Retail Success With Erin Meagher of Beneficial Blends – Ep27

As the CBD industry continues to expand, new and old businesses are learning how to run a successful operation. This episode’s guest is Erin Meagher, the founder, and CEO of Beneficial Blends.

Erin is experienced in manufacturing quality products, and has also been involved in the creation of unique CBD brands. Listen in to hear about how Beneficial Blends operates as a successful facility, as well as its newest line of water-soluble CBD products.

Insights From The Episode

  • How Beneficial Blends incorporated CBD into their portfolio.
  • What services Beneficial Blends provides, and how they have grown over 12 years.
  • What the key to success is, according to Erin, and how it has made the business sustainable.
  • What Beneficial Blends two most popular products are.
  • How to break through the noise amongst other companies and reach consumers effectively.
  • Why Beneficial Blends can be trusted with their quality products.
  • When skeptical consumers aren’t sure about what CBD is good for, what steps they can take to learn more about it.
  • What the near future for CBD and Beneficial Blends may look like.

Resources & Links From The Episode

Connect With The Guest

About Beneficial Blends

Tampa-based Beneficial Blends, LLC, established in 2009, is a turn-key manufacturer of food, beverage, dietary supplements, cosmetics, and aromatherapy. With top certifications in every category, the company is the industry-leading, fastest-growing ingestible oil company in the United States.

Beneficial Blends’ services include a private label, co-pack, re-pack, bulk, and consulting. The company has two retail-ready brands: Chillax’n™ CBD and Kelapo® cooking oils and ghee. Beneficial Blends has earned many accolades for excellence in manufacturing and sustained revenue growth, breaking the 500 marks on the INC5000 list and being recognized as Tampa Bay Business Journal’s Fastest-Growing Companies for four years in a row. Visit BeneficialBlends.com for more information.

Episode Transcript

Scott: Hey, what’s going on everyone? Welcome to another episode of the “CBD Guide Podcast.” Really excited about today’s show where we’re gonna be talking with Erin Meagher, who is the founder and CEO of Beneficial Blends, which is an industry-leading ingestible oil company. She’s got a fantastic story and let’s just jump right in. Erin, welcome to the show.

Erin: Hi Scott. Thanks for having me on this morning.

Scott: Well, thanks for being here. I always kick it off with the simple question. How’d you discover CBD and realize it could be so helpful?

Erin: Well, you know, CBD is a relatively new product in the marketplace. And so it was probably a couple years ago that we were already in business with our other oils company and working on that and CBD came to our attention. And so just like I did with, you know, Beneficial Blends back in 2009, researching oils and how they’re good for you. Started researching CBD and found out that there’s a lot of tangible benefits of using the product. So it actually, you know, I learned about it from other people in the industry, and then started doing research, and decided that CBD is something that we wanted to add to our portfolio to be able to help people benefit from the uses of CBD.

Scott: Right. So, you were already kind of doing the oil thing. And then, of course, you know, CBD comes across and there’s just so much fantastic information out there, and people are really excited about it, and you’re like, okay, we gotta add some of these to our offerings. Beneficial Blends, really interesting story behind it. And I’m curious if you could share that with us. You offer more than just CBD products, you also offer services, including private labeling, co-packing, repacking, and more. Where do these all come into play, I guess in the larger industry? I just thought it was really unique. You’re not just selling CBD products.

Erin: Yeah. So Beneficial Blends is a supplier to basically all of your major retail grocery outlets in the U.S., right? So Walmart, Publix, Kroger, Safeway, all the, you know, those are our customer base. And so we’re turn key manufacturer. And can do any of those things that you just mentioned, private labeling, co-packing for other brands. We do repacking services, dietary supplements, and we recently added some cosmetic and aromatherapy products to our lines. So we do CBD and non-CBD products. You know, CBD is actually a very small proportion of our business right now. We’ve been around for 12 years and we’ve always focused on products that have tangible beneficial health properties.

So I started the company myself out of my house back in 2009 with coconut oil. And it grew from there to be able to offer all of those things. And it was really around, you know, our four-diamond approach of beneficial-for-you products, quality, transparency, and social impact. And so, it’s been a delight to see how much the company has grown over the past 12 or 13 years into our 50,000 square foot facility and growing at current.

Scott: That’s fantastic. And I mean, you started out, did you say your garage? You know, was it a matter of just establishing the right relationships, and having these quality products, and just kind of the slow but steady and then sometimes quite rapid march? Or what do you think were your keys to just having this success? I think people are always like, “How did you do it?”

