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“Encourage female leaders” With Len Giancola, Thea Wayne and Jordan Darian

Everyone thinks you have money! — One of the most interesting phenomenons we’ve come across is when you work in the cannabis industry, you constantly get charged excessive rates or fees. With the reputation that cannabis can be an extremely lucrative business at times, people assume you have cash to spend. We have been in multiple […]

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Everyone thinks you have money! — One of the most interesting phenomenons we’ve come across is when you work in the cannabis industry, you constantly get charged excessive rates or fees. With the reputation that cannabis can be an extremely lucrative business at times, people assume you have cash to spend. We have been in multiple situations where we compare costs to brands across different industries and are overwhelmingly quoted higher than others.


As a part of my series about strong women leaders in the cannabis industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Thea Wayne and Jordan Darian of Humble Flower

Thea Wayne, Founder:

Thea Wayne has had an entrepreneurial spirit since childhood and became immersed in the rapidly-evolving cannabis industry while attending Humboldt State University. Shortly after graduating, Thea traveled to Nepal, where she volunteered with a women’s agricultural cooperative to develop an internet platform for fundraising and provide business training. After returning, her vision for Humble Flower was formed after recognizing the need for quality topical cannabis products on the market in California. Thea is passionate about business development, brand strategy and community engagement.

Jordan Darian, Co-Founder:

Jordan Darian brings over a decade of experience in cannabis cultivation and sales, with a passion for its healing benefits. While living in Humboldt County, Jordan worked closely with experienced cannabis farmers that taught her how to successfully grow and harvest the plant. As a natural-born creative with an eye for beauty, Jordan has extensive experience in commercial photography, product design and marketing strategy. Jordan oversees Humble Flower’s creative team, ensuring all branding assets and visuals maintain elevated and cohesive. Her artistic vision and passion for design is prominent throughout the Humble Flower’s aesthetic, from its packaging to marketing assets, product development and design.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the cannabis industry?

Jordan Darian: I was always interested in cannabis as I was able to experience the powerful healing benefits of the plant firsthand. In 2009, I was presented with the opportunity to move across the country to Humboldt, California to live near a close family friend who provided me with the opportunity to learn how to cultivate cannabis through their mentorship. With extensive experience in the cannabis industry, they were well-versed and passionate about the entire process which made me truly fall in love with the industry.

Thea WayneGrowing up in a small town in Alaska, I always knew I wanted to move out of state, and Arcata, California was the perfect fit. I moved to Humboldt County to attend college at Humboldt State University and was introduced to the cannabis cultivation process shortly after meeting Jordan. Our friendship was instant and I soon began trimming cannabis with her to pay my way through school. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, which inspired me to explore other opportunities within the market, and I soon began experimenting with cannabis-infused butter, cookies and balms which I would sell to my friends for fun.

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?

J/T: A real turning point for Humble Flower was when we were acquired by Indus Holdings.

After the legalization of cannabis, the industry was in a place of turmoil and confusion, leaving Humble Flower in need of a licensing partner. Our main mission was to find a like-minded company that would support Humble Flower’s goals and brand values. At the time we were a small company that didn’t want to get pushed out by larger brands, or have to change the brand to one that wasn’t authentically us. Indus took an immediate interest in Humble Flower. They were looking for a premium topical brand and loved that we were female-founded. Since there is such a small percentage of women in the cannabis industry, they appreciated our unique perspective and experience. Indus was an already established leader in the distribution and manufacturing industry, and after our first meeting we knew they were the perfect fit for us.

Through this process, we learned that forces can be stronger together and it’s vital to have a business partner with the same shared values and goals. We feel lucky to have found one that has been supportive of our vision from day one.

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?

J/T: When we first decided to scale the business and make products in bulk, we did not fully understand the magnitude of the quantities we were ordering. Our homes essentially became storage units for the company during the first year, and were filled to the brim with packing peanuts, vats of lotion and empty bottles waiting to be filled. We quickly learned the importance of order size and inventory management!

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?

T: Yes! My mother Jennifer Baker. She was integral in the inception and creation of Humble Flower, supporting me emotionally through the journey of being a young entrepreneur, as well as from a business perspective. She is a nurse, and herbalist, with a deep passion for plants and healing. She inspired many of the essential oil blends in the Humble Flower products that are now available nationwide. She continues to support the brand to this day by being an invaluable resource, consulting with us on product ideas, and bringing her expertise in the medical and wellness space to the brand.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

J: We are excited to continue expanding the line within the beauty and wellness category by adding new products in 2020. By bringing Humble Flower into the mainstream market, we hope more customers will see the benefits of CBD and cannabis products and experience the powerful healing properties they offer. We are always striving to educate our consumer and the general public on how our products can improve their lives by lowering stress and anxiety, reducing inflammation, and relieving chronic pain.

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?

J/T: 3 things that can be done to support great gender parity moving forward are:

  1. Consumers making an effort to empower female-founded companies by investing in their products and supporting their vision.
  2. Hire more women executives within the cannabis industry!
  3. Encourage female leaders to share their story and guide by example to increase awareness and create a supportive community for other women in the cannabis space.

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.

