Jenny Argie, Founder, Baked at Home
Nurturing others with wholesome, healing foods is part of Jenny’s DNA. She grew up in her Greek grandfather's restaurant and her grandmother cooked traditional Polish food for the family every day. When Jenny was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016, she discovered the powerful health benefits of CBD (full spectrum hemp). She began experimenting with using CBD (full spectrum hemp) in cooking and initially developed a versatile canna-oil based baking mix.
She started Baked at Home to share her expanding line of organic CBD-rich ( (full spectrum hemp) home, beauty, and wellness products. She lives in Brooklyn with her three children.
[00:00:01] You're listening to thinking outside the bud where we speak with entrepreneurs investors thought leaders researchers advocates and policymakers who are finding new and exciting ways for cannabis to positively impact business society and culture. And now here is your host Business Coach Bruce Eckfeldt
[00:00:30]Hi everyone I'm your host and today we're here with Jenny Argei and Jenny is founder and CEO of Baked At Home.
[00:00:39] And we're going to find out a little bit about her business and her her story and she's got some really exciting things going on. Jenny welcome to the program.
[00:00:45] Thank you Bruce. Thanks for having me.
[00:00:47] So why don't we start because I always like to kind of hear how people kind of got into business how they got into cannabis. Give people a sense of really what the story was how did you find yourself founder and CEO of a cannabis business.
[00:01:01] Awesome. I think I might just go back a little bit before sir before launching Jenny's baked at home and stuff for maybe four or five years ago I accepted a company called Arjin tent.
[00:01:13] I was the designer and manufacturer the CEO of the company he started when my child was conceived and it was just going to start with maybe one or two products designing furniture that I would want to use. And and then it turned into a raging business downturn. After I found out that the industry really didn't have anything that I was doing so sort of new kid on the block and it was modern children's furniture and it was green and organic and it was ideal for small spaces and it was good for city dwellers New Yorkers people in California had small spaces but how to design aesthetic so that I did for 12 years and I really learned what it was like to have an idea for a product and then take it to market.
[00:02:04] So it's really important to understand my background and product and my passion for designing products. So I was in business. My
[00:02:11] Ex husband I exited I separated from X has husband about three or four years ago and I started a couple of different businesses that were in the children's space and while doing that I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I started looking around it and it sort of went back to our urging 10 when I got pregnant and couldn't really find any furniture that was designed. Wow. And an organic and wasn't filled with formaldehyde and all that good stuff. So I looked around for edibles that I could do it yourself kits that I could use why I was going through the treatment the cancer treatment. And so I couldn't find any healthy edibles especially. Do it yourself kit. Because in New York at the time we weren't even medical when when I was diagnosed. So I set out to design a baking mix that was gluten free called chocolate high protein and then the really biggest part of it was that I could teach myself how to micro dose. So I hadn't ever again hadn't used cannabis since I was in high school and cannabis has changed so much since the 80s. You know the THC content too. It's just so much more sophisticated now on the grow end. So I and I was like most of your listeners you haven't really used a lot of cannabis was intimidated by by using cannabis because it just seemed such an extreme either I was going to be super high and out of control or you know maybe I was going to feel anything so I wanted to be able to find the middle ground.
[00:03:45] So I designed this mix up and I started playing with it. I knew absolutely nothing about cannabis. Didn't know about product and I even though it came from a background My grandfather owned he was Greek and he owned restaurants and my brother went to the Culinary Institute in Hyde Park New York and is a chef.
[00:04:02] So food is something that's been very prevalent in my family and I love to cook.
[00:04:08] Never was really a big Baker but was a really big cook in more than savory and sweet.
[00:04:14] But I started I really started to dive into the nutritional aspect of how cannabis could could help me and my cancer progressed so fast that I ended up having a double mastectomy. And then I was told to go on a drug called Tamoxifen and the to Mark's been is a hormone replacement therapy that has tons and tons of side effects.
[00:04:36] And I chose not to go to Mark Simkin for five years and studied a lot about the research that was being done in Israel and some in Canada and in Israel on reducing cancer cells for minute hearing to mass with a high CBD diet.
[00:04:53] And I might transpose and CBT at times in this podcast because it's really just a euphemism now for CBD because of the federal law still pretty it's anything that comes from cannabis as you know so utterly illegal and so I would love to educate your listeners if you do see him ask the manufacturer what kind of hemp is it full spectrum hemp meaning does it outpoint 3 THC in it and has it been extracted from the flour aka the BOD.