Erin: Yeah. So I think the key to success is grit. And I know that a lot of people define grit as having a lot of passion over a long period of time. And I think that that exemplifies exactly what I was able to do to be able to get the company in those first days, working out of my home office, you know, for the first 8 or 9 months researching everything, reading books, how do I do this? And just literally having to figure it out step by step, and then being able to have the right products at the right times, very on-trend, you know, CBD is definitely a trend right now. But we got on the wave at the right time for consumers to be receptive to your products, to be able to know what to put in front of your retailers, what they’re looking for, what they need to be able to place products on shelf. But yeah, I think just starting a business and running a business for so long, grit is definitely, I think, one of the big determining factors of being able to make it sustainable and to keep going.

Scott: I Like that. Yeah. Grit. Yeah. What a nice bite-sized way to sorta package all of that. You have a number of unique products and you’ve kinda been alluding to some of them, particularly there is NanoLyte, which is the first broad-spectrum Water-Soluble CBD in the U.S. And I know there’s a lot of buzz around Water-Soluble CBD and the benefits there, what’s the story behind NanoLyte and why is it being water-soluble so impactful?

Erin: So when we were turned on to CBD, you know, CBD is an oil. And so everybody understands that oils and waters don’t mix together. And so for some brands of products, we knew immediately that they were going to wanna put CBD in everything. So as food manufacturers, you need to be able to formulate CBD so that it can go into beverages or other mixtures that are water-soluble. It can go into cosmetics that would need to be water-soluble, you know. So we understood that there was going to be an immediate need in the manufacturing space to take CBD from an oil state to a water-soluble state, to be able to mix it in.

So, you know, not only was the end also organic, because we’ve played in the organic and natural space for our entire existence, so consumers want organic on their products as well. So we were able to take those things, the organic, the water-soluble, you know, work with leading PhDs to develop, you know, NanoLyte in our FDA compliant facility. You know, we utilize high-intensity ultrasonication and phospholipids to create a clear, very tasty water-soluble product and taste is important as well because CBD generally is bitter. And so when you take it through the water-soluble process, we’re able to eliminate that bitterness. So when it gets added to beverages, food, dietary supplements, that doesn’t go on it.

So NanoLyte is actually, you know, very small. We make the oil particles so small that they become light or translucent. And we like to say it’s light in color and light in taste.

Scott: I love that. I love that. And I’ve had so many conversations with folks who are you know, creating various CBD products that are gonna be ingested or whatever it may be. And that taste focus is huge. We had a whole episode recently about gummies. And you know, everyone wants to have something that tastes good. And there’s a lot of people out there that don’t want that kind of bitter taste as you were talking about or anything that’s too hempy so to speak. So clearly that’s something you guys identified and worked towards, right?

Erin: Yes, absolutely. I had gummies the other day. They weren’t even CBD gummies, but they were organic and I ate them as I was like, “Oh, that’s awful.” You know, consumers just don’t want bad-tasting products. And that is true with CBD as well. So it’s really great that you have a lot of good players in the CBD industry who are, you know, coming up with good-tasting products that are regulated as well, which I think is another huge aspect to be able to get consumers to buy in, to trusting CBD products.

Scott: Absolutely. And the last thing I’d add to sort of this is, you know, so much of CBD is about in maybe incorporating it into a wellness lifestyle. So, you know, maybe having a gummy or whatever it might be, you know, each day or whatever you’re doing as part of like a supplement, if it tastes really bad, you’re probably not gonna be like looking forward to like, “All right, time to take my supplement.” You’re just not gonna wanna do that.

Erin: Exactly.

Scott: So you also recently launched a whole line of products called Chillax’n CBD? Chillax’n CBD?

Erin: Chillax’n come on…

Scott: Yeah, Chillax’n, there it is.

Erin: Chillax’n, yeah.

Scott: So what are some of the products in this line and what are your customers saying about them?

Erin: Well, you know, Chillax’n CBD is definitely for what you just said. If you’re gonna take a product every day for wellness, for overall good feeling, we have what you need in a Chillax’n line. I actually call most of our products that you consume your social assists. So, we have beverage enhancers, we have mouth sprays, we have individual shots that are all really great flavors. So whether it’s cherry or lemon-lime, or fruit punch, pink lemonade, all of the things that you love. So you can go about your everyday lifestyle and include the Chillax’n products wherever you go.

And then we have creams and roll-ons for your active lifestyles. And then for your home, some of my favorite products too are candles and diffusers. So really we’re trying to create CBD in all aspects of your life to help everyone, you know, come down from the highs, not reach those lows, but reach a very steady middle calmness throughout their day.

Scott: So very, very much like I was just saying about just, hey, this is just part of your day-to-day lifestyle and feeling good and really embracing wellness and organic products, right?

Erin: Yes, absolutely. And Chillax’n is, you know, chillax. That’s what everyone says, chill and relax.

Scott: Right, chillax, chill out.

Erin: Yeah, chillax with us.

