I’m sure throughout the years you would have come across the “Pollinator Company” or have used one of their products, such as the “Pollinator” for dry-sift hash making or the “Bubbleator” for bubble hash making. What you may not know is these products and the Pollinator Company were created and founded by one person: Mila Jansen aka “The Hash Queen”.
Mila was born in Liverpool, UK, in 1944 just before the end of the Second World War. Throughout her childhood, Mila’s parents moved around all over the world and finally settled in the Netherlands when Mila was 11 years old. Throughout her teenage years, Mila travelled the world but always returned back to Holland – the place which would eventually become home.
The Early Years
Mila has not always been involved in the cannabis industry. Becoming pregnant at a very early age, which was taboo at the time,young Mila found herself in a very precarious position. Housed in a “home for single mothers”, Mila saw some nasty and heart-rending treatment of women and young children and was lucky to escape this existence.
Fortunately, she found a small apartment in Amsterdam and started to work as a seamstress. She later met Henk Koster who would become Mila’s business partner in a fashion boutique called “Boutique Kink22”.
Creating designs throughout the day, jet-setting from London to Amsterdam and partying hard on LSD, it must have been an amazing time to be alive. Mila was now one of the up-and-coming avant-garde designers on the Dutch fashion scene, even having people as famous as “Tina Turner” travelling to Boutique kink22 to purchase her designs. Things were going well, but Henk had an even grander idea and decided to move to Italy to pursue a career in the film industry. It was time to move onto Mila’s next adventure.
The First Coffee Shop?
Cleo de Merode was Mila’s next endeavor and it is debated that this was the first “coffee shop” in Amsterdam. No drugs were ever sold at Cleo de Merode – it was more of a place for like-minded individuals to gather, share stories and smoke some fine hash brought by the travelers. Mila had had a fascination with philosophy ever since she started reading books at her aunt’s house and meeting all these travelers from all over the world sparked more curiosity in her. However, with the police constantly showing up at Cleo de Merode due to the hard-core parties and the threat of having her first child, Miloes, removed by social services Mila new it was time to travel and that’s just what she did.
The Adventure Begins
Mila gathered all the money she could (which was around 600 US dollars), got her young daughter and three more travel companions one of which was Mila’s first and only husband and father of Miloes, Hans Swarts.
The final destination was to be India but thousands of miles lay before Mila and the adventure of a lifetime began. Heading east, leaving the hustle and bustle of the western world behind, they travelled utilizing various forms of transport such as bikes, rafts, boats and even horseback through countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan and onto her final destination of India. Along the way, Mila interacted with many different religions and types of people all willing to share what they had and even staying with some nomadic tribes native to the regions she was travelling through. By the time the group of 4 reached India they were very low on money, food and energy but she had made it to what would become home for the next 14 years.
With very little money remaining this gave Mila the feeling of relief, not worrying about material things and letting her destiny lie in God’s hands. In India, sadly, the eastern way of living was not for Hans, so he abandoned Mila to return to Holland where he lived out his life. Mila had 3 more children in India, Merl, Lali and Chimed, (whose fathers did not stick around too long leaving Mila as a single parent again with 4 children to feed, put a roof over their heads and food on the table).
When Mila was abandoned with her 4 children her entrepreneurship kicked in again. She would search the local shops and markets for items such as clothing, beads and books. The clothing and beads would be sent out to California’s flourishing hippie movement and the books would get hollowed out, filled with hash and sent out to hash lovers in Mila’s circle.
One of my favorite stories I heard Mila tell was on her documentary “Mila’s Journey“. One normal day Mila was looking for items and found a pack of 6 to 8 books, roughly 2 inches thick named “The American Guide to Law“. Of course, Mila hollowed out these books, filled them with hash and shipped them out. Now, if that’s not ironic I don’t know what is.
Mila also turned her hand back to fashion, this time in the form of knitwear. Using local materials and workers native to the region, Mila made beautifully knitted jumpers which became yet another revenue stream to help feed, clothe and educate her 4 children.
After 14 years in India, Mila moved back to Holland. Now with 4 children to put through school to gain the best education they could Mila got creative and entered back into the cannabis industry.
Being a woman in the cannabis industry is not easy but Mila knew how to grow much better than most men in the industry and made this a viable but illegal business. It allowed Mila to give her children the best education but, being illegal, not every grow would be completed. After some got raided, once again Mila knew it was time to change. After a hard day tending her gardens Mila was back at home doing her chores (more specifically drying her washing) and this is when the idea came to her: she saw those clothes spinning and this was the beginning of the Pollinator.
The First Pollinator
As she was growing so much cannabis their inevitably was a lot of useable product such as sugar trim which we all know can be turned into hash. Mila had been using very basic screens to extract the cannabis heads away from the unwanted green product. After her idea, she got her crew together, obtained an old dryer, took out the heating element, added a micron screen to the clothes drum and placed her dried trim in the machine. After 10 minutes she looked and knew this was the creation she had been looking for. That’s how the first pollinator was born and it allowed Mila to say goodbye to the illegal side of cannabis and step into a legal business. This way she could stay involved with the cannabis industry but with zero threat from the authorities.
Now, most people would be content with this industry-changing machine, but not Mila. This just gave her more determination and this created the next item Mila would release: The Ice-O-Lator (a set of material bags, each with a different micron screen to catch all those valuable trichome head’s with ice to get the material as cold as possible). Cold or frozen trichome head’s break away from their stems much easier and this was a new way to extract resin head’s which has become my favorite method for hash extraction. Combined with Mila’s next creation, The Bubbleator (a self-contained miniature washing machine which makes hash making so easy and simple) these 3 products are the foundation of the Pollinator Company and are now used by thousands of hash extractors all over the world.
Just recently, Mila was honored as being one of the top 100 influencers within the cannabis industry, you would think at 74 Mila would be slowing down, but she is just getting started.
If you would like to get a copy of this wonderful autobiography you can buy a copy directly from Mila via the Pollinator Company shop
You will not be disappointed, and you will learn some amazing things about a true cannabis industry pioneer!
Thank you, Mila, for this book, and your half a century dedication to this crazy industry.
Originally published in Weed World magazine issue 137