This editorial spotlight was contributed by Direct Cannabis Network

For 15 years the Emerald Cup has been showcasing Northern California’s premier cannabis destination while advancing the concept of sustainable, outdoor farming. Its reputation is firmly solidified as the largest, most respected, organic, outdoor, cannabis competition in the world.

In this editorial series, DCN had the opportunity to speak with each of the first place winners to showcase who they are, their mission and what it takes to compete in one of the industries most respected cannabis events.

Meet Newell’s Botanicals

Newell’s Botanicals is a small company of social entrepreneurs with a mission to regenerate ecosystems and detox your cosmetics cabinet. Newell’s Botanicals initial focus was on making natural and organic skin, body, and hair care products and distributing them at local farmers markets in California. They were co-planting a lot of herbs and flowers alongside their medicinal cannabis for their beneficial synergistic effects on their cultivation. However, it turned out these same plants – calendula and chamomile in this case – are powerful medicinal herbs in their own right. Everything they had in their garden – THCA-rich cannabis, lemon trees, medicinal herbs – was precisely what was needed to help their own family members which in turn allowed them to see how they could help many others along the way.

The Interview

DCN: What is the mission statement behind Newell’s Botanicals?

Newell’s Botanicals: The mission of Newell’s Botanicals is to build and restore ecosystems by using the production of high-value botanicals as an economic driver for change, and make the best botanically-driven self-care products on the planet.

DCN: Newell’s Botanicals initially started as a small family business, and then Chelsea Dudgeon joined the team, did either of you envision seeing Newell’s Botanicals taking on the path it is on today?

Newell’s Botanicals: We can’t remember who said it, but another cup winner – a permaculture grower that raises animals and grows food alongside his cannabis – said, “we grow cannabis to support our farming habit”. All we ever wanted was to have our little homestead, raise our chickens, grow our cannabis, and use that as a base to prove methods of regenerative agriculture and spread that knowledge. So, needless to say, this unexpected foray into the realm of commercial cannabis goods was not part of the vision.

The original Newell’s Botanicals body care was always a small, homegrown project, and largely inactive at the point that Chelsea created and launched Deep Skin in the cannabis space. We brought the brand name back as a masthead to carry a spread of products. Once we were working in the cannabis/self-care space it became rapidly apparent that we could still accomplish our mission of spreading regenerative agriculture – perhaps even better now – because now when we ask a farmer to consider changing their methods we can also offer them a contract to buy some of the medicinal herbs that we’re asking them to grow, whether it’s cannabis or ginger. And in serving our interests of sourcing clean, quality, compliance-test-passing ingredients we help make that corner of the world just a little bit cleaner.

We are heading further down the business development path these days, using our position to champion a business model rooted in social and environmental responsibility and forming partnerships that make that possible. It’s scary and surprising to be a part of a massive industry suddenly, but the path to accomplishing our mission has never been more apparent.

DCN: Newell’s Botanicals placed first place in the topical competition. However this is not the first time, but the third time Newell’s Botanicals has taken the first place prize! How does it feel?

Chelsea: I would say that the progression of primary emotions, win by win, was this: Shock, Relief, Satisfaction. The first year that we won it was like, “Did someone make a mistake?” We entered the topical as a companion to a flower entry so that Newell and I could both get competitor’s passes. We weren’t expecting to place, let alone win. The second year, having come out of nowhere and inserted ourselves into this space, we had a lot to prove, so “winning” felt a lot more like “not losing”, which is great, too. But the third year… it’s a combination of the sense of accomplishment at still being here, in the game when so many others couldn’t be or chose not to be… and still managing to beat out the extremely well-capitalized top dogs in our category that had the money all along to survive the regulatory process, when we didn’t.

There’s also a lot of gratitude thrown in there, because without the Blake’s and the EC crew doing something different and good in this world we wouldn’t be where we are.  I can think of so many tiny moments in the last two years where someone chose to do something for us out of kindness, and it made all the difference in our ability to still be here. So thank you to Ngaio Bealum for being a ride or die homie, always, TotaLeaf for offering us a home and a path forward, our distributor and sales team bSeen, and all our friends, family, advisors, and supporters. Newell’s Botanicals might have a team of 2, but we are very much a community supported project.

