Lady Business: CiCi Dunn of HoodLamb Colorado, Hoodlab & SoHi Gallery

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CiCi Dunn is the Owner and Founder at HoodLamb Colorado (HLCO), which is also known as HoodLAB, and the Executive at SoHi Gallery in Denver Colorado. The location where these entities exist is also where her husband, Adam Dunn, hosts The Adam Dunn Show on Livestream. She also happens to be the Executive on that show. Their Welton Street location (2209 Welton Street) is in the historic Five Points section of Denver, practically right in the center of the city or at least as close as one can get with reasonable parking. Five Points is one of Denver’s oldest neighborhoods. In the past, it was commonly referred to as the “The Harlem of the West” and hosted jazz legends like Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong. CiCi helps to keep this tradition alive with various events which have included after-hour shows of big name singers and bands once they’ve performed at Red Rocks or in Denver.

Recently, SoHi generously donated space and time to host a memorial service for cannabis warrior Mickey Martin so that his close friends in the activist community could come and pay their respects. SoHi Gallery displays world-renown glass and graffiti artists and played host to The Colorado Invitational Bong-a-Thon after-party. This space is the heartbeat of the Colorado movement to educate the masses about hemp and cannabis. Upon entering, one will first encounter SoHi Gallery and their current art installations. In the downstairs pop-up boutique, CiCi is usually at the corner desk extolling the many virtues of hemp and hard at work at her computer.  There is also studio space where the Adam Dunn Show broadcasts and where Ladybud occasionally hosts our Livestream, another spot where private parties and dancing happens. It’s a magical place with magical people.

We are happy and honored to interview CiCi about the many goings-on at this historic location and how she manages all these projects, partnerships and events.  — Diane Fornbacher, Ladybud Publisher

LADYBUD: Can you give our readers a little bit of a timeline and some insight into your work and interests in sustainable fashion?

CiCi Dunn: This green path began in 1991 when I started my first job as a 14-year-old at a renowned

CiCi in Hoodlamb’s Nordic Parka in Denver
Photo: ©Diane Fornbacher/Ladybud Magazine

vegetarian restaurant located at the ‘House of Health’ in Stockholm, Sweden. I wanted to try vegetarianism and 26 years later I’m still sticking to these guns. My academic schooling is in Science and Psychology, which has helped me understand the complexity of humans and our many systems. I combine this knowledge with a heartfelt belief in holistic medicine and ‘Nature’s Apothecary’. I am an advocate for the use of herbs, roots, healing spices, essential oils and ancient wisdom like Yoga and Ayurveda. We are part of nature and need to connect back to it more than ever so you can say that my passion for sustainable fashion stems from these core values about healthy sustainable living and deep concerns about how we treat this planet and all living species inhabiting it. I try to make conscious-choices in all aspects of life, not only with regards to fashion.

LB: You have had such a varied career and are involved with eco-conscious organizations like Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization established in 1977 whose mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species. Can you tell LB readers how that manifested?

CD: In 1997, as a 19-year old, I left Stockholm for Amsterdam where I met Adam & Doug from Hemp Works — which is also the Birthplace of Hemp HoodLamb, T.H.Seeds and many more brands. I was a rookie to the uses of Hemp but understood quickly what a versatile power plant Cannabis is, and absolutely loved the friendly, creative, international counterculture vibe at Hemp Works so this place became my work, activist-cause, social scene and extended family.

It was not until 2008 that we first connected with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Our two organizations vibed instantly and I am happy to say that we have outfitted the crew onboard on their campaigns in hemp for almost a decade around the world’s oceans. We always joke and say, “HoodLamb protects the people that protect our oceans and marine wildlife.”

LB: You and your husband, Adam Dunn, met while working at Hemp Works in Amsterdam years ago. How is it working with him and what kind of advice can you impart to others working with their spouses on a fairly regular basis?

Avery in Ladies Summer 18 Jacket on display with other samples and fabrics at the Hoodlamb Boutique. Call for an appointment (720-669-3369) at 2209 Welton St. Denver, CO. Photo courtesy SoHi Facebook

CD: Adam and I worked together for 10 years before we even had the slightest thought of becoming a couple, so you can say it was the natural evolution of our friendship that took us to where we are today. I think the reason we work good as a couple-team is because we complement each other. I am more of a  behind-the-scenes person who likes preparation and organization in the work sphere, whilst Adam can freestyle in the spotlight at any given moment. I’ve learnt so much from working with him. There is a streak of creative brilliance about him, and he has definitely taught me to be more resilient and that we can quickly rethink solutions if we need to. It’s a blessing if you manage to live, love, and work together all at the same time. In our individual case I think it has been possible due to a large dose of patience with each other, trust and flexibility of mind.

LB: How are your days organized into a cohesive structure that benefits you as a person and as a business owner?

