The FEKKAI Life: Chris Bourne, Cofounder of Klersun Hemp Extracts

I am a celebrity hairstylist, an entrepreneur, and a philanthropist who’s built my brand on taking care of others, body, hair, and soul. Join me weekly for The FEKKAI Life, a series of relaxed, intimate conversations with free thinkers, business leaders, and creatives who’ve used their passion to change the world for the better.  Available wherever you find your podcasts.

FF: Hi, I'm Frédéric Fekkai, and welcome to season two of The FEKKAI Life. This is where we talk about passion and inspiration, sitting for conversations with some of the most interesting people making a difference right now.

CB: Hi, this is Chris Bourne with Klersun. I'm one of the cofounders. What clean living means to me is clean water, clean air. I love being in nature. I love surfing, snowboarding, rock climbing, mountain biking. On my own personal farm here of six acres, we have a perennial food forest with over 300 plus fruits, nuts, and berries. We have a kitchen garden that supports the household. We have honey bees, we have chickens. So, do my best to continue to live a more sustainable lifestyle and support myself and my family. In producing our own food, it reduces products that come in plastic in the stores. And when we do go to purchase food and stuff that we don't produce here on the farm, we go to our local certified organic co-op. We're very fortunate here in Ashland, Oregon, to have one of the only certified organic food co-ops in the country. Because here on our own farm, we live a very clean lifestyle, and we do our best to live within the natural cycle of life.

FF: Coming up, we'll explore why more people have made CBD a part of their healthy lifestyle and we'll give you a look inside a groundbreaking new partnership. We're talking with Chris Bourne, cofounder of Klersun Hemp Extracts and a pioneer for the use of CBD.

FF: I'm delighted to have Chris Bourne here, the cofounder of Klersun Hemp Extracts. Thank you for taking the time to join us here on our The FEKKAI Life podcast. I'm so excited to hear about your venture, hear your journey, and hear a lot about what Klersun is about. So please tell us Chris, how did you get to found Klersun?

CB: Yes, well, thank you, Frédéric. Thank you for inviting me. The journey of hemp derived extracts, I would say that my love for for plants started living in Berkeley and studying at university there and working on gardening projects in the East Bay with children and learning more about the the value of plants as medicine. And that brought me to learning more about permaculture and sustainable living systems and teaching that at UC Berkeley. And that, at some point in my life, I got into the natural food industry and to gut health and the benefits of fermented foods, organic fermented foods and started a company that was nationally distributed. And then my my business partner Frederick Schilling, who had started Dagoba Chocolate back in the day, we were sitting around and we were discussing the possibilities of hemp because things were becoming legalized and also discussing the potential efficacious value that the different cannabinoids in cannabis can bring to treating certain ailments and so forth. So through that initial conversation it has brought us to first starting a company of cultivating hemp. And then from there discovering and exploring the different ways of extracting cannabinoids, learning about the different values of those cannabinoids and how they can be utilized as an ingredient in various products such as cosmetics and tinctures and capsules and all different types of delivery systems that one can use for the benefits of these cannabinoids. So yeah, that's that's where we are today. And we continue to explore through other projects that we're currently involved in which involve clinical trials and so forth. So it's been very exciting for us to learn more about what this plant can offer in this emerging industry.

FF: You went into this business, what drives you? What was the main reason, your passion? What got you out of bed there, excited to do what you do? And what is so exciting about the future of hemp and CBD in every department?

CB: Absolutely. So I would say that my love for plants and cultivation started in the Bay Area in Berkeley. I was working for actually Alice Waters at Chez Panisse growing microgreens for her.

FF: Oh, wow.

