All Green Podcast Ep. 10- Eco Four Twenty Spring Recap
What’s new this season at Eco Four Twenty?
This week Co-Owners Michael and Andrea sit down to catch up on some of the exciting things that have been happening at the company these past few months.
The hosts learn about an exciting new discovery off the coast of Australia that puts into perspective what “a single plant” really is.
Tune in as Michael and Andrea recap their time at Lift & Co Expo Toronto, and talk about the wonderful experiences they had and the fantastic people they met during their time at the show. Michael also talks about his first time doing a speaking panel and some tips and advice for anyone wanting to try it.
The hosts discuss some of the awesome new stores Eco Four Twenty products are now in and a bit more about the wonderful small businesses that work so closely with Eco Four Twenty.
Michael: Alright, alright, alright. It's Michael Ghazal here from Eco Four Twenty with another episode. I'm super excited because I'm joined with my co-host and Co-Owner, Andrea, and we're very excited to do another episode of The All Green podcast.
Andrea: Thanks, everyone for tuning in. We have an exciting episode, we have some fun updates for everyone.
Michael: A lot has happened honestly.
Andrea: It's been it's been a hot minute since we sat down and talked about it. So I'm gonna start with a cool story I found in the news. Basically, I know Michael loves to grow plants. So I was looking for a cool story on plants. And I found one and it is the world's largest plant, and it's in Australia, and it's 180 kilometers long.
Michael: One plant. Yeah, it's crazy. It's so cool.
Andrea: It's like seagrass. So basically what they discovered is that, over 4500 years ago, a single seed planted in the sundrenched waters of what is now known as the World Heritage Area of Shark Bay in Western Australia spawned a mammoth seagrass covering more than 200 square kilometers, roughly three times the size of Manhattan.
Michael: Just from one seed?
Andrea: Yeah. And so the scientists basically thought that the plant was a meadow or a bunch of different sea grasses that grew just in the common area. And so they tested the different areas to find out if it was all one plant, and they discovered it was.
Michael: It just had all the same DNA to show it from the same area. That's so cool.
Andrea: Yeah, so it's actually the largest known plant on Earth. Yeah, and just the fun fact is seagrasses protect our coasts from storm damage, store large amounts of carbon and provide habitat for a great diversity of wildlife. Conserving and also restoring seagrass meadows has a vital role in climate change mitigation and adaption. So my questions...
Michael: I think that's so cool. First off, just the fact that it's a positive story about the environment. You know, there's so many like, especially even in Australia, they've had over the last couple years, forest fires, like climate change, reef damage, so many different natural disasters are affecting Australia and the world. But it's just really cool to see like positive news on the environment.
Andrea: I thought it was really neat, too. And it's like, my first thing was, it's like an ocean forest. Like, you think about Canada, for example, how much forest covers the entire country?
Andrea: And it's like that underwater, like the fact that it has the capacity to grow that large underwater and is just one seed one plant.
Michael: And it can be a carbon capture device. Like what if scientists are able to copy that in some way? And then everywhere, all the ocean floor can have seagrass that can capture stuff, right? Like, and I might be wrong, but like, is it 70% of the world or something is like water. And that way, it's like, there's more water than land mass in the sense that like, we should be making these really cool adaptions. And if it's plants, if we can grow it in the water, that would save land because it doesn't need to be grown there. So there's so many benefits to cultivating. I don't know, if people eat sea grass, I'll be honest, I don't know if it's an edible thing. But something like food maybe?
Andrea: There's a lot of stuff like I know, I believe sea kelp, which is different, but I know is edible, that can be sustainably grown and harvested. Which I think that's a really interesting concept too, because if the ocean is at least 70% of Earth, and we have only have a fraction of the land dedicated to agricultural purposes. If you can use the ocean to farm basically and provide food, you have so many more resources and space for it. So that was kind of interesting.
My question is, if you could have any gigantic version of a plant what would it be and why?
