Do not believe what you hear about people until you have had your own experience with them. There’s so many haters in cannabis and some of the people I love the most in this space are the most hated people in the industry, and the reason for that is simple — they’re killing the game. One of my favorite guys in the industry is someone who I had heard the worst rumors about, and he’s actually an amazing person. He simply does not tolerate any B/S. Lesson: Lies have speed. The truth has endurance.
As a part of my series about strong women leaders in the cannabis industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kelly Dooley.
Kelly Dooley is the owner and CEO of KANNA KINGDOM, which is a licensed cannabis distributor and manufacturing facility in Long Beach, California. Dooley was previously the originator and Creative Director of the well-known athletic company, BodyRock Sport.
The activewear brand incorporated high-fashion details, luxurious embellishments and unique hardware all while maintaining the high-performance and functionality component of the covetable items. Dooley was quickly deemed a true pioneer of glamorous athleisure wear — making females feel confident and powerful.
The ding that she made in the world of fitness and fashion culminated in a Ted talk back in 2013, where she tackled the question, “Why hasn’t this been done before?” Dooley asked the same question when she entered the cannabis industry and is thus charting new territory with her innovative and forward thinking approach. It should be no surprise that her entire executive team is female.
Kelly is currently developing female friendly CBD and THC goods that invite all women to experience cannabis, and working to build a unique online community that celebrates the new legal lifestyle. KANNA KINGDOM’s product offerings lead with the mantra ‘Health is the Truest Wealth’; by utilizing top-of-the-line clean ingredients that deliver enhancement and wellness in everyday life all while incorporating sleek design-oriented packaging.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the cannabis industry?
I first delved into the cannabis industry in October 2017 when I was working for a company called Dr. Patchwells, which was a nanotechnology company specializing in time release topical patches, that launched in March 2018. The top seller was the 120 mg CBD patches. People randomly started asking me if I had access to CBD Isolate, so I used my network and educated myself about the differences between CBD and THC and dove headfirst into cannabis. I saw the white space in the precarious world of cannabis and knew that I’d make an impact simply by being MYSELF, combining my education with my passion for entrepreneurship to blaze a new trail in s space that so badly needs integrity and innovation. I purchased my first licensed cannabis company, Kanna Kingdom, in Long Beach, in November 2019. We have our distribution license as well as our type 7 manufacturing license. I also started Luxe Branding Haus, which is a full service creative agency intended to elevate cannabis through poignant branding, back in June 2020, in addition to Luxe Rebellion Styling Haus, which fuses my experience in fashion and luxury marketing with cannabis. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for the cannabis industry. But what I’ve done is brought my relentless drive to bring a fresh, innovative and luxurious perspective, distilled from years of real life experience, expert opinions, and extensive market research, into an industry that so desperately needs to be elevated and de-stigmatized. Cannabis is TRUE MEDICINE, and I believe that while you may have all the money in the world, if you do not have your health — which includes emotional and mental — you are absolutely broke. There’s ZERO traffic in my lane.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Welp. every day is interesting. On the next episode of “The Cannabis Files…”
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I do not find any of the mistakes that I have made very amusing, as each experience has been rather costly, but I have been very naive at times. When I first got into the industry, a CBD isolate manufacturer really got over on me and the mistake I made was wiring him funds and then NEVER receiving the product that I had ordered. The lesson was to do more due diligence. I now have a silent partner who can sniff B/S a thousand miles away. He’s brought our overhead down tremendously by extricating the leeches that have taken extreme advantage of my kindness. I do not make ANY financial decisions without his approval, which has been incredibly liberating for me, as I can now focus on what I love, which is branding, customer relations, design, fashion and sales.
Do you have a funny story about how someone you knew reacted when they first heard you were getting into the cannabis industry?
