YAOH Hemp Products from Bristol are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year – with a host of new products and packaging to come over the course of 2022. We caught up with the Yaoh team on their birthday to talk about 2022..
Valentines Day 2022 saw original hemp vegan company Yaoh celebrate their 20th anniversary – originally set up on February 14th 2002, Yaoh was a continuation of various hemp projects in the nineties, with a focus on hemp bodycare, seeds and oil. Yaoh Hemp Products first appeared on the shelves of ‘Wild Oats’ health food store in Bristol in early August 2002 and within 2 years, was enjoying nationwide distribution to several hundred independent health stores, co-ops, farm shops, delis, online retailers and other specialist shops. All independent – and never to be found in the ‘multiples’ or supermarkets – indeed, Yaoh famously turned down an opportunity to stock Holland & Barrett stores in 2004.
Yaoh won its first award in 2004 for its raw vegan hemp seed snack bar at the Natural Trade Show in Brighton amongst hot competition, especially in the organic sector (Yaoh won Best New Organic Food Product) which at the time was in full flow growth-mode. That show was also the time Yaoh founder Tim Barford found himself next door to original vegan pioneer Arthur Ling, then in his 80s and on the Plamil stall, the original vegan company he founded in 1963, the year of Tim’s birth. Tim dedicated his award to Arthur and the work of the original pioneers, and that evening at the Awards ceremony, enjoyed an awful attempt at a vegan offering with Arthur’s son Adrian of Plamil fame – a meal which cemented a long term friendship and association in promoting all things vegan, which lasts to this day.
2003 had also seen Yaoh launch the first Bristol Vegan Fayre, a hugely successful venture on World Vegan Day November 1st which ended up running for 17 consecutive years, and saw the biggest ever crowd at a vegan event in 2012 – although by that time, Yaoh had split off to become a Limited Company and was to focus exclusively on the hemp ranges, and VegfestUK had been born to run the events side of things.
Fast forward to 2022 and Yaoh is undergoing something of a refit with new potato bio resin lip balm cases coming in during the year, and new sugar beet bio polymer bottles for the bath products and the sun care, with the moisturisers all in glass jars. Added to that some new shampoos and shower gel fragrances, some new moisturisers and a set of new improved body butters in the autumn means a busy year ahead for Yaoh.
‘’We love Yaoh’’ says founder Tim – ‘’it’s a family business, old school, original, hemp, vegan, independent, eco-friendly and still cutting edge, and plays a special part in many people’s memories, especially the vegan community from the Naughties, of which there are many. May Yaoh continue to thrive – although it’s no secret that small vegan independent businesses have had it very tough these last few years. We are lucky in some respects that we have a compact but dedicated fan club and committed customer base, but that’s something we never take for granted. We’re proud of what we’ve achieved, and excited about the decades to come. “Hemp has grown untold since I started out on this path 30 years ago, and veganism likewise since going vegan 40 years ago” adds Tim. “Where we will be in another 40 years, we’ll have fun finding out. No chance currently of retirement this side of 100, to be frank – at least that’s not in the plans, anyway. More hemp please.’’
Sign up for the monthly free Yaoh e-bulletin here on the www.yaoh.co.uk homepage, including news of special offers, new products, packaging updates, events and various bits of interest.