CB: And from there I met a gentleman, his name was Jonathan and he was teaching teaching me about permaculture and sustainable living systems. And from there I started to study more about a healthier way of living, which I had gotten from mentors in college about organic food and so forth. But this was more about a way of living. It was a lifestyle, a more sustainable lifestyle that incorporates not just how you grow your food, but how the placement of your home the materials that you use in your home and so forth. So that continued on in my life and with various ventures that I've been on. My partner Frederick and I were sitting down and we just were looking at hemp being legalized for cultivation and for myself personally, I always saw value in this plant and never could understand why it was made illegal. I understood why THC was illegal for various reasons, but I didn't understand why hemp was illegal because it had done so much for us historically on fiber. And food. And I said, but you know what, this is an opportunity for all of us to lift this plant out of the darkness and kind of bring it into the light so everybody can learn more about it. And I think that myself and Klersun and my business partners, I think this is just the start, you know, I wouldn't say that any everything that we're doing is perfect. But I would say that it's a step in the right direction. It's getting people to think, it's getting people to get outside of their box to gain a better understanding of the value of this plant. And for me, that is what gets me up every day is I have to continue to fight to keep this plant being researched and keep the regulations being fair so that we can continue to do the work that we do.

FF: Hemp and CBD has been associated with such a more medicinal, more holistic. Is there any plan for Klersun and you to change that perception, the voice articulating the function of CBD and hemp?

CB: Absolutely. I think we do that daily with our customers. And we have a lot of different customers that come in and we have to educate them. Being that we're an ingredient supply company, and we're not the face of a retail product we're a little bit in the shadow of our customers because we're supplying the ingredient to a larger product. So I think for us, we do that by educating our customers and hope that our customers who have these retail products that can then convey to their customers, the larger audience, of how this can be sexier, this can be more of a lifestyle thing for somebody or it could help them and in various ways,not just like you said medicinally, but you could wear it, you could use it in plastics, you could you could put it in haircare and cosmetics and there's so many different ways to utilize this plant. And I think that for us, like I said, we continue daily to do that. And I think that, you know, because we're on the science side of it, learning more about that aspect of it. Like I said, we do the best we can to convey that to you, the customer, so that you can then tell the larger story to your larger customer base. And I think that's kind of the cascading effect is how we see it. But when we go to trade shows or when we're doing podcasts like this or summits, we're always doing our best to educate the ones that have a totally different perception of what cannabis is as a whole. Because I think that is changing. I think the demonization of this plant is leaning more towards the legitimatization of this plant. And I see it in my own family, my mother, my grandmother, those folks had a very strong point of view of what this plant was and what it is now, you know, I've had family members who have gone through some serious challenges, cancer and so forth, and they utilized many different aspects of cannabis. And we're surprised that the value that it brought to them because for them growing up and throughout their lives it was demonized for various reasons and now they, they see that it shouldn't have been, there should be a bit more research. We continue to do it through family and friends and telling stories such as these.

FF: I'm excited to actually see the launch of our CBD line coming up now and to get feedback and reaction from our customers. It's a breakthrough innovation, it's an awakening in our thinking on haircare and I believe that we're going to have some incredible, you know, chat and conversation with our customer and hopefully see wonders. So oo-ha for the CBD. What's the intention with Klersun? Is it obviously to improve life of beautiful people. But is it in a form of medicine? Is it in a form of food? Is it in a form of wellness?

CB: Klersun's primary focus currently is hemp-derived extracts, so chasing the different cannabinoids that that hemp cultivars can offer and bringing those cannabinoids and terpenes to the market as an ingredient so that folks like yourself or other companies can utilize them in different delivery systems to improve folks' lives better, whether it be a medicinal value, general health and obviously there's many other things that hemp has brought to the table such as fiber, hemp seeds for food, hemp seeds for for oil, plastic composites, and so forth. And we're interested in all that but I'd say our primary focus currently is the medicinal value, the efficacious value that these different cannabinoids can offer and how to utilize them in formulations and so forth.

FF: First of all, so pleased and so grateful that we find you and worked with you to create our CBD haircare collection, the CBD Scalp Calming Collection. And you know, how, how did how did we get together?

CB: Well, one of my partners, I think, built a relationship with your company. And then from there we worked with Robertet, who is 170-year-old fragrance and flavor company that's based in Grasse, France. Also has facilities here in New Jersey and we partnered with them a few years ago on various projects and we continue to and so that's what came out of that relationship and bringing Robertet to the table to help formulate products for you because they utilize only natural ingredients and in their formulations and products.

