In a little over a year, Chelsea Dudgeon has gone from whipping up experimental topicals for her grandma to an Emerald Cup winner ready to take her company to the next level.
The first batch of Deep Skin topical was made around March 2016, and forms the backbone of the quickly growing Newell’s Botanicals line.
“I just explicitly made it for my grandma,” Dudgeon said.
At the time she had no regards for the cost of production and used herbs from her garden she had on hand.
“I just knew I wanted to formulate something that was going to work because there was a lot of skepticism directed at me by my family,” Dudgeon said. “I’ve spent that last several years trying to convince them [cannabis] is a medicinal plant.”
Dudgeon ’s grandmother was in her 70s dealing with the results of a life of hard work. She’d spent the last 40 years working on her hands and knees scrubbing as a cleaning lady, this had led to a lot of joint deterioration, a new hip and arthritis. She has recently retired.
We asked Dudgeon, just a regular young woman from Sonoma far from the face of the green rush these days, if part of the process in developing her product line was due to a lack of satisfaction with what was already on the market.
“A lot of stuff smelled like weed,” she said. “That was a nonstarter.”
Her past exposure to the topical industry also had a certain lack of consistency.
“I wanted what I gave her to be both personal and effective,” she said.
The first batch she made lasted months. Dudgeon provided it to her grandmother in mason jars, then came batch two. She noted the first batch was a quart of this, a quart of that, and batch two was a lot more refined.
“We ended up going with the roll on so people won’t get greasy.”
The second batch was prepared about a month before the cup and she was torn over whether she would enter her experiment alongside some flowers she thought might have a chance at the Sustainability Award.
“In the aftermath of winning it was pretty funny,” said Dudgeon. “The reason I wanted to put a second product in was because I wanted two VIP competitor passes. I made this thing for grandma, [I thought] we can put it in a nice little bottle and make it all official.”
She wasn’t expecting to win but entering, “seemed like a good idea at the time.”
It was the first cup she had entered and the first time she had attended the Emerald Cup. the definitive outdoor cannabis world championship. Even placing in the prestigious contest that spans flowers, hash, edibles and topicals, is a huge notch in the belt of any grower, processor, or brand.
“I had no idea I was going to be competing against big name companies,” she said while noting the organic farming aspects were what got her most excited about the event she was essentially clueless on.
To this day she tells the tale without expectation, as if she didn’t take home one of the most competitive awards in America’s fastest growing industry, saying she wasn’t taking herself very seriously.
At the awards ceremony when they called her name she couldn’t believe it. She thought she’d heard the announcer say third but someone said, “No that was the last one… You won.” She made her way to the stage confused as she told security she believed she just won. She was right, grandma’s topical now called Deep Skin was the Emerald Cup champion.
“I wasn’t even sure we’d won until I was standing on the stage,” said she said. ”I didn’t know what to say.”
We asked Dudgeon about scaling up as she, in that moment, became extremely well positioned in the cannabis world with an Emerald Cup-winning topical she controlled 100 percent stake in.
“I didn’t sleep for two days,” she said. “I couldn’t stop shaking with excitement and terror.”
Now, six months later, she’s finally getting caught up. The excitement around the cup win and various write ups have had her working overtime. With the exception of a small loan from her father and her partner providing production assistance, she’s continued to build the brand solo. She now, like many, stand on the edge of California’s forthcoming regulated adult market ready to be a big winner… just with a better trophy case to back the effort than most.
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