Podcast The Hemp Revolution

3 Great Minds Behind a Successful CBD Business with Boris Shcharansky

ep 71 Boris

Boris Shscharansky is the Chief Operating Officer of Papa & Barkley, a company committed to producing safe and reliable relief products for the ones we love. He is also a board member of the Cannabis Distribution Association and a founding board member of the California Hemp Council.

In this special episode of The Hemp Revolution Podcast, Boris tells us about the inspiration behind Papa & Barkley, how they’re bridging the education gap in the cannabis space, and the people behind this amazing company.

Stay tuned!

The three of us come together with cannabis knowledge from Guy, the private equity knowledge from Adam, and the operating knowledge from me. And we had this amazing story in this amazing product which really believed we had a better topical than anyone else out there. – Boris Shcharansky

Download The Episode Companion For This Episode

Some Topics We Discussed Include

3:44 – Papa & Barkley’s origin
7:34 – How Papa & Barkley bridge the education gap with the consumers
12:37 – The product design and the people behind
15:25 – Goals for 2020

People Mentioned / Resources

Connect with Boris Shcharansky

Connect with Sonia Gomez


Sonia Gomez: What’s up guys Sonia Gomez coming to you live from The Emerald Cup in Santa Rosa California super excited to be here on another rock your socks episode event special of The Hemp Revolution Podcast where we are sharing and telling the real story of the industry from the perspective of the business owners who are pushing this space forward and pioneering the possibility of you being able to have access to the highest quality products that are available on the marketplace. 

If you are a person looking for products you can depend on, check us out of medicalsecrets.com for our favorite picks, and if you’re a budding entrepreneur or an established brand new business in this space, and you’re looking for merchant processing, distribution, stable supply chain for marketing and advertising, we are your folk go-to folks, check us out at theemeraldcircle.com. We are happy to help. I’m your hostess with the mostess, Sonia Gomez and today we are sitting with an incredible entrepreneur in this space, Boris, I forgot how to pronounce your last name. 

Boris Shcharansky: Shcharansky 

Sonia Gomez: Shcharansky. Double dog dares you guys to try and spell that right now. Boris Shcharansky who unifies the Papa & Barkley team. That’s right you guys we have Papa and Barkley online with us today. Boris specifically unifies the Papa & Barkley’s team around its primary mission and goals. He serves as a chief operating officer of Papa and Barkley’s, where he is responsible for sales, production distribution, and cannabis sourcing. 

Boris also functions as Papa and Barkley’s integrator defining quality and yearly goals and ensuring the organization stays on track to meet them through cross-departmental communication. This is so important for this alliance guys.

Boris Shcharansky: It’s a mouthful.

Sonia Gomez: It’s a total mouthful, but compliance is a major factor in what is either limiting or making it possible for you guys to get access to products and state committed with a brand. He also serves as a board member of the Cannabis Distribution Association and as a founding board member of the California Hemp Council, is also founded the Iowa Association and Heartland Hemp Company in Iowa where he is helping families source quality CBD products for their children with epilepsy. 

Boris sees Papa Barkley as an authentic voice within the rapidly growing cannabis industry and is committed to maintaining that position and offering the public the best in class products, products that are highly quality effective and completely natural. Put your hands together and help me welcome our good friend Boris. How’s it going? 

Boris Shcharansky: Well, that was a mouthful. Thank you for having me. Yeah, I hope I can live up to that introduction.

Sonia Gomez: We make it sound sexy over here at revolution boys. Why don’t you from your horse’s mouth. Tell us a little bit about the story behind Barkley and how you actually got started as [inaudible] hemp movement.

Papa & Barkley’s Foundation

Boris Shcharansky: Well, my story’s a little separate, but I found Papa & Barkley in sort of the middle of my journey, and I got together with Guy and Adam who my co-founders. Adam was really the impetus to start this company he created the original bomb for those of you that are familiar with our packaging there’s an elderly man and a pitbull on our packaging. That’s Papa and then Barkley is the dog, though that was Adam’s father and that was his hippo is a service dog. 

And Adam’s father has stenosis going into 90 years old, he always had back pain. But he got to the point where his back went out. And this is someone that has been going to like cocktails with his wife every you know, week and like living an active life even in his late 80s and 90s. And, you know, old age caught up in the back caught up and they overmedicated him for the pain and he couldn’t move. They even put him on hospice. 

Adam was freaking out and didn’t know what to do. A friend from California called him and said, Look, they sell these bombs here. They sell these topicals maybe you could try making one. So he went to a friend of his, he’s in Massachusetts, and he spoke with a friend of his from high school that he was still in touch with that had the hook up in Massachusetts, so he bought a couple of ounces of the dankest bud and found some recipes online, bought a crockpot, got some essential oils and started just making batches of products in his kitchen and applying them to his father’s back. 

