From press in Martha Stewart Living to Marie Claire to being sold in Urban Outfitters to Neiman Marcus, Soul Addict, a farm-first & woman-owned organic Hemp CBD Company continues to inspire us in part 2 of our 2 part interview with owner, Laura White. Get comfy as she & Michelle discuss how her business spiked during the 2020 pandemic and the inspiration & journey behind converting a 1950's motorcycle garage into their first brick and mortar retail store.
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ep-10-Soul-Addict-Laura-White - part-2
Michelle: Hey there. I'm Michelle Sherrier and this is the Retail Whore Podcast, stories and lessons from the life and retail. Hey, guys. Hello. Hello. Welcome to episode number ten. I can't believe we've already hit ten. I am truly blessed and grateful for everybody. Signing in and downloading and liking and sharing it is truly a dream come true. I never I really never anticipated this kind of support. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much. Today, as I said, is episode number ten. It's a continued conversation with Laura White from Soul Addict. We keep talking about the benefits of CBD and she goes in depth about her products that coincidentally are on the giveaway. So without further ado, please enjoy episode number ten with Laura White from Select.
Laura: So tell me, this is a good lead in to tell us about your products.
Laura: Yes. So we have, of course, the CBD elixir, which is a full spectrum, meaning, like we were saying. It's got all of the different cannabinoids. We got it from our own hair that we grow here in North Carolina. So everything is from like 100% like our flower, like a lot of brands use like a little bit of like a mix of like some leaves and other things. Like we just do like pressing of our flowers to get our extract.
Michelle: And you guys are all organic, correct?
Laura: Yes. We're actually working on our Oregon Health certification, like this actual season, like we're super strict organic. The biggest thing is like we are still technically like an indie brand. So the first year and well the first two years we grew, it was like hard to get cannabis certified organic. Honestly, there was not like it was still so new. I mean, hemp has been in prohibition for basically like over 50 years, not now obviously, but like so they were like all the local spaces that do Oregon, Oregon organic certification, like didn't really know, like what does it look like to be certified organic and cannabis? So once we kind of hit that, we kind of kept on missing out. And then of course, 2020 happened. So officially this year we have someone coming out to test all of our soil and our plant. So I'm really excited about that. It's been a really long time coming. But yes, so then we have our new daily line, which is essentially just like a really we're big and to minimal processing. We use organic avocado, compressed organic avocado oil and our full flower spectrum CBD extract and that's it. And we have a 350, a 750 and a 1500. So it's a little bit more of like our kind of like leveled up CBD line. So it's a little bit more dose specific for what what you're looking for. So our 350 is kind of more of like our mild like I just want something to kind of generally chill out. Our 750 is one of my favorite because it's definitely potent and you can tell a big difference after you take it, but it's not quite as high as our our 1500. It's called the Daily Bliss. And, you know, the thing about full spectrum is it does have that THC amount. So it's you really can feel it if you take a little bit too much. So we like our, you know, people that really want something super, super strong. That's what we tend to kind of share, like steer people.
Michelle: It's still not as strong as like lighting up a big old joint, though, is it?
Laura: No, no. Like smoking is still like the fastest and strongest way to consume any cannabis, whether it be from hemp flower or cannabis like high, thc flower is definitely smoking. So yeah, it's not going to be quite as strong, but it's definitely one of the strongest CBD tinctures. I feel like on the market the way that we extract it and like actually formulate it because it's we don't like add any flavor. There's no like glycerin or water or anything to water it down. It's pretty. Just like, here is what's in it. Take it or leave it. But yeah, so we have those three are like our kind of hero CBD line. And then we have become really popular over 2020 for our calming CBD Pre-rolls, which are our organic hemp flower, rolled with five different herbs that kind of help stimulate and help create even more calm with the CBD flower, it's 50 milligrams of flower hard joints, so we see a lot of CBD pre-rolls since we launched our first pre-roll in 2018 and a lot of the pre-rolls on the market today are about 12.5 milligrams of hemp flower. So our like we really believe in like making sure something if we're going to put it together as we mentally process, it's going to be really, really potent. So you don't need to use as much as out of our product.
Michelle: So tell me, like what, what's the effect of a pre-roll? Because I'm fascinated about that. Like, I follow your Instagram and I'm always like, just like, like how do you feel? Like, how do you use it? Like, I was like like when I said to you the other day when I was I left work the other day, I'm like, all I want to do is just read a book and I can't calm down and not to read a book. And that's I'm like, I'm going on and then I'm buying those. Like, what? Tell me about it, like a little bit more.
Laura: So I think that was not our best seller pre pandemic. And essentially we didn't I didn't even really know Hemp Flower was a thing until we started growing. And like one day we were just like out in the field and we were like, Oh yeah, like we should totally like see what CBD Flower is like all about. And we smoked it in a joint. And it was amazing because it's like you're not you're like, it's not going to be that super heady experience. Like I was saying, it's not like a very you're not going to get high, but there's definitely like a very much before and after like of a shift, but like not like I feel out of control or I feel out of my body. It's very much like I feel in my body, but I feel content and at peace and like if you have a little bit of that like numbing anxiety that we tend to have in the morning or like if we're just like really stressed out during the week, it kind of helps mellow that out. So a lot of people have turned to like hemp, CBD, flour, even if they are in legal states that usually use high THC because they find it's something that like we can use like during the day, during work or.
