CBD is one of the world’s fastest-growing industries and is set to be worth $20 billion globally by 2025. Its popularity as a natural yet powerful support for pain management, sleep disorders, and anxiety to name but a few have grown exponentially over recent years.
Seeing the major benefits of CBD and the requirement of quality CBD, in 2015, Tony Calamita founded Love Hemp with Thomas Rowland. According to Tony, Tom initially became aware of CBD when searching for treatments and remedies to help his father who had recently been diagnosed with cancer. The duo started the business with just £3000 and begun as a very humble bedroom start-up selling only online. Within the first few years, the company had grown to multimillion-pound revenue figures organically, without the need for additional investment.
Love Hemp is a health and wellness brand with an ethos to help people naturally improve their quality of life. The core offering is CBD products, CBD is short for Cannabidiol which is one of the key active ingredients found in the cannabis or hemp plant. The company offers a range of over 40 CBD-infused products such as ingestible oils, capsules, chocolates, vegan sweets, and topical creams. All products have zero THC which means they are non-psychoactive, a commonly associated effect of cannabis products.
Today Love Hemp has around 50 full-time team members operating from offices in Croydon and Manchester. Their multi-award-winning products are stocked in over 2000 outlets across the UK and Europe, including major UK high street retailers such as Boots and Holland & Barrett. The business is now preparing for a global launch across Europe, North America, Asia, and Australasia to build a global footprint.
Success; Living a Purposeful Life
For Tony, success has meant many different things through different stages of his life. He says, “I’m fortunate enough to have now achieved many of those things that I would have considered a success in my younger youth.” He describes the ultimate success as living a life that is truly fulfilled and happy, and one that allows one to realise his or her full potential. He points, to achieve that it needs to be a combination of goals that align to four key pillars; health, wealth, relationships and most importantly meaning, that is having a purpose in life that contributes to something greater than oneself.
Passion for Health and Fitness and Beginning of Life-Long Journey
Since his teenage years, Tony has had a passion for health and fitness. He recalls, “I remember dragging my first set of dumbbell weights home from the store in town when I was around 15 years old, I couldn’t move my arms or legs for around a week afterwards.” Over the years he grew a real love for health and fitness, achieving his own results and helping other people achieve their goals brought him huge fulfilment. This was when Tony found his passion.
After finishing college at 18 years old, Tony worked as a lifeguard for the next year to save up and study to qualify as a fitness instructor/personal trainer. He says, “It was a job I loved but I soon realised it was not going to pay for the life I desired, I continued with the profession sporadically whilst attempting multiple start-up businesses throughout my twenties trying to make my break in the business world.”
“I love to be different and disruptive and when the opportunity with CBD presented itself it was almost perfect, ticking so many of my boxes,” says Tony. He further adds, “Without consciously doing it my brain seems to be wired to always be looking for opportunities, how could something be improved or changed by thinking really outside the box. Seeing the world and everything in it for what it could be, rather than what it currently was. When your brain is orientated that way, and an opportunity presents itself, then it doesn’t feel like a leap of faith, if you believe in the concept then you just go for it and never look back.”
Growth stands out of Comfort Zone
“Challenges are a part of everyday life for all of us, they can be tough on us both physically and mentally, but it’s needed to grow, it can make us stronger once reaching the other side whether by success or failure,” says Tony. He further shares that a challenge is an opportunity to bring out the best in someone or even an entire organisation. It applies the stress that is sometimes required to get out of the comfort zone, and this is when that magical thing called growth happens.
Growth is rarely a comfortable process, but it’s fundamental in achieving success. However, standing still and staying in the comfort zone is almost a guaranteed route to failure. Tony opines, “Ultimately if you want the most out of life you need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable because a life without challenge is effectively meaningless, you will have nothing to compare the good times too and you certainly will never grow.”
Tony encourages aspiring business leaders not to fear failure, embrace it and learn from it because another failure means success is one step closer. He also advises, “Serve as a role model, be passionate and most importantly invest heavily into the continual development of yourself and your team.”
Keeping Everyone Align with the Common Goal
Since becoming CEO of the parent company that originally acquired Love Hemp, Tony’s role has changed significantly. Now, his time is spent supporting the leadership team within the operational Love Hemp subsidiary whilst also having the responsibility of leading a publicly listed company, which is a whole new experience to him that he is embracing whole heartily.
As a CEO, Tony’s primary job is to set and then drive the company’s mission and vision throughout every level of the organization. He confirms that all the departments such as marketing, operations, and sales are centrally aligned to shared goals whilst ensuring that all employees understand their purpose and feel inspired in their work. According to Tony, company culture is paramount, and this is something the CEO of an organisation must own and be accountable for. He asserts, “I feel incredibly fortunate that our products are life-changing for many people and with this, it’s easy for many employees to find real meaning in their work.”
A Perfect Balance; Set Priorities and Find Love in what you do
“Balance between personal and professional life is one of the hardest things and one must accept there is no perfect work/life balance,” says Tony. He further adds, “I love what I do, work does not feel like work, and usually it can be very difficult for me to think about anything but work, sometimes I try to switch off but it’s almost impossible.”
As per Tony, it is essential to have dedicated periods where one disconnects from work but knows how to be fluid and prioritise what is more important in any given situation. Tony usually has a complete break on the weekends. At least one of the days if not both, and usually spends that time with friends and family.
To Achieve Global Presence
Tony is leading to build the brands global footprint and wants to have products readily available to at least one billion potential customers within the next year. He further adds that the primary objective is to establish domestic e-commerce channels in at least 6 countries across 4 continents, each one having local distribution for efficient delivery. The team states, “We will compound our presence by establishing high street retail distribution in each of those countries.”
Today the company operates as ‘Love Hemp Group PLC’ which is publicly listed on the Acquis Stock Exchange ‘LIFE: AQSE’. The team is now preparing for a move to the main market London Stock Exchange later this year which will bring increased liquidity and investor access.
Tony’s individual goal for the future is to continually develop both personally and professionally and inspire all those around him to do the same. He says, “I believe it’s such a key ingredient to actualising your full potential, and only then will you be best equipped to take on the world and its challenges.”