Warren Bobrow=WB: Where are you from? What did you do originally? Why Cannabis?
TJ Stouder=TJS: I’m originally from Indiana, where most of my family still resides. After graduating from Notre Dame, I decided time to see the world and spent over a decade with Procter & Gamble learning about how to build a brand a consumer can trust. The number 1 thing I came away with is that in business, consumer is king! My professional cannabis journey began shortly after leaving P&G in 2017, though I was a long time consumer and didn’t understand the negative stigma around the plant. I truly started learning about the full potential of the broad spectrum of cannabinoids, out of necessity as my mom needed the push. After hearing the stigma first hand from her when I suggested trying it, I set out to change her mind. After six months of effort, it paid off, and I realized, consumers need a brand to do the hard work for them and help explain how and why this plant should be a part of our everyday lives.
WB: Please tell me about your company. What brought you into the healing business?
TJS: HOLISTIK Wellness™ is the whole hemp plant delivered into a convenient and portable beverage Stir STIK™. Each of our STIKs is packed with 10 mg of CBD Wellness, a water soluble formulation of broad spectrum hemp extract. The most unique part of our CBD Wellness is that it begins from our indoor (Biodynamic Greenhouse proudly located upstate New York) grown plants, that never touch soil or outside air, and are trackable from seed-to-STIK. Plants are grown in crushed coconut husks which allow the plants to grow bigger and healthier, and within the controlled environment of the greenhouse creating clean and consistent products. Our consumers have been delighted with our simplified, approachable formulas, with few, all-natural ingredients targeting everyday wellness. With introductory sizes as low as three servings, its a low risk way to try something new.
WB: What are your six- and twelve-month goals? What about stigmas? What obstacles do you face? How do you anticipate removing them?
TJS: We are proud to be a part of this great industry and really, movement, evolving daily with new learnings about the Cannabis Sativa plant. Over the coming months and years, this will continue to swell as mainstream retailers come on board with full line ups and new innovation across topical, supplements, and ingestible hemp derived products. We are working with national retailers to craft this category with their consumer in mind, well aware of the massive amount of stigma and questions that come along with the category, much like my mom’s journey. That said, we try to simplify just like any new consumer product, you must first create approachability to draw the consumer in to learn more. Then you educate her to open up the possibility of a trial. Then comes the product, it must deliver in that first moment of truth. After that, its time to create a loyalist and even better an advocate, but we’ll keep that one close to the vest.
WB: What is your favorite food memory? Do you cook? Have anything you’d like to share about your favorite meal, or restaurant?
TJS: My wife and I had the pleasure of living a few years in Switzerland, which was an amazing cultural introduction to a myriad of foods from French to Italian, to Swiss, to Spanish. That said, the closest story to my heart was our first Thanksgiving, away from the US, when we had a chance to share the tradition of food and family with what felt like the world. We made a full traditional Thanksgiving meal, Turkey to Pecan Pie, to share with our friends and family there representing five countries, speaking four languages, and having an array palettes. The day truly showed a our home pride… and maybe a bit of how Americans can intake some calories for a holiday! I’m pretty sure they are still dieting from that meal, but certainly still smiling.
WB: What is your passion?
TJS: I’ll preference this with, I’m a lucky guy, as I would say I have two passions and I happen to be working on them: people and cannabis. The first was instilled early on from my grandfather who owned a small print shop but treated every person there from the blue collar night-shifter to the top customer account with the same level of respect. I learned from him that we are in this together and all play a role. The more we can do to help the next person succeed, the more cumulative success. The second, was another good fortune of family. I’ve been building consumer brands since I started working, always with a mission of delivering a consumer smile, even in some cases rather intangibly. Though cannabis has been the hardest endeavor i’ve even pursued, the daily consumer success story of how our product has touched their lives, makes it all worthwhile, giving me a genuine hunger for knowledge and excitement for exploring each new day.