This episode's guest on #MWL is Tonya Lewis. From high school dropout to CEO, Tonya exemplifies what it takes to find both business and personal success.

Tonya now runs Nusachi, a B2B hemp producer with the mission of full transparency for consumers. What you put in your body factors heavily into your overall health, and Tonya's goal is to make sure that everyone has confidence in hemp-based products while the industry is still so young.

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Guest Socials - Tonya Lewis
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MW

what's up happy Friday

hope y'all doing well another episode of

Marcus Whitney live this is take two

when you try in a live stream you know

it's like the internet and but we have

both worked on our internet situations

and we are excited to bring this show

back because we had a lot of people

saying ah I wanted to see that episode

so we made sure we brought it back

without further ado my guest is Tonya

what's up how are you 

TL

Hi I’m doing fine Marcus, how are you?

MW

good good good

okay let's jump right in I want to use

the entire time that we have to focus on

your story your old business but more

importantly your new business

and the incredible hemp industry that

you're in right now so Tanya let's just

start with your background you know we

just talked about Nashville right we

talked we talked about overcoming

adversity which is something that we

both have in common and we both think

it's important to share with other

people let's let's dig into it 

TL

you know

Marcus before but yeah to see another

day in in regards to yeah I'm a

Nashville native born and raised here

and you know when to TSU undergraduate

at Vanderbilt for graduate school and so

but to kind of like back up to like my

past you know you and I talked about

this and we we've had conversation

around this you know yes I am a high

school dropout who's achieved great

success in life and I every day I'm

eternally grateful for the opportunities

that have presented themselves to me

because I don't take anything for

granted

I realize that there's so many people in

so many circumstances and you have all

the cracks who have not you know

overcome the adversity that they

been challenged with and because of that

they don't reach their full potential so

I'm completely humbled and you know the

position that I'm in right now in myself

MW

So so, you, know I'm always interested

 about the moments of magic that

 happen in between that, you know, that

 bullet point in our life story of

 dropping out. Obviously, that that is

 supposed to sort of take you on a

 certain trajectory. Everyone gets really

 worried about people who have these

 kinds of, you know, fall outs -these sort

 of you know life events- they feel like

 showstoppers. I'm always so interested in

 where -especially for entrepreneurs- the

 moment in which entrepreneurship becomes

 an option, and then it moves from being an

 option to the answer, right. And

 they're two separate things, but first

 just even believing you can do it... like

 how did that happen for you ?

TL

You know, I

 think what happens when you

 experience adversity is that every

 single time you achieve something, you

 realize, “I can actually do it if I

 persist, if I'm disciplined, if I commit to

 it.” I've always been around entrepreneurs.

 My grandfather was an entrepreneur, my

 dad was an entrepreneur. They were not

 the entrepreneurs of today, you know,

 family businesses that... and they

 employed relatives. So it's, you know, like

 it's not like what's your standard the

 businesses are today where you're

 interviewing people, getting resumes. So

 I've always been around it, and I've

 always had a really strong work ethic.

 Even when I was a kid, I tell people

 jokingly that my dad treated me like the

 son he never had. So when there was hard

 work to do, he tasked me to do it. And so

 I just, you know, I had that “go get

 it,”

 you know, mentality when I was faced with

 things. And so, when I decided to become

 an entrepreneur, it obviously -as most

 entrepreneurs know- is one of the

 scariest moments of your life because

 you're cutting loose that security line

 that you have to resources, to, you know,

 secure finances.

 I was... I had to cut all of that loose

 and so. Having people around you that

 encourage that, it is really... it makes it

 easy, right? If you have a husband, or a

 wife, or a partner who's willing to risk

 it with you... it makes it easier to take

 on take on that… that risk and to take

 on that challenge. And so I just, I had

 that support around me. I had people

 that encouraged me and said, “go for it.” And

 I did. I did. I didn't know what I was

 doing, but I believed it was possible. And

 so I just stepped out there on on faith

 and believed that, you know, if I was

 dedicated enough, that I would figure it

 out.

