As CBD is becoming more in demand, CBD businesses still face the challenges of navigating regulatory frameworks when it comes to producing and selling high-quality products. In this episode, Maryam Henein of Simply Transformative joins to discuss her journey in developing a CBD business, and the hurdles she’s faced along the way.
Listen in to hear more about the expectations of being a CBD business owner and why the challenges of the business may be worthwhile, as well as a look into Simply Transformative’s products.
Insights From The Episode
- What Maryam’s journey with CBD comprised of, including a strive to stand on the frontline and try CBD first to inform others of it’s effects.
- How Maryam’s involvement in the film, “Vanishing of the Bees”, led to her enchantment with the honey bee that eventually helped start her company.
- What the challenges are for those who open their own CBD business, and how valuable it is to educate consumers on what to look for in their products while CBD is becoming ever-more popular.
- What the most popular products are for Simply Transformative, including a tincture and topical that are paired with other vitamins and minerals, and that aid in treating many ailments.
- Why the wellness targets of individuals are important to understand when producing CBD, and how the small details matter when it comes to helping people.
- While the future of CBD may include some hurtles, the desire for education will continue to grow, which may depend on state-by-state regulations.
- What the relation is between one’s diet and CBD’s full therapeutic benefits.
Resources & Links From The Episode
- Patent No. 6,630,507: Why the U.S. government holds a patent on cannabis plant compounds – Denver Post
- Vanishing Of The Bees
- Hemp Bioremediation: The Miracle Crop That Actually Cleans Soil – Ministry of Hemp
Connect With The Guest
- Simply Transformative (website)
- Simply Transformative on Facebook
- HoneyColony (website)
- HoneyColony on Facebook
- HoneyColony on Twitter
- HoneyColony on LinkedIn
About Simply Transformative
Simply Transformative is a site that focuses on transformative solutions for health, led by plant medicine. They want to empower consumers to be their own best health advocates while putting honesty back into the food supply. They are here to unite the growing number of people adopting healthy lifestyles and seeking to cut through the hype and claims about natural products and remedies. With a little help from leading health experts and top-notch journalists in the field, community wisdom determines what works and what doesn’t.
Scott: Hey Scott with The CBD Guide here and welcome back. On this episode I’m speaking with Maryam Henein, who is the founder and editor-in-chief of HoneyColony, an online magazine for health and wellness, which also sells wellness products…and in fact, was one of the first CBD Oil Suppliers To Accept Credit Cards Through U.S Bank. She’s now selling CBD products under a different brand called Simply Transformative, and that’s all part of a sort of a winding and challenging journey selling CBD products. She was the director of the award-winning documentary film, Vanishing of the Bees, which was narrated by Elliot Page.
Lastly, she has written multiple articles relating to CBD, one of her most read is entitled, “The Politics Of CBD In A Technofascist Age” so she’s not someone who shies away from any kind of controversy. Maryam, welcome to the show.
Maryam: Thank you, Scott. Thank you for having me.
Scott: Absolutely. Yeah. There’s so much to cover. I guess I’ll just start with the simplest question I have, which is, how did you first discover CBD and realize it could offer so many potential benefits for people?
Maryam: Yeah, sure. So this is, 2016, I consider myself a visionary. I see into the future and try to be ahead of the curve. And so my business partner at the time came home with some CBD, which had THC, and I tried some. And we quickly decided to add it to the offerings, not knowing what we were getting into, because I consider myself on the front lines, taking bullets for the people that have come after me. And now, I joke that everyone and their mother make CBD, usually bad CBD and that we were selling this cannabinoid way before Martha Stewart and Kim Kardashian, and then have taken so many bullets. And in fact, today, we don’t offer CBD on honeycolony.com. People have to go to simplytransformative.com because we were not allowed to sell other things along with CBD, and so we had to protect our assets, protect, divide kind of the company and the offerings there and then keep the other offerings and the magazine on honeycolony.com even though this has no psychoactive properties, and initially, it was placed on a Schedule 1 even though the government also patented CBD, knowing that it’s antioxidant and neuroprotective.
