Down to Business: West Dundee center helps clients learn about hemp-based products, apply for medical cannabis

Business: Entourage Clinical Services

Address: 737 S. Eighth St., West Dundee

Phone: 224-387-8108

Owners: Kalee Hooghkirk and Melanie Dillon

Opened: July 2016

What does this business do? “We are one of the first integrated cannabis-conscious wellness centers,” Hooghkirk said. “You can think of us as a holistic clinic, with a twist.” The business helps people learn about alternative health-care options, hemp-based CBD products and how to apply to receive medical cannabis and provides “wellness services,” such as counseling, cupping, facials, massage, reflexology, reiki, waxing and yoga.

What was the impetus for starting this business? “There is a lack of resources for medical cannabis patients. We wanted to be a transparent hub for reliable information and compassionate services.”

What is the best thing about being in West Dundee? “We love our neighbors and enjoy the welcoming atmosphere. We have always felt uplifted by the surrounding community and have enjoyed all of the support that a small town has to offer.”

What is the biggest challenge? “I think the biggest challenge for us is remaining connected and interactive with the growing downtown scene. There are many fun things going on now, so we are thankful for organizations like the West Dundee Young Professionals Group, who help to keep us up to date with all of the new and exciting events.”

What is the most popular service you provide? “Our medical cannabis registry services and hemp education are what draw most people in. There aren’t many places that you can just walk in and talk to someone about where to find a cannabis-friendly doctor or take an ‘Edibles 101 Class.’ We find that people of all ages are curious and are just looking for answers. When we are talking about serious health concerns, many are rightfully apprehensive about taking advice over the internet, but because of tight restrictions, the dispensaries are often limited on the help they can provide to the public. That’s where we step in.”

What thing do you most like to do as part of your business? “My favorite part of my business is all of the education that’s required. Since cannabis and hemp are still relatively new to most, I never get tired of explaining the process and watching people get well as a result. It’s amazing to see how excited people get when they are involved with their own health and are able to make the decisions in their healing process.”

What is your least favorite thing to do? “My least favorite thing to do is to hear all of the negative experiences that our patients go through before coming to us. The state did not make this an easy process for patients so we are always sad to hear when our patients have been going through the process for a long time or if they have spent large sums of money and are still struggling to gain safe access.”

What is the best thing about owning your own business? “For better or for worse, every day is different. I love waking up to a new challenge and especially with a job that is so emotionally rewarding. I get to help people feel better every day and I really can’t think of any better way to fulfill my life’s purpose.”

Tell us about your most memorable customer? “Although we have many memorable human patients … we actually have quite a few animals that use our products. People are surprised to know that animals have an endo-cannabinoid system, too, and that hemp and cannabis work the same way for them. We have a customer — a potbelly pig named Gigi — that uses the hemp oil for her anxiety.”

What is the biggest misconception about your business? “One of the biggest misconceptions is that people think they need a medical cannabis card to visit our store. Although we have a doctor who can provide the certifications on site, you do not need a card to come in for services or to purchase our hemp-based CBD products. We do occasionally get people who think we sell medical cannabis onsite or give “free medicinal samples” and that’s also a big misconception. We only sell hemp-based CBD products and nothing over .3 percent THC. “

How has your business changed since you first opened? “We have grown from a small wellness facility to a clinic with medical doctor distribution channels across the USA. We never expected to grow so much on the retail side that we would eventually jump into national distribution.”

What do you wish someone had told you before you started? “I never thought I would have had to be so politically involved. I wish someone would have given me a crash course in how to be a lobbyist. I’m even a member of the Hemp Industries Association now. I look forward to taking another trip down to Springfield later this month to advocate on behalf of the latest Hemp Bill SB2298. We are on the verge of a very big turning point for Illinois agriculture.”

Erin Sauder is a freelance reporter for The Courier-News.

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