MW

now your first business was a great

success and I you know when people talk

about businesses being a success I think

especially for the uninitiated they

think about money wealth you know for me

I I because I've been doing this

entrepreneurship thing you know for the

last ten plus years I think about impact

right I think about legacy I think about

it being something that people loved

cherished and when you stop doing it

miss right so can you talk about your

first business what was the what was the

driving force behind you creating it and

just just you know how it went

what was the story of it 

TL

you know what

always drives me is a passion you know

like I love the people that know me

there are my closest friends there they

call me a food snob because I'm the

person that's like it's addressed it you

know is this is this organic is this

non-gmo and to me it's like I believe my

body is a temple and so everything that

I engage with whether its food whether

it's conversation whether it's what I'm

reading or you know all of that informs

who I am perfect and so I I just

believed in a wholesome food I mean and

and I found it very challenging to find

that in Nashville believe it or not even

if you go to some of the most high-end

restaurants they're sourcing their food

from non-sustainable been

you know and I just I was like you know

how do i how do I contribute rather than

look at it as being a problem how do I

contribute and so for me it was simply

just you know I had to build it yeah

yeah to create it and so we we we didn't

really make Marcus to be honest with you

the post was a success because of what

it became right we didn't make a lot of

money off of the post 

MW

I understand that

that's why yeah that's why I wanted to

talk about let's define success

TL

absolutely but what we were able to give

back to the community was something that

transcended look the money right it will

hold some food that we believed in and

that we valued and so that incentivized

me to start the post

initially it was my uncle for selfish

reasons but also for well-intentioned

reasons you know I wanted to be able to

give to the community and so it was you

know it's we opened it in 2013 to a

really wonderful outpouring of support

from the East Nashville community I mean

we never date I mean the first couple

months we had no idea like no people

didn't know we were there there would be

one or two people trickling in it was

like oh my god are we gonna be able to

sustain but you know um the word started

you know spreading and people started

coming in and they're like wow I can

find gluten-free vegan food that

actually tastes good and so I would say

that we were sort of than in the front

end of all the vegan movement of sorts

yeah okay happening across the city and

you know I just want to say that I was

able to contribute to you know

increasing people's awareness about the

importance of food 

MW

that's a that's

incredible and I thank you as somebody

who has gone in and out of the view of

my body being a temple I'm now pretty

deeply in that view and the food I put

in my body is really really important

I've been in Nashville for 20 years and

in my 20 years it's never been a better

time to be here if you care about your

body

TL

absolutely I mean I would look at the

time that we're facing right now we've

got a disease you know a pandemic is you

know running amuck in our land and and

people are suffering people are ill you

know and it's like we have to think

about you know how do I maintain myself

in a way that allows me to be much to be

pretty to be strong

you know to get the minerals and

nutrients that I need to be able to you

know right off defend myself against

some of these things you know and it I

think we forget that that's the most

primary thing that we as humans have

control we have control over our bodies

yes we have control over these bodies

but we you know we get into the you know

the habits of just performing or doing

what we do every day and it's quick and

easy is what we've become accustomed to

you know what we need to slow down and

take time and I think that that's what

this time has really taught me is that

people are cooking more people are

walking exercising doing more than of

the things that they would not normally

get a chance to do in the in their day

to day 

MW

yeah I mean look there's no

question this is very hard especially

from an economic perspective this is

very difficult

isolation very tough for many people

especially people who you know may not

have had a mate or a family that they

were you know living occupying the same

space with however from a lifestyle

perspective there are some things that

were the norm in our previous mode of

living you know pre covid 19 that

weren't good for us yeah that were not

good for us you know 

TL

yes like stress I

didn't realize how much how much stress

I was actually under until Covid hit, and

I was like wow I mean insomnia is real

yes when you're an entrepreneur we all

know this many a nights Europe you know

toss an attorney because you've got

these things that you have to get done

in order to move your business for in

order to progress so it's like ideas

come to me at like 3 o'clock in the

morning you know like sometimes I'm like

oh I need to get back to those emails

that I didn't get to during the day

which drives into

the wee hours in the morning people are

like why are you sending emails at like

1 o'clock in the morning no one's gonna

respond but in you know in these are the

precoded things that I had become

accustomed to it was like gotta get it

done gotta get it done hustle hustle

hustle but what I wasn't doing there was

an imbalance yeah wasn't taking the time

to really just like relax breathe

meditate just a tune in to what was

going on within myself and I it just

I've learned so much since this has

happened I really have but precoding

yeah I was just I was a mess 

MW

I hear you

I hear you I felt I mean I say this a

lot but I I hit a bottom of sorts

in the fourth quarter of 2018 and that

was when I sort of realized I'm

completely miss handling my body right