So they had an agenda, and I discovered the agenda, the coincidence of finding out that the FDA approved or the one that would become FDA approved, the fake CBD, was made by GW Pharma, Epidiolex, and they have an exclusive marketing agreement with Bayer. And I blew the whistle on Bayer and their systemic pesticides when I directed “Vanishing of the Bees.” So I joke, as a fan of alliteration, what are the chances of sharing bees and bud in common with Bayer?
Scott: I guess before we dive into all of that, can you speak a bit more to, I guess, how you started HoneyColony and then a bit more about Simply Transformative and how that kind of…you know, what your brand is there, and sort of what products you’re selling, and what folks tend to say about them?
Maryam: Sure, thank you. So after making “Vanishing of the Bees” and really being enchanted by the honeybee, and my business partner and I basically emulated the honeybees in that the site kinda forages for the best sources of information and products. And initially, we were selling other people’s products, and they were all products and still are all products that I use personally so that I vet them, and quality is really important, made in the U.S. is very important. So then we shifted and we started branding our own products. So at one point, in positioning our articles kind of from a biohacking, autoimmune perspective, as someone who’s reversed lupus and fibromyalgia, who’s been hit by a car and dragged 50 feet and had to learn how to walk again, and really wanting to empower people to be their own best health advocate, knowing full well that Western medicine does not have the answers, does not really care about your well-being.
They care about just making money off of you while you’re sick. And I noticed also, when making HoneyColony, that we are the bees. We are the ones who are slowly being poisoned by sublethal doses. And so initially, the company got to a point where it was getting half a million unique visitors. The day that Jan, my business partner, brought CBD home is a distinct day because that was also when PayPal awarded us $100,000 working capital, and that made a significant difference. But then…so we were thriving, and we were originally selling someone else’s CBD, and it was clunking…it was not the caliber that I wanted. And so then I met…
Scott: Quality, yeah.
Maryam: The quality. And then I met Eliza Moriarty, who, getting feedback from me, devised a beautiful liposomal formula with CBD and Chinese herbs, which still, to this day, I don’t see that quality or that formulation. And then, when things…jumping a little bit, when things went crashing and I had to get rid of the people who got me in this position with their mediocrity, because, you know, I kinda jumped in and rescued the company with the help of people who believed in me and our message, but I was never…you know, I’ve not come to this Earth to run operations. I joke that I’d rather lick the inside of a toilet bowl than do the Excel forensic. So I really had to step in, and I bring that up because I was doing customer service, I had to let go of the people that had worked for me, and I was a one-man band, one-woman band, and I got to speak to the customers, customers that waited from June to January to get our medicine because it helped.
And when I started speaking, I knew I made an excellent product, but I didn’t know the caliber in which…and I had people with cancer, bladder cancer, veterans, anxiety, insomniacs, all across the board, telling me how amazing the medicine we were offering. And now it’s unfortunate because it’s been saturated, excuse my language, of poor-quality products that don’t look at liposomal, that are not offering the entourage effect. So I say in my story, it’s amazing how this miraculous compound has attracted so many shady individuals. There’s so much scum in the processing world, having been robbed, not only did we get shut down. Then we had places like T1 that robbed us straight up, whose CEO is known on ripoff.com, who…this guy is, like, arrogant and telling people that he’s God.
Scott: And T1, just to bring everybody up to speed here, so T1 payments processing, this is a merchant processor. So if you have a company and you’re wanting to accept credit card payments or maybe other kinds of payments, you would go and find a processor. And so processors are, in many ways, you know, gatekeepers, and they work with banks. And there’s, you know, all sorts of laws and regulations, and things like that, if folks are listening, and they wanna jump back with our episode with Rod Kight, you know.
Maryam: Oh, yeah. Sorry, I interviewed him many times in my stories.
Scott: Yeah, exactly, exactly. So you know, you have this framework, and then you have CBD. And if there are, you know, folks that are making CBD products, of course, there’s varying quality, but there’s a lot of folks out there that are making fantastic products, you kind of can run into issues with the payments. So, Maryam, as you were saying, you know, T1, you ran into another issue. So you’ve been shut down by some of these processors, and then you have T1 and things going on there. So really it seems like a very challenging ecosystem to just navigate, right?
