Imagine a plant with the strength of a tree that can yield two mature crops in one growing season versus the decades it takes a tree to grow to maturity. It can then be used for everything from industrial textiles to cooking to makeup products and beyond. It may seem too good to be true, but it isn’t. The plant is hemp, and we sat down with Lee Magalis, the owner of Shenandoah Hemp Supply to learn all about it.
To start, Magalis cleared up some of the common misconceptions between hemp, cannabis, and marijuana. As Magalis explains, “Hemp is cannabis, but there are two very distinct subcategories of cannabis. In layman’s terms, you have what people commonly refer to as marijuana which is THC rich cannabis. Then there’s the industrial hemp plant which is very, very low in THC but very rich in CBD. CBD is a molecule found in the juices of the plant. CBD has been heavily researched in the last decade for its anti inflammatory, stress relief, and other related benefits. CBD does not produce the euphoric effects that THC produces and doesn’t get you “high.” CBD is going to be responsible for more of a focusing, clarifying, relaxing sort of sensation.”
Magalis’ journey to becoming the owner of Shenandoah Hemp Supply actually began in the neurology department of the University of Virginia, where he works as an EEG technician. “Before the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized the production of hemp as an agricultural commodity and removed it from the list of controlled substances, I was noticing that patients with epilepsy were having success treating their condition using cannabis. And these poor individuals were having to go through all kinds of crazy hoops. They were having to break the law to get the treatment they needed. Then I started doing my own research into it. The 2018 Farm Bill passed shortly thereafter, and I knew I wanted to do this,” Magalis recounts.
Magalis and his wife opened Shenandoah Hemp Supply and now have locations in Waynesboro, Harrisonburg, and Lexington and offer online sales at doahhemp.com. They carry a wide array of products, including apparel, lifestyle products, natural body care, edibles, and even pet-friendly products. Plus, many of the products in their line-up come directly from local Appalachian farmers. Their highly educated and trained staff are happy to guide patrons through the process of choosing exactly the right products for their needs. They also offer both full spectrum and broad spectrum products. As Magalis explains, “Full spectrum means that they’ve removed the oil from the plant, they’ve pulled the juices out of the plant, and they’ve essentially used all of the little sub-particles that are in there. The THC level is adjusted to meet legal standards in the CBD, but it’s going to contain a very low amount. Broad spectrum means that everything is included except for the THC.”
Unlike some entrepreneurs, Magalis’ business grew quickly. He credits this in part to creating an environment that’s educational and somewhere that “my grandmother would feel comfortable coming in and shopping and asking questions.” The staff at Shenandoah Hemp Supply find fulfillment in offering a one-on-one and highly personalized experience for their customers. As Magalis describes, “We offer a ‘Come on in and sit down, and let’s have a heart-to-heart, and we’ll figure this out.’ method of commerce. I think that’s really resonated with these folks in the Valley.”
When deciding where to open his first store, Waynesboro had exactly what Magalis was looking for. “In Waynesboro, there was a community of folks that I thought would be very receptive to the message that we were trying to present and to the way that we wanted to market our products. I think that local agriculture and small business resonate particularly well with Waynesboro. From the people that I’ve met, and even before we opened our business, I just could tell that there was a very strong love of the small town way of doing business. I think this community is very proud, and we’re lucky to live and work in this wonderful area,” he says.
As a business owner in an emerging and somewhat controversial industry and having to navigate through a pandemic, Magalis has tried-and-true advice for entrepreneurs thinking about launching a business. “It takes a little bit of fearlessness initially. It’s kind of like jumping out of an airplane; on the other side of that, there might be the most amazing experience you ever had in your entire life. There’s that really scary first step, and then there’s no looking back from that point forward. You have to commit to it. You’re on a rollercoaster at that point, so you can’t stop it; you can’t get off. That’s how you have to see it,” Magalis shares. In terms of being a business leader during the COVID-19 pandemic, Magalis has a positive outlook. “I think the silver lining of it is; if you can weather this storm, then you’ve learned valuable lessons that will extend in every direction from here on out, no matter where your life or your business may take you,” he offers.
To learn more about Shenandoah Hemp Supply, check out the Waynesboro at Work podcast! Find the Waynesboro at Work podcast on YouTube, Spotify, Google Podcasts, RadioPublic, Breaker, PocketCasts, and Anchor.