By Lee Reinsch
DE PERE – The story of Native Roots Hemp is rags to riches and seed and soil to essential oil.
Native Roots Hemp owner Stacy Deprey-Purper had her own need and worked to solve it.
She’d suffered from innumerable symptoms since she was a child, finally diagnosed at 16 with ulcerative colitis.
It’s an autoimmune condition which causes a range of serious and often painful symptoms.
Deprey-Purper said hers ranged from inflammation and pain to severe fatigue.
“I almost died when I was a kid and was hospitalized for 30 days when I was a teenager,” she said.
Deprey-Purper said the side effects of the medication her doctors prescribed weren’t much better than the symptoms.
As an adult, she said she had barely enough energy to cover the basics of working and taking care of her family.
“I had lots of arthritis and nerve damage, and I was in pain constantly,” Deprey-Purper said. “I didn’t want pills in my body; I wanted something pure that would help.”
Then a few years ago, a friend gave her a tincture of CBD oil (cannabidiol), which comes from hemp.
She took a few drops three times a day, and within a week, she said her symptoms disappeared.
So Deprey-Purper dove in head first.
Nearly three years later, Native Roots Hemp, 365 Main Ave. De Pere, has a network of organic hemp farmers around the state, a hemp-plant processing facility in Algoma, and retail stores in De Pere and Luxemburg (inside PharmHouse Cafe and Market).
The processing facility processes thousands of pounds of hemp, pressing and processing it to extract the oil.
“If a farmer grew a really good plant, you could get 1 kilogram of oil from 30 pounds of raw plant material, if it was extremely high quality,” she said. “Sometimes it takes 100 pounds.”
The company makes a multitude of products, including lotions, soaps, bath teas, beauty products, tinctures, drops, relief rollers, and more, and sells online as well as through its retail stores.
At the De Pere store, customers can sample products and order something from the hemp bar.
Hot cups of hoffee (hemp coffee – their invention) and smoothies enriched with hemp are popular items.
“People use our bar and lounge as a safe place to explore hemp education, or just come in for a cup of hemp tea or hoffee,” she said. “Many take it to go in the mornings to start their day off in the right headspace, relaxed and ready to take on anything.”
Hemp and marijuana could be considered cousins; both belong to the cannabis family.
Hemp is higher in CBD and lower in THC (the psychoactive chemical tetrahydrocannabinol), than marijuana, while marijuana is the reverse.
CBD has been credited for reducing anxiety, pain and inflammation, but hasn’t been FDA approved.
For that reason, Deprey-Purper said she can’t legally make any health claims.
She said she requires the organic hemp farms she works with to be third-party and lab-tested to produce what she calls “the highest quality products at the lowest prices.”
It’s guaranteed: if a customer finds a higher quality product at the same or lower cost, they’ll get their money back.
So far, Deprey-Purper said she hasn’t had to make good on that.
Earlier this year, she announced a partnership with Potawatomi Business Development Corp., which bought a controlling interest.
Deprey-Purper continues to lead the company and reports to a board of directors, which includes the CEO of Potawatomi Business Development Corp.
“The Potawatomi Tribe itself was interested in the hemp market across a number of different factions, growing it and processing it; they looked at it as a high-growth market,” said Potawatomi Business Development Corp. CEO, Randy Mueller. “We found Native Roots Hemp, we liked it, we liked the company and the person who owned it, Stacy, and they were participating in two really good high-growth sectors of the economy for hemp, and that’s why we picked it. It’s worked out great so far.”
Deprey-Purper said the partnership offers her company the chance to do things it otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.
“They have the power of the tribe behind them to help us expand,” she said. “(This) will allow us to continue to hone the product and expand the product line to keep up with customer demand, and it will allow us to expand nationwide.”