T/J:

Resilience — We work in an industry with ever-changing rules and regulations. You need to be prepared for the unexpected and be ready to change anything, anytime with little to no lead time. New laws and protocols are announced constantly and if your product does not meet the new standards, you have to scrap everything and start from scratch, or figure out how to quickly pivot from the initial plan. It can be extremely frustrating and fast-paced, so resilience is key!

Education — When you are in the cannabis and CBD industry, you are immediately looked at as an expert in this space and need to be prepared to answer detailed and difficult questions. Science and research behind cannabis and CBD is ongoing, so we are learning new things everyday and are expected to keep up with the rapidly changing news cycle. Additionally, it’s important to be extremely informed on every single aspect of our products as we consistently get asked about specific benefits, strains, ingredients, farming details, etc. and it is our responsibility to fully inform your consumer and retailers.

Regulations — Staying on top of the current laws and regulations is an integral part in working within our industry. The legalities of cannabis are extremely complex, so it is our job to stay informed and have a deep level of understanding of where everything currently stands.

Prioritize your time — As the market is rapidly growing, there are endless events and opportunities going on that we’re asked to participate in on a daily basis. It’s important to be able to sort through them and pick out the events that would be most beneficial for the brand. Having an expert in the space that can evaluate each opportunity’s value is key, so no one is wasting valuable time and resources without a positive return.

Everyone thinks you have money! — One of the most interesting phenomenons we’ve come across is when you work in the cannabis industry, you constantly get charged excessive rates or fees. With the reputation that cannabis can be an extremely lucrative business at times, people assume you have cash to spend. We have been in multiple situations where we compare costs to brands across different industries and are overwhelmingly quoted higher than others.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the cannabis industry?

One of the most exciting things for us in the cannabis space is paving the way as first time industry leaders. Being part of an industry that is so young, new, and driven creates a space for creativity to flourish and lots of strong relationships to form. We have the ability to speak up and be a voice for those who are not heard and hope to serve as role models for other future female entrepreneurs trying to make their way into the cannabis industry.

Another exciting opportunity we are blessed to have is the ability to create brand new product innovations that have never been seen before. As we entered into the industry at an early stage of legalization, we feel like the opportunities ahead of us to be creative and expand into more offerings in the wellness space are endless.

Lastly, one of our favorite parts about working in our industry is receiving positive feedback from our customers who have experienced the medical and healing benefits of Humble Flower. Hearing the favorable reviews from our community on how the products have improved their quality of life gives us the motivation to continue evolving and improving the brand.

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?

J: One of the main concerns about the current state of the industry is the challenge for small businesses to enter into and survive in the market. There are so many loopholes and excess fees that small businesses have to face, and unless they have investors or partnerships to help them, they often get pushed out due to the capital needed upfront. To help reform this, we would suggest offering breaks for small businesses. If a business is under a certain number of employees or within it’s first few years of production, there should be certain programs set up to help them get their footing as they enter the industry for the first time.

Another concern of ours is the high taxation for customers. Many cannabis and CBD users are stunned by how much their products get taxed at checkout, leading to missed opportunities to grow a strong consumer base for brands, as well as increasing the likelihood they will seek out cheaper, black market products, leading to dangerous complications. One of the only reasons consumers are still outsourcing from the black market in legal states is due to the current price tags.

Lastly and possibly most importantly, is the lack of education within our industry is a huge concern. The government needs to support these efforts through the development and funding of education and research products across the country. As a brand, we do our best to educate our consumers and the community, yet there is still a stigma for a large percentage of the public who are largely misinformed and skeptical of its proven benefits.

What are your thoughts about 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?

T: It would be extremely exciting if cannabis becomes legal on a federal scale. While it would still be regulated on a state level, and while I think it would be challenging for states to implement the infrastructure (as it has been for states thus far), there will never be a perfect time. Federal legalization would mean exponentially larger market opportunities for brands that are limited to only selling their products in the state they operate in, and more opportunities for consumers who cannot currently access products to utilize the healing benefits of cannabis.

If I could speak to our senator regarding federal legalization, I would advocate for it on the basis that it would allow cannabis businesses to bank, open up the market for national sales, and lead to federal decriminalization.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“You get what you pay for.”

We chose this quote because it is relevant to both the industry as a whole, as well as our product line. When we developed Humble Flower, one of our main priorities was to create a product that would have the highest quality of ingredients to create luxury topicals for targeted relief. We wanted to ensure our products were as effective as possible while retaining an elevated look and feel. Starting with the plant grown by expert cultivators, our customers trust that Humble Flower products are tested, safe and exceed all industry standards. By encouraging people to pay a fraction more for legal, regulated products, we hope consumers will refrain from purchasing cheap, unregulated black market items that may contain unsafe or dangerous ingredients.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Education! If we were to inspire a movement, we would not only want the government to accurately inform the public more about cannabis and CBD research, but encourage consumers to educate themselves as well. We want to inspire curiosity, encourage others to ask questions and learn the benefits of cannabis firsthand so they can effectively utilize it in their everyday routines. With cannabis now more accessible than ever before, we hope community leaders embrace the movement and provide a safe environment to create a dialogue about cannabis use, benefits, risks and regulations. As a result, we aspire to reduce its stigma, spread its positive effects and encourage more mainstream retailers and skeptical consumers to feel comfortable and confident supporting the growing industry.

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