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Opportunities are high — but True State customers won’t be, joked Michael Wilson, announcing the launch of a new hemp-based brand and the one-time luxury watchmaker’s return to the world of consumer goods.
“We’re trying to get to the point where people look at the word ‘hemp’ and they stop thinking about marijuana and realize that hemp is an incredible plant with a lot of nutritional value,” Wilson explained, detailing True State’s initial product lineup, which debuted Tuesday and includes hemp protein powder, balm, and flavorless tinctures.
“It doesn’t have to be something that’s medical. It doesn’t have to be something that’s recreational. It can be something that’s just a part of your routine and a part of your life,” he added.
It’s important to know right off the bat, Wilson said, that True State isn’t a CBD brand, despite its hemp-derived products.
“Hemp protein powder contains no cannabinoids of any sorts. It’s finely ground seeds [from an industrial cannabis plant] that are very high in protein,” he explained. “There’s more to the hemp plant than just CBD. … This is something you’ll see in grocery stores and food in the future.”
Harvesting a crop of ideas
True State emerged this week from a larger field of business ventures.
“It’s been about four months of my life, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Wilson, director of research and development at United American Hemp, describing True State’s launch as an independent startup led by one of UAH’s co-founders. It’s the latest project from the company’s partners, which also includes Year-Round Garden.
In development for more than a year, True State’s initial product lineup was revealed Tuesday amid an ongoing global pandemic and days after the birth of Wilson’s third child.
“We’re so excited about this. We’ve granularly analyzed every aspect of what it takes to make a product and we think we’ve made one that’s, quite frankly, the best on the market. Now is the time for us to have a consumer brand,” he said of lessons learned after nearly two years as an industrial grower, working alongside partner and friend James DeWitt, CEO of United American Hemp.
“We really wanted to be able to take our knowledge and our experience from growing and producing to create a really great product and brand — we just didn’t know for a while what we wanted that to look like,” Wilson said.
As the growers evaluated the landscape and reflected on such lessons — which included uncovering ways to manage a sustainable and reputable hemp operation that now spans two 3,000-square-foot greenhouses and 34 acres of farmland in rural Louisburg — pursuing True State was ultimately rooted in open market opportunities, Wilson said.
Local roots, e-commerce leaves
While end cap displays and stocked shelves might seem like a distant goal for True State, Wilson — an experienced retailer, having previously founded Niall luxury watches — hopes to see True State stocked in local stores when the time is right.
“We’ll be really proud the day that you can go walk down the aisle and it’s sitting right next to Manitoba Harvest and Nutiva. It’s a local option for something that has been dominated by large Canadian companies,” he said
For now, the brand hopes to establish itself as a dominant force in the e-commerce market.
“In a world where everybody sells online, we’re trying to be competitive on price and I don’t think anyone can match what we’re willing to commit to customer service,” he said, highlighting a dedicated phone line for personally answering customers’ questions about True State products.
“Our primary goal is to just crush it. We’re talking about a local brand. Its local production, local processing and packaging. Kansas City has always done a great job of supporting local [businesses] and I hope that catches on with us,” Wilson said.
“I hope people can see the value and the real effort we’re trying to put into it.”
Launching True State in the midst of the health crisis provided Wilson with even more room for entrepreneurial growth, he noted.
“While the pandemic and it’s auxiliary effects are something we are watching very closely and taking very seriously, we see this time period as one full of opportunity. With the shift in focus to e-commerce, young brands like ours have equal opportunities to reach billions of potential customers worldwide,” he said of True State’s outlook on the economy and re-emerging world.
“We have the opportunity to be nimble and compete with bigger brands that may not be willing to invest the time and energy in new platforms and content types like we are. We believe there is an immense opportunity, right now, to deliver exceptional customer service and invest in the happiness of customers.”