[00:05:25] And that is what I do Moema products are full spectrum of a again I chose to design products for my personal use which so every every product I have if it's a sad it is for because I suffer from eczema.
[00:05:41] So I guess our body has receptors both on her dermis and internally so if you ingest cannabis CBD or hemp or THC you are going to have a different effect because the hemp is going to Sosh CBD as it's going to hit certain receptors and then the THC can hit other receptors and that sort of soak and maybe I'll go back here in a minute and talk about the different cannabinoids so I'm curious how you how because know the story I love the idea that you know taking what you've learned on a previous Moses the idea around product and how do you design and kind of manufacture a product based on a target sort of quality and set of attributes and product attributes you're going for and applying this to the kind of US market but that is obviously a huge amount of knowledge around the science around agriculture around the medical pharmaceutical properties of us. How did you actually go about it and you mentioned some of the research that you were reading from mainly Israel and Canada or something but how did you actually go about educating yourself and learning about the product and learning about the science and learning about the medicines. I think that's a big challenge for a lot of folks coming in from Canada faces how do I learn this stuff. What was your break right.
[00:06:52] I really am. I'm telling you how I got from Argenton and there were other businesses I had probably done before that leading up to this I am a serial entrepreneur.
[00:07:02] I I don't believe that there's anything out there if you want if you're passionate about it you will learn it you don't need a Ph.D. in medicine you don't need Ph.D. in business or MBA you just need to get into the you know get into the grid of it and start to learn it. So I I knew nothing about furniture. I got my Masters in painting and sculpture so I had a little sense. I got a little bit a sense of cooking so you it's really and I tell the listeners above and beyond and people say well I want to get into the cannabis space.
[00:07:35] What do you think is the number one ancillary or or touching the plant product that you would do and I say has nothing to do with that it has to do with what you're passionate and bring what you're passionate whether that's that's H.R. whether that's accounting whether that's designing websites for you will be passionate if you want it to Trashman not Canibus and pick which you are good at and then run with it.
[00:07:58] So how did I do it. I just I literally just started reading and everything I could get my hands on. But at the same time I outreached because I don't have business before. I wasn't intimidated about talking to everybody under the sun in the cannabis space.
[00:08:14] I didn't care if you were Willie Nelson.
[00:08:16] I was going to walk up and talk to you or if you are you know if you were a senator.
[00:08:22] So I spent enormous amount of time doing in-home in-home model and I still do it when I go to people's homes and I had a very intimate setting. I educate people on how Kennis became illegal.
[00:08:38] The history behind it where we are on a legal level where it's going and the Internet and I put in quotes the medical because we're not FDA approved attributes that it has.
[00:08:51] So doing that and reaching out to people talking like talk as much as you can and that both being an advocate and just talking people share their stories and also share their knowledge.
[00:09:05] And then there's lots of symposiums out there. Lots of panels. So you know I would show up to some of those but really getting out there and talking as much as possible. I mean they have everything from the can I get in New York. There's cannot gather events there's women's grow.
[00:09:21] There's all sorts of events that are happening that you can go to a really affordable price and down and learn more and talk.
[00:09:28] So that's how I got into it was setting up these inho models and putting myself in the forefront of being an expert in the cannabis space which meant I had to learn really fast to what and I like the idea that it's taking this intimate small kind of gathering approach to being able to have the discussions induced medication what are the common things that come up in those conversations in terms of the questions people have I guess maybe that but thinking that they are the biases that they are of the kind of work on what are the what are the big ones like come up in those those those.
[00:10:01] That's a really an awesome question because you know we all probably have a preconceived notion of what people are going to. I mean you and I are both parents. I have a 15 year old with 13 year old and a 10 year old. These are this is not that age where it's a very sensitive topic to talk about drugs. You know your mom is in the cannabis space. What kind of conversation do I have here and I stand up in front of people that run the gamut from you know being maybe twenty five years old to being 65 years old. So I had such a generation to speak to and I would have thought now I would have thought that the younger generation would definitely be more accepting and that we would have sort of this just say no to drugs. Reagan generation and really did breakthrough with kind of giving them how ludicrous it was and it became illegal and that it was purely politics and economics. You know back in in the early 9300. And that it had nothing to do with prohibition and all of that stigma around the bit that that actually people love to hear this story and love to hear how marijuana got its name and all of that kind of stuff. But that's just anecdotal and it's cute but they really want to know the the medical benefits that anybody can have. And so that's really in the end. That's that's what I talk most about.
