In this edition of our CBD interviews, we had the opportunity to chat with Brian Caruso, founder of Zion Medicinals. He shared his experiences of launching and growing his CBD company with us below.
We are thrilled to speak with you today about your company and its remarkable success. Let’s start with an introduction so our readers can get to know you better. Can you tell us a bit about you and your company?
My name is Brian Caruso and I am the founder of Zion Medicinals. I started this journey when I saw my wife suffering with chronic Lyme Disease symptoms including physical pain and insomnia – and prescription drugs not bridging the gap to wellness. I set out to find a natural solution, which led me to CBD and hemp oil. I had my wife try several brands with minimal relief and knew there needed to be a pharmacy-quality product for anyone to benefit from. This is how Zion Medicinals was born.
What experiences, of elements of your backstory, helped to motivate or inspire you in your endeavor to start your business?
Having started several businesses prior and seeing the lack of healthcare-grade CBD/hemp oil on the market that chronic sufferers really needed, there really was only one choice.
I imagine it takes an enormous amount of effort to build a “hemp-empire”. Can you shed light on some of the obstacles you encountered as you grew and scaled your business and how you navigate those successfully?
Anything and everything about starting a hemp business would turn most away. The list of hurdles includes finding a suitable bank to handle deposits, to credit card processing, to online marketing methods to the FDA and other Federal guidelines.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product. What did that look like?
It all starts with the product. Once we had our unique alchemy-based spagyric hemp extract, we build the brand around it using alchemy symbols in the logo as well as a font that reflected our product’s differentiated factors. We have gone through several iterations of branding, labeling and such and we’re reinventing ourselves again in the near future to truly reflect what we have become.
What makes your brand or product unique in this emerging industry of CBD?
We focus on what we call our our “4 Pillars of Quality”
⦁ We single-source and farmer-direct organically grown hemp from the mountains of Colorado for consistency and quality.
⦁ Since alcohol is both polar and nonpolar, it extracts a wider range of molecules from the plant than with traditional CO2, which creates a more medicinal product.
⦁ We fully believe in the “entourage effect“, which states that cannabinoids and terpenes work better together. CBD isolate won’t give you the medicinal benefit of a full spectrum product that has all the plant’s natural cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, oils and the other hundreds of naturally occurring compounds.
⦁ We are one of the only companies in the world providing spagyrically processed hemp extract. What is spagyrics? It’s an alchemy-based process where we take the leftover plant matter after extraction and burn it to a white ash, filter it, turn it into hemp mineral salts and add it to our hemp tincture. Why? This creates a product that more bioavailable and medicinally potent.
Have you ever felt like you had to come up against any stigma around CBD? If so, how were you able to address that?
Yes! When we started back in 2017 before the CBD boom, we were asked several times daily if CBD/hemp was marijuana. Luckily, proper education is spreading and many are understanding the differences and how CBD/hemp cannot make you feel “high”.
In terms of the market for your product, what would you say is your target demographic?
Since our product is at the high end in terms of price point, due to our time and labor intensive extraction and processing methods, we have chosen to target consumers who visit alternative healthcare practitioners like Chiropractors, Acupuncturists, Naturopaths and the like. Additionally, our target customer most likely shops at Whole Foods where they are happy to pay more for a higher quality product.
What do you do to attract and retain customers?
We are active in social media groups educating CBD consumers, very responsive online and love making connections with other like-minded people and businesses.
Have there been any helpful resources, tools, or platforms that you’ve relied on to get your business off the ground and keep it running smoothly?
There is nothing smooth about the CBD/hemp industry and the rules and players are constantly in flux. Since this is an emerging industry, there really isn’t a lot of help for budding CBD business owners that I have seen. Grit and determination is mandatory.
What has the general reception of your product been, in terms of the feedback you receive most frequently from consumers?
The biggest feedback we get is amazement of how powerful this innocent plant is. People dealing with chronic issues for years even with medication cannot touch the positive effects our unique spagyric hemp has.
As a follow up to that last question, can you tell us about some of your best-selling products and the benefits they provide?
Due to recent FDA regulations, we are unable to tout any benefits, but you can read reviews on our website and online. Since we specialize in healthcare-grade products, our high potency 1500mg/oz oil is still our best seller.
Are your products third party lab tested by batch? If so, are you willing to attach and share your lab results?
Yes. We 3rd party lab test every batch for cannabinoid and terpene profiles as well as pesticides and mycotoxins.
We all know that the political environment and legal regulation on hemp is ever-evolving and often somewhat ambiguous. How do you navigate those regulations and how do they impact your business?
Staying abreast on federal changes is crucial.
In terms of advice, what would you say to someone who was wanting to break into the burgeoning CBD industry?
As mentioned previously, grit and determination is the price of admission just to get in the door. You have to know your “why” and profit isn’t it. You’ll either need lots of time or money, so you better have one of them.
What do you think is the key to staying relevant and becoming successful in one of the most competitive industries?
Providing value to customers, authenticity and being customer-centric first.
What do you foresee in the future for the landscape of CBD-related products and services?
It’ll be everywhere and in everything. It’ll be the next coconut oil, kale, matcha and kombucha combined.
So, what are some of the exciting next steps for your company? What does the future look like for your business?
We’re really excited to dive into more R and D to release new products, delivery methods and unique offerings to help people be #ZenWithZion