Michael: Oh, that's a great question. Oh my gosh. Would it be a giant beanstalk? So I could like Meet Jack and the giant bean or would it? I don't know. It'd be cool to have like a potato that's literally like the size of a head or something like yeah, like just a giant potato you boil the whole thing.
Andrea: I wonder what the biggest potato is.
Michael: Giant version of a plant... I've physically like I've gone to farmer's markets where they have like a Halloween thing and I've seen a pumpkin that's legitimately bigger than me. When you see a seven foot pumpkin you're like what is the plant that it was attached to? I want to see that vine you know, the actual roots. Imagine the roots under it.
It would probably be an edible like I've always enjoyed peppers, I've enjoyed growing plants that are edible. You know, I think I mean besides the regulated plants, I think it would be cool to grow a giant food plant that you can eat and stuff like that. A giant pepper that I would just stuff with cheese and like put it in the oven and eat it.
Andrea: A brick of cheese!
Michael: A whole brick of cheese! Imagine the seed of a pepper though that would be that big. Big as a head.
Andrea: That's a good answer.
Michael: But what would you do? What would be your giant plant?
Andrea: Um, I kind of liked the idea of having like, a giant sunflower plant. Because they're big as is.
Michael: And it's beautiful.
Andrea: And if it made seeds, I could probably- you know how you people just sit and eat sunflower seeds and watch TV? I feel like it watch a whole movie with one seed.
Michael: I feel like it would be a sunflower bed, you would be in the actual flower like resting in it and letting all the seeds go around the edge on the flower.
Andrea: Yes, paying mortgage on the flower.
Michael: That would be 30 years. 7% mortgages.
Andrea: Yeah. Not in this economy!
Michael: knowing how the housing market is we might all be living in the ocean soon enough. So the seagrass might be our bed.
Andrea: Our new home. Our new landlord.
Michael: It's an awesome article, Andrea, thank you for sharing. And I think it's cool to share with the community positive environmental stuff. So I hope this seagrass continues, I hope, you know, we're able to protect it more. And I think these natural wonders should be more like protected from our society.
Andrea: So, what's Eco Four Twenty been up to?
Michael: What's been happening? Yeah, it's been exciting, honestly, we haven't even done this at least a month, it's been a long time. I mean, we did Lift&Co, which is a big event that they do downtown Toronto, I know. It's had issues just because of COVID. They've had to delay their show, are we going to do a pop up? Are we going to do an actual like booth? And it's exciting that we did a booth this year with Lift&Co, so that was the first time we did it in two years now just as a result of COVID. It was exciting to exhibit, previous to Lift&Co I've probably done 20 exhibits with Eco Four Twenty. To be able to come back to it. It's just like, we're back home kind of thing. A lot of people were hugging, you know, there was a bit hesitation at the beginning, but now everybody's vaccinated, everybody's being a lot more safe in that sense.
I really think it was a great time. It was cool to see a lot of friendly faces from two years ago. And I know like Andrea, you haven't been to the actual Lift&Co, it was Andrea's first time to exhibit there, but it was cool to see people that I haven't seen in two years, so it was very exciting for that. We made a lot of great sales, a lot of great connections, yeah, 100% I loved it.
Andrea: It was it was really a fun experience. I think it's cool that you have the opportunity to be face to face with people that, in the past two years or otherwise, if it weren't for the expo, it would be really hard to be able to be in that position with them. So for me, it was being able to, for example, doing marketing, I meet a lot of people online, like just talking to them through Instagram and reaching out to them, and they reach out to us and stuff. Being able to see those people in person. And you're like, "Oh, you're a fairy bud princess!"
Then you know, it's that moment of excitement where you kind of realize who you are to each other. It's like friends, like you're talking to each other, like old friends.
