As part of my series about “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis Business” I had the pleasure of interviewing Amber Laign and Marci Freede.
Amber Laign is originally from the Bay Area in California, but has happily been living in New York City for more than twenty years. She is a licensed massage therapist through the Swedish Institute, specializing in chronic pain. Amber saw the effects of cancer treatments firsthand as the primary caregiver to her partner, Robin Roberts, who underwent life-saving breast cancer treatments in 2007. In 2012, Amber found herself back in the caregiver role as Robin received a bone marrow transplant. While searching to find a holistic approach to help with the many side effects, Amber discovered the wonderful benefits of combining Essential oils with CBD oil.
Marci Freede lives with her twin daughters, Hannah and Alexa, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Being a mother to twins combined with twenty years in the corporate world prepared her well for entrepreneurship. Marci is also currently the owner of two painting studios in New York City. She discovered the power of Essential oils and CBD oil in searching for natural healing alternatives to aid in the health struggles of one of her twins. After experiencing such exceptional benefits and the improvements they made in the life of her own family, she knew that she needed to share the love. You’ll often find Marci and Amber at the studio as they work to develop more Plant Juice Oils products.
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?
We are happy to be a part of this! Personal adversities within our families were the ultimate inspiration for our development of Plant Juice Oils. Amber was searching for a holistic way to support the various side effects from her partner’s lifesaving bone marrow transplant. That is when she discovered the wonderful benefits of combining essential oils and CBD. At the same time, Marci was dealing with medical issues of one of her twin daughters and was also looking for holistic remedies. We met at the dog run on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and connected through our passion of all natural wellness.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
It may not be interesting but we find the most uplifting part of running our business is hearing from our customers (who we refer to as “Plant Juice Peeps”) on how we have enhanced their lives in a positive way. It makes us really proud and happy we started this company.
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 have lots of funny mistake stories and we like to keep it all in our “box of errors.” This box includes wrong labels, packaging, 100+ units of incorrect bottles, our first website developer, and the list goes on and on. We always joke that our mistakes will make a fabulous podcast one day where we can share the many stories of our mishaps. We are proud to say we have never made the same mistake twice!
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
We are vigorously working to build Plant Juice Oils as a trusted brand that will be showcased on many store shelves throughout the U.S.
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?
We are truly grateful for the many people who helped us throughout this journey. Robin Roberts, who is Amber’s partner in life, has not only been an inspiration for the line but a connector of so many people that have helped us along the way. Julie Lennon, Robin’s dearest friend, has helped us understand the importance of being legally protected. Tory Johnson from GMA, is a vital soundboard for brainstorming creative ideas. Our brand would not be where it is today without the talents of Nate Jensen from Inn8Creative, who is our creative director. He has lent so much of his valuable time and impeccable vision to help create our branding. Jamie Kern Lima, the founder of IT Cosmetics, gave us invaluable advice on how to get a new brand off the ground from her many trial and errors of starting IT Cosmetics. Last but not least, Scarlett Spring, former President and CCO of Visiongate Inc, has been an incredible mentor helping us navigate unfamiliar grounds in a proficient way.
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?
The CBD industry at large is currently like the wild wild west, and coming up with new and creative ways to market is a constant challenge as the laws change almost daily. We find that daily meditation helps clear the mind allowing new ideas to flow freely. From building trusted relationships with other CBD companies, we have created a “we are in this together” mentality. #LifeIsBetterWhenWeWorkTogether
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry?
1) Witnessing fellow CBD companies thrive and continue to pave the way excites us on a daily basis.
2) CBD has helped lift the stigma attached to cannabis, allowing the industry to grow as a whole.
3) It excites us watching the industry have such a positive impact on so many lives.
Can you share 3 things that most concern you?
1) The amount of false information regarding CBD is a huge concern. Again — knowledge is power.
2) While the industry is not fully regulated, this opens the doors for companies to produce a false product filled with synthetics, heavy metals, and/or wrong amounts of THC. False medical claims is a huge concern across the board as well.
3) Currently the banking industry is very difficult to navigate as few banks want to be involved with smaller CBD companies.
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.
1) Our first challenge came the day we went live with our company. Amber was on a flight overseas and Marci learned very quickly that no banks would take us on to do our credit card processing, we had no idea this was an issue! So it caused for much scrambling to find a processor overseas that would work with us.
2) Advertising through Google and Facebook are nearly impossible- making it super challenging to get your name out there. We are open to advice on this!
3) Even though CBD is the “current hot ticket item” there are still many stores afraid to carry our products.
4) Not everyone is fully educated on CBD making it difficult to book TV segments and placement in certain publications.
5) How complex this industry is as a whole. Not to mention wrapping your head around CBD as a chemical compound so you are able to explain the benefits to a newbie without their eyes crossing and head spinning around.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
It is very important that everyone in your company is fully educated on whatever your business is based on — knowledge is power! We are all in this together. No decisions should ever be made based on ego. Some of your best ideas may actually come from your employees.
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. 🙂
Our movement would somehow involve sleep! We are major sleep advocates and believe sleep is the foundation for your following day. This will lead to a healthier, more natural way of living. We want to educate as many people as we can on wellness and healthy choices that will help everyone thrive on a daily basis.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
You can follow us on instagram at @plantjuiceoils, also on Facebook @plantjuiceoils
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!