A journey of healing, a passion for helping others, and a strong entrepreneurial spirit led Krystal Laferriere to the cannabis industry. Eight years ago Krystal was recovering from surgery due to Crohn's disease. In pain and searching for relief, she was desperate to find something natural. Then came cannabis. Krystal was amazed by just how much better she felt. Cannabis alleviated her symptoms dramatically. Her life has never been the same since. As a matter of fact, cannabis eventually led to a whole new career change. In 2016 Krystal launched Kanabé Goods Co therapeutic cannabis products containing cannabinoids and terpenes for everyday use. Formulated based on issues she experienced with her Crohn's Disease, Krystal developed topical applications and sublinguals to utilize the medicinal benefits of cannabis exclusive of smoking. Today she aims to share her passion with others and bring cannabis products to market with Canadian recreational cannabis legalization.
What inspired you to enter the cannabis industry?
Never in a million years did I think cannabis would become legal in my lifetime, so it didn’t cross my mind that I would be working in the industry one day.
I worked in the oil industry for most of my career and felt somewhat boxed in, as the industry is conservative by nature. I first discovered cannabis when I was recovering from surgery due to my Crohn’s disease 8 years ago. I felt inspired to enter the cannabis space because it was ground-breaking, I could get creative, and help people with wellness-based products. I read in Newsweek that they are predicting it to be the first billion-dollar industry that women will dominate in. So, I took the leap and here I am!
Tell us more about launching Kanabé Goods Co.
It has been a whirlwind! Before Kanabé the brand was out there, many long hours and months were spent developing products using my personal medical marijuana license. I wanted to develop products that I personally used based on issues and symptoms I had faced with my Crohn’s disease. The goal was to create something different than what was currently available in the market, creating everyday products such as creams to service both men and women who aren’t familiar with cannabis. We are also committed to keeping the focus on women - a group that is underserved in the cannabis space, which is evident as women represent under 40% of the current market.
A critical piece was creating strategic partnerships and making sure your vision and core values aligned. We’ve been fortunate to find amazing partners with shared values and vision that are enabling us to achieve our goals of creating premium health and wellness products.
It is always nerve-wracking launching something new, but I think people will enjoy the products and the brand experience as much as I do.
What type of cannabis products do you offer?
Our initial product line (because of restrictions in Canada) will be all cannabis oil-based. We will have topical Body Oils, Sublingual Sprays, and tincture oil with varying cannabinoid and terpene profiles to soothe different conditions. We plan to expand the line into salves, balms, and butters etc. in subsequent years.
For topical use, spray directly onto skin and rub in.
Pain Blend – For sore muscles, joints and pain points. Includes Peppermint oil which helps to soothe muscle and joint pain.
CBD Blend – For inflammation of the skin or muscles without any THC.
Pleasure Blend – Enhance your sensual experience with this cannabis personal lubricant by providing stimulation in erogenous zones. Also used for pain due to vaginal dryness.
Skin Rescue Blend - Alleviate skin conditions such as dry skin, eczema, itching, minor cuts and scratches.
Sublingual Sprays & Tinctures:
Easy and discreet, the oral spray provides a controlled dose of cannabis oil. Also available in a traditional tincture bottle dropper.
Sleep Blend – A micro-dose blend, it contains cannabinoids that make you relaxed and sleepy, with no drowsy effect in the morning.
Pain Blend – THC is a powerful analgesic helping with pain, while CBD has anti-inflammatory properties.
CBD Blend - CBD is non-psychoactive and commonly used for inflammation reduction, anxiety disorders, chronic pain or inflammatory disorders (Crohn's, IBS, etc.) or general reduction of stress.
How has cannabis influenced your life?
Being in this industry, I have been exposed to new ways of thinking as well as met people who are pioneers and inspiring risk-takers. It has helped me learn new skills, be creative, and develop confidence through sharing my journey of using cannabis for wellness. I’ve sort of fallen into becoming a cannabis advocate when that was never my original intention. It has been an amazing experience educating people resulting in a change to their opinions and stereotypes around cannabis - I look forward to continuing to change hearts and minds!
What have been your biggest hurdles operating in the cannabis industry so far?
The biggest hurdle is the unknown. Our company operates in Canada where the proposed recreational market will be under strict regulations. Nothing has been passed into law yet, so we are trying to prepare while not knowing the actual perimeters we must work within. It is a constantly changing and fluid environment.
How have you been able to overcome these challenges?
By remaining nimble and adapting to change. Staying current on the regulations and news is very important as there is a lot of misinformation out there about the laws. Also, hearing people’s stories of how cannabis has helped them truly motivates me to get our products on the shelf.
Name the top skills every cannabis entrepreneur needs
1. Focus – many successful entrepreneurs such as Warren Buffet and Bill Gates say “focus” is key and I don’t think the cannabis industry is any different.
2. Attention to detail – with heavy regulations it is imperative to have great attention to detail. After all, these are products that people are ingesting or putting on their skin, it needs to be safe.
3. Creativity – Thinking creatively in many respects, such as marketing is vital to have a fresh and unique approach that will stand out and tell your brand story in a cohesive and coherent manner. Finding creative solutions to operational challenges is just as important as marketing creativity, increasing efficiencies and margins are core business drivers that a creative lens can directly impact. Not only that, but we need to be creative with brand experience and innovation to have consumers stop accessing the black market and “go legal”.
4. Perseverance and dedication – not a skill but a trait that is essential!
What is the best advice you've received recently?
“Don’t try to be everything to everyone.” This goes back to being focused, you need to master your domain first before trying to branch out and do other things.
Any tips for maintaining a work/life balance?
No, because its impossible right now (laughs). Do you have any advice?
Seriously though, when starting a business there is little balance and because my husband and I are both involved in the business it is difficult to leave things “at the office”. I would say that taking time for yourself – through exercise, hobbies, spending time with friends and family – often you come up with the best ideas when you are refreshed and clear.
What are your favorite resources/tools for your business and why?
Surprisingly enough Twitter has become an important resource, it is an easy way to stay current on regulations and news because it is in real time.
If you could offer an aspiring cannabis entrepreneur one piece of advice, what would it be?
Remain focused but be ready to adapt, it is a heavily regulated industry which is always evolving unlike other industries. I would also say trust your instincts and stay true to yourself – there will be people who don’t agree with cannabis and won’t like that it is being legalized, so we all need to be a positive example to help fade the stigma and continue to move this industry forward.