By Fran Daniel Winston-Salem Journal
Bob Crumley is known in North Carolina as an injury lawyer, but these days he is semi-retired from Crumley Roberts law firm and is the founder of a company that produces and sources hemp products.
Founder’s Hemp, based in Asheboro, started out making dietary supplement capsules and tinctures, but recently introduced a line of health and beauty products called Hemp Excellence.
Segmented Marketing Services, known as SMSi, based in Winston-Salem, is collaborating with Founder’s Hemp on pricing, packaging, marketing and distribution of Hemp Excellence.
Aside from beauty products, companies have used hemp over the years to manufacture such items as clothing, fuel, paper and plastics.
Crumley, the controlling shareholder of Founder’s Hemp, spoke of the benefits of hemp extract supplements.
“The seeds from hemp are 30 percent oil,” Crumley said. “That oil is filled with components — a near-perfect blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, iron, vitamin E and all the essential amino acids — that act like a super food for the skin.”
He said that some people think that hemp is marijuana, but it is not.
There are currently five products in the Hemp Excellence line — dietary supplement capsules, body spray, body butter, lip balm and body lotion.
They all have a wild flower scent. The products are shipped in dark, amber-colored packages. The aim of this packaging is to avoid the hemp oils’ exposure to sunlight, which could cause them to degrade and lose their effectiveness.
In Winston-Salem, the products are available at Body & Soul boutique at 545 Trade St. and Beauty World at 3427 Patterson Ave. Information on the products will be available soon at www.hempexcellence.com.
The Hemp Excellence line is primarily targeted at black, Hispanic and Asian consumers, but Lafayette Jones, president and chief executive of SMSi-Urban Call Marketing, said that “in our experience we know that there will be European American consumers who buy the product.”
Prices range from $2.99 for lip balm to $19.99 for dietary supplement capsules.
John Kim, owner of Beauty World, said that cannabinoids, a compound found in cannabis, also known as CBD, is a hot trend in the beauty industry.
“It’s becoming more available now because hemp can be grown in certain states,” Kim said.
Although a Hemp Excellence display was just set up in his store, Kim said that employees are excited about the possibility of getting samples.
“I think it will do very well,” Kim said of selling the product in Beauty World. “The challenge to us is educating the public about what it is and what it’s not.”
Lafayette Jones is a partner in SMSi along with his wife, Sandra Miller Jones. He is a former executive with Proctor & Gamble, Johnson Publishing, ConAgra Foods and Kraft Foods. Sandra Miller Jones, the founder of SMSi, is a former marketing manager for Quaker Oats.
SMSi has been creating marketing to help companies reach urban blacks, Hispanics and Asians since 1978. The company’s retail merchandising services include free product sampling, custom-published supplements, and in-store marketing targeted to women, men, families, teenager and urban consumers.
“Their contacts with the multicultural markets are so deep and so strong,” Crumley said.
Crumley’s daughter, Jamie, who is also a lawyer and the chief operations officer for Founder’s Hemp, made the initial contact with SMSi about collaborating on Hemp Excellence.
“I saw an article about Sandra and Lafayette and their journey as multicultural marketers,” Jamie Crumley said. “I was impressed with their views on multicultural marketing.”
Sandra Miller Jones said that she and her husband were attracted to work with the Crumleys because of their reputation and the fact that the new Founder’s Hemp health and beauty products fit well into SMSi’s overall corporate mission of bringing healthy products into its communities.
“For over two decades the tagline of our publications and marketing campaigns has been ‘Healthy Living Every Day!,’” Sandra Miller Jones said. “We know that access to information and brands can be lacking in multi-cultural communities. Our aim has been to reach individuals and families with education and messages about healthy brands and health in general.”
The campaign for Hemp Excellence will include educating people about hemp.
“Focusing on education and understanding exemplifies how we bring information to multi-cultural consumers,” Layafette Jones said.
The Urban Call Healthy Living Everyday! on Hemp Excellence will be distributed to a variety of SMSi “multicultural” communities such as beauty and barber shops, churches and retail outlets.
The death of three of Bob Crumley’s friends from cancer led to his decision to start Founder’s Hemp.
“I began to research alternative treatments,” Crumley said. “Not things that were necessarily a cure but (things) that could make the process easier.”
His research led him to cannibus and the differences between marijuana and hemp, which are both in the Cannabis sativa family.
“I realized that hemp cannabis was the way to go,” Crumley said. “Marijuana cannabis is more about the high and hemp cannabis is more about the health benefit value.”
Founder’s Hemp contracts with farmers throughout North Carolina.
“They harvest and we buy it from them and then we process it in our facilities in Asheboro,” Crumley said.
The company also has a line of products that it markets to the area of allied health, including doctors’ offices, health food stores, chiropractors and physical therapists; as well as products for the convenient store market.
Hemp has a long history in the world of agriculture in the United States.
“All five of the first U.S. presidents were hemp farmers,” Crumley said. “Hemp was an early currency in the United States. You could actually pay our taxes with hemp.”
The majority of industrial hemp production is overseas, meaning the U.S. market has relied on imports of hemp.
Production in the United States is restricted because of hemp’s association with marijuana, and current industry estimates report hemp sales in the country at about $600 million annually, according to a recent report from the Congressional Research Service.
The federal Agricultural Act of 2014, known as the 2014 farm bill, “provided that certain research institutions and state departments of agriculture could grow industrial hemp as part of an agricultural pilot program,” said the report.
The N.C. Assembly passed Senate Bill 313 in 2015, which enabled the N.C. Industrial Hemp Commission to develop rules and licensing guidelines to stay within federal laws.
The state’s first planting year was 2017.
Crumley, who lobbied the North Carolina state legislature to pass regulations that would allow farmers in the state to grow hemp again, said that Founder’s Hemp was the first company in North Carolina to process hemp.
“We had more permitted farmers the first year than any other state in the country,” he said.
He added that historically North Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee are three of the largest hemp producing states.
“We’re the right distance from the equator so we have the right amount of sunshine,” Crumley said. “We have the right soil type and we have the right amount of rain. It grew well before and it’ll grow well in the future.”
He is also chairman of the N.C. Industrial Hemp Association, which he founded. It has more than 1,000 members across the state.
Crumley’s goal is to be part of bringing industrial hemp production back into North Carolina “as an agricultural product and also as a health product.”