At 26, Alex Huska and his stepbrother, Josh Reminick, co-own Whole Plant™, a Cleveland-based hemp company that they launched less than two years ago. His belief in whole plant products is based on his own personal affliction with Crohn’s disease. Standard medicine failed. But he says alternative solutions gave him relief. Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is one of the most abundant and active substances present in the Cannabis sativa, the hemp plant which has become sought after due to a host of benefits.
Did you plan to become an entrepreneur when you enrolled in the Cleveland School of Cannabis? Becoming an entrepreneur was the furthest thing from my mind. I was in the first class when the Cleveland School of Cannabis started. But I just wanted to learn as much as I could about the cannabis plant, and I knew I wanted to work in the industry after it helped me so much with Chron’s disease.
So how did you end up becoming an entrepreneur? I applied for different jobs. I wanted to work at a dispensary. But after I didn’t get another job that paid $15 an hour I was frustrated. I called and asked why, and the guy who I interviewed with said, it was because I was too entrepreneurial and I would never be able to get into the job…I didn’t know it then, but that was the first time I thought about the possibility of being a business owner in the cannabis industry.
Did you immediately start a company? No. I worked for a CBD company first. That’s when I learned that I was good in sales. I sold $4000 in products in three weeks. I got lucky though because I called a wellness company in Michigan and they placed an order for $1700.
So why didn’t you stay? I didn’t totally believe in the product that I was selling because they made isolated products. Isolated CBD is when they do a CO2 extraction that strips off all of the minor cannabinoids and terpenes. And those play a huge role in creating the entourage effect – which creates the therapeutic effects in the body. I couldn’t stand behind those products. But I was good at making sales… It was the first time I thought, maybe I could take the leap and do this on my own.
Finding the right CBD brand can be a challenge. How do you try to stand out in this fast-growing market? We use an ethanol extraction process that preserves the full spectrum of cannabinoids and the natural plant terpenes. A lot of people use CO2. It’s great for taking off pesticides, but we run super clean material. We run all organic pesticide-free material from a local farm, in Brooksville, KY. It’s on the border of Cincinnati and Kentucky.
All CBD products are not created equally. Some brands contain low-quality, less effective forms of CBD. We are a fully transparent company. We go through rigorous testing standards to ensure that we have quality products.
There’s a ton of CBD products available. How do you market yours as any different? Well, another thing we do is extract strain-specific material in order to get various effects from different terpenes. For instance, you might use an indica if you can’t sleep at night. We can’t make claims that a product helps insomnia. But we have seen a lot of positive feedback from customer testimonials. We can say that we extract strain-specific plants to tailor morning, daily, and nightly wellness goals.
How did you fund the business? A long time ago, both my stepbrother and I had put away $5000 each from doing odd jobs like bartending. We didn’t know what we would use it for when we saved the money. We also had some other savings, and we got an investor, someone in California who has been in the field for a while.
How did you build the business so quickly? Initially, we had someone else packing it, because it was illegal to manufacture it in Ohio at the time. We did about $200,000 in the first year and we were among the first in the state of Ohio to get a hemp processing license. We got our license in April 2020. We do a white label and private label and help create CBD products for other people.
What do you attribute most of your success so far? The Cleveland School of Cannabis played a huge role in my success today. They make you tailor your studies to the area of the industry that you’re interested in. The industry is constantly evolving, but the biggest takeaway is the network that I gained from going to the school. It’s unmatched.
Did you make a lot of mistakes in the process of launching your business? We’ve made tons of mistakes and it’s because it’s a new industry. We ran into a lot of obstacles, from credit card processing to banking and insurance. And politics is an even bigger challenge. People don’t know what it is. We got denied by five different landlords. It took forever to find our manufacturing facility in Berea. We had a lot of obstacles. But we were also very fortunate. That’s why want to help others trying to get into the business. After all of the loops and hoops we’ve jumped through, we want to help make it easy for others.
How do you relax? I play a lot of basketball and competitive softball, and I use hemp and cannabis regularly to relax and relieve stress.
Where can we find your products? Our products can be found in Giant Eagle, vape shops, and other retailers as well as at our online store. Use coupon code “ochbs” for 10% off your next purchase.