As a part of my series about strong women leaders in the cannabis industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jessica Bates.
Moon Mother Hemp Company’s founder, Certified Clinical Herbalist Jessica Bates, is passionate about developing sustainable and clean health and beauty products. Jessica’s product formulations are drawn from over ten years of experience working with medicinal herbs. She has a special interest in creating products for women’s health and wellbeing, including the Wise Woman Bath Salts and the Wise Woman Healing Balm for menstrual relief. Just over a year ago, Jessica and her partner Edward, who has over ten years of experience in Cannabis cultivation, combined their experience and love for plants to collaborate on Moon Mother Hemp Company. As a mother of two young children, Jessica is motivated to ensure that Moon Mother Hemp Company provides not only the cleanest possible supplements, but does so in a way that helps preserve the environment for generations to come.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the cannabis industry?
My journey with cannabis began when I was 13 when I smoked my first joint. It was a full on love affair for me from then on. This resulted in many years of mental, emotional and spiritual expansion and self exploration. Although mental expansion and recreational use has its own therapeutic nature, I didn’t begin exploring the physical therapeutic properties of cannabis until I was approaching it as a plant medicine from an herbalists perspective in my mid 20s. When I started studying the physical benefits of cannabis, everything truly changed in my relationship with the plant.
After years of working with the plant personally and in my practice I began incorporating hemp based CBD into my line of herbal remedies and topicals. The shift from Moon Mother Medicinals, my former herbal remedies company, to Moon Mother Hemp Company happened swiftly and organically as my clientele became aware of the benefits of CBD and the demand for those particular products grew. With the growing demand for high quality hemp products, our company continues to grow and so does our team of dedicated cannabis lovers.
My thirst for knowledge about this powerful plant is unquenched still after years of studying as scientific studies have only just touched on the plant’s capabilities. My partner and I live in service to the plant, the soil and the earth as we work to bring cannabis normalization to our greater community and society and will continue to do so until the plant is free and so are all of its users.
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?
The entire last 2 years has been interesting! There truly has not been one dull moment and there have been countless lessons and immeasurable growth. The one thing that stands out for me above it all is learning to lead through inspiration & fun. What we are on here is a truly inspired mission and we are literally changing lives through cannabis therapeutics but also through creating a new workplace paradigm. Carrying my company and leading the team is delicate and hard work but it is truly an honor that I take seriously. I and my other female executives are working hard to change workplace dynamics and create a more supporting and supported team.
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?
As a novice business woman I made the incredibly common mistake of going into business with my husband and hiring friends to work for the company. They say you should ever do this and you probably shouldn’t but what I have learned from these mistakes and the growth that has accompanied them has been priceless. I had to face a steep learning curve regarding boundaries, roles and delegating that led to some serious personal growth. If you are able to make it through the fire with friends and lovers as coworkers and business partners and move past the initial waves of finding the boundaries and learning where responsibilities begin and end, the result can be pure magic!
Do you have a funny story about how someone you knew reacted when they first heard you were getting into the cannabis industry?
I don’t have a funny story about people’s reaction to me working in the cannabis industry but I can say that it has changed the dynamic between me and my family and community. It really wasn’t that long ago when I was expelled from high school, fighting with my family or in the back of a police car for possession of cannabis. I went from selling bags to CEO of a legitimate company. Now my entire family takes CBD and the industry that they swore would never be legal is well on its way to national legalization. My friends and family are proud of the work I have done in the cannabis space and for sticking with my passion for the plant.
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?
There are many people who have lifted me up and shared in my dream along the way, but there is one person who I am particularly grateful for and that is my husband Edward Bates. He (after some convincing) jumped in head first with me on the Moon Mother Hemp Company brand he has worked so hard these last two years as our lead farmer and production manager to help turn my dreams into a reality. He believed in my vision and co-founded the business with me when it was way out of his comfort zone and for that I am so grateful.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Moon Mother hemp Company has just launched our brand new 3 part beauty system bundle and are excited to say it is available on the website as of last Friday. Helping men and women to feel comfortable in their own skin through health and wellness and organic, clean skincare products always been a passion of mine. Restoring balance to the skin and reducing inflammation builds a skincare foundation that all of us needs. We love our skincare products and are so excited to share them!
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 a 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?
As individuals we can do our research regarding the companies we are supporting. Where are we buying our cannabis products and what is the mission behind those products. As an individual I support many women owned businesses big and small and do my research regarding their financial backing and their philanthropic efforts. Who is the company supporting & who is supporting that company. We can seek out woman owned businesses that are in line with our values and support them.
As companies we can level the playing field by ensuring that all of our female employees are paid fairly and equally. We can put women into executive positions and collaborate with other women owned businesses. We can lift each other up by creating community, not being competitive and support businesses owned by women.
As a society we can demand equality and not look the other way when it comes to gender inequality. We can become educated on the disparity statistics and refuse to stand for it. We can make an impact by not only voting for women with our dollars but by voting for representatives in our state that support gender equality. We can also make it our mission to educate our family and friends about the importance of supporting women and women owned business.
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.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the cannabis industry?
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?
Equity reform. At Moon Mother Hemp company we do not make a move without remembering and honoring the efforts of the trailblazers and activists that have made it possible to be where we are today. We also remember and honor those individuals and communities severely impacted by the war on drugs. It is part of our mission to be an active participant in equity reform by using a percentage of quarterly profits to support non profits working to promote national cannabis record expungement, promote equity efforts for cannabis brands owned by people of color and end the bail system. We support cannabis tax dollars going toward these efforts and hope to see it be a part of the national legalization movement.
Quality standards. Because of a lack of quality standards in the cannabis industry consumers are getting anything from products devoid of cannabinoids, poisonous synthetic ingredients and heavy metals to products much higher in THC or other cannabinoids claimed. We need quality control and uniform standards in lab testing and reporting.
Uniform & consistent regulations across the nation. Due to the lack of uniform federal regulation, each state is taking it upon themselves to create their own regulations and they are ALL different. This leaves a complete lack in quality control and leaves the possibility open for states to take advantage of and gouge CBD companies through their own unique taxes, certifications etc. We need consistent access to banking, credit card processing & insurance.
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?
Cannabis is a therapeutic herb and a people’s medicine. It has been used medicinally since the beginning of time in many capacities and should be returned to the people. To have an illegal plant, especially one with so many therapeutic properties, is absolutely absurd. The CBD and cannabis therapeutics movement is so important because it represents a return to autonomy for people regarding their health and their bodies. For the greater good of our entire society we need to bring that back and we need the full support of our country and its lawmakers.
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 not like to see cannabis regulated, taxed and regarded similar to cigarettes. Chronic tobacco use is widely known to be poisonous to our bodies and Cannabis is not. Cannabis has been used throughout time as a therapeutic remedy for mind, body and soul and should be revered as such. As a certified clinical herbalist I have used cannabis in my practice as I would any other therapeutic plant like Calendula or Echinacea. Cannabis is a profound and powerful plant but there are many other power plants that are not regulated like tobacco or alcohol.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“We are stronger together” This has been so relevant to me as I initially learned to delegate as a business owner and then to build my support system and community of women in cannabis.
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. 🙂
I said it before but I will say it again. Do not be scared of healthy competition! Be inspired to do your best. Be inspired to collaborate with brands and women who are bringing their A game.
Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you only continued success!