Michael: It's like an old friend. And then especially when you've never met them ever. So it's really cool that you've got to literally work with a bunch of influencers and then see them in person; it is priceless. I mean, I know Lift&Co had new owners. What was interesting is Lift&Co was a public company, and then sold privately or broke up into different parts. So like the tech side got sold to Dutchie or other brands, and then MCI events bought Lift&Co. So I mean, my hesitation was, "Is it going to be a good event, right?" This is a US company coming into Canada, then are they going to know how to run a cannabis event like this? Like have they done this kind of thing before? And it really was an amazingly run event. I really liked that they were catering to small businesses, and so that was really exciting versus just these giant LPS that they would only cater to, right? So it was really good to connect with a lot of small businesses in that sense. I did love it. And good job for MCI. I think it's exciting that they already have another two events planned. They're going to be doing it in Vancouver in 2023 and Toronto again in the summer, I don't know the exact dates yet, but I do know it's an exciting time to do that and I know Eco Four Twenty is excited to go to both of those events for sure.
Andrea: Yeah, I mean, I loved it. I think even just from a business standpoint, I think it's cool because you get to see what other small businesses are doing. Because a lot of these places, some are actual stores, but a lot of these places don't have storefronts. So I think it's cool to see how they display themselves as basically a storefront in a convention setting so, for me, it's also getting inspiration for future shows. It's like, how do we improve? What are other people doing? It's interesting to see how people display themselves and basically sell themselves.
Michael: That's such a great point! And you and I both know, just walking around all the booths, we get knowledge, we get to learn. "Oh, look at that banner", "Look how beautiful that design is", "What can we take the best of both worlds and kind of bring it back to Eco Four Twenty, so that was fantastic. Also leads us into like the next kind of question- who are the cool people we met at the show? And honestly, I loved the booth of Flintts Mints, it was very eye catching and colourful. It's a small business, we met Russell and Wes. They've been killing it on TikTok and social media. What it is, is it's a mint, that helps your mouth water. So it helps add saliva, you know, if you get dry mouth, cotton mouth, and so it's just a cool, unique accessory and a product. It was really cool to meet them and just see how they marketed, they had a beautiful banner at the front end and a book that people can open with customer reviews. I really liked the colour that they added. But I definitely think they're killing it in that way too.
Andrea: And their booth was always busy too, like they were right next to us so we got the chance to talk to them and they are from New York, I believe. So it was their first experience in Canada at one of these shows. So it was it was really cool to like recommend stores to them and stuff like that, talk about things going on in the industry, and yeah, like the mints are great. Just separate of it, the mints are an awesome product and they're really great people.
Michael: It's also really cool, they make the mints themselves.
Michael: So rather than getting an outsourced factory, like they built their own factory in New York to make their own mints. So that alone is like, you know, the products they're going to be making are safer, they're going to be tested. So it's just a really cool thing rather than some random company making it for them. So good on Flintss mints.
Andrea: And then I would say the next cool person that we met, myself and our sales manager, Tony, we've got to meet Manon from Northbound Co. It was really interesting to hear about how they operate small business and especially being in Ontario, you know, with all the licensed retailers opening up, you get to hear a bit of the inside scoop on it.
Michael: And the different changing rules all the time on the stores too!
Andrea: It was really cool, you know, to present our product to them and get their opinion on it. And it's awesome because it led into a cool project where we're all working together now, and now Eco Four Twenty is in Northbound Co.
Michael: And this is a store in Sudbury. Andrea and I, we're from Toronto, you know, like the GTA, we don't really get a chance to go to Sudbury all the time. And that's why I love these kind of events like Lift & Co, it's the one opportunity where we can meet all of these people in a one awesome setting. And so it was awesome to meet Manon there.
Andrea: It was really cool.
Michael: We have our stands there, and we're going to be getting our filters with Northbound, so yeah, check them out soon, by the time this podcast comes out, the products will be there for sure. Another awesome store distributor actually is called 420 Panda. This was an awesome entrepreneur named Francois a what's really cool is that they distribute to many other stores on the East Coast, you know, in Quebec, and it's really interesting. So we sell our products to them, and then they help sell our products and get them in with all the stores that they have the relationships with. So in just one month, we've really already become one of their best sellers in the filter category. So it's really exciting. Thank you so much Francois and we can't wait to work more with 420 Panda Distribution, I think that's a really cool distributor. If you're a small business on the east coast of Canada, I think that would be a great lead. They have so many different products, and it's great to just get a whole catalogue of accessories and easily pick from some great items.