FF: Yes, absolutely. We love Robertet. We have worked with them on fragrances for our two brands, Bastide, which is a brand about beauty and wellness originating from the south of France. And for FEKKAI the haircare line. So we love Robertet. I'm so glad we we met through them.

CB: So I would say with the extraction that we do and the products that we produce which are high in different cannabinoids specifically to CBD for your products that has anti inflammatory properties and then alongside Robertet that's what helped create your products and yes we're very, very thankful for our relationship with Robertet and and obviously having you as a customer has been wonderful to work with.

FF: So I have to say crease that I'm going to be ignorant in that field. You know, I was always confused with you know, CBD, hemp and so on and THC and all this. So, you know, there is so many misconceptions about CBD hemp in general. Have you found it impactful in your own life? Are you often exposed to story of people who do? Can you give a little bit of clarity on that?

CB: Yes, so I personally have a lot of experience with different cannabinoids throughout my life. And I know plenty of people, family, friends, colleagues that have utilized different cannabinoids for different purposes. Since Klersun was created, we've played around with different formulations for ourselves and for our customers. And for myself, personally I like a 2:1 CBD to CBG, that means there's two parts CBD to one part CBG and almost five weeks ago, I broke my back in three different places, as well as two ribs. So I'm very lucky to be standing. I'm very lucky to be alive. Alongside my Chinese doctor and the different protocols that he gave me, I've been taking 100 to 200 milligrams of the CBD along with CBG to mitigate pain and inflammation and it's been very very helpful for me.

FF: Just for me and the audience here, what's CBG?

CB: CBG is cannabigerol, and it's another cannabinoid. Do there's many different cannabinoids that can be extracted from cannabis. Now cannabis could be high THC plants, could be hemp. Could be, you know, hemp for fiber or for grain for seed, but in terms of the cannabinoids, THC is probably one of the most well known cannabinoids there is. CBD is is another very well known cannabinoid just because of where we are in the industry now. And then there's a bunch of different minor cannabinoids that are alongside it so there's well over 150 plus different cannabinoids in cannabis but we haven't discovered them all. We haven't figured out what what their properties are. But just some of the lesser known would be CBG, CBN,CBC...the list goes on and on.

FF: Why is CBD in the last couple years becoming such a big deal and then also for me, is this, you think, here to stay and to evolve? To become evolutionary or revolutionary, or is it a trend? Hopefully not. [Laughs]

CB: We get that question a lot. And we ask, we also ask ourselves those questions. But I would say my belief is that it's here to stay. Cannabinoids are here to stay, the research, the development of better understanding the efficacious value of what this plant holds. And we know it has so much value on fiber side. We've seen it historically, we know that it has a lot of value for food and seed and oil. We know that it has value in composites, plastic composites and so forth. And then on the cannabinoid and terpene side, there's a lot of value that we're discovering. Most people have utilized this plant on a grassroots level for many, many years. The laws have not allowed in a lot of places for the utilization of these cannabinoids or the research, and now we're in a place to where we can start to build platforms to be able to regulate and make discoveries with this plant. It opens the door for better understanding. And I think we're just at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the medicinal value this plant has to offer so I think that CBD is here to stay. But I also want to say that all the other cannabinoids are just as important. And we have to keep learning and researching the value there.

FF: Is it taken seriously at the high level of medicine? And with professors and researchers, biologists, and so on.

CB: Absolutely. I have quite a few few friends who are doctors, have colleagues in the industry that have been researching this plant for decades. And the response that I get is, there's a lot of value here. And it's just yet to be discovered, or it's yet to be properly regulated so that we can utilize it properly.

FF: Is there a one lab or one company out there, including yours, who is making some breakthrough technology, formulation, that will help enhance life and health or is it pretty much spread out throughout many labs?