Michelle: I was just going to say.
Laura: It's something you can definitely like turn to. And, you know, the the other side we always get from some people of course is like, isn't smoking bad? Like, isn't that but we're big brand on sharing. You know, everything is with conscious consumption and intention, right? Like if we're going into anything like just know it's it's more of a ritual that we want to create around it, right? It's like something that you can kind of come home to or start your morning off with where you can kind of relax into your body instead of just like kind of always being like, on and just, like, feeling like, fried and, like, your nervous system. It's, like, really something that. Kind of hugs you in a way. And I think that that that means the act of standing is pretty sacred. If we look at a lot of the history behind it. I mean, it's obviously introduced by indigenous tribes. And so that's definitely something that I like to kind of always share because a lot of people are like, wait, like smoking is bad, but it's our number one best seller product at this point, along with our flowers that.
Michelle: I bet during the during the pandemic, I think that's when I was like starting to watch like, oh my gosh. So if you are doing it after work, can you drink on CBD or is that going because I know THC? It's like I can't do both like that. Just like there's no way. It just goes really bad.
Laura: Yeah, I think like like with anything I feel like it kind of comes down to like personal preference, like CBD mocktails mixed with even, like, liquor or like tequila or something like that, or become like a little bit more popular or at least pre pandemic before everything shut down. But there's some evidence out there that like says, like, if you drink so much and then you take CBD, it'll heighten the effects of CBD. But I think that just depends on how much like you're drinking, right? Like, you know, like if you're having like a glass of wine and like a free roll, you'll probably be okay. In fact, you probably think, like, really great.
Michelle: That seems like total bliss.
Laura: Like my favorite combo. Honestly.
Michelle: It just. I mean, literally, like I, you know, your Instagram and watching me one it's so beautiful and you're like this super seemingly spiritual like you know it just it's in that your shots where it's like glass of wine and pre-roll and you're out in this big, beautiful farm. And I'm like, okay, this is like what I want.
Laura: Not daily like that. I feel like it's been like this past year. It's definitely been like super humbling. But definitely I feel like the spiritual practices that I have built my life around have helped me kind of like ground myself and like, this is definitely been like the hardest year of my life so far this past year and a half or so. And so I feel like it's kind of like, I don't know, this company has ended up being kind of like a testament to like self healing and like the journey of like kind of like becoming yourself and how to ground yourself when, like, shit gets real. So, but that means a lot to hear you say. So thank.
Michelle: You. Oh, I just, you know, I mean, it's like it's, you know, COVID obviously was. I don't even how to. I mean, obviously, we all know what last year was like. And, you know, I was very lucky in the sense I was working pretty much for maybe a month and to close down, like I went right back to work and. But for so many people, just that's the first time I've had that much time at home, like I honest to God. But also that for people that all that live in small houses and all sudden everyone in their family is there and there is no place for your child. You are now trying to put them through school and zoom your work calls. And I just the stress of last year and just to watch how how everyone dealt with it and how everyone kind of I mean, it's like I always say the universe puts in giant obstacles in your way and it is like you either go around it and run away from it.
Michelle: You meet it full on. And you I've I've learned because I've had so many obstacles thrown in my way and it's like I'm my biggest my biggest saying is always failure is the best and structure and the obstacle has what that failure has been. But what came out of it and how I move forward. And now when something big happens like, you know, it hurts and you deal with it and like COVID, I lost a client who was a friend and you know, you kind of take the hit and then I have to now look back and go, Why did this happen? Like what? What is the lesson I can take away from this year of COVID? So what is your what do you feel like is your lesson or what is your takeaway from the year from hell?
Laura: Oh, my God. Well, there's like so many things. I mean, like, everything was challenged. Like we were doing really good in 2019 as a company and like feeling like it's like I don't even understand how, like, we glamorize entrepreneurs and like the whole starting a company because it's not for the weak hearted. But I feel like everything from like my company to my personal life in so many ways, like we're just totally kind of like, I mean, this sounds like, but I think a lot of people that are listening, one or so like was kind of crushed and like overnight, a lot of plans that we had for, say a lot of things that happen. I ended up actually losing my dad or it was like, thank you. It was it was just one of those kind of like first big years where there were so many lessons at once. So to say one is really hard. But I think. Oh, I think that I'd have to say I like being open with people and staying like, really vulnerable has gotten me through and I just feel like that's something that will kind of be a lesson I'm going to grow into even more.
Laura: I think that a lot of. Our brand here at S-A and a lot of how I've built our community is just being really open about the hardships and why it was hard and the details and the nitty gritty. And I think that that's something that I just kind of struggled with in such a big way. Like, do I go and hide in a corner and just, like, kind of lay everything crumble and just like, pack it all up and like, just, I don't know, move away and never to be heard from again. Or do I just, like, open up and share with people? Because I think we're all, like, starving in a lot of ways for like, real community at this point. And it wasn't that way kind of like a blessing because so much good did come out of it from, I mean, social justice to like basically a national awakening and reckoning of where we're going to go from here, like humans and like God.
