Wife, mother, and cannabis entrepreneur, Mskindness is a multi-passionate business woman. After working years in corporate America, the non-profit sector and academia – Mskindness made a drastic career change when an injury left her unable to work. In pain and searching for options, Mskindness rediscovered her love for cannabis. Today, she is the founder of Club Kindness and Elixirs by Kindness – cannabis infused aromatherapy for the modern renaissance woman. She is also the co-founder of Raw Pops, a fresh fruit and vegetable popsicle company with a purpose. Mskindness is devoted to helping other women find where passion meets reality and achieve success through love, education, and cannabis.
In the beginning, what motivated you to first get involved with cannabis?
To be honest, in my youth I probably used cannabis a few times just recreationally to enjoy mental relief. But four years ago on March 29th, I was 26 weeks pregnant with my daughter and fell down in a grocery store on a wet puddle. This caused a condition called SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction) where it makes the joints in your pelvis loosen up. I was in excruciating pain for the next 6 weeks until my daughter came, which actually made her 7 weeks pre-term. That pain was horrible and doctors started writing me a bunch of prescriptions. (like, here take these pills, unbelievable scripts they will write you!) That made no sense to me.
So, I went through physical therapy, acupuncture, dry needling – all of the holistic things I could do that didn’t involve narcotics and heavy pharmaceuticals. Then, post-pregnancy I didn’t heal like I was supposed to. I started to experience horrible hip pain, sciatic pain and was diagnosed with Piriformis syndrome. So I started experimenting with edibles. I found that they took my pain away all day. And not only did I feel relaxed mentally, less anxious, and de-stressed, I also wasn’t in this horrible pain. So I just went further and further down the rabbit hole, began making elixirs and tinctures. I stayed very true to the traditional methods, like full moon to new moon, 21 days in the freezer, sending a good energy. I even had my Reiki friend come over!
That was where I about 3 years ago but I started my journey because of pain. To be honest, I didn’t want to be drugged up all of the time. I also didn't want to destroy my kidney or my liver. Vicodin and other narcotics make you feel like a zombie, I wasn't going to live my life that way.
What does a day in the life of Mskindness consists of today?
Oh gosh, I’m super busy! But I like to call myself a multi-passionate businesswoman. I’m the modern Renaissance woman. I am a mother, I am a wife and as the results of my injury, I stopped working full-time. I couldn’t stand in a classroom all day and be a teacher anymore. I couldn’t go out and do the things I was doing for my side business at the time either. (which was a lot of getting in and out of the car, consultations, etc.)
So I said, well, what can I do that can give me the flexibility of being at home with our kids but still provide an income? My husband and I started an organic popsicle company in 2011. A day in the life for me now consists of waking up in the morning and homeschooling for a few hours. Then, our collective hours officially begin at noon, so my phone starts ringing at noon. I manage the phone but I just hired an assistant 3 months ago so she is finally taking over a lot of those GM (general manager) responsibilities. But for the most part, I’m with my kids. I love my kids, I spend time with my kids.
We have wonderful technology in this world that allows us to answer the phone from wherever we are. But, you know, I do carry 2 phones! I’m like that busy mom that can answer the phone but go back to what I was doing. We do a lot of text messaging, online orders, and shipping. Most of that can be done from our home office.
Looking back, what is one thing you wish you understood about cannabis or the cannabis industry?
Well you know, the very reason I got involved, I wish I would have known sooner. Specifically, not realizing how many ways the plant can be used and the complexity. We still have so much left to learn and things that have not been able to be studied properly. I am thankful for at least getting in at the time that I did though because there is so much innovation occurring. But you know, not having cannabis be a part of my life is something I wish I would have known sooner.
I’ve now turned on both of my parents to cannabis! My dad who is very conservative, retired officer and Vietnam vet is actually the first one I told about entering the cannabis industry. Now, he is one of my clients. My dad suffers from PTSD and I’ve helped him transition from pharmaceuticals for anxiety. I’ve also helped him transition from pain meds. He now uses edibles and elixirs and tells me they are “awesome!” But to succinctly answer your question, I wish I would have known everything sooner because it would have had so many applications in my life. I used to do large-scale fundraising. I’m almost 40 and have had 2 careers in my life. I was first a non-profit large-scale fundraiser, directed things like AIDS Walk Orange County, traveled, and all these wonderful things.