CB: So that's a that's a really good question because there are a lot of different labs in this industry. And the way I look at it is there's a lot of opportunists in this industry right now. There's people building labs just for profit, there's people growing it just for profit. But if I was to align myself with a lab to purchase extracts or even understand how they're working with the plant, I think it comes down to are they staying ahead of the curve? Are they trying to do more than what the industry is demanding of them? And that is something that Klersun has has been doing since day one. All of us owners in this company, we see the value from the beginning. This wasn't just an opportunity, we want to lift this industry up with value, lift this industry up with accountability. And integrity, it's really important to us. So there are many different labs, there are many different ways to extract this plant. You can use hydrocarbons, you could use ethanol, you could use CO2, you could use aqueous solutions. The list goes on. And of course, everybody has their new invention or methodologies to better extract this plant to get the most out of it. So regardless of where we are currently in our methodologies or the different ways that we're approaching this plant, we're also humble enough to continue to learn and forge on with the better way of doing things, and we hope that shows with our relationships with our customers through our integrity and accountability.

FF: Klersun's business model is so much about relationships with your partners, your vendors, farmers, et cetera. Why does it matter how these relationships grow and evolve?

CB: Well, I've always been a believer in building longterm relationships because I like to be surrounded by folks that are innovative, somebody to sit down with at the end of the day and share a meal with. Longterm relationships are very important to all of us in this company. We see a lot of other folks having shortterm relationships just for one-offs or just for profit. For us, we're learning from our farming partners. We're learning from the breeders that breed the seed stock goes into the farms. We learned from our partnership with Robertet through the value of 170 years of working with fragrance and flavors. We learn from our customers such as you, and what do you want to create? What is important to you and how can we help you accomplish your goals? And that's why those longterm relationships are really important to us. Because we keep learning. And we want to be surrounded by folks that continue to to lift us up personally, but also, as a business, as a company.

FF: How can our listener educate themselves a bit more about hemp, what it can do, and how to purchase it. And is there any very credible blog or website or guidance to navigate this whole market of CBD, hemp?

CB: Yes, I would say that just googling hemp and this industry or CBD, there's there's a plethora of information out there. I like ProjectCBD.com, I think there's a lot of value in what they offer there. Another great way for listeners if they have access is to go visit a hemp farm to be able to see it, smell it, touch it, and kind of talk to the farmers and understand why they're cultivating this crop or even visit an extraction facility or or try somebody's product. But there are when it comes to products, it's a little more challenging because there are so many products out there and you want to find something that is quality and and that can bring value to whatever it is that they're addressing in their own personal life, health-wise. So if I was to put a product in my body, I would look for something that it's either broad or full spectrum and learn more about the company but I would say visiting farms and extraction facilities is a great way to do it. But ProjectCBD.com has a lot of great information. The Hemp Industry Association has a lot of information as well.

FF: Tell me a little bit now that Klersun, I don't know how big it is or how comfortable you are discussing the business. Now that it has grown so much, when did you first cofound it and what are the next steps for you and the company?

CB: Yes. Well, my partner and I, Frederick started MediSun Farms a little over six years ago. And then we created Klersun about four years ago. And next steps, that's a great question. We're moving into understanding more about the efficacious value of this plant by moving into clinical trials with the company that we started. I can't go into all the details right now but that's our next step, is to gain a better understanding of the different cannabinoids and how they work together and how the human body assimilates them and how the human body uses them and how those cannabinoids could be directed towards different ailments within the body. And so it's continued discovery and exploration.

FF: How does anyone find out about Klersun and the purpose of Klersun? CB: Yes, they could go to our website, that's Klersun.com. They could get in touch with me personally at chris@klersun.com. Yeah!

FF: I'm so inspired by Chris's dedication to a world of possibility for the future of beauty, medicine, and our quality of life. And I'm excited to see how his company will grow. I'm Frédéric Fekkai, and this is The FEKKAI Life. There is more wonderful and inspiring conversations to come and I don't want you to miss a single one. Make sure to subscribe to The FEKKAI Life podcast and thank you for listening.

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