Gabriel Suarez is a remarkable professional and a tenacious entrepreneur. The founder and president of the Natural Life Corporation, Suarez’s achievements in his industry have made him a visionary with significant contributions. A South American native, he started his career in the corporate world more than 13 years ago and owns over six businesses including a glass gallery, glassblowing studios, distribution center, smoke shop and the Natural Life chain of CBD wellness stores. His background includes a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Florida State University that he then parlayed into hands-on experience as a business owner. This combination gives him a full understanding of aesthetics and puts him in the best position to design the most attractive and successful retail establishments.
A founding member of The Florida Hemp Council and franchisor of Natural Life stores, Suarez has the unique ability to build and maintain incredible working relationship that set him apart from the competition. He attributes his success to effective and efficient communication, attention to detail, time management and making sure that he always brings his best self to the task with a positive attitude. An action-focused individual, Gabriel is a force in the retail industry.
A proud Seminole, Suarez is a Tallahassee resident. On the off-chance he is not working, Suarez loves flying wing suits as a licensed skydiver. He also likes skateboarding and finds spending time with his wife and son most fulfilling. Motivated by the desire to become a global expert in his field, he continues to stay current with industry news and educate himself so he can be the master of what he does.
His motto? To build strong communities, we must all fortify the root! This simple, yet effective advice motivates Suarez to achieve his full potential and help others do the same.
Can you share with us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My younger brother found relief from CBD products and my eyes were opened to the health benefits of cannabis.
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?
A few years ago, when we opened the very first Hemp CBD shop in Tallahassee, FL, the police raided our store and seized all of the Hemp because they were convinced that it was medical marijuana. We have come a long way since then with educating the local government and law enforcement. We are now working on the opening of our third location in Tallahassee, FL – where this incident occurred.
Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We are constantly working on new and exciting projects to benefit our customers and communities. We are currently working on a new store locator shopping assistant app, referral incentives for our customers, as well as expanding our very own Natural Life product line.
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?
I would never be where I am today without my family. When no one else believed in me and I had no history of success my parents were by my side supporting every project and company I created with nothing but positivity.
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?
Advertising CBD in in today’s marketing avenues is extremely difficult and we are still learning and adapting every day.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?
- It’s a plant!
- Cannabis has millions of health benefits.
- It’s an alternative to synthetic pharmaceuticals.
- The ever-changing regulations.
- A lot of dishonest players putting out subpar product.
- Big pharma will never stop trying to bring cannabis down until they are also playing the game.
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 may be legal but always consult your local government. Our first retail store in 2018 was raided by the Tallahassee Police. We thought we were compliant and they did not think we were. We never communicated with the local government prior to opening the store.
- No industry has less contracts and more handshakes than the Cannabis industry. If I had known this I would have prepared for companies to be burned, and deals to be broken. Even the biggest companies are running operations on handshakes and verbal agreements. Something unheard of in other industries.
- Finding dependable, reliable, and smart employees can be difficult in this industry if you aren’t aware of what you are looking for. Every weed smoker wants to work in the cannabis industry. There can be a small difference between hiring an amazing, motivated, productive cannabis user and a useless lazy stoner.
- There will be challenges with things other industries have no issues with such as finding banking, real state, funding, merchant services, etc. It’s important to always portray a professional, dependable and transparent image so that it’s easier to gain trust or cooperation for partner corporations.
- Make sure you constantly educate everyone around you, from your staff, your customers and your company partners. Having educated individuals around you will be critical to your success. Educated on your specific operation and your industry at the least.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Be a leader not a boss. Help and assist your staff and learn with them. Don’t bark orders, teach skills.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
You never know what your idea can trigger. I would like to inspire a movement for individuals and companies to treat others as they would like to be treated. Do good, do better and help someone.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
By following our Natural Life page on Instagram at @NaturalLifeStores or at facebook.com/ShopNaturalLife.
Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you only continued success!