Michelle: I know. I feel like.
Laura: It's just, I don't know. So I think that's kind of really my biggest takeaway, like just to be super vulnerable and show up in that way in all aspects of my life. That's my personal journey, I think. So that kind of got solidified this past year and a half, so.
Michelle: Last year was gnarly between that and like orange and everything else that we were dealing with. Like, I'm so and I'm sure a lot of people I'm going to piss a lot of people. All I say is, but it's like, it's so nice to have a president that speaks in a compassionate, kind, respectful manner and and everybody can like who they want. But it just the tone of the White House now and the tone of the country, it's still there. It's you know, you're still there. And that that just kind of like showed everybody who a lot of people unfortunately are in but it's just as a whole right now. It's just like it's so nice to turn on the TV and not have negative angry, you know, no wonder you're fucking pre-rolls. We're like, I mean, I literally.
Laura: It's real. I mean, like, we were not only were we, like, kind of living in the high of, like, this, like, wild time that we could believe we're actually living through. We had a human that was just I don't even like I don't even know the words. Like, it's just and now we all know the work that we have to do daily. And I think we all are still very much unlearning. But yeah, it definitely like from where we were even back in November, like the tone of how we kind of show up. At least we can show up in a way that does that always feel so frazzled, like with the news like cycle and what's next? Like, what is next?
Michelle: I stopped. I stopped watching the news. I couldn't I mean, you know, I'm super I didn't realize I'm such an empath and my husband's always told me he's like, you are serious and empathy. Like, I can't believe he's like, you take on whoever is energy. Like, if they're sad, if they're excited, he's like, you don't realize that. And I, I do. But I realized that like, with that, I'm like, I stopped watching TV and I still don't watch a lot of news because it's just like, you know, how many people died and what's wrong and and it was like, okay, this is what's happening, but I'm going to control what I can control in my little bubble and not I mean, it is what it is like. We're not going anywhere.
Laura: Actually, now that you say this, like I'm going to say that probably my biggest takeaway is like understanding who, like we innately are and like, where can we shut off to show up in a bigger, impactful way outside of, I don't know, the news or social media or not form or whatever it may be. Like, it really showed me that like there are certain things that I have to turn off to show up in my life and my community and like do the work that I need to be doing to make the world better. Like, and that does that have to look the same for everybody? I think that that's definitely something like I definitely had to turn off the news for like the last six months of like last year was just I, I could not like the cycle the media at this point in so many ways is broken for and that's like a whole nother thing. But I mean, there's just, there's so many problems. It's like I am much better offline for the most part, like sharing, like what I'm doing here and fighting for the things that I know I'm like fighting for, like, without feeling like the world is crumbling down every day with a new cycle.
Laura: Like, that's.
Laura: A way to do that.
Michelle: So 100%. I love that you're an all woman team or almost all woman team. Tell me about tell me about about the team that works with you and your farms and production and all of that.
Speaker3: So that's actually funny. I don't know how like if we want to share like whatever, but we were growing in 2019 and. And we're about to hire two more people. We had this wonderful human that I love dearly. She now lives in Austin who is working and helping me with like partnerships and branding and in real life events. And then as we were about to hire two other women on the team, 2020 happened. So we are actually now back down to myself and Max and then one other human that comes in and helps us here and there. But we're kind of like back to being like a two person team which you know, Andy Brand like back at it honestly. But we're hoping like I think that we'll start hiring again. All fingers crossed. I think probably by the end of the year, the two like positions that we were going to hire for like pre-pandemic. So that's definitely been a lot of like lesson learning. But, but yeah, I mean, we are still technically majority women owned because our farm is also family owned and that's about my mom. So that's kind of cool.
Michelle: I love that. I didn't know that.
Laura: Yeah. So yeah, so was technically two women and two men at the moment when it comes down to like all the full time aspects of like farm operations, retail, wholesale, digital e commerce and then like marketing, which is back to me it's like a lot where all the hats again, but that's fine.
Michelle: So okay, I didn't know that you so everyone had a dial back, but now you dialed back your payroll and you guys are doing everything and and now you owned now you opened a retail store. How are you wearing all these hats? Because I didn't know that. I thought, okay, you.
Laura: Know, this is like this is so interesting to like it's funny to, like, kind of like it's actually good to, like, just, like, kind of talk it out. Like, we're kind of like in a therapy session, too. So I love podcasting last year. Yeah, let's see, both Cierra and Lauren that used to work for us to like both of them are amazing. And like, we still talk all the time and I'm like always like they're cheerleaders, but they actually kind of like, navigated a way like right before the pandemic and Ciara last summer because I think it was just like a lot. So but we were growing like really, really fast, like from March through, I would say August. And then we kind of like hit a little bit of like I think the first wave of the pandemic was kind of like trickle down, but we were really fortunate enough to grow into a space. We have a 4000 square foot warehouse now, which is insane, really. We also like we're we're still very much like out in the middle of nowhere, right? So it's really cool because like we're navigating like being an indie brand on a budget, small business style, but also being able to afford something that we would never be able to afford. Like what? Like LA, New York City, Austin, like, you know, so we're kind of being able to like play around with like what does this look like as legalization kind of trickles down. And for us to kind of set up in a place where we can thrive and like grow on a budget, so we like lucked out. We found this like really gorgeous, like redone. It was like an old motorcycle shop from, like, the fifties.
