#Thrive Thursday: Meet Gina and Leslie In the Medical Cannabis Industry

thrive thursday Jan 23, 2020

What is your story? Or in other words, what made you your awesome self you are today?  

We believe that the most interesting people have come from difficult lives……it has seasoned and polished them.  And it is that uniqueness that makes them compelling and able to do neat things. And the ‘difficult’ part is different for everyone!  

We believe that people who have worked hard have an appreciation for their success and compassion for others and life in general. 

We work really hard.  As do many people. We want our story to be a love letter and encouragement to other minorities. 

What message does (your company) like to promote?  

We are elated to say that we have three companies now:

  • Greenhouse Wellness—Greenhouse Wellness is a medical cannabis dispensary in Columbia, Maryland and our primary message is “Cannabis is an effective, whole-plant healing option for those looking for relief.” As working suburban mothers, we admittedly spent the majority of our lives telling our children to stay away from cannabis. We find many folks have a similar view of the plant-- that it feels like something to be ashamed of that can leave you “stoned” and “out of it.” Cannabis dispensaries we toured early on certainly weren’t helping this perception. Most felt seedy, like going to a sex shop—in that even if it’s legal, you wanted to hide your face as you exited. So, when we found out we won the license for a dispensary, we decided we’d take a bit of a different stance. We based the whole brand around education. We don’t call our team members “budtenders” like most, we call them “wellness consultants.” We made sure the space had a ton of natural light and a white marble countertop. Educational materials are placed throughout. The dispensary is located in a medical complex. The whole experience and message of the brand is, “It’s ok to try medical cannabis and find options that will help enhance your quality of life. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.” 

  • Blissiva—Blissiva is a medical cannabis product line that was created to empower women to take control of their health and life, and the brand message certainly reinforces that. While men love our products too, we created this company to help women find relief from things like anxiety, endometriosis, lack of sexual desire, chronic pain and a whole host of other challenges we found women sharing with us in our dispensary. However, with many cannabis products boasting names like “Cannatonic, AK-47, and Alaskan Thunder Fuck,” (yes, that last one is a real name) some products felt inaccessible or unrelatable to our female patients seeking something a bit more discreet. So we decided to create a community around the message, “These products are for women, by women” and our flavors and names (like “The Balance Pen” in flavors “Vanilla Chilla” and “Cool as a Cucumber”) were branded more in the spirit of OPI nail polish vs. automatic rifles.

  • High Heals – High Heals: How Two Women Found Their Footing in the Medical Cannabis Industry is our book. While the book primarily shares our story of building two companies as women in the cannabis industry, our underlying message is most certainly, “If we, as two working mothers, can prevail in an industry with a lot of odds stacked against us, you can build that business, go after that promotion, and more.” We wanted the message to be less of a war cry and more of a pump up read for women who have been stuck thinking, “I really want this but I just don’t feel I’m good enough or ready for it yet.” We are here to emphatically say, “Yes, you are!” 

In what capacity do you LEAD UP in your community?  

We hope that our story will serve as an inspiration and a love letter—for other women who are forging their own ways in their careers and lives, becoming their own types of disruptors, and challenging the status quo.  It’s certainly the mantra we go to bed with, and we hope it’ll be the fight song other women wake up to, or the pat on the back when they are doubting themselves.’ From our book High Heals.

In business and/or in life, share a struggle you overcame that other women can relate to? 

I think both of us would say that a struggle many women can relate to is balancing all the “hats” (or shoes or purses, wink wink) and feeling the pressure to do it all perfectly. We (Gina, as an engineer who ran a venture fund and then successfully built and sold a company, and Leslie, as a doctor who was running a women’s health practice while also owning a medical spa) both constantly felt the pressure of being a great mother, spouse, business owner, committee participant, community advocate, etc. (the list could go on really) overwhelming at times. We kept living into the mantra “You can have it all!” After exiting some of our previous businesses and starting these two companies together we realized, “Yes, you can have it all, but you can’t do it all perfectly at once.” Sometimes you have to pick and choose and prioritize and surrender to the messiness of it all. We think as women, we can put unrealistic expectations on ourselves, but we’ve learned that’s not healthy and ultimately it doesn’t serve you, your family, your employees or anyone else. It’s ok to ask for help and it’s ok to set boundaries.

Did you have a Mentor, Coach or Sponsor along the way that was essential to your growth and success? If so, who was it and why?

We have both been so fortunate to have people that have come into our lives at different points.  It is because of open minds and hearts that we were allowed to move forward and use cannabis as a medicine to treat those suffering.  We remain eternally grateful to our mentors, coaches, employees, and patients. 

What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do at (your company)?

The most rewarding aspect of being in the cannabis business is seeing the healing taking place with this medicine. The second part, like any business owner, is watching your team members thrive. We have always believed that you hire people for their kind heart and their gumption, and then you provide them with opportunities to shine. So many of our wellness consultants are pursuing nursing degrees, master’s degrees in cannabis, are heavily involved in sports, and are pursuing acting and comedy jobs. We always try to accommodate their schedules so they can live full, passionate lives. We were so proud of one of our team members, Amber, who made it to Keenan Thompson’s Comedy Showcase in New York. She had a dream, she went for it, and continues to every single day. It’s so inspiring to see how all of them work so hard for things they love, and it’s so rewarding to play any part in providing resources and/or guidance in their journeys. 

If you could give one piece of advice for women who are entering the workforce or launching their own business what would that be?

So many more things than just one!  Here is our manifesto:

-Don’t settle.  Don’t look back and say, ‘I wish.’

-Ask questions.  Think through your own beliefs and goals and question everything.  Don’t accept the normal viewpoint without thinking it through.

-Have a fresh perspective.  The glass is neither half-full not half-empty, but clearly, there is room for more wine.

-Push boundaries.  Be disruptive.

-Don’t take no for an answer.  Sorry, not sorry.

-Be present-to work, life, and children.

-Be fearless.  Showing up doesn’t get you a ribbon.  Losing teaches lessons.












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