Be loud, and, no, I don’t mean by yelling and screaming, but by understanding your worth, that you are just as smart as any man at the table.
As a part of my series about strong women leaders in the cannabis industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Shana Lydle.
Shana is an accomplished and results-driven executive leader with over 20 years of experience in the beauty & CPG industries. She has extensive experience focusing on strategic customer/retailer development, brand & product development, sales generation, sales strategy, go-to-market strategy, and industry analysis. Shana has worked closely with some of the largest retailers and brands in the world and you can currently find many of her efforts seen in stores today across North America. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she now resides in Atlanta, Georgia.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the cannabis industry?
There are so many reasons why I ended up here. One of my main motivations, though, is my keen interest in producing top-tier beauty and wellness products that really work and are affordable. I have been in the business of developing and selling CPG items for almost 25 years. When the idea of developing CBD products came across my desk, I saw just how many brands out there were misinforming their consumer base or creating products that were unaffordable for most of the people who could actually benefit from using CBD. I decided that I had to do something and do it quickly. This passion for this work led me to MMG Consumer Brands (MMGCB), a specialist growth equity firm that targets passionate entrepreneurs and is dedicated to high-growth consumer brands looking to bring bold and innovative products to market. The MMGCB team of entrepreneurs, operators and investors was a perfect fit for creating KARIBO beauty and mintedLeaf wellness products and bringing them to the people who could most benefit from them.
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?
Interestingly enough, I have suffered from chronic pain due to past injuries, and like many of us today who are trying to do the best work we can, I don’t get enough sleep and that can bring on anxiety. Ironically, in the midst of focusing so intently on making good products for the benefit of others, I have sometimes overlooked how much better I feel and look after using my own products!
The takeaway here is that we all need to take the time to focus on our own well-being.
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?
The funniest mistake I’ve made was assuming that I was our target market. When you are in start-up mode, it is easy to think you have all the answers or that you are the ideal market, but creating a great product is really all about reaching new audiences, and you can only achieve this by daring to think outside of your comfort zone. Looking beyond myself, I learned that I don’t know what I don’t know. That lesson has served KARIBO and mintedLeaf products well.
In getting beyond seeing myself as the target market for KARIBO and mintedLeaf, I learned the value of being a better listener. When you take the time to listen more carefully, when you make that your focus, and open your mind to new possibilities for your product, you begin to see how much you can learn. This can come as a surprise, but it’s also kind of cool since I am a perpetual student, always looking to learn more.
Do you have a funny story about how someone you knew reacted when they first heard you were getting into the cannabis industry?
I didn’t just get a strong reaction from just one person. In fact, it seemed like everyone I had ever worked with in the past had something to say. It’s a good thing that I am a believer in never burning any bridges! The most common question was, “Wow, how do you have the time and patience to do it all?” But it’s never impossible when you believe in what you are doing and are driven by your conviction that so many people will be able to benefit from your hard work and dedication.
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 give thanks to all the people from my past experiences such as every former boss and every former buyer. It takes all those steps, encounters, relationships and lessons to lead you to where you are right now. And, I have to thank my family. They keep giving me the energy I need to never give up. Looking ahead, I also have to maintain an attitude of gratitude for all of those people I have yet to meet in my journey in life and business. I have always worked hard to be a good person and to do right by others along the way. So, I try to take the time to express my thanks to everyone around me, whether by word, gesture or attitude. It doesn’t matter where I am, whether at the bank, the grocery store, the office, or anywhere else, I’ve learned I’m never too busy to let people know I value them.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am always working on something new (CBD is one of the best raw ingredients I have ever come across — sooooo many ways to innovate here!) And I am just getting started. Within the world of CBD, however — aside from new products and sales — I spend most of the time trying to figure out how I can educate as many as possible. So many people have no idea how or why this ingredient could benefit them. We could have the best product in the world, but if no one knows how to use it then I feel we have not done our job.
As a result of these efforts, I expect that so many more people are going to look and feel better without breaking the bank!
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. Be loud, and, no, I don’t mean by yelling and screaming but by understanding your worth, that you are just as smart as any man at the table.
2. Be an example; the idea that there is strength in numbers is right.
3. Be nice. I do believe that success is about working together.
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. Know your why.
2. Be committed. Long-term success won’t happen overnight.
3. Know your channel: Is your product best served going after mass retail or the prestige market? If you don’t understand your ideal sales channel, and have the right channel strategy, chances are you will fail.
4. Know your costs.
5. Marketing Marketing Marketing.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the cannabis industry?
I’m so excited that we have made these amazing products that work and that are not overpriced. How in the heck are most Americans going to be able to afford a $150 CBD oil? I know that will never work. Don’t overthink it; most times keeping it simple is best. And be transparent!!
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 industry is not yet properly regulated, so it can be like the wild west out there, and you end up with people having reactions from untested brands. Often, because they don’t know how to properly use the product, they come to think it doesn’t work, and then they will never try it again, missing an opportunity.
To reform the industry, I would simply urge our legislators to continue to work towards creating a regulatory pathway for the retail sale of CBD-infused products.
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?
Listen, if these products can help people feel better, I am all for federal legalization. That said, I also think we need to be careful and ensure that products are tested and proven to be effective and safe before they ever go to market. I think we still have a long way to go in these areas.
CBD products are providing affordable and alternative methods for achieving health and wellness, while at the same time helping make people more aware of their health concerns. These products may also be a great help to families and individuals suffering under the weight of tremendous debt due to high medical costs.
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 want cannabis and CBD-infused products to be heavily regulated, for sure. We are just in the beginning stages of understanding this complex plant.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“There is no substitute for hard work” — Thomas Edison
I’ve had a job every day of my life since the age of 13. I am of the belief that hard work keeps you focused, shows dedication, gets you noticed, and keeps you productively busy.
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. 🙂
Be kind to everyone!
Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you only continued success!