Michelle: Oh, God, that's gonna be so cool.
Laura: Have, like, 10 minutes from our farm. So that was really good Internet. It's a huge problem out here in the middle of nowhere, which is a complete pain in that for being a small digital brand. So we finally like on the farm, like we barely get wi fi, we don't have a phone. It's like a real thing. I know we're like off the grid. So 10 minutes out, like we have internet and a phone and like all the things that, like make running a business like 2021. But we had this like little room and I really was just kind of like, we have a huge amount of traffic going through, going right by our shop because we are about 10 minutes from North Carolina's largest state park, which got huge last year because everybody wanted to be outside and like hike to these beautiful waterfalls and see deer and bears and all this cool stuff by us. So we just kind of were like, let's launch a retail shop like this. Is it just kind of fell into our laps, which I think sometimes the most like needed projects are. And that was around the time always as my dad was getting like really sick. And so I just kind of threw myself into what ended up sticking and being called the in real life shop. And yeah, we're opening like our grand opening is July 10th. And so we're kind of like a little like destination, like conscious shop, like modern pharmacy out by like this really magical state park. And we have some like local breweries like Fanta. Flora is like really big around here. They're like 25 minutes away from us, so we're kind of like a cool day trip.
Michelle: Oh, I love it.
Laura: I read about it. I don't know. It just feels like there's. So much stigma still around cannabis as we know. So too will open up in a really rural part of North Carolina, talking about legalization, talking about people still being in jail, primarily black and brown people still being in jail right now for weed while they're benefiting. Like we're talking about like the real, real out here. So it feels very on par with like my birth chart and all the things I feel like I'm on the right track. But yeah.
Michelle: So what sign are you speaking of your birth rate?
Laura: I'm a double Libra and I Scorpio Moon.
Michelle: Do you know if you're do you follow the human design?
Laura: I do. I am a projector six two.
Michelle: I'm the manifestor generator.
Laura: Oh, I like all my favorite. Like all my favorite humans are manifesting generators.
Laura: It's funny. It's it's so dead on to my I mean, it's my sign. It's crazy. And like, it's odd that like I end up, I have two stores that are like crystal manifestation stores and, and clients that like it's somehow I've ended up gravitating towards that world. The girls from Energy Muse, I do the styling for the book Crystal Muse and I.
Laura: Thought, It's amazing. I didn't know that.
Michelle: It's so funny. It's like, Yeah, well, it's funny because I started with the girls from Energy Muse. They had we all grew up together and they started a jewelry line and they blew up and everyone from like David Beckham to Anthony Robins wearing their their money bracelet. And then they have a store or like they're in an office park and they have the space and people are finding them and coming to them. So I had the pleasure of being able to redesign their like corporate office space, which just looks like a shitty like office and then create like this magical space. And then when the book came up, they asked me if I do the styling. So I had that opportunity. And then somewhere along the way, Roc Paradise came along and I got the opportunity to create a 5500 square foot crystal store, and it's insane.
Laura: And I can't wait to come out there.
Michelle: Oh, my gosh, you will. I mean, it's like the store. There's so much crazy energy when I go in there, like five and six in the morning because I get there before everyone's there so I can work and do my stuff, but I'll go. They have a gallery. It's like 500 square foot gallery. It's like giant giant crystals, like huge, massive size of car crystals. And I'll go in that room and just sit there quietly and just do like a five minute meditation, just. But it's like, literally the place, like, reverberates. It's it's so crazy.
Laura: Oh, my God. It feels like. I feel like that's really on like that's the best thing you can do right now for your energy. Probably after everything, like, I don't.
Laura: Know, like.
Laura: This, like, awakening that we're all having, like that kind of.
Michelle: It's been really interesting. And now it's like every morning I pull in either an angel card or from the unknown deck, the tarot card or whatnot. And I, you know, I have my little thing I do, but it's a lot of it started, I think pre-pandemic and certainly was like just I went overboard closure for sure.
Laura: It's like she is doing a a tarot card like whole like I guess like her own set. I have to get like I have to send it out to you. I feel like you would love it. It's gorgeous. Yeah.
Michelle: I mean, it's like, I don't know what it is and why I'm so drawn to that, but I 100% believe in and it's like when you hear people talk and like you're one of them about believing in the universe and lessons and, you know, spiritual guiding.
Laura: Right. I go to a psychic once a year like she's my girl and like, I go to her once a year. It's like a thing. Like she's.
Laura: She's the only person I trust. I've gotten, like, really big about. I've been going to her for six years and truly, like, everything she's ever said to me has been so on point and the last reading, like, it was so on point that I'm like, almost like it's about the time like we start. Like usually I go every summer, I'm like a little nervous this year. Like, I don't know, like, am I ready for like.
Laura: A Ashlynn who has Muse House, who is one of my clients. Ash has started doing her own readings and it's like she did my reading. It's it's I mean, we are, like, so simpatico. It's crazy. It's like we there is a reason why she and I are together, but I 100% believe it, and I think it all kind of goes along. Yeah, yeah. I mean, it's like.