The way he tells it the first day his dad started moving, by day three he was out of bed, by week three he was you know back up and moving like normal and he got him off of hospice. He got back home more who’s the impetus and really the driving force, the vision and the value behind this company, I was able to live at home for another year and a half after that under caregiver support via the bomb being applied five times a day. 

I think that really created an amazing experience in Adam’s heart because he is an entrepreneur by trade and had been in the private equity world and had been looking at the cannabis industry with some partners just invest but when he had this experience of serendipity brought him together with Guy, who’s are the co-founder who was a formulator and had a background in creating a legal and compliant manufacturing facility in Colorado. And then they ran into me a few weeks later who and I have an operating background, I’ve been in and out of cannabis and have been operating businesses since basically, I left college. So the last 15 years or so. 

So as a result, you know, the three of us come together with cannabis knowledge from Guy, the private equity knowledge from Adam, and the operating knowledge from me. And we had this amazing story in this amazing product which really believed we had a better topical than anyone else out there. You know, topicals were an afterthought in the industry in 2016. If you had some extra extract, you mixed it with the lotion and you call it a topical, the potencies were abysmal. 50 to 100 milligrams per jar.

We raised the potency our first 50 mil jar had 400 milligrams in it with a CBD to THC ratio of three to one. Our next one has 600 milligrams in it with a CBD THC ratio of three one but reverse. And you know, we just quickly got a lot of response in the market because people that needed pain relief are finally getting something so it was a really magical moment. We all came together and we had a plan to really have a voice for the wellness industry in cannabis.

Sonia Gomez: It’s so super exciting to see this advanced through the topical application, especially because the fastest growing demographic in this industry and certainly the most uneducated demographic in this industry is the baby boomer crowd. And I love that the story stems from serving one of your fathers, and it gets to carry over in the way that the packaging is so clean, it really breaks barriers of demographics. It’s for the younger crowd, really widely accepted, it feels comfortable for somebody who’s more mature or in the baby boomer demographic. 

Talk to me a little bit about the education because I’m still recognizing no matter how far the entrepreneur or the business advanced, there’s still a pretty big gap in the way that the consumer understands what products to select, and how to effectively use them to get the desired results. Talk to me a little bit about how Barkley connects with the clientele and helps to educate them so that they get the desired results of your product.

Bridging the Education Gap

Boris Shcharansky: One of our goals And one of the things we’re really leaning into this year 2019. And next year is the concept of having that first conversation in cannabis. Right. So and we have a product line that’s so non-aggressive, no so non-threatening. There’s a lot of different conversations you have to have. Right. And so one of them is with that baby boomer crowd that has been told that we deserve evil drug right for so long. But then you hand them something that takes away their pain. Yeah, it doesn’t get them high. 

Our CBD tincture is a 30 to one that it has abysmal amounts of THC in it. But it’s a cannabis-derived product that’s going to make them feel well. So we learned early on that. It’s not just the consumer, but it’s also everyone recommends our products for the mom or the dad for their uncle for their cousin. Everyone has a story. Everyone wants to share their story. Anytime you’re in cannabis. You shared your beautiful story with me beforehand. 

We have stories to share and what this plant has done for us. And I think what Papa & Barkley has become and what we’ve leaned into in education is how do we share those stories? How can we hear them and how can we tell them and what we’ve been focusing on budtender education, patient education and most of our marketing dollars aren’t spent in a lot of what I call periphery marketing. We really go to the streets if you will. We go to community events we go to senior homes and then we bust them to dispensaries and help them buy a product. We go to spas and we help educate. I want the [inaudible] cannabinoid system can do how CBD can help for information on how THC is not a dangerous cannabinoid. 

Now one thing that annoys us so much as we see in the CBD revolution, people demonizing THC, we’re a cannabis company through and through, we believe in all the cannabinoids, we have to find the right combination of each to work for every single person. And if we’re open about that, and then we’re open about that in our education. We’re only speaking the truth we never holding back for our personal needs. We know we have a cannabis companion, for example, that doesn’t really reference our products as much as our references. 

CBD Business

The benefits of cannabinoids and terpenes people don’t know about this, the ECS has not been taught about in the medical establishment at all if I mean maybe a little bit here and there and it’s on us as brands for providing product At least have some kind of educational element. So we’ve known all of our marketing dollars, for the most part, go into educating our consumers, educating our buyers, educating everyone that’s around us. Does that answer your question?

Sonia Gomez: Yeah, absolutely. I love that you guys are getting out into the community. I think, you know, a lot of folks are asking me, whether you’re in cannabis or hemp. I’m gonna have to be with you wholeheartedly [inaudible]. And I hate that is a marketing tactic in general where you have to demonize THC.