Andrea: It was really cool to meet all these people and you know, other people that like High Ladies Podcast, for example, meeting them was really awesome and getting to have that face to face connection. I mean, to me, it makes me more excited for future shows. But I think another cool thing about this Lift & Co in particular was Michael had his first speaking event.
Michael: Yes. Oh, I forgot. I forgot this embarrassing knowledge. It was great. Yeah, like we were asked to speak about accessories and just how did we start Eco Four Twenty. It wasn't just us it was a panel. So it was me, we were with Toqi, we were with Fumes rolling paper we were with it was called Apical Ethical Collective. I just think it's really cool to be able to work with and learn from all of these different small businesses and all of them were able to talk about their experience with accessories. And so I think it's really cool. I've never done it, you know, like this business has been around for now five years or so, and I don't really talk about how did it start? How did we get there? And what are the challenges we're facing? You know, we're not able to do it in an open forum like that. I think I expected 12 people, 15 people, there was at least 50-100 people there, like the chairs were full, and I did not expect that. I was able to get my brother to come and watch and so it was really cool to have that kind of experience, I think it brings us to a more professional level. Thanks so much for Lift & Co for inviting us to do that speaking engagement and we're hoping to do it at the future events to because it was so great. We learned a lot from the other speakers as well and honestly to be able to go beside great companies like Toqi, like I really admire these awesome brands and so it elevates us in that way. So I love speaking, and answering questions was really cool.
Andrea: What piece of advice would you have for anybody who wants to do a panel for the first time?
Michael: It's a great question. You know, honestly, I truly believe preparation helped a lot. Our whole panel talked beforehand so it wasn't like the first time that we were talking was at in front of everybody, right? Like we talked behind the scenes, we emailed back and forth, we did a Zoom call. So I really think preparation, knowing what kind of questions might come up would really help. And yeah, like the actual execution is 20%, but planning it and knowing what you might even say, having that kind of game plan is the other 80%. So definitely plan it ahead of time, know what kind of questions might be asked, what is the category? You know, we were talking about challenges in the industry and challenges with regulation and challenges with making a new accessory. How do you launch a new product in such a hard world that we're in now with COVID, and all of that. So it took a lot of time to prepare to give these answers. But yeah, I really enjoyed the experience. And I recommend anybody do it. If anybody has fears or stage fright, just do it. You'll thank yourself later, and then the second or third time will be a lot easier to do it.
Andrea: I think you did great. Truthfully, I agree, anybody who has reservations about it, like, you know, they want you on the panel because they care about what you have to say. So as long as you're yourself, I think you can't go wrong with that. I'm excited to see what future panels Michael does, and we do with the company.
Michael: Andrea will also do panels too, I will force her to.
Andrea: You'll have cue cards for me to read?
Michael: Like, yeah, I'm in the back like with a knife like "You better answer these questions."
Andrea: "I am here at my own volition."
Michael: Yeah, like blink twice if you need help Yeah. What are some cool stores we've been working with? You know, in the last month or so we've actually gotten into new stores with Eco Four Twenty and I think it's just cool to shout them out their small business. Also, it's really cool for our small business to be able to work directly with small businesses. So who are they Andrea?
Andrea: The first one I would say is Arcade. They are a licensed retailer in Port Union, but I believe they're opening another location if they haven't already.
Michael: Yeah Brantford, too! It's awesome.
Andrea: And we got to meet the owner Joe. And it's a really cool theme. It has like a bunch of arcade retro vibes. I believe there's like a PacMan machine and stuff. And it's cool for me because I actually grew up in Port Union and there's an Italian bakery in that plaza that I would always go to. So it's cool to see how it's slowly starting to become part of the local community and the local economy. It was really cool meeting Joe. I think the store is gorgeous and we're really excited to have our filters in the store. So if anybody's ever in the Port Union area definitely go by, tell him that we sent you, get some good products meet some good people. It was great.
