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Potyque: The women’s health foundations of an emerging British CBD brand

We sat down with founder Michelle Rust to get the inside line on how the company came into being.

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Credit: www.potyque.com

Potyque founder Michelle Rust set up the firm in 2019 after using CBD to treat her menopause symptoms.

Cannabis Wealth spoke to her about why chose to put her experience in the pharmaceutical industry into delving into a whole new industry.

Why did you enter this industry?

It was through my husband initially, who, after lots of research, came upon it as a potential solution for the menopause symptoms I was struggling with.

Since we started Potyque, the industry has become quite congested, but I hope that the introduction of the novel food licence legislation will enable all those with the license to trade legally.

That is one of the main reasons why we started Potyque; coming from a pharmaceutical background we are very comfortable with prescription drugs and the regulations that surround the industry, while also remaining totally focused on consumers.

How long have you been part of the industry?

We started our CBD journey back in 2018 and it took until the end of 2019 to create the brand, and finally get Potyque to market.

How has the industry grown since you first started?

The industry has grown exponentially. This makes it very confusing for consumers understanding the differences between what type of CBD to purchase, what strength to start with and how to titrate to get the maximum benefit.

That’s why, as well as selling the product, our website has lots of information on how best to use CBD and where to start – we know from personal experience what a minefield it can be.

What do you feel are the three key developments or updates that have changed the industry?

I think the novel food regulation for CBD companies (which came into effect in March) can only make sure the industry is self-regulated, which will lead to better controls along with higher standards and levels of compliance.

Ultimately, this means consumers will have greater faith and trust in CBD containing products, which can only be a good thing for the market as a whole.

What do you think the future holds for the industry?

It’s a very exciting time for everyone involved in the industry, and it’s set to continue.

The CBD world is still very much in its infancy and our hope remains that there is a place for consumers to have the benefit of the full ‘raw’ plant.

We’ve already identified in excess of 100 cannabinoids in the raw plant, and I’m not sure anyone so far has really found full benefit from isolating each fraction.

At the moment, legislation looks to be heading towards refined, purified, isolated oils, but we’re not so sure that’s for the best for consumers – why mess around with what Mother Nature has given us?

How much of the industry relies on collaboration?

Collaboration is a key part of the industry, especially with it still being relatively small and new.

Any fledgling field relies on collaboration and cooperation amongst those companies that innovate, otherwise it will quickly run out of ideas and options.

Who is your main inspiration in business and why?

My inspiration comes from so many different directions. I read a lot!

I love learning about new start-ups, the customer experience and successful entrepreneurs… there isn’t just one and the list goes on and on – there is always someone to be inspired by.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given in business?

I find too many people focus on profits or getting to the top, but the piece of advice I always remember is that people will never forget how you made them feel, so try to always be kind and genuine.

Leadership

Christina DiArcangelo: dedicated to revolutionising patient care

DiArcangelo entered into medical cannabis following a personal experience with a loved one. 

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Christina DiArcangelo: dedicated to revolutionising patient care

Entrepreneur and CEO Christina DiArcangelo is putting patients first in her work – championing patient care and providing best-in-class patient advocacy services.

Christina DiArcangelo’s journey into cannabis began after she was already working in the pharmaceutical industry. Having more than two decades of experience in the biotechnology, nutraceutical, and medical device industries, DiArcangelo entered into medical cannabis following a personal experience with a loved one. 

As an expert in biotechnology, DiArcangelo has now worked with a number of CBD companies and is CEO at Affinity Biopartners which conducts groundbreaking medical cannabis and cannabinoid clinical research, as well as at Affinity Patient Advocacy which assists cannabis patients with their medical cannabis journey and with legal cannabis patient advisory. Other roles include CEO at Spectral Analytics Precision Tele-Monitoring, and CEO and co-founder of AI Health Outcomes, where she has been involved with revolutionary projects and global clinical studies that positively impact patients.