CD: I plan out each week ahead of time and work off daily subgoals to accomplish. It can be very hard to get things done as a business owner with small kids but I feel blessed that I can make my own decisions. On days when I have Nyc, I’m happy if I get at least 1-3 hours of office work in before he wakes up and then I have a second shift after he’s off to bed, but our days are always sprinkled with playdates. He has been hanging with us at work since the first HoodLab and this little guy has constantly found creative ways to play in these spaces. I honestly think it has given him a sense of freedom to just be. There is much space to explore, weird things to discover, music, happenings and many people from all walks of life with whom to interact.

LB: SoHi Gallery is available for rent to host events and classes — what have been some successful and fun events that have taken place recently that would interest our readers?

CD: We’ve done everything from coloring book launches, glass shows, movie nights, DJ nights, after-hour parties, educational events, company mixers, 420-friendly yoga, etc. This September, we have a poster art show, painters and glass artists lined up that will be announced soon. The new fall/winter collection is also dropping at HoodLamb Boutique, which is our PopUp shop at SoHi, so we started regular store hours in August again. It’s very exciting!

LB: Raising a family with a great life partner at your own business venture is the dream a lot of people would love to fulfill. How has being an entrepreneur challenged you or benefited your family of three?

CD: The biggest blessing for the family has been that we’ve been able to spend the most fundamentally

CiCi with Hemp seed Henna Art by Elise Halpin, posing with her husband, Adam Dunn. Photo courtesy of CiCi Dunn

important years of Nyc’s life together as a family. The first 3.5 years we spent as a family unit every single day and we loved it so much. I had a baby-toddler assistant by my side at all times at the gallery and office. Now Nyc goes to Yoga Preschool a couple of days a week and it has been a wonderful place for him to learn, grow and make new friends.

LB: You have chosen to live a green lifestyle for more than two and a half decades now, what is your best tip for healthy living?

CD: It’s pretty simple. ‘Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food’. There’s nothing truer than that but it goes for all toxins in your immediate environment too, including negative emotion that can be very acidic and put our system out of whack.  In general, I recommend steering away from all acid-forming processed foods but also conventional cleaning products and cosmetics. There are wonderful natural options out there. I use Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Pure Castile Liquid Soap for about everything you can imagine. Go back to nature in as many ways you can, and be critical about all the things you put into your body if you want to reach optimal health and healing. Wholesome foods in combination with essential oils, full spectrum CBDs, spices and roots have amazing health benefits.

I am radical in the sense that I believe you can fully prevent chronic and/or reverse most autoimmune disease and heal from all cancers by paying attention to your foods because the gut is 80% of our immune system and the gateway to the rest of your body, bloodstream and brain. It really comes down to having a well-oxygenated balanced body and a strong immune system. It’s a fact that cancer cells cannot thrive or grow in an alkaline environment being your body. With that being said, laboratory manufactured pills or a toxic shot can never be a true remedy to the real cause of disease. Detergents aren’t supposed to be rubbed on our bodies or ingested. Again, this is nothing new, Ayurveda and Chinese medicine has known this for ages.

LB: You have a great culinary prowess; when I visited your home, I had the most amazing soup and salad. Would you care to share some of your favorite meals with us?

CD: It’s hard to pick a single recipe. The Dunn family loves cooking and baking and growing our own food, including Grandma Ace who has got the food wizardry and practical skills of a wise woman. She got me into sprouting seeds of all kinds. It’s so easy, all you need is clean water, seeds and a sprouting tray (or a glass jar + cheese cloth + rubber band), and you’ll have fresh sprouts within days to sprinkle on your salads, soups, and sandwiches. It’s a nutrition boost for the whole family packed with minerals and vitamins.

LB: What are your favorite types of music? Favorite musicians?  

CiCi hard at work at her home office in Denver.
Photo: ©Diane Fornbacher/Ladybud Magazine

CD: At the moment we use the time we spend on our electric cargo bike, also known as the ‘Beat-Box’, around Denver with Nyc and a mini sound system to educate him about early hip-hop and other good tunes and now he absolutely loves the Beastie Boys! In my heart, I always keep Jazz and Drum n’ Bass. We recently went and saw the legendary DNB producer Roni Size at BlackBox here in Denver and had a blast dancing all night to his early tunes. I guess you easily get stuck in the genre where you have the most affectionate memories. Bass music can make emotion run deep. 

LB: Since you and Adam moved back to the US you have always operated creative spaces such as HoodLAB 1.0 and 2.0 and now SoHi Gallery. What are your favorite types of art genres and visual artists?

CD: I’ve always been attracted to classic tattoo inspired illustration and the remarkable San Francisco based street art movement including artists such as Jeremy Fish (Mrs. Fish is incredible too!!) and Mike Giant. In the past we’ve been lucky enough to work with some of these guys on HoodLamb projects. I also love the work of my Amsterdam based friends Lina Stigsson, Angelique Houtkamp and infamous pinup artist Claudia Hek. These are all super talented and visually strong female artists within a classically male dominated profession. At HoodLab, we love to bring in artists and other interesting creatives into many things we do. There are so many talented people out there within all genres and that’s good cause art really makes the world a happier place.