Michael: I love the artwork, like it's video game themed and just all along the wall there is custom painted artwork about video games and thee nostalgia feeling of all the games and so they did the name Arcade very well.
We also worked with a store in Petawawa called Prairie and Luna and I think that's awesome to be able to get our filters there as well. It's a bit outside of Ottawa and truthfully I've never been there, and to be able to have our products in a small business there that's amazing run by two best friends entrepreneurs, like that's what we are to you know, just two friends trying to start a small business and I think that's exactly what Prairie and Luna is. We're so excited for our filters to be there and we have not had a chance to physically go but we're very excited.
Andrea: It's on our list, for sure we gotta go.
Michael: But definitely recommend that store as well. Another amazing person we met was actually, we met him at Lift & Co and then got our filters in is Mark from the Atlantic Grow Shop.
Andrea: We love you Mark.
Michael: Mark was so nice like, Mark was probably one of the best people we met at Lift & Co and just a great example of why we love the show. I really mean it. We met him every day, we got to see him for all the three days. It was really cool. We first we were doing like a garbage cleanup outside where we were just like holding, you know containers and stuff for people to throw out their garbage rather than while they're standing outside, just throwing it on the floor and he really liked that kind of experience. But he saw us at our booth and just being able to see him not once, not twice, but three times was really awesome. Because, you know, sometimes there's questions you don't have right away. Sometimes there's things that you need to see people a couple times to be like, "Do I like them? Do I want to work with this small business?" and that's why I like these multi day events. You get to see the same awesome people, Mark came all the way from Nova Scotia.
Michael: When are we going to get a chance to meet awesome entrepreneurs from Nova Scotia unless we go there or unless we do these awesome events. So we hope Mark had a great time in Ontario, we had a great time hanging out with him and meeting him and we're so excited to have our filters and our candles there actually. So we have our natural coconut candles and Mark is the first store in Nova Scotia to carry these candles. Truthfully, we don't ship them outside of Ontario that often and so it's really cool to meet an awesome small business owner who kept asking and pushing for it and we said Mark, we love you, we got to do it for you. So I just love it. We're gonna go see the Atlantic Grow Shop ourselves. Once gas prices go down a bit. Maybe we'll drive there one day.
Andrea: We'll get the donkey cart.
Michael: Andrea's like getting her legs pumped because she's gonna be bicycling us there.
Andrea: Leg day!
Michael: Leg day for the next month. Yeah, well, we biked to Nova Scotia from Toronto. But it was awesome and we can't wait to work with them more.
Andrea: Yeah, and you know, meeting everybody through Lift and also outside and working on these cool projects has been really cool these past couple months, and in the future, we have a lot of cool projects. But I think I was really proud of the giveaway we did this past month.
Michael: Yeah tell us a bit more about it.
Andrea: So the previous episode, if you guys heard it, if not check it out. But Michael did an interview with the Co Founder of Canadian Lumber, Beau, and it was really cool, because we actually got to record it at Lift, like on the exhibition floor after hours. So to celebrate that podcast, we decided to do a giveaway with Canadian Lumber and Lift in & Co, so we gave out some papers, and some tickets and some Eco Four Twenty stuff and I believe a budtender in Ottawa named Taryn was the winner. Yeah, that was really cool.
Michael: I think that was the most successful giveaway we've ever done. We've probably done five or six of them in our whole career of Eco Four Twenty and by far, we had the most comments the most engagement, people were DMing us, liking the engagement. And I mean, Beau's just the beauty, like I love working with Canadian Lumber, I recommend their papers, or just their brand. They're a very great small business. He's been very nice giving us advice, and just like entrepreneur to entrepreneur and so it was amazing to do that giveaway. I hope Andrea organizes many other ones. Thank you so much for doing that one.
Andrea: Stay tuned. Thank you for entering if you entered, if you didn't win, I promise there's gonna be more giveaways to come. So you just got to keep an eye out on our Instagram. I think another cool project that we're doing is our "after dark" account.
Michael: It's getting dark.
