Interview with Marsha Churchill CEO of Hempire Canada


Jan 22, 2010

BeTheBoss - What’s the story behind Hempire?

Marsha Churchill - Hempire was opened because of my passion for the environment and to work for myself. I was only 23 and had always worked 2 or 3 jobs my whole life so I was definitely up for the challenge. To get started I pawned all my CD’s, movies, clothes and car and applied for credit cards to purchase stock. I also begged a wholesaler for credit and convinced him into fronting me a lot of stock to get open. Most landlords were not open to a young girl opening a “hemp” store so that was a challenge but I didn’t give up and I found a great one who was very supportive and a fantastic help and I got open. I think people purchased things because they felt sorry for me in the beginning, they could see how badly I wanted it and how hard I was working. I was having trouble paying back the money for the fronted stock and one day a man I had no family ties to come in and offered to lend me money! He came in regularly and knew I wasn’t going down without a fight and he helped me out. It was a miracle I am very grateful for. The rest is history….I worked around the clock for 3 years to get my first store paid off and I moved to Fernie to open store number two and it snowballed from there. Hard, hard work and total dedication is where the Hempire came from. I had no handouts and my family lived on the other end of the country so I had to find a way to make this happen on my own which makes me appreciate it that much more.

BTB - What made you decide to franchise?

MC - I had owned a couple of stores that were hours away from each other and wanted to make them run efficiently as I could. A book called “The E Myth”, by Michael Gerber was referred by a friend and was helping with ideas to essentially make my businesses run as consistently as franchises. While implementing the changes I realized actually franchising should be the next step.

BTB - Tell us a little about the Retail Market?

MC - Our industry is full of open minded, easy going people who want to make the world a better and safer place to live. The world is on the upswing of “Going Green” and this industry is going to get bigger and more profitable.

BTB - What have some of the challenges been in growing your franchise?

MC - There are so many, franchising is very, very difficult. We go to Franchise Shows but we just don’t fit in with a lot of the ideas that are out there. We are more open and not so “corporate” as a lot of other franchises. There’s more room for fun in ours!

BTB - Who has been your greatest inspiration?

MC - My children. I see their innocence and want to make the world a safer place for them to grow up in by offering safer products as well as spreading knowledge.

BTB - What are some of the advantages in being a Hempire franchisee?

MC - WI have worked hard with some of the top Franchise Consultants to offer rewards or “perks”. There are many, so I will post this link for you to see for yourself. Hempire is still small but growing quickly, it is great working together to grow it while having fun and making money.

BTB - What “Gadgets” (Blackberry, Iphone, Ipod, etc) can’t you live without?

MC - None. I have them but I could live without any of them, they’re just not “necessities. I’m raising two toddlers, ages 3 and 4 and trying to teach them what’s really important. Gadgets just aren’t…..but they do help.

BTB - What do you do in your spare time?

MC - My family is my focus and we are very active outdoors. Skiing, snowmobiling, dirt biking, mountain biking, skating, swimming and “exploring” is how we spend our days off. Days off are for friends, family and fun.

BTB - What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?

MC - Really research the rules and regulations of a franchise. Are you willing to let someone instruct you on a proven system which requires you to adhere to some fundamental operating imperatives? If you aren’t willing to listen to advice, a franchise is not for you.

BTB - In your opinion, why do you think that Hempire would be a great opportunity for someone?

MC - It’s a great way to make a living, have fun doing it and help the planet. The people you interact with are fun, motivated, and committed to our earth friendly manufacturing and ecologically made products etc