Maryam: Yeah. And then I would consult with others and help them in the spirit of cross-pollinating. But when you’re getting shut down, and you go two weeks at a time where you’re strapped, you have no way to make a living, and you wanna help people, and your heart is in it, and you actually care when you see all these shysters, and so that’s why honeycolony.com put out so many articles to educate people on what to look for because there’s so many nuances, and unfortunately, we live in a mediocre world now where things are half-done and people don’t pay attention to details. So maybe perhaps customers wouldn’t even value the amount of scrutinizing and detail that goes into it when a lot of CBD formulas are not like I said, full spectrum. They’re isolates, they’re bad, or all these marketing tactics of, like, CBD, and kombucha, and coffee. It’s, like, hepatic first pass, it’ll degrade, and it won’t even…all they’re doing is putting those three letters to jack up their prices but not acknowledging the science.
So you’d want it rectally or liposomally to get into the bloodstream and bypass the liver where it breaks down. And so there’s a lot of things to consider, and because there’s so much crap…I mean, I even had processors that said that they would take us on if we had zero THC. So they were even stricter than the FDA because they didn’t want to get in trouble, even though if you don’t even have the minimal entourage effect, you’re not making the most of all the cannabinoids, which CBD is one of them, but there’s others.
And when we recently…my goodness, I’ve gone through so much merchant processors’ like underwear. And I’ve been put on a match-list but for spiteful reasons to further sensor me and make it difficult. And I’ve just been…like, I am personally like a phoenix rising from the ashes, but it’s been very, very exhausting. And so now we have simplytransformative.com where we, eventually, after getting robbed by T1 and also getting robbed by iCanPay, which I don’t know why my people that were working for me decided to work with China, and I wasn’t thrilled about working with China, and then I found out that they were basically ripping us off, they cooked our books, they owed us $20,000. And all of these things put a tremendous strain on the company because of politics. So we created Simply Transformative. And after it all, eventually, Square had shut me down. So it’s been…and I’ve had many people say, “Well, Maryam, just stop selling CBD.” Why? I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m actually helping people. And I’m not gonna just succumb. I’m a trailblazer. And so I really think it’s important to educate people on what to look for when purchasing CBD when it’s become so popular.
Scott: There’s so much to unpack. I think you make such a good point in that we sort of have this ecosystem and we have, you know, these products that, when made well, when sourced well, can be so helpful, but then we have these larger systems that are trying to create regulatory frameworks, and there’s all sorts of, you know, companies and things like this trying to protect themselves and protect others. It’s a mess, to say it quite honestly. I’m curious. So as you’ve gone through and now, you know, sort of, you’ve spun things off from HoneyColony, and you’ve had a lot of success and a lot of challenges, to kind of bring it back to the products themselves, what are some of the products that, from your customers’ perspective, have been really helpful to them? And kind of what specifically are…you know, is it tinctures? Is it creams? Is it, you know, gummies? Gummies are all the rage, all of these types of things. What are the products that you seem to see are getting the most positive reception from your customers?
Maryam: Well, we only offer a tincture and a topical CBD that’s so yummy and, again, has, like, nothing else, with coQ10, and Boswellia, and Japanese knotweed, and liposomal CBD. And so, for people who have topical pain, we get a lot of feedback, and people can just go to simplytransformative.com and see the reviews. And as far as the tincture, I mean, again, like, as I mentioned, it runs the gamut of all types of ailments. And because it’s so good, I have had people wait for months. It’s no longer the case, where we now are up again, but now they can…and it’s not…we don’t offer cheap stuff because just doing a run for me for 600 bottles is like $18,000, and unfortunately, I’ve not been able…I’ve had to do them in small batches because we’re not a big outfit. We look a lot bigger than we are.
Scott: Yeah. And I think, too, there’s a good point there in that I’ve had a conversation…we’ve touched on this in another episode where, you know, the quality is so important and sourcing is so important. And you know, you don’t wanna get into this race to the bottom price point because, then, that’s where corners get cut, and that’s where, you know, claims are made and there’s questions about what exactly this is. And so I think the CBD industry, you know, we always talk about the sort of…it’s a bit of a bogeyman, but the fact is, is that it’s true, in the CBD industry, you have these, like, kinda gas station, you know, “Oh, yeah, this is CBD. You know this is gonna be really helpful to you. And yeah, maybe it’s, like, cheaper than what you might find at a boutique store, or something online, or something like that.” But is it really gonna give you what you’re looking for? And I think it’s a really important distinction, because the tough thing, I think, for the industry as a whole is sorting out the good from the bad, the snake oil from the legitimate, you know, product. And I think that’s something that when I talk to folks like yourself and others who are trying to do things the right way, you know, the reality is, is that it may be…for a quality product, yeah, the price point might be a little higher than the gas station, but that’s kind of built-in, right? That’s the difference, right?
