Q&A: Cannabis CEO Trang Trinh talks about what makes her company, TREC Brands, so unique
Hint: They’re keen on empowering women and give back 10 per cent of their profits annually
Trang Trinh, one of the few female cannabis CEOs in Canada, decided to step into the cannabis scene after over a decade in the professional services world. While working in M&A consulting at Deloitte, her interest in the industry was sparked when she was sent to Jamaica to set up a vertically integrated cannabis company in Kingston for one of her clients. She eventually connected with partners Charles Khabouth and Basem Hanna to launch TREC Brands, an umbrella company that runs three cannabis labels: Blissed, WINK and Thumbs Up Brand. We caught up with Trang about her business journey, the stigma surrounding women and cannabis and why it’s so important to support your communities.
How did you connect with Charles and Basem?
I’d known Basem from university. When we reconnected late 2018, he had already started Blissed, and Charles had WINK under the INK Entertainment umbrella. We decided we wanted to make a holding company for both brands that would come from a socially conscious core.
So, what’s your business model?
We’re not a Licensed Producer (LP), so we don’t personally cultivate or process cannabis. Our business model involves tracking consumer trends and then curating our brands to target some of those demographics. We only work with LPs with the best quality product, and we aim for strains that are indoor-grown, hand-trimmed, hang-dried and tested. Our consumers can rely on us to do the homework for them.
Blissed is our female-friendly brand. We noticed there was a gap in the market when it came to women and cannabis brands. Because of certain stigmas, many women are still afraid to say they use cannabis, which prevents them from living their authentic life. That’s why Blissed’s campaign is called Own Your Joy. It exists to empower women who want to use cannabis to do so. Our first two products are oils: we have a 1:1 oil, which is balanced ratio of THC and CBD called Bask, and we have a high CBD oil called Breathe that doesn’t get you high at all.
WINK is a brand for purveyors of culture and people who enjoy fashion, art and music. The products we curate are meant to complement your social experience. It’s focused on rolling out the red carpet for the occasional user. For instance, picking up a package of WINK is like going out on a Saturday and grabbing a bottle of champagne. We have two pre roll products, WINK No 01 and WINK Fuel. WINK No 01 is one of the most exciting—it’s a rare strain from Africa called Super Congo Haze, found by the Strain Hunters, a team who combs the planet for some of the most unique and rare cannabis genetics. Only a few LPs have access to it.
Do you find the industry to be male-dominated these days? What’s it like being a female CEO in cannabis?
At the leadership level it’s still very much male-dominated. That doesn’t bother me, though. For me, it’s a great opportunity to pave the way for other women. I was at a point in my career where I could take a risk, and I did. I hope I can show other women that they can do the same—the best way to encourage women to take a risk is to model it.
What advice do you have for women in the cannabis industry right now?
Just go for it. A lot of women shy away from the risk, but there’s lots of room for women to get involved. It is a pretty volatile industry, but there’s so much opportunity to look at it from a different lens—for instance, from the self-care and wellness perspective.
Tell us about your “10% for Good” campaign.
That’s really why I’m here. The most important part of starting this company for me was to be able to make an impact in the communities we operate in. It’s so important as a nascent industry to involve the community. If we don’t have their support it won’t be sustainable. So we pledge to give 10 per cent of our profits back to the communities we operate in. This year, we’ve polled our customers and figured out the causes that matter most, and will be donating to four causes: female empowerment, climate change, cannabis amnesty and local art. We chose to work with Dress for Success, Evergreen, Hxouse and Cannabis Amnesty Canada.
What’s next for TREC Brands?
We just launched a third brand called Thumbs Up Brand, which is curated more for the everyday consumer, with the ultimate goal of eradicating the black market. It’s good weed at a good price. We also have a very robust product roadmap for 2020, which includes the next wave of legalization around edibles and vapes.
To learn more about TREC Brands, visit trecbrands.com