Each week we highlight entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry for our viewers to learn more about the leading cannabis executives of our time.
This week, we highlight Alicia Rose, Founder of HerbaBuena. Alicia Rose founded HerbaBuena in 2015 to serve the needs of health-conscious adults looking for the same level of purity and quality in their cannabis as they’ve come to expect in their organic food and fine wine.
HerbaBuena crafts a portfolio of award-winning products utilizing whole plant intelligence with standardized purity, potency, and effect, in order to support the greatest health and well-being.
Alicia’s work in cannabis is informed by both her advanced degree in environmental science and a 15-year tenure in the wine industry, where she’s worked with a handful of 100-point winemakers and top wine brands.
A founding Board Member of the Mendocino Cannabis Industry Association and the Wine & Weed Symposium, she’s committed to educating people about the therapeutic value of cannabis and redefining the dialog about the way we nourish and care for ourselves and the planet.
In our interview with Alicia, we asked a variety of questions to gain further insight into being a cannabis cultivator, and building a cannabis brand and business.
First off Alicia, congratulations on being featured as this week’s entrepreneur of the week! Can you please share with our readers more on HerbaBuena?
Alicia Rose: Yes, I would love too. We’re an ultra-premium, vertically integrated consumer products company on a mission to define the modern cannabis culture where luxury is defined by health and quality is defined by purity.
Our portfolio of full–spectrum, daily functional remedies offer discerning adults the same level of purity and quality in their cannabis as they’ve come to expect in their organic food and fine wine. To ensure the finest, therapeutic quality from seed to sale and beyond, we cultivate our own permitted, sun-grown gardens in Mendocino and also work with a number of Demeter Certified Biodynamic farms.
Since our inception, we’ve supported the healing journeys of thousands of patients and consumers, and have gained first-hand experience about the therapeutic value that cannabis provides. We’ve seen the positive effect it offers for mind, body, and community, and believe it to be a powerful vehicle for global transformation as we collectively redefine the dialogue around how we heal and nourish ourselves and the planet.
What ignited the spark in you to start to launch your business? Or how did your idea evolve?
Alicia Rose: I got my medical card in 2014 and started visiting dispensaries around the Bay Area. Organically sun-grown cannabis was hard to find, and often that which was considered “top shelf” smelled more of petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides than it did of cannabis. The products were focused on high levels of THC, rather than options I could safely incorporate into my daily life, and the overall consumer experience was lacking in almost every regard – from information to sophistication. As someone who’s passionate about the plant, human health, and the art of living well, I knew I could do better.
How are you helping the cannabis industry in a positive way?
Alicia Rose: We are advocates of the plant and the patients, and alongside a handful of colleagues, are trying to set a new standard for the modern cannabis culture.
As part of our commitment to “purity as quality”, we released the first-ever certified Biodynamic cannabis – as an alternative to USDA organics and a choice point for clean, sustainable and intentional products for farmers and consumers alike. Not only do we believe Biodynamic farming to be the gold standard for cannabis, it’s also a long-trusted certification mark that holds even more stringent standards than organic.
We’re also focused on providing products that capture and utilize the whole plant intelligence, the full-spectrum entourage effect, and carefully dosed options that allow people to incorporate cannabis into their daily lives for the greatest healing benefit.
As we are all educators in this nascent industry, we also host a series of cannabis experiences called Social Club to help deliver informed consultation to consumers and producers alike.
Who is someone you would consider your role model or someone that inspires you?
Alicia Rose: Every one of my winery clients has served as a teacher about developing an authentic brand through personal story and experience, and the guts to stick with your passion, and to never compromise on quality.
What would you say are the top three skill sets of a successful entrepreneur?
Alicia Rose: Absolute focus on the business you’re building and the reason you’re building it, with a balance of balls-out fortitude and endless patience.
Where did your organization’s funding come from?
Alicia Rose: I’ve funded the company myself to date.
If you could talk to one person in history, who would it be and why?
Alicia Rose: Mostly I’d like to go back to a time before prohibition when cannabis was just another healing herb.
How do you stay balanced?
Alicia Rose: Spending time with my daughter, yoga, gardening, and chasing the incredible amount of live music we have access to in the Bay Area. (No, I don’t sleep much.) The harmonics of music and cannabis are inseparable for me.
What book do you feel has inspired you the most?
Alicia Rose: I’m not sure I have a favorite, there are too many. But most recently I read Heart of Dankness which has great insight into the world of strain development and genetics – something I’m committed to learning more about as we continue to develop our gardens and strains to best serve our mission.
What is the best piece of advice you can give to others looking to launch a company in the cannabis industry?
Alicia Rose: This is the toughest industry I’ve ever worked in. The only way you’ll succeed is if you have a real passion around the plant and something to offer beyond an interest solely in making money.
What’s the hardest part of founding and running a startup?
Alicia Rose: I’ve launched both tech and wine start-ups, and as hard as those projects have been to get off the ground, they pale in comparison to the difficulty, complexity, and level of risk associated with a cannabis start-up.
Is there anything that surprised you about being an entrepreneur in the cannabis industry?
Alicia Rose: I couldn’t have begun to assess the challenges I’d face starting a business before and during the end of prohibition. I’m surprised and challenged daily.
Being a founder, we are bound to make a mistake or two, what is one mistake you made that turned up being one of your biggest learning lessons?
Alicia Rose: Our ability to stay in business is bound by city, county and state regulations. In the race to ensure we could stay in business, I launched pieces of the business in places outside of my own community, just to get the permits. Going forward, I’ll wait for the right place to build our business, rather than chasing down locations that can be permitted, in areas where I don’t have the interest or infrastructure to maintain.
Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Alicia Rose: There are some really great brands out there who are helping to elevate the industry as a whole including FlowKana and the Demeter Association. I also need to give a shoutout to all the small farmers who have persevered and continue to grow beautiful plants, the right way.
How can we as an industry continue to make a positive difference in society?
Alicia Rose: In talks, I often say “Money and information are power, and great men and women wield their power for doing good, not just for making more money.”
With the money and attention behind the cultural shift defined by cannabis, each of us – producers, consumers, press, investors – has a responsibility to do things differently this time, with greater intention for health and well-being for ourselves and the planet.
A friend of mine runs a large non-profit dedicated to finding a cure for cancer – and he says it best – cancer doesn’t care how much money you have.
If cannabis can help us become more self-aware, more open hearted, more compassionate, and healthier, then we’ve succeeded as a society, and cannabis has been a conduit.
Thank you, Alicia! It was so great being able to feature you as this week’s entrepreneur of the week. Is there anything we missed that you would like to share with our readers?
Alicia Rose: Cannabis is a potent spirit plant that can transform mind, body, and culture. It deserves reverence. Its primary function is to create harmony and balance in the body, so it only makes sense to seek out organically sun grown and biodynamic products that were cultivated with balance and their full-spectrum potential in mind. This is where the greatest healing potential lies.
To learn more about Alicia and HerbaBuena, click here.