Maryam: Not imbibing organic CBD or organic cannabis just defeats the entire…like, it’s just ridiculous because cannabis, which is a beautiful plant, is a bioremediator and it was used in Chernobyl to clean the soil to give people a sense of its power. So if you’re not eating and imbibing organic, then you’re ingesting heavy metals, which just, again, defeats the purpose. And I don’t think a lot of people who sell CBD necessarily know the nuances or…There’s a lot of…even the dosing, right, you have to kinda start, and every person is different. In smaller amounts, it could be energizing. In bigger amounts, it can be sedative. It really depends on what other compounds are in there. And unfortunately, we would probably offer more THC, if we could, in some formulations. I’m really into personalizing something for the person, given functional medicine is my background, which is really the future of medicine. And so we’re not able to put in as much THC.
Scott: I think, yeah, it’s one of those things that it’s such a…you know, the industry, when you look at all these kinds of businesses and industries, it’s so young. And then you have this landscape where, you know, there’s a lot of people that kinda control the tolls, so to speak, and you have people that want to protect themselves and not, you know, step out of line, because, “Well, there’s this legal thing,” “Well, there’s this regulatory thing.” And what it creates is such challenges and frustrations for the folks that are on the ground, like yourself, trying to make great products, and help people, and be, you know, a part of the solution. And so I think that’s something that a lot of folks, whether they’re listeners or whether they’re thinking, you know, “I wanna start a CBD business someday,” that’s a challenge.
There’s a lot of skeptics out there about, you know…or they’re unsure, rather, about the benefits of CBD products and how can this really help me in my life. If someone were to come to you and say, you know, “I’m skeptical. I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s for me. I don’t know if I even wanna try it,” what might you say to them to encourage them to take the plunge? You know, start with a low dose, you were talking about that earlier. You know, don’t go hog-wild with it but take the plunge and give CBD a chance to see if maybe it might be a beneficial addition to their wellness regimen, so to speak.
Maryam: When I consult as a culture consultant with people and touch upon CBD, I mean, the only things that come up is that they don’t want psychoactive, they don’t wanna get high. And ours doesn’t offer any THC. So that’s the only hesitancy to try. I’ve had to maybe look at what other medications they’re taking. And it really depends on what condition, what they’re trying to achieve. Let’s say, it’s like insomnia.
Scott: Yeah, what their wellness target is, right, yeah.
Maryam: Yeah. And what are the other factors, like, there’s so many reasons as to why someone would not be sleeping. Is it nocturia? Is it cortisol levels? What is it? Is it poor sleep hygiene? There’s deep sleep. There’s REM. I mean, there’s just… I am into details. If I had a t-shirt, it’d be a details matter, because no one paid attention to them, and they make a difference. Nuances make a difference. So I would work with the person to see what their hesitance, why they’re being hesitant to try it because there’s really no reason unless they have some preconceived notions of what CBD is.
Scott: Sure. Yeah. No, I think that’s a really good point. And again, going back to what you had said about, you know, things like the dosing, and starting slow, and seeing, “Okay, this does benefit you because we have these different bodies, and we’re all…our chemistries, you know, it’s different.” And so that is really, really important. I always like to turn our attention to the future as we kind of wrap up our discussions here. When you look in the future, what do you see for the future of CBD? How might the landscape change in the months and years to come?
Maryam: Well, I think that’s a good question. To be honest, I don’t know where it stands now as far as what someone goes through if they’re just starting a business. I think there is quite a lot of hurdles still. I’m a big proponent of education.
Maryam: So I don’t know, because, in a way, the market has been fully saturated with stuff, so I don’t know what the future is. I know that it was an integral part of my arsenal in reversing lupus and dealing with fibromyalgia. So I’m sorry if it’s not, you know, the best answer to what the future is. Just, it’s very much part of the…I mean, it’s there. CBD is here. I think it also depends on the state, which state are you in, what are the hurdles in buying it or selling it where you live. What do you think?
