Leslie Hoffman discusses Hemp CBD business plan for Asheville Hemp Project

Oracle Group included our founder, Leslie Hoffman in a recent podcast. Topics covered by Adrian Pearson, the interviewer, included the effects of cannabinoids, a bit about the AHP products and ideals, and advice from an OG entrepreneur about starting up in the cannabis business. Listen up... or read the transcript.

oracle group podcast asheville hemp project

NT: I appreciate you for agreeing to do this interview with Nameless Times. I want to first get your perspective on how you got into the CBD /  Hemp business? 

LH: I've been involved in the reform movement around cannabis for a long time. I had a hemp fashion company 25 years ago, so I've been around cannabis and I have also been involved in the medical marijuana industry in the Northeast. I have a farm and I've had one for the last 35 years. And when the pilot program in North Carolina opened up, I applied for a license and have been farming hemp since 2017. Coming out with a line of products was the next natural progression of my work on the farm with my partner Scott Brinkley.

NT: That's amazing. So you really have been involved with the culture for a long time. Dealing with hemp as a material and substance. 

LH: Honey, I am OG.

NT: Well, I love it. From your perspective, for listeners that may have never used CBD or hemp or THC, what are some of the benefits that you've seen or experienced from CBD? 

LH: The plant is an amazing plant. And the cannabinoids vary in terms of their impact. So CBD and THC, for instance, the two that are most well known now are very different. THC is psychoactive, whereas CBD is not. We're making CBD products with hemp. So we're growing, cultivating a plant that has a high CBD and has a legal limit of THC, which is very, very low: 0.3%. Marijuana is more like 22%.

NT: Oh, wow. 

LH: There’s a huge difference from THC. So CBD, first of all, is anti-inflammatory. Whether ingested, taking into your body through a smoke or a tincture, or extract. Our CBD gum is a super efficient and effective way to take CBD into your system, it will tend to relax. So even if you apply a topical, you could put it on a sore elbow and have it help. But much of our inner pain also comes from inflammation. So the anti-inflammatory quality is very, very valuable. It also tends to relax people and to work as an anti-anxiety remedy. So that's very valuable. And then there are myriad benefits of balancing our endocannabinoid system. And with that, you would often want the full spectrum, even if it's a small amount of THC. But it'll also have some CBN and some CBG and some CBD of course. So you get the benefit of all of them. 

NT: I love that. Do you personally use hemp / CBD, and if you do, what are some of the main reasons why you personally use it?

LH: I find cannabis to be an enormous balanced product to have in my daily life. So I will smoke it. I will ingest it. I will chew a piece of gum. I'll put a squirt of an extract, even in my salad oil. You know, just to make sure I'm getting it. 

NT: Right. I love that. What is the one favorite or one of the best places you traveled so far?

LH: I'm pretty much a present tense personality. I'm on the farm planting right now, so today, the farm is my favorite place to be. But as I mentioned, I had a farm in Hawaii and I’ve been a lifelong transoceanic sailor. So maybe the open water is a favorite place.

NT: Okay. I like that. What do you see as the future for the marijuana, cannabis, hemp industry? Where do you see it going with laws changing and things becoming more lenient. What do you see as the future for hemp?

LH: Opening up. Free the plants, open it up, try it, utilize it where it benefits your life. Grow it, if you want to grow it as a gardener. You know: free it up. And I think we're getting pretty darn close on a federal level. I mean, hemp is now federally legal 100% and I think we're not far away from having marijuana be legalized as well. I don't want to put a date on it, but it's got to be be coming.

NT: What was the inspiration behind Asheville Hemp Project? The name, the design, the whole culture of the brand? What was the vision for the brand? 

LH: We're trying to share a point of view. And a lifestyle that hearkens back to something old, but that has relevant bits in a contemporary life. I have spent most of my working life in New York City where there’s hustle and bustle, and it's fast and people are stressed out. So we say - look inner, look outer and connect. And I see cannabis as a way to engage in your own health and wellness, which I think is really healthy and smart. I don't think we can count on the pharmaceutical world to carry us where we need to go, whereas in an emergency, of course - Bbut as a daily lifestyle option, pharma drugs don't seem like the best option we could come up with.

NT: Right. I totally agree with you on that. For sure. What is one of your favorite fashion designers? You mentioned you've been in the fashion industry as well. What are some of your favorite designers and why?

LH: Well, I've worked with many. But I am a sort of a picky shopper with my own unique anti-fashion fashion sense. I probably should give it to not a designer, but Levi's or something, because I typically have them covering my ass.

NT: Yes, yes, yes. I agree. Levi's, I mean, brands like Levi's, Gap… I feel like sometimes everyone wants to be the Versace, which is amazing, obviously, but I feel like something like a Levi's, like you said, touch billions of people. Many people can afford it. It's on a whole different level.

LH: You know, look at the cultural impact. Blue jeans. I mean, I'll wear a pair of Diesels too, but still...

NT: I love Diesel too. Shout out to Renzo Rosso. Yeah. Last question: What is your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs that are looking to get into your field of business, CBD, hemp, and marijuana?

LH: I think, what applies to business generally and to entrepreneurs in all spaces and industries, you need, first of all, Tenacity. You've got to be tenacious and you have to have vision. Have a clear idea of where you're trying to go, and then also be nimble enough that you can pivot when you Learn new things or see a market trending in a different direction. So both being monomaniacal and mostly focused on what you're trying to do. And then also being agile or nimble and being able to adapt quickly because that is one of the things that big business doesn't do very well.

NT: Should they look for investors? Should they already have startup capital? Obviously everything is different depending on the person.

LH:  I mean, if you have the capital, just get going. Use your own capital to seed your business effort and the likelihood of being able to then attract capital at a better valuation. is already in place. On the other hand, if you don't have any capital, that's not a reason to not do it. So, I'd say start with friends and family and think small. Don't go huge out on a limb. When you take investment from other people, you have a responsibility for protecting that capital and making sure that you don't lose it. And truthfully, I find it's an added level of stress, not an easing of your situation. On the other hand, you can't do much with no money. Raise a little bit if you can, talk to your friends and family, and if you can get just enough to get a toe hold and start developing some cash flow. Then you've got a proof of concept and you can go into the marketplace looking for investors who are going to ask the hard questions, so you need to be ready for it. 

NT: Oh yeah. I totally agree. I love that. Leslie, I want to say thank you. I truly appreciate you doing this interview. I look forward to seeing the impact that your words and your perspective has on our listeners and definitely look forward to seeing what you have going on in the future.

LH: Thank you so much, Adrian. One of these days, get yourself down to the farm.

NT:  I will be there soon. Trust me when everything opens up and I'm definitely heading over there fast.

LH: Sounds good. Bye bye.