Michael Fitzgerald, former IT consultant and co-owner of a successful web development business turned co-owner of Body and Mind Botanicals, started to become aware of the health benefits of CBD after researching MS therapies for his partner’s father.
He explains it was then that he realised the potential benefits to his own health.
“I read on the CBD therapy website how it helps with pain inflammation and stress and aided sleep and that really pricked my interest because I hadn’t slept for more than four hours a night since I left home at the age of 14.
“I decided to search for CBD oil online but found it hard to find and the websites selling it were all pretty shifty looking!”
With curiosity exceeding concern, he ordered a batch of oil and after taking it for just a couple of days he enjoyed his first restful eight-hour sleep since his teens as well as feeling his stress levels decreasing and his mood improving.
“It was only after I’d been taking it for a couple of weeks that I was able to see how stress had been weighing me down before," he explains.
“I was doing a job that I didn’t find interesting or challenging. I had a big mortgage and a growing family and the stress of supporting my family while doing a job I didn’t enjoy was getting on top of me without me realising.”
Time for a cuppa
Fitzgerald says this realisation was his inspiration to set up his own CBD company.
After spending year researching and learning as much as he thought he possible could about this plant and its health benefits, he proposed his cannabis tea business idea to his IT business partner Martin Kaprochyi, who was immediately sold.
They reinvested the savings from their IT business and began their search for Eastern Europe farmers who could grow their cannabis as well as testing different cannabis strains to create their ideal Body and Mind Botanicals tea.
“There are 85 different that are legal to grow in Europe and we chose one that delivers a really light and tasty flavour but is packed with the benefits of CBD,” explains Fitzgerald.
“We also re-introduce fats into the tea before packaging which increases the extraction of the CBD into the tea.
“People say they notice the benefits of the CBD after just one mug and that’s because of the strain we’ve chosen and the fact it’s picked and chopped by hand in order to protect the cannibanoids which are the part of the plant that provide the stress relieving health benefits.”
The co-owners travel to the cannabis farms twice every year to plant the first cannabis seed for the following year and to pick the first plant of the harvest.
Online sales began in February last year with an excellent reception from shoppers on Amazon until pay gateways started to block payments and Amazon banned sales of CBD products.
“This had a massive effect on business and we really started to question whether to just give up. It felt like everything was working against us.”
Just when they were starting to lose hope, they started to receive interest from coffee shops, health stores, and even some small distributors and by March this year the duo had gained listings in 250 retailers.
One ‘massive milestone’ came at the beginning of April when they were, by sheer serendipity, approached by three separate investors within one week all eager to invest in their business.
Negotiations led to a £300,000 investment which Fitzgerald says will help them realise their future plans to become the leading brand in the UK cannabis industry and a major international player.
“We want to develop our range to become like the Unilever of the cannabis industry except we will create all the products ourselves.
“We see our premium brand sitting really well across the globe. We’ve already had interest from France, Germany, Ireland, America and Canada.
“People from states in the US where cannabis is fully legalised are still buying our tea and are happy to pay the shipping costs because of the noticeable benefits our tea provides.”
With the aim to remain ‘truly innovative’, the entrepreneurs are already experimenting with new product idea with several trials taking place that can’t be revealed to the public at this stage.
The businessmen also own a brand of cold drinks called the Happy Drinks Co with drinks ‘packed full of CBD’.
Fitzgerald points out that whilst the CBD cold drinks market is in danger of becoming saturated, he believes the natural element of the Body and Mind Botanicals brand will appeal to the ethos of the cannabis target market.
“Many of these other drinks on the market are filled with sugar, aspartame and all sorts of other ingredients and the flavour profiles are terrible and their ethos clearly isn’t ‘wellness’.”
Wanting to provide the ultimate in convenient formats, the men are also developing a CBD breath mint, making it easier than ever for consumers to enjoy the benefits of CBD while sat at their desk.