Scott: What do I think? Yeah, that’s a good question. I think that, you know, the tide doesn’t go away. The tide doesn’t stop coming in. And you know, there is so much evidence and people saying, “Hey, this is helping me.” And there’s so many people out there that are like, “You know what, I wanna start a business. I want to help people. I want to sell a product I believe in.” Whatever it would be, then I think it’s not going away. I think that, as we go on, the regulatory frameworks, I guess the optimist in me thinks that they’ll catch up, and I think that folks like yourself who are sort of trailblazing and sort of taking the lumps early on are gonna be the ones who really set the path forward. And because you’re continuing to march on and, you know, sell products that you believe in and kind of have that approach that, ultimately, it’ll get better. And we’ll see this industry mature in a way that it should mature.
And I think that one of the keys too is because you kind of still have this sort of gold rush thing happening that my hope is, again, I’m a pretty big optimist, my hope is, is that, sort of, sorts out a lot of the bad actors, the folks that are not sourcing things the right way, not making claims that are like, “What? No, that’s not, you know, that’s not what it is.” That they’ll kind of get filtered out. And I think that the industry itself is very cognizant of this and very focused on this, and the people that are doing things the right way are gonna keep that push and keep that information. That’s what we really try to do on this show is, “Hey, let’s cast aside, you know, a lot of, you know, the extra stuff, and let’s go down to the facts, and let’s go down to the people that are trying to do it the right way, and let’s have a path forward.”
Maryam: If you are, you know, looking to incorporate CBD in your life, like anything, to me, I mean, when it comes to health, it starts with your diet. So I’ve told many, many customers or clients, like, if you’re gonna be chowing down on fried chicken, I don’t really care how much CBD you’re gonna take, because you’re [inaudible 00:38:25] the impacts. And so, oftentimes, the easiest thing…well, the easiest thing is to change your diet, but it’s the hardest thing. And over, and over, and over again, I see it, but to me, it’s about really embracing a more holistic, healthy living. It’s just like those people that are like, “Oh, you’re wearing your face diaper while you’re drinking a beer, full of glyphosate and inflammatory grains.” It doesn’t…it just does not make any sense to me. It doesn’t make sense. Just to really look at…I am not…I do keto mostly. I do not eat sugar. So if anyone’s like, “How are you in your 40, you have no gray hair?” It’s, like, I do not eat sugar. I do not drink alcohol, which is sugar. I do not eat carbs, maybe complex healthy carbs like broccoli, and dairy. And there’s a reason for that.
So again, I tailor it to the person, but first and foremost, they have to eat for their condition, and they have to acknowledge inflammation, which is the root of all disease, and we are living in an inflammatory world where everyone is inflamed. You could just see it. There’s no shortage of doughy people out there. I know that sounds harsh. But I am also a food buff, and I am proud to be…because this is my temple. I’ve almost died more than once, and I wanna live to my potential and see… And that’s why I’m into biohacking and into functional medicine because it is cutting edge, and it really looks at the nuances of our… Things are complex. They’re not just simple, “Take this,” and you know, you’ll be fine in the morning. What else is lending to your condition?
Scott: I mean, I think you bring up some excellent, excellent points. Wow. Maryam, we covered a lot, but we only scratched the surface today. We could probably do this for another few hours, I’m sure. I wanted to thank you so, so much for joining me on the show today, sharing your story, your perspectives. And if folks are listening, and let’s say they are curious, they wanna find out more, maybe there’s some products that could help them, where can they do that? Where should they go?
Maryam: Thank you, Scott, for having me and for also, you know, you’re definitely educating in the realm, so you can have this type of conversation with me. So thank you. People can buzz on over to honeycolony.com where, if they are interested in educating themselves about CBD, then there’s no shortage of articles there. And then they can go to simplytransformative.com, our offerings, my tincture is called Superior, because it is, and Morpho, which is transformative. I named it after a butterfly in Costa Rica that’s close to my heart, but it also is about transforming, and you can transform your life and lead a better existence. So people also can check out, I’m on Twitter. I’m on Gab as LadyBee. And I have…I’m on my second YouTube channel, with a second strike on Maryam Henein, BeeLady 2.
Scott: Awesome. Thanks again.
Maryam: Thank you.