Holly Nelson and Tania Mercado are the founders of Novena Wellness, a company committed to sourcing the highest quality beauty, skincare, and supplement products in one place. Holly’s and Tania's passion for building an all-natural beauty store developed when CBD changed their lives. For Tania, severe fibroids had led to multiple surgeries and hormonal medications, all with no relief. Then, a friend recommended a daily regimen of CBD oil. Tania was amazed to find that not only did Cannabidiol help ease her pain, it also decreased the size of her fibroids tremendously. For Holly, she had struggled with ADHD all of her life. During her senior year of college, she was diagnosed and put on medication. However, she did not like how the prescriptions made her feel. Once she met Tania, the rest was history. Holly began taking CBD Oil and was able to maintain her focus, all while taking less prescription pills. Today, Tania and Holly are dedicated to bringing healing and preventative wellness to women around the world.
What inspired you to enter the cannabis industry?
We wanted an opportunity to create the best products that would bring healing and preventive wellness to the lives of many, something that women understand in this underrepresented male dominated market.
Tell us more about Novena Wellness
Novena Wellness was initially founded to assist those seeking medical marijuana as an alternative to opioid use, in a concierge capacity. In doing that, we realized there was also a need for those who are interested in the benefits of the plant without the effects of the THC. We decided to develop a brand that brought together the highest quality of naturally sourced beauty, skincare, and supplement products on the market in one trusted location. We carry CBD infused products which we realize is an extremely valuable resource. Every product that we carry is thoroughly vetted for their ingredients, processing and manufacturing practices.
How has cannabis influenced your lives?
I, Tania, was first introduced to CBD oil when I was suffering from golf-ball sized uterine fibroids, after multiple surgeries and hormonal medications they always seemed to return. Then, someone suggested to me the use of a daily regimen of CBD oil to maintain the balance of my endocrine system, which not only eased the pain but also decreased the size of the fibroids tremendously. I, Holly, have struggled with ADHD all my life and wasn’t diagnosed with it until my senior year of college. However, the medication they put me on didn’t always make me feel like myself and I felt like it stifled my personality. So, when I met Tania and she got to know me she suggested I also try CBD oil to help me maintain focus. It has been crazy how much it has helped me, while allowing me to take my medication less.
What type of services and experiences do you offer Florida medical marijuana patients?
The medical branch of our company offers a concierge experience serving as a liaison for patients who are seeking treatments and ensure a confidential and seamless process of obtaining a medical marijuana card. Our clientele include, people who are seeking privacy, those who are unable to leave their homes due to illness and disabilities, as well as seniors who lack the knowledge to complete the online medical marijuana application.
What have been your biggest hurdles operating in the cannabis industry so far?
The biggest hurdle that we have had to overcome is the stigma that is associated with cannabis-based products. Consumers automatically assume that it’s bad for you and that it’s illegal to purchase. Most consumers who are not educated on CBD products are not actively seeking the information regarding its legality or capacity for increased overall wellness.
How have you been able to overcome these challenges?
The reality is that CBD has so many health benefits that we feel it should be incorporated in your daily life in some shape or fashion. To overcome this hurdle, we are working to educate people on CBD products by incorporating them with non-CBD products in our wellness and beauty store. That way, the consumer who is looking for cruelty free and non-toxic skincare products will find the CBD skin care products and that gives us a chance to educate them on it.
Name the top 3 skills every cannabis entrepreneur needs
Ability to be innovative - Because the marijuana industry is so saturated you have to come up with ways to appeal to your consumers. Also, there are a lot of myths that surround marijuana-based products and its properties and legalities; the average consumer will overlook a product like CBD oil because it’s not commonly known yet what that compound is exactly.
Adaptable - Because the rules surrounding the legislation are extremely fluid the ability to pivot is crucial when new information is disseminated and being adaptable increases the likelihood of success in an ever-changing industry.
Passion -This is a commonality between us as business partners that runs deep and forms the core of why we do what we do. Our ultimate goal is to impact the lives of others in the most profound way possible. Helping extremely ill patients obtain medical marijuana or providing CBD products for those looking to manage symptoms or improve their wellness are some of the ways we believe we can be the most impactful. We want to ensure that everyone either knows about it or has the opportunity to obtain it in a safe and relaxing environment.
What is the best advice you've received recently?
There is always room for Coke and Pepsi.
We realized that this is becoming a very competitive and rapidly growing market. We decided that we should not let this deter us from our goals and our passion for what we do. We have no control over the market but what we do have control over is our service and our ability to deliver a world class experience to our consumers every chance we get. We plan to offer a community-based and captivating shopping experience when we open our first retail location to bring people together in our community, offer a location for new female business owners to sell their products in pop-up shops and build relationships with all of our customers. We believe that is what will sustain us and set us apart from the rest.
Any tips for maintaining a work/life balance?
When you find someone with that answer, let us know…
But honestly, when someone ventures off into the world of entrepreneurship and develops a true passion for something, work-life balance becomes a very grey area. But what we have done is put into place a checks and balance system where we each hold each other accountable when we feel we need to take some time for some self-care.
What are your favorite resources/tools for your business and why?
We use a software called Liveplan, which originally was to build our business plan. But what it has is an live analytics platform that updates in real time so that you can see where you are at with revenue and profit to see if it matches up to your projections. That way you can see if you are on track with your goals.
If you could offer an aspiring cannabis entrepreneur one piece of advice, what would it be?
Be patient! We think the biggest misconception about the cannabis industry is the, “get rich overnight” idea because it is a multibillion-dollar industry. If you enter this industry with that mindset then you will not only be disappointed, you will be out of business sooner rather than later. However, if you enter with the mindset of helping others, you will be rewarded abundantly.