Then, I became a teacher in my late 20s/early 30s and I really wish I had all of this knowledge because I most certainly would have advocated and fought for rights sooner. I also potentially would have gotten involved in avenues that would have helped the communities I was working with like the AIDS/HIV community. I would have certainly been more involved from the cannabis side of things if I had this knowledge sooner.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I am very social and don’t mind sharing my life. And you know, I really love the feedback, the stories. I have turned this business into something that I would like to use as an educational platform. In fact, we do these events called Kind Socials where we introduce our clients and members to products. But we also educate. So we talk about the laws and where they are to date and the history of the plant and what has happened historically and politically. Most of my clients are 35-40-year-old women. They are mothers, businesswomen, and often working full time.
What I really enjoy is that they can talk to me, that they feel like they can relate to me. I get phone calls after 2 weeks from friends and other ladies that tell me they haven’t felt like this in 15 years. That they haven’t been able to sleep and now they can. That they've had anxiety for so long and finally feel relaxed. That they haven’t had a migraine in 3 weeks from using a tincture spray. And I mean, I am in tears twice a week over feeling joy and gratitude for those things.
What habits or mindsets have helped you be successful?
Well, my education absolutely. You know, sometimes I joke and say gosh, I spent a $100,000 on an education to make popsicles and weed juice right? It’s kind of like a joke haha but definitely, those systems navigation skills come in handy. I had to do a ton of research on my own because we did not have the traditional capital someone may have to start a cannabis business. This meant breaking down barriers and being willing to call people and ask questions they might be typically quiet about. Those skills I gained from going to graduate school, learning how to write well, staying organized, how to run a business – I’m thankful for those experiences before entering this industry.
How has cannabis changed your life?
This plant has taught me so much. Cannabis has opened my spirit, it has opened my mind, it's lowered my stress, it's made me a better mother, a better friend, it's made me more understanding. I’m not in pain – I can’t say enough positive things about what I like to call God’s plant.
What do you think the number one misconception is of women working in cannabis or using cannabis?
The number one misconception is that only men smoke weed or that only men use cannabis. It’s just a very masculine view in general, that cannabis is a masculine medicine. I don’t agree with that but I do see it as one of the biggest misconceptions. Secondary to that, the belief that if you are a woman and you use cannabis, you are all those old propaganda ideas – you are easy or loose, you can’t make clear decisions, or that using cannabis is not ladylike or sexy. And those all are wrong because cannabis is so sexy!
What has been your biggest struggle or challenge so far working in the cannabis industry?
It’s like, how legal can we be? Seriously, there are just these gray areas, especially in a medical marijuana state like California. I mean, we’re not recreational, we don’t have these things on the books. Now, we do have the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, that just got enough signatures to go on the ballot. But the biggest challenge is navigating these laws without a law degree. It’s those challenges if you’re operating and knowing how close to that line you can get.
For example, I’m currently looking for a larger manufacturing facility. With MMRSA (Medical Marijuana Safety Act) on the table, I want to be in a city that has clear ordinances. That will potentially take me out of my current location, so that means I may have to travel 30-35 miles to get to my lab just to make sure I’m in compliance. I am not going to move my house but I am now going to become a commuter for my own business. Where you operate is murky waters.
Do you have any advice for women looking to break into the industry or get involved?
Find a good strong network. I have a lot of sister friends, a lot of sister cousins, a lot of sister business partners I call them. I find myself aligning with women organizations. Of course, we all know Women Grow, and that was one of the first female organizations I came across. I’ve also gotten involved with NORML, the chapter president happens to be a woman and so we really hit it off! I would say to young or old female cannabis entrepreneurs, align with other women. It’s empowering to know that there are other women who are doing the same thing.
What would you say are the top 3 skills needed to be a cannabis entrepreneur?
Courage, Perseverance, and Patience.