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“This industry has allowed women like me to break the glass ceiling”with Priscilla Vilchis and Len Giancola

What excites me about the industry is how many people are going to benefit from its use, how it has allowed women like me to break the glass ceiling and how a crazy idea turned into a billion-dollar industry. However, I am concerned at how some companies are starting to look more like corporate America […]

What excites me about the industry is how many people are going to benefit from its use, how it has allowed women like me to break the glass ceiling and how a crazy idea turned into a billion-dollar industry. However, I am concerned at how some companies are starting to look more like corporate America and less diverse, plus the fact that not having access to banking is affecting our industry and leaving people out of the game, especially minorities.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Priscilla Vilchis. Priscilla is a self-made business magnate and the youngest and first-ever minority female CEO to be awarded licenses to cultivate and produce medical and retail in Nevada and California. Her state-of-the art cultivation facility, Premium Produce, is just a few miles from the new Raiders’ stadium and the Las Vegas Strip where she grows and packages her sophisticated brand inspired by her Latin roots, Reina. Vilchis is a pioneer in the industry — breaking several financial, cultural and gender barriers while taking a jab at the stereotypes of consumers by introducing a brand, that is sustainable and innovative, packaged in curvy and beautiful glass jars. Vilchis also recently launched a 1000mg Full Spectrum Reina Extra Strength CBD tincture line; which contains some of the purest of ingredients to maximize the effects on its consumers. Vilchis’s ultimate goal is to generate reimbursements from health insurance providers for medical and pave the way for other minority women in the industry.


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?

I had the unique opportunity to work in the healthcare field before entering the industry. I witnessed firsthand the unfortunate crippling display of the ongoing opioid crisis. This prompted me to seek alternatives for individuals taking opioid medications for pain management, children diagnosed with epilepsy and suffering seizures, as well as the elderly enduring acute and chronic pain like osteoarthritis. I came across marijuana during my research and I meet adults and children whose life had changed when they started consuming . People called me crazy when I decided to leave my lucrative business to invest in an industry that was so new with an uncertain future. Today those same people call me a genius.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Unfortunately, I have had my business and even personal accounts seized and closed because my name is associated to the marijuana industry. Management from my previous bank saw me on a CNN interview talking about , and even though I had not yet sold or produced any marijuana products, the bank labeled me as a “high risk’’ client and closed all my accounts. Not having access to banking has caused me a lot of headaches and business setbacks. I pay my taxes in cash, I have to hire extra security and self-finance many unexpected costs.

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 thought I would be able to get financed by a bank to buy a building for my grow house in Las Vegas. I had already invested so much money and I thought everything was going smoothly so I went on vacation with my grandmother to Europe. I got a call from my lawyer and he said I had about 24 hours to come up with 2 million dollars! 2 million dollars cash! If I did not, I would lose the building and I would lose my chance at getting the licenses to operate my business in Nevada. I call that the “2 million dollar day”. The funniest mistake I ever made was letting my guard down for a minute in the industry. I learned that we always have to be prepared for the unexpected and that your dream will test you to the max before you see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Are you working on any exciting projects now?

An exciting project we are currently working on is diversifying our company to be the preferred CBD oil for medicinal uses. This has been a long awaited projected and I am beyond thrilled to launch and make public. This project has required a lot of compliance and regulations that we had to overcome until we finally received our hemp handlers license. I am very proud of my team for working day and night to make my dream become a reality.

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?

My mother Irma Vilchis is someone I am extremely grateful for. Even though she grew up with a terrifying perspective on marijuana and of the people who consumed it — she opened her heart and mind to support me. Today, she works alongside me.

She has been my rock from the very beginning. Her unquestionable support has given me the much-needed push to get through the hardships I have experienced. My mom has helped my business grow and thrive by getting all the necessary licenses filled, assisting with payroll, and much more.

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?