Laura: Collide with them. Like, it's weird. Like, I don't know.
Michelle: And it's like, like I said, you reached out to me out of I don't even know how, but.
Laura: We're like, that was the other thing. I was like, I know that like, like I've always had, like, a big girl crush on you. Basically. I'm like, where do I? Like I can't even remember how, but I remember it was when we were going into big, big retail stores and she was like, Who can I call? And I was like, Michelle.
Michelle: And that's what, you know. And that brings me around now because now it's like, okay, you've had amazing press from everyone from Martha Stewart to Marie Claire. You have been in your your Neiman Marcus Urban Outfitters. Like, are you still doing wholesale or are you only going to do your IRL? And I have to go back to that question the second, but you are you.
Laura: So we kind of I feel like I grew really backwards. Like it's like again, like everything happens for a reason. I, of course, now I wish I would have known what I knew now as a business owner. But you can't. You just have to take the steps and it's.
Michelle: Like the best way to learn it. That's totally the best way to learn it.
Laura: So we I launched, I say in January of 2017, we got the original, like, we're interested in you out of nowhere. Like, I thought it was like a joke. It was like Urban Outfitters, Free People and Neiman Marcus and then like one other one, I guess it was anthropology because like, they all kind of are like the branch. And so of course, at that time I was like so excited. It just felt like it was like everything that I like, you know? But I was still a newbie. I was new, but I didn't quite know retail like I do now. And like we're still like kind of learning. So I had to learn very quickly, like to get everything ready and like understand how to do like all the back end of like it's very much if you are, if you're starting your brand or you're a product brand out there like and you get picked up by a big box store, you think that there's going to be like a handholding process, like they're going to navigate with you, but like, it's kind of like, we want you on board. Here's what it's going to look like. You kind of have a little bit of power, which I can talk about, like a lot more. I had a lot more power than I realized. And, you know, at the time, I think, again, like, I want to be vulnerable and like honest. If you're if you've got a product brand out there, like I definitely could have managed to probably get a way better deal for myself, but I was so excited on just like the opportunity.
Laura: And then yeah, you have to learn like all the back end, like by yourself. Like myself and Max were like just, I mean, he did a lot of it because he was like jumping on you. He's like more of, like, the computer savvy person, for sure. But we were just laughing the whole time. We're like, How do we do this? But long story short is like, I guess like right before, like, like 2019, around that time, like we kind of pulled out as well just because it just for the time being like where we're going is more of like where I want to take essay. I realize it's like more being like a medicinal cannabis brand eventually. That's like my dream is to really continue to create like really intentional products for people to use and talk more about like the mental health and be very hands on with our brands instead of being in like a very open like retail environment with it being something that's so big for like you really need that hand-holding experience within ingestible and we don't have like a lot of beauty products to use. And that's what a lot of of the big retailers like really want right now is like a lot of like skin care. And I'm more of like on the, like ingestible, like mental health, like health side of it.
Michelle: So your mask is amazing, though, that mask.
Laura: Like I will I mean, I used to be a holistic expectation. So like, you know, like there's a little like, thank you so much because I put a lot of love into that. To that. Sure. But yeah, so that's kind of how that ended up. I can't remember the rest of the question.
Michelle: So you're not doing wholesale anymore, at least a big box.
Laura: So we not to big box anymore. We do we like found that like our we just now have started to kind of recover from like we lost overnight. Like I would say like 90% of our stockist is very like a lot. So we just now got back to I think we've recovered like. Like a lot of our mom and pop stores did not make it, which is like truly heartbreaking. And I, I don't know, I get really emotional about it, but we definitely still do like more of, like our mom and pop stores that have a lot of like more hands on educational side to it. So that's kind of the whole sell that we still do. We work with like spa's a lot of like dispensaries that like are doing more like kind of what we're doing here, like herbs, wellness, more like ingestible, things like that. So.
Michelle: Yeah, I wondered when it was because I mean, you know, I was with Anthropology and it's like I, I brought it into Burt's and I, we had it up at the counter with other products where at least there's a pharmacist or somebody to.
Michelle: To. And I wonder because, you know, I mean, even just buying some kind of masks and sometimes like just the simplest things that are in wellness, beauty and buying them in a big box. Other than, well, I'll say Neiman Marcus. Neiman Marcus has people there. But when you're dealing with an Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters or free people, they the majority of what they sell are apparel. And it's like an item that's like an inch big on a counter unless it's like a giant mass of display is very easy to walk by. And it's like and you're standing there like, I have questions and I'll be honest, nine times out of ten, when you ask a question about some a product, no one fucking knows. And it's like you. Like, that's my biggest like for any retailer that's out there that's listening to this, if you're going to introduce a product that needs some type of explanation of what it does and what it brings to the table for somebody wellness, you need to have somebody that has tried it, that's used it, that's and that's I always tell it like with with her for cause like she was asking about lines. I'm like go to there's an organic beauty store that all the sells organic I might go buy a shit ton of products and try all of them and see what works and what doesn't, what you like and the quality and how long does it last and like all of that and try it yourself and then go seek out the vendor unless it's a word of mouth thing. I said, but that is like you're as the owner, as the team member, as whoever. Everyone in your sales force needs to understand, like what it does and how amazing it is because that's what's going to sell it. And I, I wondered how that went, how that went, because it was like how, how do you as a small brand with an inch size package, how do you stand out and how do you how do you how the sales team understand how to sell it?
