How Green Supply Pivoted from CBD Oil to KN95 Masks and Hand Sanitizer During the Pandemic
How Green Supply Pivoted from CBD Oil to KN95 Masks and Hand Sanitizer During the Pandemic Green Supply

2020 is a tough year to launch a company. When Chad Horstman, Josh Helmich and Charley Clemens decided to partner to start their new venture Green Supply, they envisioned a consumer and wholesale business focused on health and wellness products including CBD oil, organic essential oils and other “green” supplements. After working to secure suppliers, hire employees, build a website, secure office space and everything else that comes with building an ecommerce company, they were about a month out from launching when COVID-19 hit and everything changed, forcing them to pivot the focus of the business to meet new demand.

Josh Helmich, as the owner of Helmich Luxury Group that focuses on the jewelry industry, consulting on production, tech, and brand development along with a vast network in several other industries, spends a lot of his time traveling back and forth from various overseas markets. In early January, Josh was in Hong Kong, China, and Tokyo for work when news broke about a new virus that was starting to gain a foothold in central China. “I remember talking to one of my contacts while there, and he told me about what was happening in Wuhan and how he was getting very nervous. He compared it to the SARS outbreak back in 2003 in Hong Kong. At the time I didn’t know how much it would affect the entire world, but I was aware that it was a big deal fairly early on being in Asia at the time.” He remembers including Horstman in conversations with one of his contacts, someone who would end up being the key to Green Supply’s new focus in the coming months.

Chad Horstman built his reputation in ecommerce as one of the founders of, a women’s apparel company focused on intimates and Halloween costumes. After a successful exit, he had been looking for a reason to get back into the world of online retail and after meeting Helmich knew that they could use their individual backgrounds and connections. “After working so hard at Yandy, I was enjoying taking some time away, but after meeting Josh and learning about his background and contacts I thought we could start a successful venture together with our unique skillsets.”

After spending time with Horstman at Yandy, Charley Clemens was working in international education, an industry that was upended by the global pandemic. He had maintained a strong relationship with Horstman and was available to join Green Supply in March to handle operations and marketing. “I was excited to get back to the startup world and was particularly interested by the health and wellness direction that Green Supply was taking.”

In March, they were working with Helmich’s contact in the CBD industry to finalize the details on the Green Supply branded line of oils and edibles. At the same time cases were spiking and they got the word from their contact that the factory was going to be shutting down as a non-essential business. Other suppliers soon followed, and the trio were unsure how they were going to move forward. With employees ready to go, they were concerned that they would not be able to honor their commitments. As they started talking, Horstman mentioned how hard it was already to get items for consumers such as face masks and hand sanitizer but didn’t know anyone in those industries. This got Helmich thinking, and he reached out to one of his contacts in China to see if they could help. They were able to start on a Green Supply branded line of hand sanitizer spray to help meet the growing demand and limited supply. They were also able to produce it at a reasonable price, something they could pass on to their customers.

A huge proponent of masks, Horstman had been posting on her personal social media about the potential benefits of face masks in stopping the spread of the virus. “I was telling anyone that would listen about how masks were important”, says Horstman. Similar to hand sanitizer, it was difficult to find masks that were effective for consumers while not taking away from the medical industry. Around the same time as they started on the sanitizer, he happened to see a post from the wife of a contact he had in the apparel industry. “Her husband’s company had stopped producing lingerie and instead was creating KN95 face masks for the general public. When I saw the post I knew immediately it was a great opportunity.”

During the past three months, the number of products on Green Supply has grown from masks and sanitizer, to other products that are in demand such as UV sanitizer light boxes and even hair clippers. While the trio are happy that they were able to launch their company and keep their employees, they are still excited to get back to the vision of the original Green Supply. “I don’t see us moving away from masks and sanitizer anytime soon”, says Helmich. “But I am excited to launch our branded CBD line which should be on the site shortly along with other health and wellness products. Our partners have started to reopen, and that will allow us to get back to what I saw Green Supply as being during our first conversation.”

With COVID-19 disrupting the global economy and changing the lives of billions, many would likely have given up on moving forward with a startup. For Helmich, Horstman and Clemens, staying nimble and pivoting quickly has allowed them to jumpstart Green Supply, setting it up for success in 2020 and beyond.