COLUMBUS, Ohio — While you're getting a new look at one local salon, you can also try a new beverage created by a local entrepreneur.
W*nder is a naturally-flavored sparkling beverage, it is infused with vitamins and CBD,” says the drink's creator, Tanisha Robinson. “We've got four unique flavors and formulations, under the idea that we want people to wonder all day.”
The former BrewDog USA CEO and Chief Disruption Officer's new venture enters a growing market – CBD or cannabidiol-infused beverages.
“CBD beverages are really really new in the industry, but CBD isn't that new, says Robinson. “So I think a lot more people are learning about CBD.”
CBD is an extract of the cannabis or hemp plant that's been gaining in popularity since changes in federal and state law made it's use legal. Unlike it's fellow extract THC, it has no psychoactive properties.
“Anecdotally, people take CBD for anxiety for inflammation and it's a great antioxidant,” said Robinson. “And, beverages are a really easy delivery mechanism for people that want to experience CBD in a very precise dosage.”
Research is still developing on the effects of CBD to treat or provide relief for conditions, but early studies suggest some potential benefits for a variety of ailments.
Robinson worked to develop the four types of w*nder with different botanical infusions for different effects – relaxation, endurance, energy – and all with a standard dose of the wonder extract.
“All of our beverages have 20 milligrams CBD isolate, no THC and 25 calories,” says Robinson.
The CBD beverage industry is growing to meet increased demand. Data from analysts Zenith Global the U.S. cannabis drinks market could hit 1.4 billion by 2023. But not all CBD products are the same, and the market is full of untested and unverified products.
“There are products with THC and other unsafe substances like heavy medals and pesticides,” says Robinson, who uses third-party verification to test and verify her products. She says the dedication to transparency and taste makes her product stand out. Each batch is tested and the results posted online.
“We actually have a QR code on all of our packaging which shows that with our third party test results that our products are safe and contain no THC,” said Robinson.
Because CBD drinks are still new, she's launching the product with special customer and staff education events with sales partners like Charles Penzone salons. She educates people on what CBD does and doesn't do, and provides info cards to customers.
Last week, Robinson held a tasting event in Columbus' Short North salon location to give Penzone customers and staff an opportunity to try the product. W*nder will be available for customers at the salon cafes for five dollars a can.
“We're very excited to join in the community and help others succeed,” says Charles Penzone Salon Director Allye Blankenship. “CBD is very popular right now and I think being able to infuse that into all of our cafes and our social bars in all the locations is very exciting for our guests.”
Robinson hopes not only to have a product that grows along with the industry, but also allows her to give back and lift others up.
Part of W*nder's profits – 4.20 percent to be exact – will be set aside to help minority startups in cannabis. She says providing a pathway to startup capital fills a current gap in efforts aimed to help create a pipeline for minorities into the legal market.
“They're expunging records, vacating convictions and even setting aside licenses for these entrepreneurs,” says Robinson. “But, the challenge is, and the data shows this, that it's hard for Black and Brown people to raise capital for their businesses.”
Survey data shows that legal cannabis businesses are overwhelmingly white male-owned, and several reports from legal markets show factors such as convictions which prohibit licensure or lack of capital for startup costs disproportionally keep Black and Latino people, who she calls the “O.G. entrepreneurs”, out of the market.
“I think that if there is one industry where we need to battle hard for Black and Brown people, it's not tech, it's not finance, it has to be cannabis, because so many Black and Brown lives and families have been destroyed by the prohibition of cannabis,” said Robinson.
W*nder is now available online and in select bars, restaurants and stores.