Scott: So we were talking a little bit about this, you know, how much success you guys have had and all of this. And you were also talking about how, you know, CBD is really having this moment. There are more and more companies popping up and products, and there’s so much buzz around it. It’s seeing so much growth. And there’s just more and more competition. What have been some of your keys with CBD specifically to maybe breaking through the noise and really reaching people with what you do and what you can kinda bring to the table?

Erin: Yeah. I think one of the great things about our company is that we weren’t formed around the basis of CBD. So we’ve been around for a really long time. You know, we have really good suppliers where, you know, we run a regulated facility. So just having all of that already established and being able to be a trusted partner in the space, I think helps a ton for our legitimacy and bringing a product to market like the NanoLyte, you know, broad-spectrum water-soluble product. But then I think when you say, you know, about breaking through the noise, I think, you know, with Chillax’n, it’s really that unique assortment of what we bring. These really good tasting, feel-good results from like the beverage enhancers that I was talking about, the shots. I mean, you know, I look at my peer group and we’re all stressed out and we’re told to work, work, work, work, work.

And I think with COVID and the pandemic, you’ve seen everyone stepping back from that and re-evaluating choices. And I think, you know, actual acts and brands speaks to that a lot about how can you find more of a sense of calm within what you’re doing to be able to live a more balanced life? So I think that’s what’s really helping us break through the noise is really struck a chord with our consumers around that, around their overall wellbeing, because mental health is such a big part of your overall health with your physical health, your work-life health, your home health is mental health. And I think that’s what these products do, bringing you back to that sense of calm. And so that’s, you know, I think where you see a lot of difference between us and a lot of CBD products that still look like you only buy them in a gas station.

Scott: Erin, I love that you have pointed this out because it is such an important topic. And something to think about, you know, we do live these lives that are just so busy and hectic and you wanna do it all. You know, I’m a parent with a 20-month old, and I’m an entrepreneur, and I’m running around constantly. And whether it’s with a product or just by lifestyle and incorporating that, I wanna have that time too, okay, let’s take a breather, let’s chillax and really have that space to do that. Because then here’s the beautiful thing that will help you whether you’re having your family time, whether you’re working on something professionally because if you’re all stressed out and your mental health isn’t there, you aren’t gonna be as productive as you can be. You aren’t going to be as present as you can be, right?

Erin: Absolutely. And I feel you. Look, I am, you know, number one wrapped up in that busy lifestyle. Like I’m, you know, I have a four-year-old and twin three-year-olds like, ah, it’s craziness. I feel it just as much as everybody else on how crazy and hectic our lives are. And yet studies show the busier you are the less you actually get done, you have to be able to take those reset moments.

Scott: I think another piece that has really become in focus, I think in CBD is this idea of quality. And you’ve got third-party testing, you’ve got all these types of things that the businesses in the industry are trying to do. How do you ensure that your products and services lead with the greatest possible quality? What are the keys to making sure that everything you release is something that you are proud of and, you know, hey, this quality is tip-top shape, and we’re doing it right?

Erin: Yeah. So CBD is new. It’s not federally regulated yet. So you have to adhere to state guidelines and the limited guidelines, you know, through the FDA. But we were already an SQF certified facility, which is a Safe Quality Food facility. So we source and vet the right suppliers, you know, with a high-quality product. We build trusted relationships in the sourcing side, and then we get audited every year. You know, it’s a very intense 3-day audit process where they come in and evaluate all of our practices, whether it’s, you know, good manufacturing practices, sourcing practices, traceability practices.

And then on top of that, we ensure all of our product is tested internally, but then externally, you know, we send it to third-party labs to be able to verify COAs and you know, so it’s a lot of, you know, applying practices that we’ve already used in other foodstuffs into CBD. And so that’s really important having a partner that can adhere to all of that stuff is important as well.

Scott: Right. And I think that goes back to what you were saying about, you know, one of the things that has helped you as you’ve gone into the world of CBD is because you did have this framework already. You guys have been around and you had had success with other types of products. So you had already built a lot of these quality controls, so to speak, right?

Erin: Absolutely. Yeah. You know, when you start small and grow bigger, a lot of times you have to do the work yourself. So I can say one of the very first quality manuals I had to write myself, we’ve been vastly improved from that one. But, you know, we have a great quality team made up of several very intelligent people who help us stay on the straight and narrow.

Scott: I’m curious, whenever you guys are going through that inspection, are you always just like, “Oh, okay. It’s inspection time, everybody in their places?”

Erin: It is the most nerve-wracking, three days of the year. And that’s just one of our audits. We have several audits, you know, organic audits and Fair for Life audits, but that new…and that one is particularly stressful. I remember one year I was 9 months pregnant going through that audit.