and yep stop drinking started fasting

and and I would say you know those

things along with with exercise got me

to the point where I could actually

embrace a meditation practice and so

when that by the time kovat hit I had

been for a year meditating ten minutes a

day I had just upped it to 20 minutes a

day and I was just like wow I'm feel so

well prepared for this moment and I'm so

grateful and I don't want to like talk

shit now we've been in this for like

months and I'm like okay I can like talk

about it a little bit more but I knew

like this was going to be really

challenging for people just like the

sitting down being with yourself not

sort of being running all over the place

you know the the detox of that right 

TL

you

know but just becoming accustomed to

being around your family like a lot of

people that I know like they come in at

like 5:00 or you know 6 o'clock in the

evening and they would spend maybe an

hour so with their kids and now they're

taking that extra time that they have

during the day because you can take

public the thing I have found in working

by myself at home a lot is that you can

take those breaks you automatically want

to take you build those breaks into your

day whereas if you're in an office

setting a lot of time

you're you're in the that you know

you're in the go go go go mood and

you know mode I should say and and it's

easy to be pull in different directions

but I think this time I mean it's like

I'm working at my house I'm taking I'm

listening to the birds chirp I got wind

chimes in the back I go stop there and I

see quietly and it's it's been it's been

good for my mental health it truly has

MW

that's awesome and I think this is a

good time to say you are you you put the

post in the past

TL

 in the past way 

MW

and you

are now you're now running a new

business 

TL

Nusachi. yes so new Sachi is a

we're processing company that is

producing

extracts for the global marketplace so

we're a b2b company we we sell the

concentrates that people use for

consumer products so retail brands

whether it's a pet care you know

tincture or an adult teacher or South we

create the oil that goes into that

product 

MW

so I have so many questions

about this I think one of the first okay

let's just start with 

Why did you decide

 to get into the hemp business. Let's

 start there.

TL

Okay, so I -this is I'm gonna

 make, I'll make a long story short- I

 actually became interested in hemp in

  1. But I wasn't interested in the oil,

 I was interested in fiber. And, because if

 you, if you know anything about the hemp

 plant, it's an industrial plant that

 has hundreds of applications, and CBD is

 just one component of that plant. So I

 was just looking for ways to engage with

 the plant. I started like doing research,

 my own research, I started traveling,

 talking to people. And it was not until I

 went to the Southern Hemp Expo in 2018

 that I realized that there 

 was a lack of minorities in

 this industry. Now, in a room full... there

 were thousands of people at this

 conference, and I probably counted about

 ten people of color. So that started my

 wheels turning, and then I went down to

 the National Black Farmers Association

 meeting in Shreveport, Louisiana

 just to sort of get a feel for

 what people -like farmers- were thinking

 about this industry. And when I walked

 into that room, there was about 150 people or so in the room, and

 most of them were over the age of 60,

 you know. And so I realized

 there's an older generation of people

 that are starting to move out of farming, but not

 a new generation of young people

 getting into farming. So, I came back with

 this sort of rekindled sense of like,

 “there's a mission. I got something I

 need to work on, I need to do.” And I met

 with the Dean at the School of

 Agriculture at TSU, and I was really

 interested in what this HBCU was funded

 to do in the hemp industry. And so there

 were some people there doing research,

 but what I found was that a lot of the

 students graduating from the Department

 of Agriculture were not going into

 farming, or even farm services. They were

 going into animal sciences. And so I

 thought it was really strange

 -and with TSU being an, you know, an

 industrial and agricultural university-

 why there was not much more engagement...

 of an engagement in this in this new

 cash crop that was that it was in the

 pipeline. And so, I started just doing, you

 know, asking around, talking to people. And

 then I met my current business partner

 Mark Montgomery through a mutual

 friend of mine who was interested in the

 industry and interested in the same

 thing that I was interested in. But he

 was wanting to get involved with... he

 wants to get involved... he's like, “I want

 to get involved a whole plant.” And so

 that excited me, and I started reading

 about CBD -or I should say hemp oil

 because CBD is, I have to tell you, CBD

 is one cannabinoid in the you know hemp

 plant. So a lot of people when they hear

 CBD, they don't realize that's a

 cannabinoid- so hemp oil. And so I, I just

 loved what he stood for and what he was

 wanting to do in the industry, and I

 wanted to align with that.

 So I... he convinced me to join his team.

 And I will tell you that I was so

 freaking nervous because not only did he

 want me to join the team, he said I want

 you to be the CEO of the company. And I

 was like, “whoa,

 no.” Like oh my god I've never run a

 company before.

 Heck no. And so he threw -like I would say

 three more meetings after that- after

 talking him and actually just engaging

 with the other people that were a part

 of the team and some of the investors...

 you know he, I realized I couldn't let

 fear dictate my, you know, my ability to

 take this risk.

 I was like I cannot allow this. So I came

 home, I was terrified I said, “yes, I'll do

 this.” And I'm glad I did because it has

 been a wonderful journey. It's been a

 hard, hard, hard, hard journey, but it has

 been one of the most rewarding things

 I've ever done in my life. I've learned

 so much about myself, and I'm still

 learning about myself.