Laura: It was definitely like that was the biggest, I think kind of like gap. There was no education that was being pushed behind the scenes. I think that it was just like, you know, to be very transparent. It was like, Oh, this is the hype, this is the new trend. We need to have it like, let's you know, and I think that's how a lot of big box retailers kind of like navigate, like how they're sourcing their products. They like want brands that have like staying power and have good branding. Of course, all that stuff is like very much in play. I would say sometimes like your design of your product might even matter now to the masses more when you're thinking about getting picked up by a store that even the product itself just by first glance. And then once you get, you know, just depending on like what you are. But for us being a CBD brand, like there was just so much learning that they didn't realize like payment processing. Totally different world. Like you can't just like start a CBD company or start selling CBD at a big box retailer level with without like having the risk associated the risk quote unquote, because technically anything to do with like can cannabis is technically a high risk company and that's just how the banks work still to this day even in like legal states. So it's just kind of like I think a lot of the big box retailers jumped in and we're like, we want this, we don't know how to get it, but we're going to figure it out. And they didn't quite figure it out like and I think that that's why a lot of like kind of the first wave of CBD products, which I feel like we were kind of a part of, like we were just kind of like.
Laura: A little.
Laura: Bit of guinea pigs and it was like, that's why I always like to say, like, I kind of learned backwards because then I was like, Wait, like I know what my perfect partnership and collaboration looks like. Like what a dream to be in these like big box retailers that like if my product is being walked by and people aren't being like, really like walk through the process of like why our product is amazing and like us growing it and like what we like the love we put into everything and like a little bit about our story and there's not like a lot of like, like equal exchange between it, between us. That's why we found like our, like some of our best wholesalers are like natural food stores. Like, honestly, like everyone would be like, like a dream to be like that to this point, like. That's a story that ESA would like. It would be out of control if we were there. And it's just funny to see how your goals change is like your business goals change and you kind of realize like more about retail as a whole and like how everything works and like what you want your community to, like how you want them to experience your product for the first time. So yeah.
Michelle: With your IRL, like I said, this is the thing. I'll be honest, I've rarely have heard the word IRL, so I was, I literally and I'm embarrassed to say this, I'll be totally transparent. I had to fucking look it up. I'm like, what does IRL mean? It's like in real life, what the fuck is the difference between a retail store and an IRL store? So do tell.
Laura: Okay, so just basically it just stuck like I started like talking to people and I would just be like, yeah, the IRL store, I just said it. And then I started saying it in like social media and then I started saying it into like our newsletter community. And then it would just kind of like, I would like notice that some of my friends would be like, Oh yeah, the IRL store. And I would be like, Oh.
Laura: God, I.
Laura: Like that. And it's really I kind of like basically felt like it was a good space of branding because I wanted it to feel like we're mainly a digital brand. We've been around for four years, so like to have like a physical space. I wanted it to kind of have like more of like a community feel so like in real life. Like I think that it's kind of just a cool way to like kind of get people to be like, Oh yeah, that makes sense. So like, you did.
Michelle: It makes total sense. But I literally am like, what? I cuss a lot, so I apologize, but I'm like, so I was like, I'm always like, on podcast. I'm like, Should I go there? No, I literally had to put out like a disclaimer. Like, I'm just let me know from custom, not your podcast, but I literally had to look it up because I'm like, Oh fuck, does that mean like. And when I think about it, it's like I'm out of brick and mortar, so I'm not digital. So that makes so much sense as far as a digital brand becoming a real life store.
Laura: Yeah, exactly.
Michelle: I had to I was like, oh my gosh, I had the choice because I'm like, I don't understand. So now we now that you have a retail store and it's the opening is the opening July 11th or grand opening?
Laura: A grand opening technically. And opening opening is July 10th.
Michelle: So who now? You're still obviously a small team. So are you in the store every day standing in stores?
Laura: What we're going to do just because we're still like mainly a direct to consumer brand digitally, what we've decided is like everything else is very unconventional about the store. Anyhow, we're just going to open on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 to 4 and just kind of see what that looks like. We've been told by a lot of people that like, we might be more frequented than we even realize and like might need to extend our hours or our days. But for now, with like everything else that we're doing, like especially right here, like we're in our fourth year of growing. So like we're pretty much getting into like prime season. We're like, we're on the farm, like actually working on making sure the plants are healthy and like they, they've got like everything they need and it harvest is just totally insane. Like anybody who has ever been on a cannabis farm or like grow hemp or any of that, like just knows harvest is crazy. So we're kind of like just trying to navigate like the Saturday and Sunday kind of vibe and be like a weekend hang out and then go from there. So, so then this.
Michelle: Now, as a merchandiser and as a retail consultant, this makes me ask like, so are you going to bring you're starting with your own brand. Are you going to bring in other people's merchandise?
Laura: We are. So the the idea is that we're going to have a probably like a total of. 5 to 7 brands that we carry were really small shot, but I really like we're really intentional on the display of everything. So we have all of our products and then we're going to have like beautiful smoking accessories because we have flowers. We want things that like.
