“To me, Valiance means being brave enough to go for something others might think is different or unusual and having the brave heart to for it."
Originally from Ghana, Clarence Darkwa moved to the US at the age 10 years and has lived in Nashville for most of his life. As he grew up, he was captivated by the tourist attraction of Nashville. He noticed that when stepping out into the social scene, people often would smoke hookah. However, when asked what they were truly smoking, not many people knew. It was interesting to find that those individuals did not even smoke cigarettes. Darkwa himself did not enjoy how hookah made him feel. He soon began to wonder if there was a healthier alternative. Then he stumbled upon hemp, his curiosity about the plant grew like a snowball. He bought his first hemp plant in Chattanooga and started experimenting. The biggest component in traditional hookah is tobacco leaves. He set off on a mission to replace the tobacco with hemp leaves.
“You are capable of greater things than you even know”
After cultivating a relationship with a Nashville farmer and 2 years of experimenting, he perfected his hemp hookah product. The next step was to begin testing the products in order to receive customer feedback. He knew he had struck something major when on his second hookah tasting event, he had to turn people away at the door. Just like that, his company was born: Canapa Fiyori. The name means “hemp flower”, blending two words that originate from Italy and Eritrea. People were fascinated by hemp hookah and showed out by the flock to have a taste.
Clarence Darkwa has had the opportunity to sell his product in two stores in Atlanta. He sells in a lounge, as well as a restaurant in Nashville called Willie B’s Kitchen and Lounge. As Darkwa’s following continues to expand, he maintains a goal of offering customers a healthier hookah experience using hemp flowers.
A challenge that Darkwa has had to face is the social stigma that comes with hemp, because it looks so similar to the marijuana plant. In his experience, people are afraid of what they do not know. Darkwa finds himself constantly educating and sharing the knowledge he has acquired through growing his business. He lets his customers know that hemp has high CBD and contains little to no THC content. According to health.harvard.edu , "CBD stands for cannabidiol. It is the second most prevalent of the active ingredients of cannabis (marijuana). While CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, it is derived directly from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant. While CBD is a component of marijuana (one of hundreds), by itself it does not cause a 'high.' According to a report from the World Health Organization, 'In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.'" The relaxation of the hemp flower comes from the CBD which makes it a healthier option for hookah than tobacco.
“Don’t stop, don't give up”
Darkwa states that he has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. His experience in managerial sales and the army helped him to learn that he thrives in positions of leadership and managing. His desire to own a business for himself grew through those experiences, but he found himself held back by fear. He overcame that fear and now he has a business that is blossoming and consistently taking root.
“I stay aligned with the mission I have for myself and for other people”
Aside from leading and managing, Darkwa has a desire to be creative and to continue having opportunities for quality time with his daughter, in a way that a standard 9-5 employment cannot offer. His daughter and his desire to see black people become healthier are what motivates him to pursue this business. He hopes customers will choose what he calls the healthier hookah option. For those aspiring entrepreneurs, Darkwa encourages you to not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Do not be afraid to fail. Do not be afraid to experiment. Do not give up because your life could turn change just like that.
For more about Clarence Darkwa, check out his social media page @canapa_fiyori and website at shopcanapafiyori.com