Entrepreneur. Soapmaker. Cannabis-inspired fashionista.
These are only a few words that describe Marvina Thomas, the cannabis executive who runs Fourtwenty Collections. Nationally recognized for her cannabis-infused soaps, Marvina Thomas is making waves in the cannabis industry.
“I’m a doer. I put something in my head and I just go for it," says Thomas. “If I fall, that’s fine. I get myself back up, wipe my knees off and start over.”
That has been her attitude for the last six years while running her various businesses. Thomas is the owner of 420 SkinCare and 420 Medibles, which specialize in all-natural THC and CBD infused soaps, skincare, and edibles. She also runs Trinity Care Services, a rehabilitation clinic in Glendale that is opening its newest location in Yuma next week.
“It all started with one bar of soap,” says Thomas, who began making her own soaps to support her business. “I’ve been blessed to be able to open up companies and create jobs for people graduating from my program,” she says.
Trinity Care Services' mission is to help underrepresented communities recover from addiction and successfully re-enter society. The program is in collaboration with Start Living Inc., a nonprofit recovery operation that encompasses 15 group homes throughout Arizona.
A nurse by trade, Thomas saw firsthand the effects of drug addiction and wanted to provide more lasting care than her patients were receiving.
One patient in particular — whose face had been badly burned from an accident involving drugs — left quite an impression on Thomas. “She told me that the pipe blew up in her face,” says Thomas, who was experimenting with her soap business on the side. “I gave her one of my bars of soap, and in about two weeks you could start seeing her skin healing.” The transformation in that one client began Thomas’ journey from a nurse into a full-time cannabis enthusiast.
Calling her new venture Vina Soaps, Thomas quit her job as a nurse and focused on her soap business, experimenting with new ingredients and trying out other skin-care products.
Interest from friends and family quickly took off, and her business transformed into what is now called Fourtwenty Collections. “Now we don’t just have skin-care [products], we have edibles and even a clothing line,” says Thomas.
Most of her patients use her skincare and “medibles” to treat conditions like chronic pain, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, while others use her products to simply enhance their self-care routines.
“They had a very enjoyable experience,” says Jared Holland of Peoria, who gifted two sets of Thomas’ CBD bath bombs to his family members. Holland says that because of Fourtwenty Collections, he now has an endless supply of gift ideas for birthdays and holidays. The CBD bath bombs include 200 mg of CBD each, and claim to provide a detoxifying effect on the body.
“I’ve always had it in my heart to help others, and that’s why we’re on this Earth,” says Thomas. Through her "Buy & Give" program, part of the proceeds from each purchase at 420 SkinCare is channeled into Thomas' nonprofit to help individuals with resources like healthcare, substance abuse education, and access to medical marijuana cards.
“That’s not that common,” says Demitri Downing, founder of the Marijuana Industry Trade Association in Arizona (MITA-AZ). “Everyone has some sort of charitable component, but she’s made it a little more clear how the two interweave.”
A former Arizona prosecutor who has been in the cannabis industry for almost a decade, Downing counts himself as one of the fortunate few who has in-depth knowledge of the nuances shaping the Arizona cannabis landscape. He has collaborated with Thomas and other industry leaders throughout the Southwest in fostering inclusivity and cultural and ethnic diversity in the cannabis space.
“In the cannabis industry there’s this unique sense of community,” says Downing, who organizes a gathering of 300-plus industry professionals once a month in Arizona to share, teach, and learn about the cannabis industry. He says Thomas is a regular attendee even though she has sufficient knowledge of the industry.
“She doesn’t need to come to MITA, but attends because she feels it is her duty to share,” Downing adds.
Throughout the pandemic, Thomas expected major setbacks, when in fact, business began to tick up.
“Actually, we got really busy,” says Thomas, who credits the increase in sales to a well-timed product that hit the shelves when pent-up demand for disinfectants was at its peak. “We all learned how to make hand sanitizer." She tinkered with aloe vera recipes and found success at a time when hygiene and self-care were on everyone’s mind.
“I don’t let people tell me what I can and cannot do,” she explains. “I always find different solutions to make things happen, because at the end of the day it isn’t about me, it’s about helping others.”
As a Black female business owner, Thomas feels a responsibility as a leader in an industry highly underrepresented by women and minorities.
MJBizDaily, a Colorado-based outlet providing recreational and medical cannabis information to industry professionals, released a finding last year showing that underrepresentation: The percentages of women and minorities in executive positions within the U.S. cannabis industry have dropped over the last two years: women, from 36.8 percent to 22.1 percent; minorities, from 28.0 to 13.1.
The report explains that competitive markets tend to favor businesses with white men in leadership positions due to established access to capital.
This trend is what Thomas hopes to break. In 2016, she took a leadership role at Women Grow, an organization focused on educating and empowering female leaders in the cannabis industry. She collaborated with Parisa Rad, owner of MJ Momma Consulting agency, and together they helped develop the organization into new markets throughout the country.
At the time of their collaboration, Thomas was looking for someone to run her company, and ultimately appointed Rad, who is of Middle-Eastern descent, as president of Fourtwenty Collections last August.
“It is very, very hard,” says Thomas, describing the path to success for minority women in the cannabis industry. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know in this industry.”
Egyptian influence has always been a central theme to Thomas’ businesses. Essential oils, sea salts, and other natural ingredients were used by the Egyptians, and have inspired Thomas to follow that theme for all her products.
In September, Thomas collaborated with New York fashion designer Korto Momolu in Arizona’s first cannabis-inspired women’s fashion show. The show celebrated Fourtwenty Collection’s new clothing and apparel line, including Egyptian-inspired tunics, tutus, dresses, and accessories such as hats and jewelry.
The sold-out event was held at FABRIC in Tempe, a nonprofit fashion incubator, design studio, and fashion academy.
“I gotta figure out a way to step it up a notch,” says Thomas, who received an overwhelmingly positive response from the attendees. Given the fully attended show, she hopes to find a bigger venue to host the event this year.
Through her entrepreneurial spirit, love for community, and willingness to lead in an industry that lacks diversity, Thomas is a shining example of love and comfort to those around her.
“It’s not just Marvina, it's her team [as well] because she inculcates the spirit in her employees,” says Downing. “That mentality trickles down from the top, and when you have leaders like her, then companies develop like hers.”
When asked who her dream interview would be, Thomas answers without hesitation — Snoop Dogg. “That is my dream, for me to be able to have an interview with him and just to chill and smoke a blunt with him,” she says.
Find 420 skin-care products and edibles at 420-skincare.com. Her products can also be found on social media under the name @420skincare.