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On a High: Nashville CBD beverage business sees 600% growth
Four years ago, then 22-year-old Alex Valley developed a drink to help people calm down, but since relocating his company from Los Angeles to Nashville a year ago his high-end beverage business — UNITY — has done anything but calm down.
Last year, Unity Wellness Co saw a 600% growth in sales, expanded to 1,500 stores and secured a contract with one the largest beverage distributors in the space, RNDC (Republic National Distributing Company).
Valley is bullish on his beverage business. He expects Unity Wellness Co to more than double its revenue in 2022 and projects the company will yield $2.4 million. To support the projected growth, Unity Wellness launched a crowdfunding campaign on WeFunder two months ago. The company has raised close to $500,000 which Valley says will be used to increase production and support sales growth.
For those who are “green” to the CBD world, CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a nonintoxicating compound found in cannabis, which has been touted as treatment for afflictions including anxiety, insomnia and other ailments. The highly-sought after substance has made its way into seemingly everything. Boutique makeup brands have manufactured CBD moisturizers, lauding its anti-inflammatory properties. Bakeries across the country are offering “calming” croissants and other pacifying pastries. And beverage companies like Valley’s have blended the herbaceous extracts into stress relieving refreshments.
Valley says he first started dabbling into CBD back in 2018. At the time, the model and social media sensation was suffering from anxiety and insomnia. He began by taking tinctures of CBD.
“CBD allowed me to be my best self,” Valley claims. “I got all the highlights of cannabis — reduced anxiety, enhanced focus, improved mood — without the high.”
But for Valley, tinctures were anything but practical.
“The taste wasn’t pleasant nor was the smell,” Valley opines. “Not to mention, carrying a tincture bottle of CBD around was far from socially acceptable back then.”
So he sought out to make cannabis more mainstream. CBD was slowly starting to move beyond the dispensary model and into health food stores and some coffee shops.
“For decades, cannabis consumption was viewed as taboo,” Valley says. “ It was marketed that way too — even as it made its way into everyday items. I wanted to rebrand CBD and market it to the average consumer.”
For Valley, rebranding meant stripping the skunky smell from CBD extracts, saying sayonara to packaging plastered with marijuana leaves and making cannabis drinks, well…drinkable. Many of the drinks on the market then tasted like “oily grass”.
The ambitious entrepreneur raised $1.1 million to develop an aromatic, aesthetically pleasing, tasty CBD beverage.
The result: UNITY, a carefully crafted, all natural, line of CBD-infused beverages.
In March 2020, Valley sold the first bottle of Unity Wellness at a health foods store in Los Angeles. Since then, Unity Wellness has sold roughly 1,000,000 bottles of the juice-based drinks.
Each of Unity Wellness’s infused drinks contains 30 milligrams of CBD — the daily recommended dose. The beverages come in six flavors — Blood Orange Hibiscus, Strawberry Lemonade, Ginger Lemonade, Blackberry Tea, Blueberry Lavender and Elderflower Rose — and retail between $4.99 - $5.99 per bottle at more than 1,500 locations across 42 states.