[00:11:23] I speak to how we can help as a sleep aid how it can help for eczema how it can help for reducing inflammation and then overall how it can be a stress reliever in one's life and in the end that those are my products my products are based around all of that right there.
[00:11:41] So I found that the people in these small settings dictated my products so if I if I am ill in flamin and I had knee surgery no doubt and inflammation is an issue for me and I get tennis elbow and all that.
[00:11:56] So I I designed a product that was great for digestive and for inflammation but people I was going to do it for myself. But the more I start people more I realized that that's what they're looking for.
[00:12:08] So yeah I think that it's a Goretti kind of product development cycle but you are operating you know actually getting out and talking with people understanding where their mindset is where their needs are and then to develop design and develop products based on what what you're learning from these. Others because it isn't. It's kind of a conundrum in the kind of spaces.
[00:12:28] I mean because there are all these kind of restrictions or at least you know difficult in doing larger market research and data gathering.
[00:12:37] But also because of that stigma and because of the peak people's kind of resistance or hesitation to want to engage public in these kind of conversations intimate setting is a great way I think to actually get that that market out of that customer data that you need to design these products.
[00:12:55] Yeah. Yeah no question.
[00:12:56] And you know Bruce you you and I both come from a business background and being entrepreneurs and we entered in our last business or businesses entered a space that had history and we could definitely look back on numbers and trends and everything that had happened even though that when I started Argenton there was no there was really not a moderate mini modern movement that had ever happened. But furniture had been made in children's furniture. But this industry is brand new. So we don't have we don't know we have to pivot every single week. We don't know from legislation to to you know farmers ability to grow and how to grow and you know whether we have a new pest that's been introduced to you know a crop.
[00:13:49] I mean it's just literally I was I had my co-workers who manufacture most of my products are in Kentucky and which is ironic because they're not a medical state nor are they.
[00:14:02] And are they a CBD friendly state or a recreational. But because of Mitch McConnell they are trying to transform the tobacco crops into cannabis crops. And I was with the farmers a few months ago. You know it was a sort of a symposium for farmers and growers and um and that really did. My big takeaway was and this is coming from you know these are real generational farmers is that we've lost 100 years in farming cannabis are over 30 years. So technology combine can't mulch the plant because it gets the fibers destroyed the blades and flog the combine.
[00:14:47] Yeah. So there's just little nuances little nuances like that that they weren't prepared for or they can't use the same pesticides and we don't want to use pesticides on a product that we're using medically. And we're touting it as as the new medical advancement.
[00:15:07] So we have a long way to go. And the demand is probably going to be higher than we can meet. So yeah. So I definitely yeah this intimate setting and seen what people want and how we can supply it. It's definitely I think instead of just coming up with a business plan that's already just sit in and just plug it in. We need you to talk about it. It's going to be very specific and we're going to have to be very careful. It's not going to be whether or not we use cannabis. It's going to be where we grow it and how we extract it.
[00:15:40] Yeah. So talk to me a little bit about as as you've developed the business as you've kind of made these pivots. What are some of the more challenging or interesting things that you learned and changes that you had to make as you went in and as the business grew and as you kind of figured out where you were going to focus the product. How I always find that every business has some principal moments around decisions to make choices they have to make that become important to the direction.
[00:16:06] What has happened with you. What are the choices that you've had to make. How have you made them and how are they.
[00:16:11] However been difficult with my furniture company. I started out. It's interesting the first time I'm talking about this I think from this perspective I started out with a woodshop in Williamsburg was more Bushwick Brooklyn and then as I grew I would get new shops that were little larger and I'd staff up and this happened for about six to eight months.
[00:16:35] Eventually Mike my demand got so large that I had to go overseas both for cost and for the volume of mass production and in this space. My knowledge in product I immediately went to cope. I went to you know somebody that can manufacture my product because of my knowledge.