Boris Shcharansky: zero THC?

Sonia Gomez: Yeah.

Boris Shcharansky: I get offended at that, you know, because first of all, even the federal law doesn’t require us to have zero THC. Yeah, but the law says we can have up to 0.3 so why are we saying no THC? I understand. People are scared of that. But that’s a point of contention that people are capitalizing on rather than looking at as a point of education, saying, wait, wait, wait, why are you scared of THC? Let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about this ratio. Let’s talk about our top ones that have abundant amounts of THC in them and they will never get you high. 

Right and they will get you Well, they will get you relief. You know, if you look at that as an opportunity for engagement. I think that a lot more success hinders that, that sort of edge of where people accept and don’t accept, you engage, rather than demonize.

That sort of edge of where people accept and don't accept, you engage, rather than demonize. - Boris Shcharansky Click To Tweet

Sonia Gomez: well, a lot of the consumer feedback that I get is, you know, I walk into these dispensaries it’s really hyper overwhelming and I have this 20 something-year-old kid, Did you know he’s smoking sauce at home, right? He’s not sipping topical on his knee or whatever. But there’s an uneducated, you know, a super enthusiastic young person standing behind a counter, as, you know, visually stimulating and overwhelming brand display, right? And you’re not sure what to pick or what questions to ask that will get you to the end result. Right. 

So a lot of the consumer feedback is what questions do I ask, How do I get the answers that I’m looking for without feeling like I’m being bombarded, we’re forced to understand information that is not second nature. And so I really love that you guys instead of having them come to you’re going into their environment. And that you meet them where they are. It’s like an invitation to your phone rather than come by my shit industry is doing right now trying to get a foothold. 

Another thing that I really recognized about you guys as early on is the way that you guys are packaging your products. And it’s again, it’s breaking the barriers. It’s not hyper recreational focused towards the younger crowd. And it’s certainly not geriatric in the sense that you’re only serving an older demographic. Express diversity. It’s very clean and it’s non-invasive. Who is responsible for the feel of that brand? And why did you guys choose to do something that was so subdued? When the industry is all about, you know, the purple, green and gold? recreation?

The Product Design and the People Behind It

Boris Shcharansky: No, it’s a great question. I appreciate your recognizing it. You know, we have been, we’ve been very thoughtful about our packaging all through and through. The most important thing at the very beginning for us was transparency. So we were one of the first topical and I mean, topical companies, especially in California that was putting full bash labels on our product in 2016. People weren’t doing this like people were just you know, how many milligrams is in this? I don’t know, the dude that sold it to me said something. 

But we were actually supplying, you know, testing from our lab as well as labeling every single product ourselves to make sure that we had a batch to batch consistency. I think that that was one part that was always important to us. Later on, once you start catching on, we really thought that the fact that we have this authentic story of Adam’s Dad, it’s a story that comes from love. And it’s really the best way to explain cannabis or cannabis medicine. Anyone is this story, right? And no one can get offended by the story. And we knew we had something amazing there. 

And we have that sort of permeating the culture of our company too. We really are a family and we treat our people like they’re our family. And we call them family members. We call them team members. We don’t call them employees. Right. And that’s not a conscious decision that was an unconscious choice. We just we never called them employee We never felt comfortable breaking that barrier of language. 

CBD Business

So I think just that permeates into the packaging as well, when we have that thoughtful approach to what we want to say, we have that story, and then everything else is fluff. Everything else is you have to make sure that our different ratios can work in there. And we have an amazing packaging team headed by an incredible CMO that has had an incredible background in you know, consumer goods packaging, that if you can give her an amazing story and a mission that’s unlocking the potential of cannabis to improve lives. 

You tell it, that’s what we are, we’re building this around ratios, we’re going to build it around personalized medicine, well, then you have a great core to work from, and then the package, it doesn’t have to be that difficult.

Sonia Gomez: Well, I’m really excited to do a follow-up interview where we can really dive deeper into what it actually takes us to succeed in this space, no matter what your position is, as a company to really have that full-scale picture of what you want it to be. And then reverse engineering that into actionable steps that allow you that empower your team and allow you guys to keep the time and space to be visionaries in your company. 

So For those of you guys who are listening to this episode, make sure that you pop over and check out our other episode where we’ll be diving deep into the puppet story and finding more about what it actually takes to be a successful entrepreneur at this scale, making the kind of impact and generating the kind of revenue that allows you to be a contributing positive member of your community and society and representative of the cannabis movement here for us. 

I’d love to hear from you quickly while we’re here at the Emerald Cup. What product did you guys submit? If any number one and number two, what are some of the goals that you have for 2020.

