● Please let our audience know what it is that you do and what prompted you to enter this line of business?
The Gathings: We own Hempoholic, a black owned company that cultivates high grade, hemp based CBD and some THC products using proprietary inputs. We have experience in growing and producing organic & vegan hemp based formulations without harsh chemicals or animal products. Our mission is to improve the wellness and health literacy of our customers as well as aid other entrepreneurs in starting their own hemp based companies. Our journey into CBD started when Jason was living in constant pain due to old injuries he sustained during his collegiate football career. He did not want to take addictive pain medication but could not find a suitable alternative. CBD was recommended and he found instant relief and improvement in his overall well being! At the same time Ayo was working with patients as a psychiatrist that repeatedly told her that they didn’t trust the medications she was prescribing enough to take them. This serious distrust in “traditional” treatments left many, often in minority communities, in distress. They either had to suffer or live in fear. So, we decided to do something to address these gaps with a mission to provide awareness of natural ways to attain wellness. We created high-quality hemp based products that work and educate the masses to understand that CBD is an alternative that can be trusted.
● There are many misconceptions about what CDB is. Can you explain what it is and how it differs from THC? What are the health benefits that CBD may present?
The Gathings: CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a naturally occurring compound from the flower of the cannabis plant. While CBD is closely related to marijuana, it does not contain delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is the active ingredient in marijuana that is psychoactive or produces a “high.” The CBD allowable in the United States is taken from the hemp cannabis plant not the marijuana cannabis plant as the CBD from the hemp cannabis plant contains low levels of THC and does not cause intoxication. CBD does not act mainly on the body while THC acts on the nerve cells in the brain. CBD is a potent botanical shown to have numerous positive effects due to its action on the body’s already present endocannabinoid system. It is a proven anti-epileptic and has been approved by the Food and Drug administration for the
treatment of two seizure disorders. Research also shows promise in regards to aid in various anxiety disorders, sleep promotion and pain. Other exciting studies in the works are looking at proving CBDs may help reduce some cancer-related symptoms and side effects related to cancer treatment as well as protection of brain and heart health.
● What are some challenges that you’ve faced growing within a $6.36 billion market?
The Gathings: We faced almost every hurdle and roadblock purposefully created for smaller CBD companies. We had issues finding legal banking and merchant processing, building an FDA compliant website, and had to fight for our company name trademark. We even experienced an outright inability to market our company or products digitally with restrictions on running Ads, educating our customers effectively with appropriate terminology and a social media shadow-ban; but we did not let that deter us. Because of the history of a high risk designation of the CBD industry, there are challenges in operating in this area without large infusions or reserves of cash. It is becoming more accepted with legal advances, but it is still hard for small businesses to flourish in the area without self financing or personal borrowing due to restrictions on loans and start-up funding. Also, there were little to no resources or connections to even learn where to start in the CBD business. There is no real alliance or certifying body for the industry and of course no one currently in existence was offering to give a helping hand. Even now small businesses, budding entrepreneurs, and minority communities lack the fundamental knowledge of how to get into and succeed in the CBD space despite large companies taking advantage of knowledge grandfathered to them for years. But we still decided to jump straight in with no direction and learn as we went. We knew the world and particularly our culture needed us to persist not for our financial gain but to bring these products and business knowledge to the masses. That is why we decided to blow the lid off of this secretive industry and get more traditionally marginalized people in this area by developing the educational and developmental area of our business.
● There are many wellness practices with claims of great benefits, why should more people look into incorporating CBD into their regimen?
The Gathings: CBD is not just another fad, it is the real deal. As a psychiatrist and behavioral analyst, we know health and wellness; we have seen products or trends come and go; but CBD isn’t going anywhere. The FDA has already acknowledged its effectiveness for seizures and the research is there for many other areas. From mental health, immunity, digestion,, skincare and more CBD is showing that it can improve various body systems and overall health in so many ways. There are endless options to start incorporating CBD into your everyday routine! Whether it be a facial cleanser, a pain relieving topical or a mood uplifting gummy you can start reaping some of these amazing benefits now.
● As an industry expert, what are five tips on how someone can get into the CBD industry?
The Gathings: It may seem overwhelming when trying to get into the CBD business, but there are some essential things to know before you jump in like we did!
1. YOU HAVE TO DO YOUR RESEARCH You have probably already decided that you want to get involved in the CBD movement and have great ideas for your business. But now, it is time to contrast your idea with some reality. It seems like CBD is readily available and accessible, but there are many nuisances to this industry due to the highly regulatory nature that make it different from starting a different type of business. So before you even come up with the name, location or entity for your business please do your due diligence by reading up on the things that you need to do differently even from day 1.
2. DECIDE WHAT TYPE OF CBD BUSINESS YOU WANT TO ESTABLISH There are so many ways to be involved in the CBD area from owning a farm like we did to manufacturing, retail stores or even podcasting! There opportunities are endless, but you have to sit down and decide where your wallet, passion and knowledge base will best serve.
3. DESIGN A SOLID AND COMPREHENSIVE CBD FOCUSED BUSINESS PLAN A CBD business plan is not just throwing ideas out there and doing a quick Google search. Take your time and develop a plan specifically for the area of the industry you have chosen and look at the specifics of start up costs, partnership needs, legal updates and eventually marketing and advertising needs. Continue to include funding and financing sources as you want to be in it for the long haul and may need to secure non traditional funding due to legal restrictions.
4. LEGITIMIZE YOUR CBD BUSINESS Once you have done your research and business plan, it is time to make your business official. If you are not well versed in laws and tax details of entity formation, consult someone who can help you determine what your business formation should look like.
5. FIND A HEMP FRIENDLY BANK AND MERCHANT PROCESSOR The luxuries we generally have regarding comparisons of fees, services, and amenities in order to make decisions surrounding banking relationships are not necessarily possible. With the climate of the country being 1 foot in and the other all the way out of hemp−based CBD businesses, legislation and culture; banking may just have to be the best of the slim pickings for now. You will hear from someone even internally at the big banks that are open to a CBD business account, but learn from our two closed accounts and go running straight to a credit union or local bank that is committed to serving the hemp community. Similar story with your merchant processing company. There will be higher costs and fees, however you will have ongoing access to your funds without them being held without your knowledge! You will also be compliant with the legislative details that arise in the industry.
● For anyone just learning about the great work that you are doing within natural medicine, what is one thing that you like to leave them with regarding you and your journey?
The Gathings: We are a movement in business and health with a mission of meeting the needs of their customers, other entrepreneurs and the culture. The goal of Hempoholic is to bring hemp based products to the mainstream, provide alternatives to pharmaceuticals, and aid other minorities in getting into the industry that often excludes us. We feel our success lies with staying true to our mental health and wellness roots in guiding our endeavors as well as prioritizing God and family above all else.