Cannuka’s Founder on Destigmatizing Cannabis and Brining Jobs to Rural America
By: Valeria Ramos
Before creating CBD beauty brand Cannuka, Founder and CEO Michael Bumgarner’s idea of skincare was “a bar of Dial soap, Vaseline, and lotion.” Fast forward to today, and Bumgarner is the man behind the largest CBD beauty launch in the world with brand partnerships at Ulta Beauty, Neiman Marcus, and 2000 other retail doors.
In our latest podcast episode, Bumgarner revealed it was a background in farming that led him to discover the power of cannabis and see its potential to be a game-changer in the beauty world.
“If you would have asked me five or six years ago if I was to be in the beauty industry, I probably would have laughed because I have a farming background. I got interested in beauty because of my passion for industrial hemp,” he said. “To reintroduce the cannabis plant to a large population, I identified beauty, specifically skincare, as a wide-open space where we could get a product on people’s skin and show them the benefits so they’d want to learn more about the plant and why it’s so effective.”
On this week’s episode of our Office Chats Podcast, Bumgarner sits down with Madame Blue’s Valeria Ramos to discuss how a background in rural farming led him to create a CBD skincare brand, how a shift in marketing strategies helped scale his company, and how Cannuka is reintroducing cannabis to consumers. Listen to the full episode on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.
Edited highlights below.
On creating a unique and natural skincare formula:
“We are a clean and natural skincare brand with two primary ingredients: CBD and Manuka honey. CBD has been shown to smooth and calm inflamed skin. Four years ago, I had a thought process of ‘Alright, this plant is going to take over the mainstream fairly soon, so how do we partner CBD with another synergistic ingredient to create a differentiator?’ That is where we found Manuka honey, which is medical-grade honey used in hospitals all across the world to heal burn wounds. We paired those two together and created a really effective formula to heal the skin.”
On how hemp can bring jobs to rural America:
“I look at industrial hemp for our small and medium-sized farmers to put their land back to work. I thought if I could create a brand that helps re-educate people on what cannabis is and what it’s not, maybe we can get some legislation passed that allows farmers to put their land in use and ultimately, allows them to make more money because a lot of small communities across America are struggling.”
On how a shift in marketing strategies helped shape his brand:
“When I started this, I had a very specific direct-to-consumer strategy. About two months into our launch, Facebook shut us down and Google shut us down so we had to pivot quickly. It was actually a good thing that happened because it forced us to start talking to national retailers. We were very fortunate to launch nationally with Ulta and a number of great retail partners. I look at those retailers as our influencers because, without them, no one would know who we are because I couldn’t pay to advertise because of the regulations against CBD. That is slowly opening up, but we’re very grateful for those national partnerships because they were able to advertise the brands that they work with and help build Cannuka into what it is today, which is one of the leaders in this new, thriving category.”
On the future of Cannuka:
“Everyone’s in survival mode this year so we want to get through this downturn in retail and general consumer spending and then we have a clear path: we’re launching in the U.K. next year and then we’re on a global path to scale across the world in the next three to five years. Ultimately, we will continue to scale and innovate.”