The CBD space is a vibe right now and probably one of the hottest things on the market. Popping up in all kinds of everyday essentials, from beauty to wellness products. It is an ingredient known to have healing agents and one that Tonya Lewis believes can be an amazing addition to any modern-day product. She is actually betting on it, as the co-founder of NuSachi, a hemp manufacturing startup smack dab in East Nashville.
I had a chance to tour NuSachi’s greenhouse which sits on over 30 acres, and houses their meticulously grown hemp plants which is what CBD is derived from. Chatting with Tonya, who always gives genuine, positive vibes every time you are in her presence was such a treat. It was also an educational lesson in hemp, why this growing 17.5 billion dollar industry excites her and how she is looking to bring along more people who look like her.
As some may remember, Tonya founded The Post. A local coffee shop that served up healthy food options to the East Nashville community until closing in 2019, when Tonya felt a pull to something more. Something a little different. After attending her first Southern Hemp Expo Show in 2018, she would discover what her next move would be. “So, when I walked in the expo room there were two things that were glaring, I noticed I was the only woman in the room, and the only person of color”, as Tonya reflects. This led her to explore further, taking her to the National Black Farmers Association to understand what others were doing in the hemp space. There she gleaned another insight, almost every member was over the age of 65 and she was the youngest person there. In that moment, she realized there was a need for the up and coming generation to learn and gain entry into this space.
She would later come back from these life-changing experiences and connect with Mark Montgomery (a serial entrepreneur in his own right) to found NuSachi and raise over $2 million dollars to get their unique concept started. They started off planning to sell their oil in bulk to businesses seeking to incorporate CBD/hemp as an ingredient. However, COVID unveiled a new direction. They realized they could offer more customized THC-free solutions as growers of the plants. Now, Nusachi is providing manufacturing, formulation and product development for businesses seeking to create hemp-inspired products. Basically, if you want your body butter, skincare line or oils to incorporate a healing agent like CBD, NuSachi can help you create and bring it to market.
When talking with Tonya, you realize she is the type of entrepreneur who is naturally curious and creates based on her experiences. From starting a restaurant in her community where she noticed it lacked healthy food options. To now start a company in a nuanced and ever-changing industry that is prime for continued growth. It takes a visionary to see past things that others may dismiss or think is too risky. Plus, being able to do it and bring your community along is even more rewarding.
As Tonya shares, “In many ways, starting NuSachi feels very redemptive for me, especially as an African American woman in this industry”. She really has a true excitement around the work she is doing and the ability to give back. “I want to provide education that will uplift communities that historically have been disenfranchised because of this plant”, she continues by expressing, “I want people to know they can create actual businesses that help to restore, not tear down”. If you are interested in learning more, you can visit www.nusachi.com.
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