“I have worked on 25 FDA-approved drugs in my career, and I have been in the cannabis and CBD clinical research space globally for the past five years,” says DiArcangelo. “I’ve worked for some very large pharmaceuticals in the space, as well as small companies that want to pursue clinical studies, whether it is a CBD company or biotech. I have helped some CBD companies who received warning letters from the FDA, because I have been in biotech for so long I understand regulations. I am proud to say an excellent relationship with the FDA, both on the traditional side as well as the medical cannabis and CBD space.”

DiArcangelo, a practising Baha’i, created Affinity Biopartners – her second clinical research organisation – which is now coming up to its six-year anniversary. Alongside its medical cannabis research, the company facilitates the development of drugs, biologics, nutraceuticals and medical devices.

“Affinity Patient Advocacy was started as a result of my father’s passing from stage four liver, lung and stomach cancers. In 2015, we did not have a medical programme in the state of Pennsylvania so I could not use medical cannabis legally to help treat my father while he was dying. So, that was interesting being his advocate, I swung in to help him because I have worked on a lot of different oncology indications throughout my career and I watched him battle cancer for relatively 22 years of his life, which was half of my life.

“So, as a result of helping him and then truly seeing with my own two eyes that there was a need for advocacy – that patients deserve a voice – and, what I love to do is design clinical studies that help patients, Affinity Patient Advocacy was started.

“This was me being able to give back to him, and carry forward his legacy because he always gave back from a labour perspective and a healthcare standpoint as he was very active as a union member. He was constantly working for people, whether it was grievance filings, trying to make sure people kept their jobs when they were unjustly accused of things. Making sure he protected his member’s rights was his number one priority, but then also ensuring that they had proper healthcare. So, you can see my foundation of where I have come from as a child growing up, and my career – serving people was very much at the forefront of my childhood into my adulthood. So for me, it was just turning the hat, not so much from a labour perspective, because I don’t work in that space, but I work with patients advocating for them, trying to help patients feel better.” 

In 2018 DiArcangelo started an AI firm, developing a toolbox of two bots that sit on Alexa and Google that can be voice-activated and utilised for clinical research purposes.

“That means we can remind people to take the drug, we can ask them questions about how they are feeling and then we can collect electronic patient-reported outcomes. So, my clinical research background and all the years that I’ve been doing this have really pushed me into the tech space so that I could help my team develop an electronic data capture system.

“I also worked on building out a telemonitoring platform – I had already had the tech side. Spectral Analytics is a holding company, and underneath we have a commercial company called Avum RX. Avum RX is the CBD line and Avum is the non-CBD. 

“The spectral analytics precision telemonitoring is what we open to do perpetual clinical research for CBD and medical cannabis patients. So, I took my tech and put it over there – why reinvent the wheel when it is working. I know how to work with central labs because of my biotech experience so that I can test patients looking at kidney and liver toxicity from a safety perspective, so I can drop down listings, and share them with the FDA, so that we are answering their requests, which is what they’ve requested in the entire industry. The FDA considers this a biologic, even though it is a plant that’s what they consider it – the only drug they have approved is Epidiolex which is synthetic.

“So, Spectral is gathering data to do perpetual clinical research and put patients’ care back into their hands. Doctors have access to the portal and we were doing gut microbiome analysis and we do cannabinoid testing to see what patients are deficient in – nobody is doing that yet. We do not know what we are deficient in, so, as somebody who is also formulating transdermal patches for Avon, how can I formulate for people if I don’t know what’s wrong with them?

“We are trying to work in the UK with our products because we have safe products, they are backed by science. I’m at the helm, formulating now with my scientific team and we have now formulated an immune boost patch. That is for autoimmune patients because I’m a patient, I have two autoimmune disorders and I wasn’t diagnosed until 18.

“The immune boost was not only developed for autoimmune people, but also palliative support for cancer, and then COVID. The patch has a lot of terpenes in it because, in my opinion, the terpenes are the healing components.”

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Leadership

Toby Noiles: one woman breaking barriers in cannabis

Toby Noiles is leveraging her experience to take on the challenges of building brands in the cannabis industry.

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Toby Noiles: one woman breaking barriers in cannabis

Toby Noiles is one woman breaking barriers in CBD and cannabis, leveraging her extensive experience to take on the unforeseen challenges of building brands in the sector.

