At a time when college graduates and aspiring young professionals are facing significant challenges in the job search, two UMW students found a way to creatively invest in a venture of their own. Wes Cantrall and Ethan Dillon are Business Administration majors completing their degrees at UMW while growing their business, literally. Their company, Sunnyside Supply Co, produces locally-grown hemp and CBD products.
After the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill which eased regulations in the industry, Ethan and Wes were curious about the potential to start their own hemp and CBD business. They had friends who experienced success in the industry, and they acted as mentors to Ethan and Wes. In early 2020, Ethan and Wes participated in StartUpUMW which inspired them to get started right away. Before the closure of UMW due to the pandemic in March, they established their legal entity, developed plans for their products, secured a business name, and pitched their idea upon completion of the StartUpUMW program. When UMW closed, they moved home to Loudoun County, VA and built a greenhouse to begin growing their first crops.
Their model includes wholesaling and incorporates hydroponics. Hemp seed oil is highly nutritious and can be found in lotions, food, and supplements. CBD products are widely used to help reduce pain, anxiety and improve sleep.
“I won’t sugar coat that fact that starting a business in college is incredibly difficult. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I lost a lot of sleep and a lot of my hairline. That being said, if you really want it, do it right now. If you have an idea that you’re passionate about, and know that it has a chance to succeed, there is no reason you shouldn’t start. Being in that learning environment is something you can’t find anywhere else and you will quickly find out that it puts you and your company in a position to be ahead of the competition. Above all else, it is an incredibly gratifying experience,” Wes Cantrall said.
Another classmate from UMW, Kyle Ortiz, joined the team to help with marketing. As a team of three, they learned how to divide the company tasks, with Wes Cantrall acting as CEO and CFO, Ethan Dillon acting as COO, and Kyle Ortiz acting as the CMO.
“Starting a business during a pandemic certainly posed challenges. Communication was difficult at times because of social distancing. However, it also gave us a lot of free time in order to plan out the foundations for our business and grow our first hemp crop. Overall, we managed to make the best out of the pandemic,” Ethan Dillon said.
Today, they are getting ready to launch a line of new CBD products including tinctures, gummies and smokeable flower. They are also planning to open their first hemp seed oil processing facility in 2021. They plan to sell online through their website, and wholesale through stores. As they expand, Sunnyside also aims to produce other hemp-based commodities including textiles, food products, and even biodiesel.
“Our products have a lasting impact on our consumer by not just providing them something that will undoubtedly improve their way of life, but also our products have the ability to help conserve the environment with our various partnerships.” Kyle Ortiz said. “Our Time for Trees initiative with the Arbor Day Foundation has not only allowed us to provide great products to our consumer, but now we can plant trees as a result, and that is, I hope, an inspiring thing to many companies looking to do the same,“ Kyle Ortiz stated.
To make a purchase or learn more about their company, check out their website at sunnysidesupply.co.
To learn more about the Center for Economic Development and its program StartUpUMW, please visit our StartUpUMW page.