I am a firm believer in being genuine and transparent with everyone. A lot of companies spend so much time on marketing their products and forget that the quality of their products are as important as the people working around the clock to make it possible. Everyone has a story and we are not building trust or empowering people if we just market products and forget to connect with our consumers by sharing our stories. Our own products are made by women, by people from different walks of life and different parts of the world. When you buy our products you are buying from a woman who maybe shouldn’t have been there because she was raised in a traditional Catholic home, because it’s a male-dominated industry, because her mother is an immigrant, because her skin color is different, because she’s not in it just for the money but rather to change the world. We let people know our story and that is our unique approach to an industry so focused on putting profits over people.

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

What excites me about the industry is how many people are going to benefit from its use, how it has allowed women like me to break the glass ceiling and how a crazy idea turned into a billion-dollar industry. However, I am concerned at how some companies are starting to look more like corporate America and less diverse, plus the fact that not having access to banking is affecting our industry and leaving people out of the game, especially minorities.

Can you share the 5 questions you should ask in order to successfully invest in the industry”? Please share a story or an example for each.

Five questions that come to mind are: Do you have the capital? Are you willing to make personal sacrifices? Are you ready to put the time in? Are you prepared for fluctuating compliance laws that arise every month? Do you have the balls and ovaries to go up against a male dominated industry? I ask myself these five questions every time I feel like relinquishing. I repeat these questions to myself to motivate me that I am here and have come all this way because these 5 paradoxes have made me into the young, self-made, minority woman that I am today.

All these questions represent a piece of me, and those pieces paint a picture that shows the hurdles I have had to subdue in order to be where I am today.

I’ve had to pull myself from my bootstraps to self-fund my dream because no bank would finance me. I had to gamble thousands of dollars because bidding for the marijuana licenses assures you nothing. I had to come up with $2 million dollars in 24 hours because If I did not buy the building for my business with my own money — I would not get approved for the licenses.

I’ve made personal sacrifices and have spent more time working than with family and friends. I have canceled vacations and I barely sleep.

Are you ready to put the time in is a given and any CEO should know the golden rule, “shit or get off the pot?” You must be willing to put in weekends and holidays when you are first launching your business. I am putting in 100+ hour work weeks, 14+ hour days. I email my executive assistant at nocturnal hours of the night. So, you must be willing to put the time in!

You also have to be ready for the unexpected. To be honest, I don’t think anyone is ready for fluctuating compliance laws that sporadically come up any given time. In order to tackle this, you must have triumphant team where we collectively all work on addressing and making any necessary changes. We are obsequious to the state and must meet their requests, and we rightfully do so to maintain compliance.

Female or male, you need the balls and ovaries — figuratively — especially when you are going up against some heavy hitters, individuals that have connections, multi-millionaires, people that have more experience than the years that you have been alive. I knew since day one I would have to have a thick skin and that I was not going to allow myself to be pushed around or be bullied by individuals. This is a promising equal playing field where anyone and everyone is welcome to try. I have to work three times as hard as the heavy-hitters.

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

The advice that I would give other CEOs to help their employees thrive is: Keep navigating, we are setting the stage for everyone to emulate serving as a professional model and someone to look up to. I sometimes suit up and go into the trim room to trim with staff after a 14-hour shift and running on no sleep because labels are on their way over. I’ve been stickering till 2:00am, elbow to elbow with my team, finishing last minute orders. I am extremely involved on the day to day operations and I believe my employees respect me more for that as well as the dispensaries I sell to.

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 any group of individuals, I would hope to motivate minority women and minorities in general. We all originate from somewhere and sometimes all it takes is one person to influence the world. I would want minorities to see anyone can achieve something that seem unfathomable. If you have or can get the capital, willing to make personal sacrifices and put the overtime in, open to change, and have the balls to stand up for you believe in, you can and you will! My ultimate goal is to generate reimbursements from health insurance providers for medical and pave the way for other minorities in the industry by sharing my experiences and also by helping propose legislation that would allow people to get business loans to enter the industry.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

The best way for our readers to follow us on social media is Instagram @Hollyweedqueen & @ReinaLV

Thank you for all of these great insights!

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