5 Questions For Nick Warrender, CEO And Founder Of Lifted Made
Warren Bobrow=WB: Please tell me about your company. What brought you to the cannabis business? What did you do originally?
Nick Warrender=NW: My company is called Liquid Made, a subsidiary of publicly traded Acquired Sales Corp. (trading symbol AQSP). It has been quite a journey to get here! Let’s start from the beginning…I grew up in Illinois and my first love was basketball. As a top tier high school basketball player, my goal in life was to play basketball professionally and I was seemingly on the right path toward doing that—until the unthinkable happened. My family took a cruise that docked in Belize, and our dream vacation quickly turned into a nightmare when my brother, best friend and I were kidnapped and ended up in a Belize prison because we didn’t pay off the kidnappers. My Dad had a gut feeling that we didn’t get back on the boat before the scheduled departure and he stayed in Belize (without telling my Mom, who was waiting on the yacht) to try to find us. Miraculously, he did, and my Dad was able to work with various locals and the embassy to get us out after three days – and fly back to the USA just in time to take my SATs. Unfortunately, the effects of being in that prison lingered: I’d contracted a viral autoimmune disorder that permanently derailed my basketball career and had me in and out of the hospital for the next 6 years.
Basketball was no longer in my cards, but the competitive drive, creativity and ambition I developed as an athlete was still very much alive. In college I turned to producing music and I DJ’d for several years; I even opened for Kid Cudi. Through my music career I broadened my network, and the connections I made there have played a big part in my business today. I became interested in the e-liquid industry business because my Dad was a smoker and I thought that this could be a healthier alternative and a way to help people wean themselves off of smoking cigarettes. At the time, e-liquids in the market had a laundry list of unfamiliar and bad ingredients. I identified the opportunity to sell e-liquids with a number of ingredients that you could count on one hand, and in 2015, I founded Lifted Made.
In the beginning, I’d mix the ingredients myself in my parents’ house, design and develop the labels, and then drive all over the Midwest to sell the products to retail stores. I wouldn’t come home until I sold all the inventory in my car.
Eventually, I was introduced to CBD as a treatment for the auto immune issues that I’d been struggling with, and I realized that cannabis products were another way to help people. Lifted Made soon evolved into a company specializing in creative cannabinoid products, from bath bombs and lotions to smokeables and edibles, some of the products made with hemp grown by local Midwestern farms.
Since beginning in 2015, we’ve grown into a fully staffed company with products available for shipping nationwide and a strong retail presence in major markets across the country. We manufacture, distribute and do all of our work out of our 3,500 square foot space in Zion, Illinois. In February 2020, we merged with publicly traded Acquired Sales Corp. (OTC Pink: AQSP), and are excited for what the future holds!
WB: Do you have a mentor? Did you always want to do what you do today? Who inspired you?
NW: My parents have played an enormous role in my journey. There’s been a ton of twists and turns, and many challenging times, but no matter what, my parents have always been there for me. As I mentioned, my Dad was the inspiration for ultimately starting Lifted Made. And though I started the company with $900 of my own money, and never took money from my parents or anybody else, my parents came from humble beginnings and were entrepreneurial as well, they helped me emotionally get through some challenging times. My parents also allowed me to work out of the 10’ by 10’ room that I started Lifted in, so that I wouldn’t have to carry the overhead of renting space – that was a huge help that I am ever grateful for.
WB: What are your goals in business? Six and twelve month? What about the obstacles? What about stigmas?
NW: Our goal at Lifted is to keep creating products that make CBD more accessible and approachable for everyone. We’re really excited about our premium hemp flower brand called Urb (www.UrbFlower.com; @UrbFinestFlowers), which features products with CBD and CBG, the next cannabinoid poised to make major waves in the industry. Urb showcases rare strains grown by Midwestern farms combined with vibrant, eye-catching packaging and provides an unmatched experience for flower connoisseurs and the canna-curious alike.
We also recently signed an exclusive agreement to manufacture CBD-infused products for American Top Team (www.AmericanTopTeam.com), the leader in MMA (mixed martial arts) and Brazilian jiu-jitsu training. Down the road, we will be launching some other new product lines and brands, but I can’t say anything more about those for now — stay tuned for more! Our recent merger with publicly traded Acquired Sales Corp. (trading symbol AQSP), will really allow us to extend our reach across the board in the next twelve months.
Despite all of this exciting news, the cannabis industry is still in infancy and constantly throws us curveballs. We just continue to take those hurdles as they come and do our best to get over them. I’ve learned you have to take everything a day at a time. That’s how we’ve matured over the years. It’s all about pivoting when you need to, and knowing when.
Everyone wants to project what’s going to happen, and what revenue numbers they will hit, etc., but when things are so volatile and changing quickly, you just have to stay in the present. Considering unclear compliance guidelines, indecisive enforcement, the illicit market, bad actors and the public’s lack of knowledge about cannabinoids, we certainly still have a long road ahead of us. Taking one day at a time instead of the whole future at once is what has helped us stay humble and helps us be ready for success and opportunities as they arise.
WB: Do you have a favorite food memory? What does your favorite meal look like? Made by whom? (Living or not)
NW: I love the crab cakes and red fish from Captain Porky’s in Wadsworth, Illinois, made by Chef Dino. Before COVID-19, we’d go there a lot. We call Captain Porky’s “Lifted HQ South” because when we aren’t in the Lifted headquarters working, more likely than not, we are eating at Captain Porky’s. I’ve had many meetings and much time to reflect at Captain Porky’s. It’s nice to reflect while eating a delicious meal!
WB: What is your passion?
NW: My team and I are focused on the quality of our products because we want Lifted Made and its various brands to become the trusted source for all cannabinoid-infused products for all consumers. Producing the highest quality products for consumers is of utmost importance to me. And just as we are focused on our consumers, I am focused on my team, and creating an environment that fosters agility, free thinking and execution. But beyond my team, I really try to put my best foot forward every day, to conduct myself ethically and with purposeful, positive intention. Life is short; I want my team and I to grow and evolve together, have fun, and be successful.