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“Things I wish I knew before” With Victoria Barksdale

Three things that excite me about cannabis would be the research that is starting to trickle out, the economy, and the different facets within the cannabis industry. Three things that concern me about the industry: the lack of regulation, misleading marketing, and overall lack of transparency. As part of my series about “5 Things I […]

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Three things that excite me about cannabis would be the research that is starting to trickle out, the economy, and the different facets within the cannabis industry. Three things that concern me about the industry: the lack of regulation, misleading marketing, and overall lack of transparency.

As part of my series about “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis Business” I had the pleasure of interviewing Victoria Barksdale.

Victoria Barksdale was raised on a ranch in West Texas with her three siblings and parents. She went on to obtain her Bachelor degree and Master of Science degree at Texas A&M University, where she majored in Agriculture, Leadership, Education and Communication with an emphasis in Commercial Real Estate. She is now the majority owner of Texas Tonix — a natural health alternatives store that primarily carries cannabis products. She is proud to offer trustworthy CBD products to her fellow Texans!

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Ialways knew I wanted to work for my family growing up. I come from a family of entrepreneurs and as I was finishing up my Masters at Texas A&M University in 2019, my father was thinking about entering into the cannabis / CBD industry. As graduation neared, he finally asked if I wanted to partner with him and open a CBD retail shop called Texas Tonix. At the time it felt like something I’d be doing to help him out. Now I am running the retail store and feel very blessed to be passionate about what I do.

2. 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 have several customers who are cancer survivors, or customers that are currently fighting cancer. I tend to spend much more time talking with these individuals than I do with the average customer because people with cancer are automatically going to need a much higher dosage of CBD to see the benefits. One customer that really touched me was an elderly woman who would call in every month to place her order. The first time I spoke to her, we probably talked for two hours about her husband’s treatment, his battle with cancer and different CBD options. We have a website that you can order from online, but she was more comfortable calling in and speaking with me on the phone. To be honest, I enjoyed hearing from her and hearing how her husband was doing each month. One day, she called me out of the blue to let me know that she would not be purchasing any more products because her husband had passed away. It touched me that amid her husband’s passing, she took the time to call me and thank me for all of my help. She told me that the CBD had helped him sleep better and helped to relieve his upset stomach from the medications. The fact that we had fostered a relationship strong enough to warrant her calling me to let me know what had happened made me realize that I was not crazy to be so concerned about spending as much time as I do with my customers. Fostering these special interpersonal relationships and hearing touching stories like this woman’s is why I love this business.

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?

Recently, my father and I had a full day of meetings scheduled. The first two were in Austin, and the other three planned for the afternoon were in Killeen, which is about an hour away. The first meeting of the day went off seamlessly. When we got to the second one, I was on the phone with the owner of the distribution center discussing their products when my father hands me a large square purple gummy and mouths, “try this.” I tried one as soon as I got off the phone and it tasted so great that I wanted another! The man behind the counter informed me that it was 10 mg of CBD and explained that he eats about 4 to 5 of the gummies in a day. My dad liked it too — so much so that he decided to take a picture of the packaging so that we might find the product for our own stores. Finally, it was time to head back to Killeen for our next meeting. I was excited and ready to go to the next meeting, thrilled with how well both of the first two meetings of the day went! However, about 30 minutes into the hour-long drive back to Killeen, I started feeling weird. All my extremities felt limp like noodles, and I was relaxed to the point where I was having a hard time staying awake. I sat up straight, gripped the steering wheel harder, and started thinking, “why do I feel this way? Am I getting sick; what’s going on?” I started going through all the possibilities in my head when I looked over at my father, and noticed that his cowboy hat was practically touching his belly because he was sound asleep! That’s when it hit me. “What was that gummy you gave me?!” I asked. His eyes flew open, and he said, “is that why I feel this way?” When we finally made it home, we both took a four-hour nap. Come to find out, those little gummies were not legal in the state of Texas. They were Delta Nine THC gummies! This experience helped me to learn that you can not just trust packaging. We had to look up the company to find out that what we had eaten was THC. Now I am much more careful when I try products or samples!

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

We just finished setting up our loyalty and rewards program along with our auto-ship program for our customers. We are now working on what I’m calling our wholesale hub, where our wholesalers can purchase our products and get in-depth insight into each new item. We are also currently working on obtaining a license to grow cannabis on our ranch in West Texas! Once it meets the criteria for our manufacturers, we will have them process the flower and then send it right back to Texas to be sold in our stores.

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?

I am so grateful to have my father as my business partner. I would highly recommend that anyone thinking about going into business for themselves have a partner with an entirely different skill-set than them. I also think that it helps that he’s of an older generation, while I’m a millennial. It makes for a much stronger, well-rounded partnership. There are, of course, times I think he is too old and I want to pinch his head off, but at the end of the day he has been in business a long time, and I find myself in awe by the effortless way he handles tough business situations.

This industry is young dynamic and creative. Do you use any clever and innovative marketing strategies that you think large legacy companies should consider adopting?

The one that comes to mind is visual imagery. Most people do not want to have to sit down and read a ton of content. Since cannabis interacts with our bodies in a variety of ways, getting the message across through marketing can get complicated. It’s been very useful being able to show how CBD interacts with the body visually, through diagrams and charts, rather than paragraphs of text. Even though the paragraph might have more information, the person that you were trying to relay that message to will take more away from the graphic or imagery. So, we’ve found that people appreciate us making our products and information easily digestible through lots of great graphics, photos and diagrams.

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

Three things that excite me about cannabis would be the research that is starting to trickle out, the economy, and the different facets within the cannabis industry. Three things that concern me about the industry: the lack of regulation, misleading marketing, and overall lack of transparency.

Can you share your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis Business”? Please share a story or example for each

That business to business interactions with other companies such as insurance, credit card processors, and banks will be an uphill battle. I wish I would have known the time and effort it would take to have to educate them, even more than a customer, on the products and what being a CBD company entails. Their lack of understanding of this market makes it difficult to get tings done. Each one of these institutions has different stipulations and rules you have to follow to do business with them and to even be able to call yourself a CBD company, and nothing is standardized. If you change credit card processors, for instance, you would have to completely redo your protocols to meet the criteria for that credit card processor. CBD is still very much a taboo in most households, and it seems that that also extends to these other businesses. I also wish someone had told me how willing people seem to be to take advantage of small business, whether it be vendors or business to business.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

Train your people and give them the tools to be as confident as possible when talking about your business and products. I’ve gone as far as to encourage my employees to try the products and I give them a 40% discount on any purchase. The goal behind that is that when you have tried the product personally, you see the great benefits you can get from them and you’re able to confidently and truthfully speak about them. In other words, it adds another level of transparency and trust that I think is so important in businesses.

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

If I could inspire a movement to bring about good, it would be making honesty and integrity of the utmost importance in business (and life)! Although it sounds simple, I believe that a movement centered around fostering and encouraging these values will lay a solid and transparent foundation and will bring about positive change to many.

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