[00:16:54] But in this industry because it is a vertical space I'm flipped. So I want to ground myself and brand myself in a statement I'm I'm 100 percent and born and raised in Kansas City Missouri but my heat landed here 17 years ago in Brooklyn and I knew I was a Brooklynite from that time on.
[00:17:15] So I really consider myself a New Yorker and to be able to be a Canibus New Yorker is really really big for me. I want I think New York is going to be one of the leaders in the industry. We have great land to grow on from Long Island to upstate New York. We we definitely are liberal minded. We can make things happen. And I'm super excited to see where the industry goes in New York and I want a part of that.
[00:17:41] So I had to make the decision where I was going to continue to be that sort of you know I'm not a middle man because I am the manufacturer but to remove myself from what's called seed to sale from the self from the seed. And I thought I was and I really wasn't interested. Even though it's another really kind of fun fact is my uncle. I grew up in the summertime when I was little my uncle had a cattle farm in southern Missouri. So it was always around this is farming lifestyle in the summer so now you know there's no family going back now. And here he and I applied for about six months ago for a license to be a manufacturer of CBD in New York. And I was granted it and they were only given I think right now in my categories only 29 licenses. And so I now will start working directly with the farmers so my really big goal now is I guess to the new phrase's not farm to table soil to mouth to what's really important to me. And in this space and we're going to see a lot of wild west stuff happening. Is that what I can offer my customers. Is it just like I did with my furniture pest pesticide free organic and it meets every criteria are almost like a what is it called.
[00:19:06] I'm trying to think the name of it that they do in the in the in the wine industry where it's it's the top of organic I'll think of it here in America anyway.
[00:19:15] So that to me is the most important part of what I have to offer and what I have to get into. I think that that that bacterias you regional question is definitely I was seeing myself on a path I had a business plan and then I decided you know I think getting back to the root and working with the farmers and setting up manufacturing and being really concentrated on New York manufacturing and I think that that would be the most important thing for me right now in business.
[00:19:45] And so I think the interesting thing about that is I think every business particularly at early stage struggles with these kind of choices. And
[00:19:52] I find the faster you want to grow and get the business the actual the more specific you need to become and the more focus you need to be on both your customer and your product. And what part of the value chain you want to be focusing on in terms of applying value. And I think it's really interesting in this case that the geographical focus because I do think you know geography is such a huge factor in this market right now.
[00:20:14] Where are you producing where you or your customers what part of the value chain or even a plan will define a lot of where your restrictions are in terms of to the federal and state legislation issues. So I think that's right.
[00:20:28] Tell us a little bit more in terms of where we are with this new license with this ability to actually process product whereas your product strategy going where do you see the market going. I don't know if you have anything specific about New York but you know where do you see the cannabis world heading over the next 12 24 months things that you think we should be on the lookout for or keep an eye on.
[00:20:50] Well so the world of CBD in the world of THC are so different.
[00:20:56] And and I definitely think that to be on the lookout I think within the next 12 to 24 months we're going to see recreation GFI take a front seat in New York. Whereas I think right now we're where it is happening should program. I think the license for me allows me to get ready to be able to say I believe and hope plant. I believe in both using CBD and THC for different needs and different functions whether even that's topical and there's no there's no intoxicating part of using the THC necessarily all the time you can use it topically and hit the receptors differently and then using the CBD.
[00:21:37] So I think that I think we're going to see a push for recreation and also we have a lot of states around us that are turning RACT from mass to all sorts of different encroaching in some states. And as for the legal legalization full force that's going to be an issue for New York to be on the lookout for that. I think today I just heard that anybody in New York that had been prescribed opiates would have the right to be prescribed medical marijuana. Interesting yeah.
[00:22:09] So for what it is and what was that thinking is that because it's an affective less addictive alternative.
[00:22:17] Yes exactly. So that it's not addictive like you said and that we would we prefer we would prefer and but you know a lot of people don't know right now that dispensaries your insurance doesn't cover any of the costs of the marijuana the cannabis itself.
[00:22:34] It just allows you the right to buy it so you still are getting it if you get an opiate prescription it's paid for by your insurance.
[00:22:44] So I think we're going to start to see a little bit and that's you know having said that that is going to start to force. I think the insurance companies to take a look at this because people are going to say you know you're getting people.
