Michael Harney has been running Harney & Sons Teas for over 30 years. Also he is the Tea Taster there. Previously, he ran the Richmont Hotel in Chicago. He went to Cornell University, and later to Northwestern University. He works with his brother, Paul.
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?
My brother , Paul, & I have been running Harney & Sons Teas for many years. We have been making tea into teabags and also brewing it into bottles. So when New York State made growing it legal, we jumped at this opportunity. Later, we did get the rights to test market CBD beverages in NYS.
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?
We learned that, unlike tea, CBD is slightly legal. So it was hard to get the website up and running. Also getting a bank to process the credit cards was a several month expedition. And it is not over yet. Same with promoting the website. Things that are common practice for our tea website like GoogleAds can not be done on our Hemp Division website.
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?
We are tea guys and not farmers. So growing our own 4 acres of hemp has been one continual joke. However, it has been worth seeing the tiny seedlings to grow into huge plants.
Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We are always working on fun projects with CBD and hemp. We are taking the dried hemp flower that we grew last year and incorporating it into several blends. We are trying to blend CBD with more well-known adaptogenics.
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?
Will Muecke was the guy that encouraged us to start down this road. He runs Artemis Growth and we have known him for years. So he pushed into the swimming pool. So thanks Will!
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?
We are a legacy tea company that has been around 35 years. However, we understand that we have to think like a startup. So we have been using social media including Tik Tok. We do like to push the edges of what might be legal. As my brother says: Gray is the new Green.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?
- We see that this is a continuation of healthy beverages that we have made and sold for years, so that is exciting.
- We are excited to experiment using our hemp plants in our beverages
- We are excited that the beverages and other products have become more accepted by all people, including the authorities.
- We are concerned that that CBD laws are a patchwork around the country
- We are concerned about the delay the FDA is taking in acknowledging the facts on the ground: people want safe products that include CBD.
- We are concerned about the cowboys in this industry and the harm they do to safe products that include CBD.
Can you share your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis Business”? Please share a story or example for each.
- It ain’t easy, money does not fall in your lap.
- Certain days are very hard physically in the garden.
- Hope for a better tomorrow is important.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
We have spent the time and effort to learn the laws and regulations of our State. We have learned about how to grow hemp and make beverages. So I would say that preparation is the most important. My brother would say to trust your gut. So 2 sides of the coin.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!