MW

so I want to

because it is relevant to this moment

give props to Mark who I know and give

props to Mark for making space 

TL

you know

he made space he did and he is a great

role model he is tough he's tough yeah

he's tough he's a drill sergeant and he

has very high expectations but he

doesn't he won't allow me to fail he is

the you know my biggest cheerleader

because there are moments when I am he

said there are moments that I've seen

you endure that other people have

crumbled underneath and I think that's

going back to my childhood and the

things I had to endure to get to this

point

there's something about adversity that

just makes you so freakin strong

you know like you you realize I've gone

I've been in the trenches I know what

that feels like but I know what it feels

like to stand on the people's Mountain -

mm-hmm 

ML

okay so now let's let's get into

the industry itself now that I know the

backstory and thank you you actually did

a really good job in a short period of

time of like catching me up on that so

let's let's talk about this industry so

this is an industry that it is it is

hard to tell whether it's really

regulated or not there are so many

brands out there that that have hit the

market so quickly and you know when that

happens it is especially in a product

that it is you know something that

you're ingesting then you're looking for

like quality it's very very difficult to

tell you made the choice to be on the

b2b side which means you're not creating

the brand that people are buying you're

powering the brands that people are

buying through your three-year product

you know as you were navigating it and

learning and coming up with your

business plan first of all am I am I

often anything that I'm saying because

I'm not in the industry okay cool so so

you know I know that you and Mark were

probably looking at this and saying okay

these this is the reality of the market

how are we going to navigate these

inherent difficulties because it is an

early you know immature market 

What

 choices have you made that you feel like

 are unique to the Nusachi approach

 in the hemp industry?

TL

Well I

 think the biggest thing that we’ve done as a company is we... we're setting a high standard

 in that we want to offer premium

 products that we feel confident

 ingesting, and we feel confident selling

 to other people. And so the hemp

 industry is a burgeoning industry, so

 there is still a lot of mistrust that

 people have about products, and

 rightfully so. You just mentioned it

 earlier that, you know, people are

 ingesting this. And they're ingesting

 this because they are trying to, you know,

 whether it's pain management, anxiety...

 whatever condition

 that they're trying to address, they want

 to know that they're taking something

 that's safe. And so we -when I say to

 accept the standard high- our whole thing

 is that we want people to be able to

 trace their product all the way back to

 the seed. So traceability and transparency

 is vital in this industry, and as a

 consumer, you should be informed about

 what you are taking and what you are

 ingesting and putting in your putting in your body,

 especially if it's for medicinal

 purposes. So if you're buying a brand

 off the shelf, it should have a COA,

 which is a certificate of analysis that

 gives you a snapshot of every single

 thing that is within that

 particular product. So heavy metals, micro-toxins, microbials... all of the things that

 if ingested in heavy and in large

 amounts can cause you to become ill or

 sick. And so, it's just being informed.

 It's educating people about the

 market, about the products, the process in

 which their products are created. Because

 we're on that side of it, we're

 processing these plants, these flowers

 and creating these oils. So every

 part of that supply chain is vital. So

 going back to the farmer, it even matters

 what they're spraying on their crop, the

 condition of their soil -because hemp

 is a plant that remediates the

 soil- so any and everything that's in the

 soil comes out in the plant. So if you

 can imagine if the farmer is spraying

 insecticides and pesticides on their

 crop, it's gonna come out in

 concentrated amounts in that oil. So it's

 important for processors -which is

 Nusachi- to conduct COA’s

 on these products -even on the flower- so

 that we can make sure that we're not

 giving people products that's laced with

 heavy metals or toxins that will bring,

 you know, that would cause them to become

 sick. So it's a... we've set the bar high,

 and we, I'm all about organic, you know.

 Like a hundred percent organic. I want to

 work with women and minority farmers.

 That it that is my intention.

 We just, you know, we are about quality

 all the way through.

 Even the brands that we support, you know,

 we have a high standard for them as well.

 And so the product that we just released

 -which is called SOLAR; stands for

 single origin live active rosin- we grew

 the plants in a greenhouse that went

 into that product. So we were able to, you

 know like, it's the whole being a part...

 being a part of the entire process

 is why Nusachi is so appealing to me,

 and why I just... I'm glad to be a part of

 this, you know. Like I'm glad to be able

 to say, “hey, we're producing this. You can

 take this, and I know that it's gonna

 help people. You know, that's huge. That's

 huge to me.