Shockingly, no. Everyone who is close to me knows that I am very passionate about holistic health and that I am a serial entrepreneur. Thus, I do not think that my latest venture has been much of a surprise to those who know me to my core.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
As cliche as it may sound, I am grateful for my Mom, who is the quintessential example of the American Dream, and my business partner, who has opened my eyes to the true nature of so many people in my life who had taken advantage of me. We move in silence and only speak when it’s time to say checkmate. Due to the fact that our backgrounds are completely different, combined, we have a very sharp set of tools that enable us, as a team, to navigate each and every scenario, intelligently with the utmost respect, which is a necessity in this industry. We win because we don’t play games. We talk the talk, and we walk the walk.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yes, we are currently in the process of starting a non-profit organization that will help a vast array of people in need. I am very passionate about domestic violence awareness, mental health awareness, social equity and suicide prevention. I will reveal more details when the time is right. I want to create a life of significance and inspire those around me as well as those who stumble upon my story. When a true leader walks in the room, followers feel intimidated and snakes feel threatened, but the next leaders feel inspired. I offend some but I inspire more, and that’s my demographic.
Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. Despite great progress that has been made we still have a lot more work to do to achieve gender parity in this industry. According to this report in Entrepreneur, less than 25 percent of cannabis businesses are run by women. In your opinion or experience, what 3 things can be done by a)individuals b)companies and/or c) society to support greater gender parity moving forward?
(1) Women cannot put all of their eggs in one basket. They need to commit to their long-term vision while at the same time realizing the importance of capitalizing on current market trends to cover their overhead.
(2) Putting and keeping women in powerful positions to help direct and pioneer the industry from every angle.
(3) I find that a lot of women in the industry come across as “too feminist” or “too empowered.” I am all about female empowerment but it’s important to not alienate men in the process.
You are a “Cannabis Insider”. If you had to advise someone about 5 non intuitive things one should know to succeed in the cannabis industry, what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each.
(1) Do not believe what you hear about people until you have had your own experience with them. There’s so many haters in cannabis and some of the people I love the most in this space are the most hated people in the industry, and the reason for that is simple — they’re killing the game. One of my favorite guys in the industry is someone who I had heard the worst rumors about, and he’s actually an amazing person. He simply does not tolerate any B/S. Lesson: Lies have speed. The truth has endurance.
(2) Expect problems c You truly have to build obstacles into your business plan. We face new challenges almost every day. You’d be surprised what you can get by simply asking! The worst thing someone can say is NO, and they usually say YES especially when you have a proven track record.
Negotiating terms with a cultivator who is typically COD is a perfect example.
(3) It’s the work that no one sees that matters the most.
On social media, people just see the highlight reel for the most part. But people need to spend less time on their captions and more time on their actions. I work an average of 90 hours per week, which is more than double the average person. If it’s your calling, it will keep calling you. And that is exactly what has happened for me in the cannabis industry. I have so much faith in God’s plan that I. do not even get upset anymore when something does not go my way, as I simply get redirected to what is meant for me, and it works out EVERY SINGLE TIME for the better.
(4) Be authentic! In order to get what you truly want in life, you must first be who you really are. I hear so many ridiculous rumors — it’s like US Weekly, The Cannabis Edition. What others think about me is NONE of my business. I know who I am and all the kindness that I pour into the world comes back to me tenfold.
(5) If you want to be great, deliver the unexpected. Our facility is gorgeously designed — there’s a plethora of custom made chairs and Versace wallpaper, among many other aesthetically pleasing design elements — that leave a lasting impression. Most licensed facilities are an eyesore. We value our clients, our employees and our vendors, and you can feel that energy and level of appreciation the second you step foot in my building.
(6) Walk with trust. I have the guts and the vision to blaze a new trail in the cannabis industry and no one has ever managed to steer me off course since I first embarked on this journey. Do not get sidetracked by who are not even on the track. We’ve created the LVMH of cannabis in an industry that is swarming in crustaceans.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the cannabis industry?
(1) Cannabis is a new industry and we’re the trailblazers. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to help shape an industry that is in its infancy.
(2) The opportunity for innovative and luxurious branding.
(3) The ability to de-stigmatize and bring social equity into an industry that truly helps people achieve true health.
Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you only continued success!