Will Oseroff is one of the founders of Blue Ridge Hemp Company in Asheville, North Carolina. It’s a company that appears to be blossoming as one of the leaders in the state’s fledgling hemp industry.

So, Carolina Cannabis News wanted to know: How did he get his start?

As with a lot of entrepreneurs, Oseroff began on his own, working long hours and figuring things out as he went, often with the help of his customers.

Now his company is expanding, and he’s bringing others with him on the path to success.

It all began with a want to help others

Oseroff got his start in the hemp industry after researching natural pain relievers to help a loved one diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Oseroff’s want to help led to the creation of his first topical CBD salve which he made in his kitchen. Now he has an entire line of salves available at retail stores and online.

“We started with a topical because we were able to use essential oils that are high in terpenes. And applying CBD topically is shown to have a really high bioavailability as opposed to ingesting it.”

“It worked,” says Oseroff, “it helped relieve her joint pain and her inflammation.”

Blue Ridge Hemp’s social media feeds include a lot of motivational mantras. They’re worth sifting through if you need a nudge of encouragement.

Helping others leads to success

After hearing his story, friends and family wanted samples of Oseroff’s CBD products to try for themselves. Soon after, he was receiving orders and special requests for different types of products.

“People would ask if we could make a product for muscle pain or headaches,” says Oseroff, “So we did by using hemp-derived CBD and other botanicals that work alongside CBD to produce the targeted effect. [We tried] different essential oils, different vegetable oils and butters and different herbs that will work synergistically to create the proper effect.”

In 2015, Oseroff officially formed Blue Ridge Hemp Company. But it wasn’t until the spring of 2016 that he decided to really give it a go.

He began by selling his hemp-based CBD products at a local farmer’s market.

“The West Asheville Farmers Market was the first location,” Oseroff says. In preparation for market days, he says, “I worked through the night for a couple days to make a bunch of products. I’m thinking, ‘Awesome, this stuff is gonna sell so fast,’ and, like, barely any sold.

And it was like that for weeks and weeks and weeks, but it was fun because we started to build up our name in the community. I got to meet and talk with a lot of people that were interested in the product and get feedback from customers about what they liked and disliked,” he says.

His customers offered insight into how he could improve and refine the products, and Oseroff listened and adjusted his formulas.

He continued to work the farmers market scene through the end of 2016 and was able to get his products into a few stores. Blue Ridge Hemp was beginning to grow.

Success takes time

As is the case with many new businesses in modern times a website is the first thing built. Oseroff says he spent a month locked in his house getting BlueRidgeHempCo.com to look just right. Unfortunately, he says, it took two years to see any sales from his efforts.

“No traffic to it forever,” says Oseroff who also lamented his inability to purchase advertising for hemp products. And, he says, “I wasn’t doing social media at that time.”

It wasn’t until the end of 2016 – around Christmastime – that Oseroff says Blue Ridge Hemp Company began receiving online orders.

“That’s when I got Seth Connelly to come join me,” Oseroff says. “He helped me make and ship the products, and we’re like, ‘Shit, we should focus more on the online sales, ‘cause we sold way more this month online than in the last few months.’”

Social media has been integral to the success of many hemp businesses, but even growing a social media network has been a challenge for Oseroff and others in the Carolina hemp industry.

YouTube, for a while, shut down cannabis sites. Facebook shut down cannabis-related pages, too. And Instagram, a subsidiary of Facebook, is no different, even in Canada where cannabis is legal recreationally. The social media sites don’t shut everyone down; they appear to be selective, and their reasoning varies.

Blue Ridge Hemp Company was one of the companies whose social media accounts were shut down for a time.

“We came up with an ‘affiliate program,’ but most people just wanted to promote the product. That’s called influencer marketing. So, we focused on social media like Instagram and building our online brand and community. In 2017, we grew quite a bit and were able to hire a few new people.”

Social media has restored sites and pages, but the rules seem fluid. Blue Ridge’s accounts were restored, and its growth continued.

“ … which led to being able to hire a team of employees to take on the different tasks. And for this year created new products like bath bombs and ingestible products like the ghee, a coconut oil and pre-rolls,” says Oseroff, adding, “We’re currently working on a chocolate.”

“We collaborated with Living Kitchen in Charlotte to create CBD cookies,” says Oseroff. “We also collaborated to create a CBD kombucha, [which is] fermented black tea and sugar; ours is grapefruit flavor.”

Oseroff credits his collaborations with other local companies for his expanding client base and creating a synergistic effect that leads to more product ideas that in turn attract more like-minded customers.

“We focus on branding,” says Oseroff, “putting out content about our values, self-care, positivity, gratitude, hard work – the things people have control over.”

Blue Ridge Hemp Company is located at 61 1/2 N Lexington Avenue in Asheville, N.C.

“We focus on branding,” says Oseroff, “putting out content about our values, self-care, positivity, gratitude, hard work – the things people have control over.”

Growing as fast as hemp

Working as a team has been successful for Blue Ridge Hemp. Now they are branching out.

Blue Ridge Hemp is divided into three sub-companies: B.R. Nutritionals make the products. B.R. Networks is the administration arm of the company whose latest job is helping other retailers start businesses that carry Blue Ridge Hemp products. B.R. Hemp Solutions is dedicated to helping farmers and processing facilities succeed.

Helping hemp farmers is an exciting new endeavor for them, Oseroff says. “If we can help someone avoid the pitfalls and really grow as a farm or company, that’s great!” he says.

Instead of long-term goals, the team sets weekly and monthly goals. This helps keep people on track while feeling successful and allows them to be flexible in the long term.

“If you had asked me at the beginning of 2017 if I thought we’d be selling Blue Js and whole flower around the country, I would’ve probably said, ‘I don’t know man, maybe.’ But now that’s what we’re doing and working on,” says Oseroff.

One weekly goal at a time he and his team have gone from tweaking their recipe at the farmer’s market to hosting the first annual Selector’s Cup hemp flower competition this weekend.

Blue Ridge Hemp Company is launching the Selector’s Cup hemp flower competition this year in Asheville, N.C.

Find out everything you need to know about the first annual Selector’s Cup here.

Cara Wilson

Cara Wilson

Contributor

Cara Wilson is a cannabis advocate and freelance writer based in Hickory, N.C.

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