Andrea: Yeah, so we actually have an alternative Instagram account that we are running on the side and it's "ecofourtwentyafterdark" there's no spaces if you want to check it out. And we're just using this to post some of the more fun side of the industry, I think and some of the funnier content that we come up with.
Michael: Products in use, being able to actually see how do our products work.
Andrea: And we have a lot of creative ideas that sometimes we're not sure would go well on our main page that we still think are funny so we like to have this account posted there. I've loved having it, I think it's really cool and I think it's just more personable, like, you know, you just get to be a bit more relaxed. It's not always product product product, like it's just things that we enjoy and things that make us laugh.
Michael: And it just goes to show how integral Instagram is for small businesses, you know, we have "ecofourtwenty" that has its specific purpose, you know, to help work with stores, help work with customers, help be a showcase for our company. But then there's "ecofourtwentyafterdark" that can be a showcase for the products or showcase for the influencers we work with. They each have their own place and it's really beneficial to be able to like, you know, just like a bank account would have several different accounts for specific reasons I think this is what we're doing here.
Andrea: This is our chequing account, and then our main account is a saving account.
Michael: For "chequing" us out! Yeah that's a great way to think about it. So I mean, please check it out, if you want to post things or have us post them there for you, we'd love to do that as well. And yeah, just connect more in a fun way. So that's another great, great social media thing. And we're also on TikTok trying that because like, I don't know how many dances, we're going to be doing that much, but as much as I can convince Andrea to do, we will be doing more there. So check us out on TikTok as well!
Andrea: On everything! And, yeah, we have a lot of cool marketing projects coming up. What are we looking forward to in the next season?
Michael: I'm excited to do more pop ups with stores, like I'm not going to name the stores right now, but we definitely do have a couple pop ups around Ontario. We have a big table, we stand there, we give free samples, we give stickers. It's really cool to have the owners stand there. Like recently I did it with 710 Kingston, and I love doing it during regular times, because you get to meet customers on a day to day basis. Nothing beats that interaction, like you said, you could DM them on Instagram all you want, but to be able to meet them in person and have that connection and they say they use our product, "how can it better be used?" Or "I love your product, what about this new colour?" So I loved it, it's a dream come true for me to do that and we're going to do a lot more pop ups, any stores that might want us to do a pop up, whether we're in your store or not, we'd love to come do a pop up. Any stores who carry our filters, just email us simply "Hey, would you love to come and get an owner to come and talk about the product?" We will do that anytime. So yeah, if anybody wants that we would do it.
I think we're going to be doing a couple other public events like a cleanup. You know, I'm excited to do that where we did it along the Pickering-
Andrea: Rouge Beach
Michael: The promenade on Rouge Beach. Or I guess that's Scarborough not Pickering.
Andrea: It was on the border, yeah.
Michael: It's just really cool. We didn't clean up all of it, we'll have to clean up both cities next time, both beaches, but yeah, just to be able to do fun cleanups in a way and hopefully connect with another small business to do that is just fun for us. You know, we can do something for the environment, something for our own mental health going outside and getting active, and then something just to like, promote the company, I guess. So it's a lot of fun things and I'm excited to do more events in the future.
Andrea: I think it's going to be an exciting next couple of months. We have a lot of exciting things to look forward to and we're excited to have everybody support us along the way. It means a lot to us. Everyone listening to our podcast and listening to us talk basically just about ourselves for the past 30 minutes. So, thank you for listening. Check us out on our socials. It's "@EcoFourTwenty" Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok. Thank you, Michael, for sitting down with me.
Michael: We're gonna have a lot more podcasts like this. I'm very excited to do it. Just give a little overview of what we've been doing. You know, it's so hard for small businesses to sometimes share their day to day operations, their day to day thing, and I think we just want to do that more and connect and brag about the cool stores that we get to see and the cool like- 12 people, at least in this podcast, it was really cool to mention them and really like shout out these awesome small businesses. So we're going to do that more whether y'all like it or not.
Andrea: Thank you for listening. Thank you for helping us make the world a greener place one podcast episode at a time.
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