Scott: Oh my gosh.

Erin: And I was just like, oh my gosh, this is so stressful. And we passed. We get excellent scores on it, you know? Every year we get excellent scores, but you’re always just extremely stressed during that time period.

Scott: Sure, sure. My father, he worked for Abbott Laboratories for years and he would go and when they’d have like FDA inspections and things like that, he was always a little more stressed those weeks, I would say.

Erin: He needs some Chillax’n.

Scott: He needed some Chillax’n at that point.

Erin: I agree. I’m gonna start advertising it to quality and regulatory people, “Take Chillax’n during your audits.”

Scott: There it is, there it is. You were talking about this a little bit earlier, but if someone’s newer to the world of CBD and maybe they’re unsure, they’re even skeptical. They’re like, “I don’t know if this is gonna work. I don’t know if this will fit with my lifestyle.” They don’t know about any kinda benefits. What might you say to them to encourage them to try a product such as Chillax’n? And be like, “Hey, try it out, see if it helps?”

Erin: Yeah. I get these questions all the time. So, you know, a lot of older consumers, they start asking things like, “Is it gonna get me high?” And I’m like, “No, you know, CBD with non-detectable THC is not going to get you high.” And then they, you know, ask questions about, “Well, what is it good for?” So really it’s great for, we talked a lot already about relaxation. You know, we have the creams that are great for, you know, your hands, if you’re a little bit achy or, you know, in Florida, we love to golf, you know, tennis. So after your active lifestyle, you know, if you’re a little bit sore rolling it on, you know, places, you know, it’s a little bit of relief from that.

But the other thing is, you know, just start small, you know, you don’t have to, you know, take a whole bunch. But if you start small and try a little bit, you know, and then CBD is great if you can take it, you know, multiple days, you know, like a multivitamin every day. And so, you know, and try something that you think you’d enjoy that tastes good like we already talked about. And you know, maybe keep trying until you find something you like. CBD is definitely new. So consumers maybe they’re gonna need to try more than one thing before they, you know, find what works for them.

Scott: Right. Right. And they’ve gotta find the brands such as yours that are doing things the right way. So…

Erin: Absolutely.

Scott: Turning our attention to the future as we wind down our chat here, what do you see in the future for CBD as a whole? And I’m curious, just you’ve seen so much, and you’re in so many different areas. How do you see the landscape changing in the months and years to come?

Erin: Yeah, we’re actively involved with a, you know, U.S. Hemp Roundtable, which is trying adamantly to really bridge this gap between federal and state regulators, and the manufacturers and brands of CBD. And they do a phenomenal job at this. And so really what we’re hoping is that in the months, you know, months and years to come, we can get an agreed-upon landscape that will be able to help companies and brands deliver really great products in each and every state and be compliant without jumping through a lot of, you know, legal loopholes, you know, from state to state. Where you don’t want is you don’t want California to be regulating different than Colorado, which is different than Florida, you know, that would make a distribution to consumers, you know, very difficult.

So I think that’s one of the best things that’s gonna come in the near term and then long term, it’s gonna be great to be able to see as CBD gets into more consumers’ hands, just all those antidotal stories about how it’s helping them and how, you know, they love incorporating it into their lifestyle. And that’s what I really love about being able to put products in the marketplace that, you know, people find a benefit from, is hearing their stories about their well-being and how it helped. And you know, that makes you smile.

Scott: That’s the kinda thing that motivates you to get out of bed in the morning and do it all because that’s what it’s all about. And also, you know, I had another episode recently where we were just kinda talking about the market, and the industry, and all of this, there are still so many people who have never tried a CBD product, don’t know what it is. And there was still so much opportunity there. And so many people that could be helped with incorporating CBD into their lifestyle. So it’ll be exciting to see as you mentioned more of that happening. Last question here, Erin, what’s next for Beneficial Blends, specifically, any exciting projects going on or anything else that you can share that our listeners might like?

Erin: Absolutely. You know, we’re always coming up with fabulous ideas and, you know, new innovation. So the best thing to do is, you know, follow us at, you know, chillaxncbd.com because that’s where all the, you know, the buzzes and the new unique products that are coming out. The Chillax’n is new, but we’re still adding great things to it. So we have some new things coming out in the next six months that we can’t quite talk about, but it’s on the verge of being revealed. So definitely, you know, follow us, you have our website and, you know, we’re on Insta, Facebook, all that good stuff as well.

Scott: Fantastic. We will be staying tuned. And of course, we’ll have all the links in our show notes to all of that so folks can connect. Erin, thank you so much for joining me on the show today. Sharing your story and some really interesting insight into success and the industry, and the exciting things that you guys are doing. So thank you.

Erin: Thank you. Have a great afternoon.

Scott: You too.

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