When Josh and Jenna Zwagil hear the word no, they don’t hear a rejection; they hear a challenge.
In 2014 Jenna was hit with challenging physical issues. Her fighter spirit kicked in and she scoured holistic websites and discussion boards in search of options. Jenna’s husband, Josh, happens to be the founder of MyDailyChoice, a direct sales wellness company that sources many of its ingredients from a farm in Kentucky. One day he returned home from the farm with CBD oil samples. After trying the oil, Jenna felt like she had her glow back. “I felt like a normal person for once,” she says.
As her excitement grew, Jenna wanted to be sure others could benefit as she did. She had tested various CBD and medical marijuana products in the past without noticeable results. But after sharing samples with family and friends who had similar responses, it seemed to Jenna that this was something different. She wanted to share this newfound product with the world.
The next logical step in Jenna’s mind was to add a CBD oil line to the existing MyDailyChoice portfolio, which at the time was focused only on nutritional sprays. Josh wasn’t sure his company and the larger industry were ready for cannabis integration. His response reflected a widespread hesitation and even criticism toward companies that chose to integrate CBD into their offerings.
Jenna says that no didn’t negate the obligation she felt to share her story and CBD oil with the world, so she created a simple digital storefront and began educating people about CBD through a Facebook group. Within three months, the volume of orders for her CBD oil product exceeded what she could handle on her own.
Growth Through Education
Jenna built a business on the idea that information and transparency is the best way to combat fear and hesitation. Interested site visitors can learn about the extraction process, view certified documentation of CBD concentration and even return their first empty CBD product bottle if they’re not seeing desired results.
“We’re very transparent,” Josh says. “For so many years, this is an ingredient that has been demonized because of prohibition and all of the propaganda against the hemp industry. It is heavily misunderstood, but I think that’s changing.”
The numbers agree. In mid-2017, HempWorx was born. The Zwagils positioned it to reside within the infrastructure of the MyDailyChoice brand. Sales climbed to $9.6 million by the end of 2017 and then grew by 1,100 percent the following year, reaching the $100-million mark by the end of 2018.
What began as one woman’s desperation for relief became a popular Las Vegas-based brand with 70 employees, 60,000 affiliates and more than 200,000 customers.
HempWorx is marketed through a blend of social, internet and in-person outreach led by affiliates who earn a percentage by selling CBD products and sharing the company’s direct-selling business opportunity. That means Facebook Live broadcasts instead of TV ads; and often circle-of-influence networking rather than print media ads.
“I wanted to give people an option to take control of their health and the choices they had available,” Jenna says. “My mission was to get this product into as many homes as possible because I knew how life-changing it was for me.”
The Homegrown Difference
HempWorx made waves by being one of the first companies to capitalize on a niche market that few were brave enough or scaled adequately to take advantage of. But to stay unique in an increasingly saturated market, the Zwagils had to lean in to innovation.
“We’re not taking notes from anyone else,” Jenna says. “A lot of companies are getting their footing in the tincture market, which we’ve pretty much annihilated.”
Part of that innovation means taking risks with new products and constantly re-evaluating existing ones. Currently, HempWorx offers 18 products ranging from anti-aging cream to dog treats. Regardless of where analysts predict the market will go, the Zwagils have made a commitment that their product development will never be led by trends, but by real people who understand their company and who are actively purchasing or selling HempWorx products.
“We poll our affiliates and ask them what they want to see rolled out,” Josh says. “We’re very observant and listen to what our people want because at the end of the day, what we feel may sell may not be what our people actually want.”
As CBD products continue to gain popularity, competitors rush to the market to pour their interpretation of CBD into what’s hot. At the moment, that seems to be gummies and topicals. The newest HempWorx product debuted in March: a CBD bath bomb.
But all this effort would prove nil if the product didn’t have quality ingredients and manufacturing behind it. The Zwagils’ commitment to quality is displayed in the readily available documentation on their website, which allows anyone to view the certified levels of THC and CBD in each product batch. Additionally, HempWorx partnered with American farmers, which allows the Zwagils the luxury of working with vendors who support their vision when it comes to quality and compliance in how the plants are grown and harvested, as well as how the CBD is extracted.
“If we buy from local farmers, and then it gets distributed to all 50 states, it keeps the money in our economy,” Josh says. “I believe we should support American farmers. That’s why we’ve chosen to stay in the U.S.”
Third-party batch testing of every product that goes through their warehouse serves as one more round of checks and balances, helping to ensure all HempWorx ingredients remain in tune with the Zwagils’ mantra of transparency, from soil to oil.
“We keep it pure and simple and literally take the oil straight off the farm,” Jenna says. “We aren’t hiding our labels. We’re proud of our farming, our extraction methods and the way we grow the cannabis.”
Critical Mass Is Still on the Horizon
HempWorx was founded because of Jenna’s personal experience using CBD oil that included very low amounts of THC, the psychoactive chemical that can be found in hemp’s more infamous cousin, marijuana. Many industry leaders say this full-spectrum CBD oil may take advantage of the so-called entourage effect, which is believed to occur when the body’s multitude of cannabinoid receptors benefit from a combination of the different cannabinoids within the hemp plant working together.
Although THC within this full-spectrum CBD is stated to be less than 0.3 percent, in compliance with the 2018 Farm Bill, everyone’s body metabolizes chemicals differently, which leaves the possibility that this trace amount could trigger a positive result on a routine drug screening. To provide a solution, HempWorx developed zero-THC products to serve government workers, military personnel or anyone who can’t afford the risk that even the smallest amount of THC could present.
Whether full-spectrum or THC-free, the Zwagils have heard back from thousands of customers and affiliates who believe the HempWorx products have improved their well-being—a far cry from the days when Jenna wasn’t sure the products would work for anyone except her. Today, it’s not uncommon for customers or affiliates to walk into their Las Vegas office in tears and tell stories about the products.
For someone who knows the hopelessness of daily pain and discomfort, it’s these kinds of stories, Jenna says, that make behind-the-scenes struggles worth it.
“My excitement is just to get the name out there—the word on the street that CBD is not drugs,” Jenna says. “It’s not marijuana.”
As the word on the street spreads, the Zwagils are looking to international markets that might be receptive to their alternative mindset and product portfolio. In the meantime, momentum continues to build.
“We still feel like we haven’t hit critical mass or gone into hyper-growth yet,” Josh says. “We accomplished so much in two years that we’re excited to see how things unfold.”
This article originally appeared in the May/June 2019 issue of CBD Snapshot. Never miss a story; subscribe today