Newell: For me, this has been a journey of development and growth with my lovely partner Chelsea. Before she came into my life, I did not have the confidence in my ideas to enter the cannabis industry publicly. I have been advocating for cannabis medicine for some time without the support of a community. Being part of an active cannabis community with her has been the most significant win for me.

DCN: Let’s talk about this topical, what is your favorite thing about this topical? Who would you say could benefit from using this specific topical?

Chelsea: My favorite thing about Deep Skin is the response I get from people that use it. I’m fortunate not to have chronic pain, so I don’t experience the product the same way as someone who, say, hasn’t slept through the night in 10 years. Even we are surprised at how well it works. Instincts played a big role in formulating the first batch, but every time I revisit the ingredients and the research that has and is being done, I find some new reason why it’s helping so many people. I think the two most immediately apparent differences about Deep Skin compared to most other topicals is that this one is designed to absorb really, really fast, and to not smell like weed. It smells like ginger, lemon, and chamomile – really pleasant – and can be used anywhere with the highest discretion. It’s good for anyone with pain and skin conditions, but those who appreciate a refined user experience will be especially impressed.

Newell: I have spinal constriction and bone spurs on two neck vertebrae, I am a user of the product. My favorite feature is how fast it works for me. Also finding out how well it works for our clients when they come to dispensary demos.

DCN: What other products do you carry?

We are in the process of relaunching the rest of our historic cannabis line, which includes targeted efficacy salves for joints, muscles, and skin, a very refined massage oil, and a deodorant that supports breast health. On our website, we also offer non-cannabis personal care products made in small batches, seasonally, from the herbs in our garden.

DCN: Over the past few years, your company like many others in the cannabis industry have faced many changes, what has it been like building a compliant company?

Chelsea: Nightmarish. Like a hellscape. And all my friends are dead. Obviously, that’s hyperbole, but if I could do it all again differently, I would. I would focus more on building my business, helping my friends build theirs, and less on trying to help the state do its job. If the regulatory process were a product on Amazon, I’d rate it zero stars and send it back as defective.

Newell: I agree with Chelsea. I wish we had worked on collaboration earlier. We all segregated into our little silos and did not seek partners. We need to get our act together and provide assistance to the rest of the legacy cannabis community.

DCN: Newell’s Botanicals takes pride in developing products that are certified organic, sustainably produced, and locally sourced, can you share more on why this is so important?

Newell’s Botanicals: USDA organic is a baseline standard for proving that, hopefully, you didn’t do any hanky suspect nonsense in the cultivation process. However, because we find that is often not true, we are always pursuing higher standards, even if those standards lead us away from the certified organic label at times. We are far more concerned with the environmental and social responsibility aspects of discerning sourcing than we are with arbitrary labels. Our mission is to build and restore ecosystems, so in no universe are we happy with any system that compromises ecosystems in order to provide a product, and conventional agriculture is one of the most egregious violators in this regard.

DCN: What do Newell’s Botanicals have in store for 2019?

Newell’s Botanicals: We are forming strategic alliances with our fellow “legacy” brands and operators so that we can maintain the systems and strategies that have made us the top creators and producers in the greatest cannabis market on earth. We need each other now more than ever.

DCN: DCN is a business to business digital news network, giving a voice to cannabis startups, and sharing the stories of entrepreneurs in this industry if there were one piece of advice you would like to share with the new entrepreneurs who are coming into this industry, what would you say? 

Chelsea: When someone asks me how to best break into the cannabis industry, my go-to response is “Don’t.” Not because it’s definitely a mistake, but because if all it takes is me telling you no to talk you out of it, you definitely don’t have what it takes to handle being in this business – where the existential crises come with the morning news, you don’t know who to trust, you’re still worried about breaking federal law and going to prison, and we still don’t have banking. My point is, “hard” is where we live now. If you like hard, have at it. And if you’re new to the cannabis scene, try to learn the history, so you don’t stick your foot in your mouth. The opportunity still exists, it just requires you to be really tough and resilient, mentally and emotionally.

Newell: If they asked me I would ask, “Do you love cannabis?” If they can answer yes, I would recommend learning the business side of things so they can choose a suitable business development team to navigate all the stuff cannabis folks are not good at.

DCN: Thank you for taking the time to share more about Newell’s Botanicals. Congratulations again! 

To learn more about Newell’s Botanicals visit www.newellsbotanicals.com

Stay tuned for our next Emerald Cup Spotlight.

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