I yet again had the pleasure of speaking with Leah & Daniel Lakstins of Higher Ed Hemp Tours (HEHT) of Austin, TX about how their business model helps within the hemponomics sphere. Back in June they launched their Hemp Brand Dashboard. The company claims to fill gaps in the hemp supply chain by connecting brands directly to retailers and other ancillary services through a verified database feature.
With COVID still causing in person tours to stay virtual over liability concerns, education on verified and reliable brands is focus to include weekly news, consumer feedback from hemp tours, education courses, and trade show recaps.
Daniel and Leah pointed out to me on a phone call recently, than many retail fronts and brands entering the industry purely as hemp end-product commodity providers or product suppliers, just don’t have the basics in place to succeed long term.
Many don’t even have any basic liability insurance which is crucial if a customer becomes injured from a product on the shelf. The service HEHT provides can help give a customer ease of mind when seeing the verified logo, while educating retailers on how to be prepared properly for this changing market. They paint a scenario where a customer buys a product, and becomes injured because of an issue with a hemp product. In Texas, the retail shop is held responsible under Texas law for ensuring all labs were done on the product and that it is safe for human consumption if labeled for such. Without insurance, the retailer could be facing heavily burdensome fines and restitution penalties which possibly places them out of business before even paying that off. The customer may not collect all the damages needed to cover the injury they incurred from the faulty product.
Beyond insurance, HEHT verifies that the company is using all natural products, is properly licensed in the state of Texas, and that the lab reports are available and provide the required data per Texas law.
“We saw a huge disconnect between retailers and consumers, the consumers did not understand what cbd really was. Stores were struggling with legalities, understanding lab testing, getting people in the store, and even how to talk to consumers about the product without making medical claims. People have been making ridiculous claims about their products in the beginning and we have been able to advise people on how to promote this without crossing the legal lines.”
About Higher Ed Hemp Tours
Partnered with Cintia Nava, the three have known each other for several years and were initially not in the hemp industry. HEHT is actually part of their most recent venture, Last Squirt, which is a patented device to place on the tips of bottle sprayer tubes to get the last bit of a product, the last squirt, out of the bottom on the bottle. The company Last Squirt Inc which was started by the Lakstins in 2015, considers itself to be of the beauty and cosmetics industry.
The trio decided that they wanted to add a product to their line, and possibly branch off into the the hemp world with a line of beauty products that would include hemp based materials. Upon researching hemp providers and their crops, and being blown away at all the applications that the plant could provide, they decided to move forward in that direction. They wanted to start this operation in Texas in 2017, but were running into legal issues in Texas due to the status of hemp being illegal under the compassionate use act. There was just too much grey area legally to operate profitably as a startup, and they decided to hold off for a moment of time.
The group saw an issue taking place in a town they wanted to start up in. In 2018 while attending conventions, the trio noticed that Austin wasn’t catching on to the hemp and CBD craze the way the rest of the nation was. They saw there was a need in the market.
HEHT noted that the hemp community doesn’t seem to be vibing with the complete marijuana industry, and they want to connect and bridge that gap in Texas. Their mission is to connect an educated consumer with verified CBD brands. So how does one show credibility in a newly formed marketplace? By building off of previous legal and educational knowledge.
While the Lakstins are the innovators and business minds, Cintia has a bachelors of science in criminal justice, and a masters in education making her the legal knowledge and the teacher of the subject for the company. This allows them to consult and educate both the business side and the consumer side of the industry. She wanted to be in the cannabis industry, and walked away from a language school in Austin (she speaks four languages fluently). Realizing that retailers didn’t have much information and neither did the customer, this needed to be implemented. Cintia is even working on Hemp Business Builder as a product for HEHT which will be like taking a TABC course but for the employees of the hemp industry.
The tour before COVID, was a walking tour or even a party bus, where paying customers and consumers are taken to several business in town that sell a variety of products containing CBD. That has gone virtual for the time being. Some are just hemp retailers and others fit that Keep Austin Weird niche. One may take a tour and wind up going to a diner called Kinda Tropical that offers CBD infused waffles. The tour frequents Texas Sake which creates a hemp infused sake, along with Indigo Smart Cafe which serves CBD infused foods such as Chilean Style Hot Dogs. The tour does educate people that these methods are not likely to be the best ways to get any benefits that consumers possibly think they may be getting from CBD.
If one would like to reach out to HEHT, one can reach out via this link.
Jesse Williams is a writer for TXCANNACO.COM, you can find other articles from him there and hear him on the Texas Hemp Show podcast as the co-host