Customer Spotlight: Calyxeum
Businesses launched in 2019 or 2020 share a unique and challenging bond not felt since 1918: Opening a business during a global pandemic. Michigan’s Calyxeum is one of those companies. Combining the pandemic with the hurdles of being a cannabis company, the female-owned, minority-owned Calyxeum was undoubtedly battle-tested. But, backed by medical, tech, and health degrees, as well as years of cannabis industry experience and advocacy, the cultivation and processing brand has risen to the occasion every time. Over the past three years, founders Latoyia Rucker, Rebecca Colett, and their team have continually demonstrated business prowess and the ability to not just survive, but thrive.
Cannabis Presents Complex Challenges
Market challenges persist across the cannabis space, often without any solutions in sight. Despite the sometimes steep challenges, operators like Calyxeum continue to find ways to grow and succeed. In their case, consistent market awareness efforts paid off with solid sales and a deep footprint in the billion-dollar Michigan market.
Today, Calyxeum products can be purchased in roughly 100 medical and adult use retail locations across the state. The company now handles customer surges entirely in-house, thanks to its operational cultivation and production facilities which currently operates two production sites supported by 15 employees. Their top selling strains include Biscotti Cake and Gelato Sundae.
Calyxeum was able to overcome the steep challenges created by the pandemic but any business operator will tell you, the challenges never stop. This fact is so accurate in cannabis because of its unique state-by-state laws and continued federal prohibition. The ripple effects of these laws are felt throughout the industry. Banks are also affected by the current rules, leading to one of the most significant pain points in the industry today.
As many US-based pot ventures have experienced, Calyxeum recently had its business bank account abruptly shut down. Making matters worse, the co-founders also saw the closure of their personal accounts.
“I was able to get a cashless check for one of them, but the other one has to be mailed. So, who knows when I’m going to get that,” said Colett. She empathized with other industry peers who’ve endured this all-too-common result. Without any real solutions, she suggests fellow cannabis operators best protect themselves by working with banks that operate with cannabis brands.
“It is expensive but the least risky,” she said.
The treatment from the banks creates a dire concern for operators like Calyxeum’s. Despite the hardship, Colett empathizes with the banks, noting that financial institutions must walk a fine regulatory line. Like cannabis operators, they face stiff penalties if US regulators decide to take action. With hope, federal rescheduling of cannabis to Schedule III could provide some banking relief, allowing companies to bank and make standard deductions like other sectors. The industry awaits the response from the DEA, which is expected to come sometime before the 2024 Presidential Election.
Supporting The Michigan Cannabis Community
With perseverance as the only option, Calyxeum pushed onward, finding substantial growth along the way. So far, the company’s success marks the latest entrepreneurial milestone for co-founders Rucker and Colett.
Marketing efforts certainly helped, but more than one thing elevated the brand to this point. In part, Calyxeum’s co-founders credit their growth to a warm and welcoming cannabis community, noting how gracious people are with their time to talk, share advice, and support one another.
A passion that drives the brand is the co-founders’ goal of creating a cannabis space that features significantly more diversity, including women and minority-owned brands. To fulfill their goal, Colett launched the Detroit Cannabis Project, a social equity technical assistance incubator. The separately owned venture serves as an education and empowerment hub for individuals from diverse backgrounds, with the goal of establishing a sustainable cannabis company after receiving a business license.
“We want to do our part in increasing diversity and inclusion in the industry,” said Colett, who’s helped over 300 students over the past three years–including a current cohort of 30 people enrolled.
Rucker and Colett understand that cannabis isn’t just about a brand–it’s about helping people. The priority remains supporting the plant and its community through quality cannabis, DCP and other endeavors. Rebecca, who began working in cannabis as a caretaker for her grandfather, said the positive feedback she receives from medical patients regularly warms her heart.
“That’s my favorite part,” she said.
Calyxeum continues to expand its market reach and awareness through various efforts, including joining LeafLink several months ago. In addition to streamlining the invoice process, Colett said using LeafLink “has helped us reach customers outside of our usual geographic markets.”
Take some time to check out Calyxeum’s menu here.