[00:23:00] And we're giving an alternative and you're not paying for it so it then that you know brings up the question of our pharmaceuticals you know big pharma are going to come in to this industry faster than we thought it was and what kind of regulations are going to happen there. So far for the licence for me I I separate myself from even though I really believe in the health attributes of my product minus food focused so I'm not trying to compete with pharmaceutical I'm just trying to say that I have a product that's lifestyle product no that you can use on a daily basis.
[00:23:39] It's easy it's it's it's fun to use and and you know it's the overall body change whether that's you're using it safe use my coconut oil you're going to have a totally different effect than if you use my ginger tincture and if you use these things you know over a period of time maybe you'll have a different different digestive system or you have you maybe you could reduce your sleep aid medication a little or that sort of thing interesting.
[00:24:09] So if I am a entrepreneur or a businessperson interested in getting into the cannabis phase or I've started and I'm continuing to kind of find traction and grow my company what advice thoughts suggestions would you give them that might help you avoid some pitfalls and pratfalls in their path. Think things that you've learned that you wish you knew earlier in your process.
[00:24:34] Well I think it's still so interesting that this industry you know the things you can't and can't say because you're worried about right now I'm trying to launch on one of my products on Amazon and I had to relabel and we reword my website to say and I alluded to it earlier hemp versus CBD. So sorry it was what and what did you change it to it was CBD content and I changed all that verbiage to ham and I had to go I had to go scrub that website so deep that there couldn't be an article that I had cited that mentioned CVT. Amazon was completely fastidious about. They absolutely would not sell CBD products they will sell him but they won't sell CBD and we all know it's a euphemism.
[00:25:24] Yeah so and the same went for me getting Hentschel institution where am I. My order processing and for my banking. So if I had known this from the very beginning I would have all of my literature would to said Ham I would. Educated people and that difference in industrial hemp and medical harm and I would have tried to come up with you know my my new approach to marketing the plant because in the end I had to change everything. I am now.
[00:25:57] I now have anions a financial institution I bank with I have an order processing but I had to go through six months to a year or two years of jumping through hoops to get there and redoing and it costs money to read redo everything.
[00:26:12] Yeah yeah yeah that was that was and that's a big issue right now for people currently in the cannabis space.
[00:26:17] Yeah I hear that again and again and yeah fortunately that's a misstep early and can take a while to resolve. I mean people are still fairly sensitive and you know about the federal regulations and how it impacts them. So yeah get.
[00:26:35] Having a good strategy and getting good advice having a good team legal and otherwise around to guide you is important.
[00:26:41] So when I was just a really like like a big follow up would be that there are going to be so many CBD and you know and then when we become more than nine states are where we were 10 recked now nine or ten knew that you know there's everybody and you know there everybody in their grandmother is going to get into it to get into the cannabis they see you're not going to know what products to trust you're not going to know where it's coming from but if you really do believe in what you're doing and you've got a great product or you have a great vision right now is the time to brand. So just concentrate on making that brand as solid as will create a really small following. It doesn't have to be. Again you know we're creating the industry so it doesn't have to be to go out there and make your millions right away or get hundreds of thousands of customers you know start grass roots because because we can. Yeah and that's an exciting time to be an industry that you can do that.
[00:27:46] Yeah I think that's a good point it's very much about establishing beachheads you know getting getting early following and then has this market kind of changes and grows and matures. You know that's going to serve people and I think the branding is really important too.
[00:28:00] I think that's the the one thing I certainly have noticed is you know a big difference between a Canibus a sort of a pop culture brands approach versus a more mainstream canvas both recreational and medical.
[00:28:15] The branding and stuff has really evolved a lot. So it's yes.
[00:28:18] It's fascinating to watch them and we're just we're just about a time I want to make sure if people want to find out more about you about baked at home what's the best place to get more information.
[00:28:52] I'll make sure that those links are on the show now so people can get to them. Jenny this is a pleasure. Been a pleasure. Thank you so much for taking the time. I'm excited about the new thing you're doing and I'm excited to see where things go.
[00:29:03] Thanks for this. Thank you so much for hosting this podcast.
[00:29:08] You've been listening to Thinking Outside the Bud with Business Coach Bruce Eckfeldt to find a full list of podcast episodes. Download the tools and worksheets and access other great content. Visit the Web site at thinkingoutsidethebud.com. And don't forget to sign up for the free newsletter at thinkingoutsidethebud.com/newsletter.