Goals for 2020

Boris Shcharansky: [inaudible] Well, first of all, thank you for having me. Emerald Cup, I’m anxious as you can see, this is the one show that I really, really truly care about nowadays to do all that. we’ve submitted for our wellness products. They had a first-time hemp-derived CBD category this year. So we did we submitted our hemp-derived CBD balm. I’m excited for that one. 

We also submitted our regular CBD rich balm that’s been on the shelves and is the best seller in California for the last few years. we have not done so well with that one here so far our last few years. We can speak offline maybe about why that is, but I hope we do well there and I’m really excited about the third product the living tincture. It’s our new product that you know we started processing fresh frozen into a hash line called Papa Select, and we take that same fresh frozen and then we infuse it a low temperature into our MCT oil. So we get a raw full-spectrum THC-A-rich tincture, so it’s 15 milligrams per ml. It’s lighter in color than our normal tinctures and it is a full lot of fresh plant infusion rather than being a cured plant infusion. 

So I’m really excited about that product and I hope it does well. And on top of that Papa select has three different ice water hashes and three different live roses that we’re submitting and some great collaborations with Tar Heel Fires at Dew Point Farms. The nice ones are escaping me right now. I’m so sorry. Sabretooth, I believe is in there as well. Emoqueen is in there. We have Humble Kind in there as well. If I’m missing anyone I’m so sorry.

Sonia Gomez: We’ll have more time on our next show, [inaudible]

Boris Shcharansky: Yeah, absolutely. We love all our farmers. And you know, we’re basically just bringing their terps to the market here with our hash tag line. So I’m very privileged to do so.

Sonia Gomez: Yeah, hashtag save the terps I love it. And you guys are going to be taking on the green for sure. I think you guys will have an amazing product. And you also– I want to give a shout out to your event only sauce or extract Yeah, right last night. What is that?

Boris Shcharansky: The Strawberry Godfather from Sunrise Farms. We have been on a search for what we call the holy grail, which is a hash plant that can produce good enough yields for ice water hash and rosin. And that is CBD dominant. And that’s very hard to find. I can explain why later in our longer podcast, but we finally found one that’s pretty good. And it’s a show only a Strawberry Godfather, a two to one CBD to THC. She has some great strawberry terps with some gas on the end and is dominant in CBD so it’s not gonna you know it’s not gonna blow you away. So like some of these things.

Sonia Gomez: Can people special order if they come to the store and request it?

Boris Shcharansky: That one No, this one is literally one of the things we only do at events right now because CBD rosins are so expensive to process that, you know, with the taxes and everything and then the wholesale market and the retail market, but the shop, this would be over $100 or $110. And I don’t want to do that to patients that really need it. So we bring into cups like this at a $70 level, which is in line with all the rest of our extracts. 

Sonia Gomez: Yo you guys I’m not even gonna lie to you when I say that we were literally fighting over samples of that yesterday, it’s really is they have a tasting bar here at the Emerald Cup. And if you guys did not come to the Emerald Cup this year, get your shit together and get here next year because there’s some cool things to see some amazing people to meet. 

And if you’re really looking to find out about the old school cannabis culture that started events just like this, it’s heavily represented here, along with some pretty incredible innovative products and entrepreneurs as well. So really excited to be here with you. Thank you so much for your time. Incredible, incredible booth incredible products and can’t wait to have our follow up interview. Absolutely. 

You guys thanks so much for being apart from this incredible community I’m your hostess with the mostess Sonia Gomez and this is the hemp revolution podcast coming to you live from Santa Rosa. And at the Emerald Cup. Lots to celebrate and can’t wait to tell you all my recap and show follow up after we get home from this incredible adventure. We’ve been awesome over the last couple of weeks. We’ll see you guys on our next show. Peace out.

Thanks for listening to another Rockstar episode of the hemp revolution podcast. I’m your host Sonia Gomez. And just for you, we took notes on this episode along with the links and other resources mentioned inside of today’s show. Get them for free right now by going to the Emerald circle.com Now, if you want more on this, please subscribe to the show on Apple podcast or wherever you like to listen and you will be automatically entered in to our doctor Our monthly giveaway where you can get swag bags, all kinds of cool gifts and discounts from our guests and exclusive offers that are only mentioned right here in the hemp revolution podcast. 

I can’t wait for you to share this with your friends. With your help. We’ve been able to impact millions of people’s lives around the world with the truth about hemp and cannabis. And we know that you love us so much that you’re going to leave a review and rate us right now on your favorite platform to absorb content just like this now, we challenge you to dream big and love the life that you live. Thanks so much and we hope to see you on our next episode of the hemp revolution podcast Ciao for now.

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