By Cecilia LaFrance
“Are you looking for good CBD?” Todd Cynecki halts on the sidewalk outside the tall windows of the Good Vibe Shoppes storefront. Like a vested business owner, he’s not shy with a pitch for his products. Inside the high ceiling, exposed brick walls of his shop, racks and tables display an eclectic variety of merchandise: exercise machinery, women and men’s clothing, artwork and custom hats, and CBD products (including bath bombs, dog treats, edibles, and tinctures). Each brand represents a relationship Cynecki tallies as ventures of The Good Vibe Mafia. The Mafia, he explains, is a creative collective enterprise consisting mainly of the shop, a marketing and modeling agency, and a national CBD wholesale distribution.
Lots of Vibes
Cynecki launched the collective two years ago. He explains the service started as a “brand ambassador in and around the marijuana industry.” He and his crew handled photography and marketing, videography and pop-up events for clients. “Those led to other opportunities around the outdoor retail world.” Small specialized producers became obvious partners. For example, a glove maker in Saginaw, MI, without marketing resources utilized Good Vibe’s menu of support. Or, a technically advanced extraction company stays focused on their talent and contracts out the sales and marketing. Product creation and promotion are different languages, Cynecki says, and Good Vibe is happy to pair up in a deficit. Good Vibe owns their own creative content thanks to the Good Vibe Modeling component of the collective. On his mobile, Cynecki flips through client product images and graphics like a proud father.
“We’re throwing a bunch of things at the wall and hope they stick.” Cynecki’s brows lift. Business plans are stupid, he says, because disruptions always keep them from original execution. Instead, his plan is to stay flexible. “For the past two years, we’ve been putting dots on the map. Now, we’re ready to connect them.”
“CBD is definitely the flagship of our corporation, but all are equally important because they tie in together.” The hemp CBD line makes up the largest of the collective’s sales. With CBD gaining popularity as an over-the-counter pain and remedy product, Cynecki anticipates even more growth and an eventual buyout by Big Pharma. For now, while dispensaries are limited to sale of THC/CBD blends, and while Facebook, Instagram, and other social media giants restrict CBD advertising, Good Vibe builds its local and online reputation, shipping to all 50 states.
New Park Hill
Good Vibe Mafia Shoppes opened the Colfax store in 2018. “We couldn’t be happier. We love the neighborhood. We love our neighbors.” Cynecki, who also lives in the area, says his retail shop is a natural fit with the change in storefronts. His arm sweeps in the direction of the street where several yoga studios, new restaurants, and an organic grocery vie for Park Hill revenue. “You can get arugula now and not drugs.”
The “regentrificaton” term doesn’t sit well with him. “It implies that we’re driving people out. I want to help improve the community.” Cynecki points to two of Good Vibe’s staff, both 21-year-old women, sharing a lounger in a corner of the store. “I hope they’re here at 31.”
“I just turned 50. I have 25 years left to live, in my book. I want to give back to the youth.” Three of his staff signed on to the collective for a 1% share of the business and work on a commission basis. “I have the ability to create structure, and they have the ability to create art.” By tapping into staff’s individual talents and networks, along with a larger handful of affiliates’ networks, Cynecki sees himself as a mentor to the next generation of talent. Beyond creating a sustainable company, he wants to help others as benefactors of the collective’s success. Cynecki pats his chest. “I’ve already failed at plenty of things in life . . . It’s not okay to fail on their behalf.”
Not okay to fail
“I was one of the best panhandlers in Columbus, OH.” A 20-year drug addiction began when Cynecki was the age of 16. Then a high school running back, Cynecki scored two touchdowns and ran 100 yards after getting high before the game. “I thought it (cocaine) was the cure all.” Cynecki’s voice balances between loss and reconciliation. “It took 20 years to figure out the consequences,” including years spent homeless. The 1980s didn’t offer the help and research that today’s youth can access, he says. “Unfortunately, some of us had to be the hardship for others to learn.”
Now, he’s 13 years distanced from a life he said lacked purpose. Faith in God gets first billing for how Cynecki turned his life around. “I kept answering Him every time he called.” And, he took on challenges. “Life was too easy for me.” Now, he’s surrounded himself with things he loves, including work. Besides building product lines and business networks, Cynecki took responsibility for raising a childhood best friend’s son 12 years ago. Identifying as a single parent, he said raising a teenage boy kept him busy and challenged, including financially. While the streets taught Cynecki how to make and spend money, he was given a better option than buying coke from a dealer.
Cynecki plans to keep making money. Not lingering long on the mistakes of his past, Cynecki acknowledges how far he has come. His face lifts with optimism as he shares plans to open a smoothie shop in the back of the store and to possibly obtain the lease of the yoga studio two doors down. “A lot of things are working,” he says of his ventures. “Now I have to create the tether.”