Don’t be afraid to collaborate with companies in other industries that have a similar client base to cross-promote your product such as yoga studios, gyms, and wellness centers.
As a part of my series about strong women leaders in the cannabis industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Carla Joseph. Carla is a Nurse Practitioner with over 10 years of experience in the health and wellness space. She is an advocate of mental health being the foundation of your self-care routine. Beyond being an entrepreneur, Carla’s passions include spending time with her family, delicious food (she’s a major vegan foodie), leading a happy and healthier lifestyle, traveling and exploring new cultures and destinations. Carla currently lives in South Florida with her husband, her son and 2 daughters.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the cannabis industry?
Thank you so much! So I am a family nurse practitioner and I was introduced to CBD oil and used it for its amazing calming effects. Once I saw how amazing it was, I started to tell my patients about it. So then I thought to myself, this is something that we need, especially women who look like me. I became inspired to launch the Zula Essential CBD online and dedicate to the well-being of black women. The name “Zula” was inspired by my two daughters Zuri and Kamila. It was important for me to include them in this narrative as I am raising them to be Black women who embody all of the qualities that Zula represents- Harmony, Education, Equilibrium and Authenticity.
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?
I was at a networking event for my local chamber of commerce and some of the attendees looked genuinely surprised to know that I owned my company. Well, it’s always interesting to see people’s reactions when they hear that I’m the owner of the company. I’m fully aware that some people are surprised that I have ownership in the cannabis/CBD space and that’s why I need to be here, doing exactly what I’m doing-shattering the status quo and changing perceptions.
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 think one mistake that I made that I didn’t consider was how hard it would be to find a quality merchant processor and a shopping cart for my online store. In my mind, I figured I should have that stuff set up in a few days. Boy, was I wrong! It ended up taking almost a month to get everything together. It was definitely something that I underestimated. Looking back, I realized that I had not done enough research on what that process would look like in the CBD industry and the legalities around banking and merchant processing. Now, things are getting easier in the industry as more companies are offering merchant processing services.
Do you have a funny story about how someone you knew reacted when they first heard you were getting into the cannabis industry?
Well, a lot of people didn’t know what CBD was when I told I was starting my own CBD oil line. So after I explained to my cousin what cannabidiol(CBD) was and it’s attributed, she said: “SO basically you’re becoming a drug dealer.” And I’m like “wait, what???” It was so funny to me because after everything I just explained, that’s what she took away from it?? We had a good laugh after that!
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?
Besides my husband for always providing great advice and giving me room to grow, one person I have to credit is my good friend, Kenta. She has been a great source of inspiration as well as tangible, practical information when I need someone to bounce off ideas. I value her opinion both personally and professionally.
Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. Despite the 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?
The first thing that should be done is for society as a whole to acknowledge that there IS a gender gap in entrepreneurship. We cannot address something if it isn’t first acknowledged as being a deficit or a problem. Secondly, women entrepreneurs need more access to different sources of capital. Starting and running a business takes money. Period. So in order to be successful, women-owned businesses need greater access to funding to make that happen. Lastly, companies should invite women in leadership roles by creating a culture that celebrates and encourages women to be in leadership roles.
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.
- Make sure you know your target audience — Know who you would like to help and why. This is essential as there are so many CBD companies out there so you must have an audience niche.
- Take your time and truly vet your supplier to ensure that your hemp plants are grown and cultivated to the highest standards.
- If you are on a limited budget, start off selling the most popular products first such as CBD oil tinctures or gummies and add to your product line over time.
- Don’t be afraid to collaborate with companies in other industries that have a similar client base to cross-promote your product such as yoga studios, gyms, and wellness centers.
- Please try your products first personally before promoting to the masses! For example, Zula Essentials CBD oil is a daily part of my routine so it is easy for me to describe the effects to customers and also so I can genuinely representing my brand because I personally use my products.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the cannabis industry?
There are so many factors that make the industry exciting. My top 3 would definitely be the room for expansion as the industry continues to grow, new products that can be developed using CBD and the research continually being done on the ways that cannabis impacts the body and the health benefits.
Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?
- The consumer getting misleading information for CBD and cannabis in general. There is a lot of inaccurate information floating around online
- The uncertain landscape regarding regulations in banking and funding for CBD and cannabis companies
What are your thoughts about the federal legalization of cannabis? If you could speak to your Senator, what would be your most persuasive argument regarding why they should or should not pursue federal legalization?
Cannabis should definitely be legalized especially in light of the many potential positive effects it can have on the body from a medical standpoint.
Today, cigarettes are legal, but they are heavily regulated, highly taxed, and they are somewhat socially marginalized. Would you like cannabis to have a similar status to cigarettes or different? Can you explain?
I would definitely want cannabis and CBD to viewed differently from cigarettes. Cannabis and its counterparts are all-natural botanicals that have so many potential healing properties, unlike cigarettes.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Do it scared!” This has been my mantra from the very beginning of my entrepreneurial journey. SO many times, I have doubted myself because I get nervous or scared about how I may be perceived or how my company will be received, but I did it anyway! ANd it has been so rewarding.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Great question! Helping people get their mental health up to par and making time for self-care is major for me. I would love for everyone to have access to mental health services so that mental wellness can be given the priority it deserves. This is why Zula Essentials is so proud to donate to the Loveland Foundation, which is an organization that enables women to get access to therapy.
Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success!