dog!
Which other leading entrepreneurs and leading female pioneers do you also admire and why?
Definitely, Christine Holgate, her road to becoming CEO of AusPost is truly inspiring. She has fought for her voice to be heard and to be taken seriously and is now CEO of one of Australia’s largest companies. I think she is a great role model for all women!
What Youtube or online space channels are you watching currently?
Please don’t judge, but Ellen DeGeneres, because I think she is truly inspirational and someone we should all look up to. Otherwise, I won’t lie – I love watching James Corden – Carpool Karaoke and The Late Late Show and Britain’s Got Talent (shoutout to Simon Cowell, my fav Brit after Adele!).
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
I really enjoyed this CNBC article on Zhou Qunfei and her success. She is the world’s richest self-made woman and I think her story can teach everyone a lesson. One quote that really resonated with me was “when you give up halfway, you won’t have the courage to come back and start from the bottom all over again, only when we persist, can we succeed. Don’t give up because of a little setback.”
What does your Podcast playlist look like?
Case Files! It is so intense – it makes the drive home go so quickly!
How do you measure your terms of success?
I don’t think success is really something you can measure, as everyone’s perception of success is different. I feel successful when everyone around me who I have influenced is achieving great things.
What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?
To me, it means to be your own boss @ss B#tch – get it done!
Lastly, what is next for you and Australian Primary Hemp?
Having just released three new products (Hemp Seeds, Hemp Balance, and Hemp Boost) to join our Hemp Oil. I hope our brand will continue to thrive and become a household name here in Australia, for being the best Aussie grown hemp in the country.
In terms of the overall business, I hope with more research and development that we can make hemp farming a viable industry in Australia and as mentioned earlier, be the numero uno hemp company in Australia, if not globally!
I would like to see our team continue to grow and be a super enjoyable place to work. Lastly, next time you hear the name Australian Primary Hemp I hope we are the countries largest hemp food company on the market.