Founder: Gina Champion-Cain
No. of Local Employees: Five
Headquarters: Sports Arena area
Year Founded: 2017
Company Description: A health and wellness THC-free, full spectrum, organic hemp oil-based product company.
For the last 20 years or so, Gina Champion-Cain has made a name for herself in San Diego, mostly in the real estate, hospitality and retail industries.
As founder and CEO of American National Investments Inc. (ANI), she is responsible for over 10 million square feet of retail, office and hospitality-commercial space, as well as over 5,000 residential units. As founder of The Patio Group, a hospitality group owned by ANI, she owns close to a dozen retail and food and beverage spots around the county.
These days, Champion-Cain is trying her hand at a new business venture.
The serial entrepreneur recently announced the launch of Cultivate, her THC-free, full spectrum, organic hemp oil-based beauty and wellness company. So far, Champion-Cain has released a soothing balm, a peppermint essential oil tincture and soft gels, which she created with the help of Canada-based chemists.
By summer, she said he will bring to market a full line of anti-aging and skincare products, which will include toners and lotions priced between $45 and $150 per item, and whose ingredients she sources from certified organic farms in Colorado, according to Champion-Cain.
When asked where the idea to create her own health and beauty line came from, Champion-Cain said it was from her own personal desire to be healthier and age gracefully.
“It was about me growing older and having wellness be a part of my daily life,” she said, adding that she wanted to be able to give others the same option through Cultivate. “Taking care of myself so I can care for the ones around me is very important. Knowing what I put in my body for the best me I can be is so important in what we do. I’m engaged to be healthy and stay healthy on a natural path. ”
Jon Baumunk, accounting lecturer at San Diego State University and professor who teaches “Business of Cannabis” class at The Evergreen State College in Washington, said it made sense for someone with a career in food service to delve into the new cannabis industry.
“Processing cannabis can look a lot like food handling,” said Baumunk, adding that regulators in the cannabis industry are turning to fields like food, tobacco and alcohol to determine what laws to implement.
He did add that, from a social justice aspect, Champion-Cain might get some pushback being that she doesn’t have a known history with cannabis and
Cultivate may come off as an opportunistic entrepreneurial endeavor to those that have been involved in the illegal handling of cannabis in the past.
It was two years ago that Champion-Cain decided to expand into the $425 billion beauty category. “What is most important to us is taking our time to develop the right product to assure its effectiveness, safety and quality for our growing consumers,” Champion-Cain said about the timeframe.
After doing “a lot of research” and getting “good advice” from partners in the industry, Champion-Cain said she opted for THC-free, full-spectrum hemp extract oil as the base for her products.
“It is for customers not interested in the psychoactive effects,” she said. “It has a composition closer to what exists in nature.”
Cultivate is headquartered in the Sports Arena area and shares a space with Champion-Cain’s coffee roasting and chocolate baking verticals. So far, it has three full-time employees and two sales people on staff, as well as “a lot of outside vendors,” she said. Champion-Cain added that the company has the corporate backing of ANI, which includes a marketing agency and in-house accounting department.
“What I did (with Cultivate) is what I always do: assemble the best team I can for the particular engagement we are involved with,” she said, adding that although she wears many hats, she is “most excited” when she is handling diverse brands. “Of course, it is a great deal to manage, but, I put in place a highly competent executive team with strong talent supporting the focus and management of all our brands and projects.”
Champion-Cain said she starts her days at 3 a.m. to make sure to get a head start across all her businesses on a daily basis. She also said that while the beauty and wellness industry is new for her, it is a great addition to her companies’ overall “feel good” ethos. Her real estate development ventures build growth and opportunity for others; her vacation rentals provide getaways for visitors wanting to enjoy San Diego; and her Patio restaurants offer a relaxing, enjoyable atmosphere for patrons, she said.
As of now, Cultivate products are being sold at The Patio Express stores, owned by The Patio Group. Champion-Cain said the goal is, when the rest of the products drop in a few weeks, to aggressively push online sales and aim for wholesale contracts with big-box stores, spas and hotels and grocers including Sprouts Farmers Market and Lazy Acres Market locations nationally.