MW

what is the process of of

that product of solar so 

TL

so so if you

okay so I have to do a little bit of

educating on this because so your body

has an endocannabinoid system and it

naturally produces contaminoids that

bring about healing or homeostasis in

your body and so when we engage with

things that bring our body out of

balance so you could probably name a

stress cord I did all of the things that

you could think of that would bring

about imbalance in the body your

endocannabinoid system is always trying

to maintain that balance so when you

partake in cannabis it has final

cannabinoids that mirror the

cannabinoids that are in your body so it

engages with those receptors to try to

bring about homeostasis in the body got

it yeah

and so the products that we create the

solar crops so it has if you think about

when you if you were to walk outside and

pick up the Danya lining and chew it

you're getting the full benefits of that

plant you're getting the physical profit

properties of it because we you're

actually ingesting it and they are also

getting the chemical compounds that make

that plant what it is so solar is by it

being a single origin life act of rosin

we're basically taking that plant

and extracting it without using any

solvent at all preserving all of the

terpenes and the cannabinoids and all

the essential oils that are within that

plant and putting it into about 

MW

wow so

it's the plant in the bottle 

TL

it's the

plant in a bottle all the waxes and

all of the the fiber you know but it's

the plant in a bottle so the synergy of

those those those compounds those

chemical compounds working together are

more beneficial for your body got it 

MW

and

just just I want to make sure I'm

tracking what you're saying and and the

purpose is to help you bring your body

back into homeostasis when you get out

of it 

TL

absolutely help you manage pain

help you manage your anxiety I mean when

you protect I will have to give you

someone it's because when you when you

ingest it there's a sense of light I

tell people they asked me well what are

you supposed to feel like I said you

just feel good and most people are not

accustomed to feeling good mm-hmm most

people are accustomed to managing pain

most people are not accustomed to

feeling good so when you feel good in

your body there is nothing in the world

like it 

MW

it's the best high like 

TL

it's the

best high it's just working out when you

get out and you push yourself and you

come back you like men I feel good and

you go back in the gym or you run or

whatever the next day your endorphins

are already up there your Artie your

body is already feeling good and if

you're feeding it the right things there

is nothing in the world like it so

people when they say when they make

jokes about how picky I am about my food

or you know me exercising all the time

I'm like when you feel good you don't

want anything else you don't want to go

you know like you want to you want to be

able to get a good rest you want to be

able to wake up you want to walk you

want to get up off the couch without

feeling aches and pains in your body you

know like come on you know it's good

it's good that you get it it's good that

you get it I get it

MW

so look I told you these shows go quick

30 minutes it's up its up yeah

so with

at any any final words because we tapped

on so many incredible things I mean your

journey is incredible high school

dropout now CEO of this this you know

revolutionary hemp company you know onto

you onto your second business you

already had a fantastic restaurant close

it on your own you know like didn't have

to close it close it cuz you wanted to

write you know what what sort of parting

wisdom would you leave for viewers and

listeners 

TL

I would say and don't let fear

be the determining factor as to the

things that you do in your life and I

heard this on a loan which is a show

that were these people live out on the

islands and they you know or on these in

these really you know interesting places

and they have to survive and the person

that lives along it saves the longest

wins the money well on there this young

man said you know failure is not

necessarily success is not how many

times you fail but when you fail

maintaining your enthusiasm you know

because there's something to be said

about when you fail giving up and

thinking that's it really being

persisting pushing through it it's the

biggest way you accomplish anything so

never give up

don't let failure determine your course

MW

that is a perfect way to end the show a

perfect way to end this week tonya lewis

thank you so much thank you so much

incredible to have you on the show

everybody out there followed tonya at t

lewis six to seven on instagram on

twitter at new Sachi won and USA c-h-i

you can go to the website new Sachi calm

and you can just track this incredible

woman and her journey we're gonna be

hearing a lot more from her I'll have to

bring her back on after I get my free

sample of solar and yeah y'all and back

on the point of not giving up I'm so

glad I didn't give up trying to write a

book it's done it's coming out next

Tuesday June thirtieth create and

orchestrate I'm super excited to get it

out in the world and I think it will be

really helpful especially in this time

where the economy is so uncertain I

think entrepreneurship is definitely

becoming more of a life skill the

podcast Marcus Whitney's

universe on Apple Spotify Google I Heart

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it's everywhere so wherever you get your

podcast you can just subscribe to it

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online at Marcus Whitney and that is it

everybody I am so excited to be out for

the weekend finally for the first time

since lockdown my wife and I are gonna

take a little downtime so look y'all

have a great great great weekend and I

will see you back here on Monday with

another episode of Marcus Whitney live

peace

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