Michelle: Add on sales.
Speaker3: Align, like align with everything that we're doing and like kind of give like a very out-of-box experience. I mean, to be completely honest, I'm like nothing against it. But most of the options around where we live are going to be more of like your very normal, like, smoke shop. So like just normal pipes and like not brands that you might like feel like have like a really big story behind them. It's more of just kind of like merchandise from X, Y, Z.
Michelle: You, you've an opportunity to work with like, like all these artists that create.
Michelle: These beautiful.
Michelle: Hand-blown pipes. I mean, it's like, you know, I fear my mother is going to listen to this, but it's not like I'm in a weed shop all the time. But you go to Medmen, which is the big one out here. It's like basically like the Apple store of your store. And it's they're beautiful. But like I come from the world of retail and like hand in hand sales and I'm like, why aren't they selling pipes? Why aren't they selling? Like, there's so many other things they could sell that create hand-to-hand sales that you're going to need anyway. So like, why aren't you selling? And it's kind of nice to talk to somebody that's creating something. I do think you're going to be busier than you think. I mean, it's like if you just the fact that like, so weed is obviously legal here. There's a shop everywhere. Med Men is the most well-known, at least the biggest. And because it's so close to LAX, I'm not kidding you. It's like a non stop Uber drop off with people and their suitcases that just fresh off the plane we'll go to it but it is it is. It is. There's never a moment where there's not a line or before it was like they'd have to count how many people were in there. But there's never been like zero people in line in the store. It's I think you're you're going to be very surprised on how many people, because once word of mouth gets out in the community, not only the community that you are already working with, but just the smoking community in general. And then add in the wellness community, I think you're going to be like, I hate to tell you, you're going to those people are being hired back sooner than later.
Laura: I really I hope like I hope so. And we're also we're like a really kind of like nugget of the state. So we're like kind of like in the bottom of the foothills of North Carolina. So we're only like a little under an hour from Asheville and Black Mountain and then like like an under an hour from Charlotte, North Carolina. So it's like, you know, what we're really hoping is kind of like make our idea of like one of our newsletter campaigns here in the next couple of months is we're going to build out like a little map of like a day trip that you can kind of do to like.
Michelle: I love that.
Laura: People, you know, like there's also, like I said, the breweries that are pretty great, like nationally known actually at this point, like one of our breweries is like, you know, North Carolina has become like a big like beer state at this point. So we have like Sierra Nevada and all those. But like there's some like lesser like smaller ones like microbreweries bias. So it's kind of like a day. And like I think that that's something that like I really want to like push is just kind of being a part of like making like middle of nowhere kind of experience, like the state park. That's bias. Like, I grew up going there my whole life and it's truly like one of the most magical places. So I kind of be able to share like a little bit. And then the idea is that eventually we would hopefully like do like farm dinners, like where we get like.
Michelle: Oh my God.
Laura: Together. And we all like go out to the farm and like show everybody the plants and then like do like wine and then like a dinner like with like a local. We have like a few restaurants that are like 25 minutes away, but like get them to cater and like, just like fun ways to work with like a micro community essentially, like in a very rural area that.
Michelle: You know what neighbors table is, right? No neighbors table is I think it's neighbors table. But they have they curate these these dinners and they have them like in the middle of a farm or out in the desert. And it's this insane event where it's like they're all long banquet, long, like farm tables, and they put up chandeliers in the trees. And I mean, it is the most insane. I have not been able to go to one, but they the people that I know have gone to them and the photos I've seen of the events are just insane. Like and it I could absolutely see something like that, like.
Laura: What I want to do. Like I really like I think that like in another life, like I would be in like. I just love pulling people together and like getting to know people that I've never met before. Like having them, like, kind of a part of, like, this thing that we're creating and, like, feeling a part of it. Like, I'm so ready for that now. Like after. Absolutely. I'm just so lots of ideas growing. But but yeah. So we're going to have like, like I said, like 5 to 7 brands like Laundry Day is someone that we're really hoping to carry. Like, I know we've seen her pipes, but they're gorgeous and like filled trip rolling papers. Like her rolling papers are gorgeous and they're like, all natural and like, like biodegradable and all the things. So, yeah, so like the curation side of opening the space has been actually really fun for people like us, you know.
Laura: Like I'm like.
Laura: I hope I don't.
Michelle: Wait to see. I can't because you've only, you've only showed a little bit of the store on your Instagram, right? Yeah.
Laura: Just like we haven't even I have more. We were in indie beauty and excuse me like a couple of weeks ago, which she had a lot more of, like the layout of the store. It's like super tiny, but we've done even more stuff like since then to the front. Even so, I'll be sharing like kind of the whole rollout like on July 10th. And I think we'll have like all the brands that I want to have in shop by the end of summer.
Laura: So I can't wait to see this unfold on, on Instagram. Like I, it's just like I'm so excited for you and what you're doing and it's just, it's so exciting. Where do you see essay in ten years?