Senior executive Tony Noiles has more than 30 years of experience in leadership positions across the retail food channel within North America. Noiles is now implementing her expertise to build out two brands in the CBD sector.

Noiles has been part of the premium CBD brand, Sky Wellness’ executive team leading operations, sales, eCommerce and supply chain as the Chief Operating Officer since 2020. In 2021, Noiles also joined N2 Packaging Systems – a high-end cannabis packaging company – where she serves also as the company’s COO. 

Leveraging her dual citizenship in the USA and Canada, Noiles will be responsible for building best-in-class sales, customer service, business development, fulfilment, and logistics operations for all of North America.

As an experienced senior executive with a proven track record delivering accelerated P&L performance in a wide range of businesses from startups to revenue responsibilities of $19bn, Noiles has proven to be a level frontline leader with the intensity and determination to drive transformation and innovation within a culture of teamwork and continuous learning. 

“I am a customer-centric, data-driven progressive leader that believes in fully informed decision making leveraging the experience of cross-functional, diverse teams and data sources,” says Noiles.

“Innovation and building strong strategic relationships internally and externally are a priority in my leadership style as well as empowering team members and partners to lead and grow vs. just execute.”

Noiles has led transformational strategies and delivering profitable share growth in companies such as Safeway, Sam’s Club, Fresh Direct and Northwest Co., and, throughout her career, has proven to be an innovative and transformational leader accustomed to full P&L responsibilities driving bottom-line growth, customer loyalty, and employee engagement in both perishable and non-perishable operations. 

In her current dual COO roles, Noiles will be taking on the challenges of building two brands in the current CBD and Cannabis space for consumer and trade respectively.

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James Bagley joins Tenacious Labs as board director

Bagley was formerly CEO of luxury drink wholesaler and retailer, DMD Ventures and was VP of Sales and Marketing at Naked Wines UK.

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James Bagley joins Tenacious Labs as board director

Luxury CBD brand CEO, James Bagley, is joining Tenacious Labs as a board director where he will alongside current members including board chair, former Commander-in-Chief, Land Forces, Sir Nick Parker.

Co-founder and CEO of luxury CBD brand OTO, James Bagley, is joining international CBD group Tenacious Labs where he will bring significant experience of scaling up businesses within the consumer and discretionary spend arenas to the role of board director. 

Nicholas Morland, co-founder and CEO of Tenacious Labs, commented: “I’m delighted to welcome James to Tenacious Labs. OTO is a brand we hugely admire and, under James’ leadership, has gone from strength-to-strength in recent years to become a genuinely leading UK consumer brand. 

“His expertise in driving growth and supporting the development of our global brands will be crucial in reaching Tenacious Labs’ goal of become the leading consumer-centric cannabinoid group in the world.”

Read more: Tenacious Labs CEO discusses its acquisition of Press Pause

Bagley said: “I feel proud and honoured to be joining the team at Tenacious Labs. Through its work with the Jersey Government, helping develop regulations that will strengthen the CBD industry worldwide, it has shown it is a business that believes in doing things properly – something for which I have great respect. 

“It makes perfect sense to formalise our relationship through this natural step, and I look forward to us achieving great things for Tenacious Labs together.”

Under Bagley’s leadership, OTO has experienced significant growth over the last year, including expansion through partnerships with leading retailers, fitness and leisure operators, including the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Boom Cycle, Selfridges, Harrods, Sweaty Betty and Liberty.

“Having James join us with his years of consumer brand building and retail experience and his intricate understanding of the international CBD market is an exciting moment for Tenacious Labs. The Tenacious Labs commercial team especially look forward to working with him closely, and applying his skills and knowledge in order to grow our brands around the world,” added Adrian Clarke, co-founder and CCO of Tenacious Labs.

James will sit on the board alongside Nicholas Morland, co-founder and CEO; Adrian Clarke, co-founder and chief commercial officer; Sally Hayes, chief financial officer; and Susie Macarthur, chief operating officer.

James Bagley joins Tenacious Labs as board director

Tenacious Labs has appointed James Bagley as Board Director

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