Laura: Definitely like I think that that the growing backwards thing it's really put into perspective what I want for essay and I think that a lot of questions have been answered. You know we've gotten a lot of people that have asked for more skin care, more skin care, but there's so many skincare brands out there these days. Like I come from, like I said, like a background of skincare. It's just like something that I love and I like to geek over, but I really see essay becoming more of a like a mental health brand. And my dream and goal for essay is to eventually be a conscious part of the voices here in western North Carolina that get to be a part of legalization and introducing medical and recreational recreational cannabis to the masses. And a big thing about that is to really like want to do more partnerships with women owned farms and brands and really make sure that really everybody that are more in the marginalized communities are lifted up as well. That's just something I'm super honestly angry about at this point. So I, I think I've been like kind of like taking the past couple of months to really think about how we can be even more a part of the solution. Like I've always been very vocal about the fact that and I said this earlier, it's just, you know, for people to still be in jail for weed, it's just like, wow, to me. And so I want to make sure that essay continues to be like on the right side of that conversation and make.
Michelle: Sure how that is.
Laura: I it's, you know, the war on, you know, if you really like sit down with it to like go through all that's happened. It's just like so in your face with, like, the war on drugs is essentially. When after black and brown communities and completely tore them apart. And still, even to this day, black men are like way more likely to be arrested for weed and put in jail for like a decent amount of time to forever. And there's the I want to say in Mississippi, what is it called like this three strikes law, where if you get like three, like I think it's like very small things, but like.
Michelle: Shoplifting a candy bar and.
Laura: A candy bar, like a tiny bit of weed. And maybe you, like, get caught with, like a joint, like you can go to jail forever. And, like, there are still people serving those sentences. And just like things like that, I like. Like we're going to I've always said this if we're going to be a CBD company and benefiting in this space, you know, I definitely feel like it's a part of all of our responsibilities as collective brands to make sure we're talking about these things on any platform and, you know, navigating that from like the most conscious space. So that's definitely like the bigger picture I feel like for essay is to become a legal brand and really fighting the system at this point. And I think we're we're a lot closer than we were even even a year ago. Obviously, like a lot, a lot closer. I think that recreational cannabis is just only a small, tiny step away to helping people that have been in jail for years and years on like a small amount of something that people are smoking every day in the streets.
Michelle: I wonder if if when it is legalized, if the people that are still in jail for these stupid crimes from years ago, if they will be let out.
Speaker3: Yes. So that's usually like...
Laura: Like it should. I mean, I try to follow this like pretty up close and personal, but like that would be kind of. The biggie. Like if we're going to do this, then we have to like kind of like write our wrongs from the past and like, people deserve like the second chance if we're going to all, like, navigate towards legalization. And that one of the biggest brands that which they actually got shut down today, their Instagram got shut down and they're mainly an educational based brand is inclusive. Definitely check them out if you're listening. But like they can inclusive at c, a, n n c l u asi be exclusive. And basically they just want to just share inclusive cannabis companies and basically talking about these bigger issues within cannabis at the moment and navigating like how we can all help and like be a part of the solution if you're in cannabis or if you're interested in getting in cannabis, or if you have a CBD brand, kind of like how to do your part. And they have like this list that they launched with. I want to say it's almost consulting where it's like called the Cannabis Accountability List, which basically shares like who especially in big cannabis, kind of like big ag, but like big cannabis, like who's kind of walking their talk and like really like helping kind of like propel the conversation forward and like kind of make sure that we're all working towards like equity for all of cannabis. And a lot of people are like, well, you know, like I've heard before, like is CBD technically like a cannabis company but like it is, it is like if you're, if you're in hemp or if you're in high THC, it's still a part of cannabis as a whole. They're still the same plant. So yeah.
Michelle: The last question the last question is what advice would you give somebody starting up a CBD wellness business? CBD or a CBD wellness business.
Laura: I think that, like, I would definitely. Say, you know, it's not. There's just so many things that are not normal about launching a CBD based business versus other industry verticals, and you'll probably find that out very quickly. But I truly believe that the cannabis industry as a whole right now, both hemp and THC, I think that is such a cool, close knit, really magical community. And like if you really want to be a part of it, you can find a space. I think that depending on what kind of product you want to launch, like just reach out to people like me. I think that was kind of like what I mean, what I did with Michelle is like, reach out to people that you look up to and that you really want to be with and work with and be like and try to ask them questions and not to. I think the other big thing on the other side is like don't ask for free advice. Like, like taking up people's time and always like, oh, hey. But I think if you come in obviously with good intentions and you really believe in the space that you're in, around entering, which nine times out of ten, if you want to enter this space, you've got a really great story and you're really here to help people. So it really just kind of comes down to like finding your people and there will be people that will help because I think that the space is so open and like especially like a lot of women owned brands, there's so many spaces that you can join on Facebook, on Instagram like Clubhouse we were talking about earlier and just ask questions on those platforms and you definitely will get the advice, if you like, to start to start rolling. It's a lot, but it's worth it.
Michelle: Thank you so much for this. I mean, I could continue to talk to you for hours.
Laura: This is great. I'm so glad we had a chance to chat.
Michelle: And that is a wrap. Thank you all so much for joining.
Michelle: me on today's episode. I really appreciate it. And be sure to tune in every Wednesday for more stories and lessons from a life in retail. And don't forget to follow us on Instagram at Retail whore Podcast, and you can find us online at the retailwhorepodcast.com