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 Cristina Espiritu, Founder of the 420 Foodie Club. Cristina Espiritu is an entrepreneur and seasoned finance professional. She is also Senior Vice President of an international business valuation firm, and she has valued companies (including those in the cannabis industry) for litigation, financial reporting, mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcy, and tax planning purposes.
She is also a co-owner of C & A Group LLC, a company that develops, manufactures and sells products in the health and wellness, and alternative energy industry. Cristina graduated from UCLA with a degree in Psychology/Business Administration, and a joint JD/MBA degree from Penn State University. She is also active in her local community and has served in leadership positions in diverse organizations such as the Junior League of Orange County (JLOCC), Filipino-American Chamber of Commerce (FACCOC), National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and Women Abuv Ground.
In our interview with Cristina, we asked a variety of questions to gain further insight into being a cannabis advocate and entrepreneur.
First off, Cristina, congratulations on being DCN’s Entrepreneur of the Week. I would love for our readers to get to know more about 420 Foodie Club, can you share more on the platform 420 Foodie Club has created?
Cristina Espiritu: 420 Foodie Club is a thriving community and resource for people who love to cook, make, consume and learn about cannabis cuisine. We strive to destigmatize cannabis food as more than just “pot brownies” by showcasing the diversity and creativity of the modern wave of cannabis chefs and edible makers.
One thing we are passionate about is creating connections, and a great (and delicious) way to bond is over food! Through 420 Foodie Club, you can meet cannabis food entrepreneurs, learn to make creative cannabis recipes, review the latest edible products, and learn about the hottest cannabis food events.
What ignited the spark in you to start to launch your business? Or how did your idea evolve?
Cristina Espiritu: I have always been interested in food, and the culture and history behind it. I grew up in the Philippines, where gathering around the kitchen table and eating a meal together is a way to foster connection and communication between family and friends. Cannabis cuisine fascinates me because it is creative and new, and it really is the “wild west” of modern cuisine. Gathering around a cannabis meal engages (and heightens) all the senses and therefore sparks interesting debate, conversation, and communication.
How are you helping the cannabis industry in a positive way?
Cristina Espiritu: I hope to help destigmatize what “cannabis cuisine” really is. It is not just about “pot brownies“! I hope to bring this idea to mainstream and bring into the limelight the interesting and talented cannabis chefs and edible makers out there.
Who is your role model, and why?
Cristina Espiritu: My role model is Keiko Beatie, a cannabis entrepreneur who has been involved in many different facets of the cannabis industry. She has been a collective owner, chef, radio host, writer, activist, producer and much more. I remember meeting her for the first time and thinking, “This is the woman that I want to be.” She was kind and welcoming, and she truly embraces the spirit of collaboration that many people in the industry are quick to say but never actually do.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Cristina Espiritu: A balance of grit, focus, and niceness. It takes grit to get through the “no’s”, focus on finding your way to your goal, and a dose of niceness–well, because no one wants to deal with a person they don’t like!
Where did your organization’s funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it?
Cristina Espiritu: My business is self-funded.
How do you stay balanced?
Cristina Espiritu: I love to travel. I travel overseas at least twice a year. I also love to cook. I take a cooking class in whatever country I visit and learn new recipes and techniques.
What is the best piece of advice you can give to others looking to launch a company in the cannabis industry?
Christina Espiritu: You already have that business idea just waiting to be unleashed. Be true to yourself and just go for it.
What’s the hardest part of founding and running a startup?
Cristina Espiritu: Avoiding distractions. Things and people will pull you in different directions, and you have decided which ones are important to your end goal.
Is there anything that surprised you about being an entrepreneur in the cannabis industry?
Cristina Espiritu: I was surprised at the number of women in the industry. I came from male-dominated fields (legal and finance), so it’s refreshing that women and leading and making strides in the cannabis industry.
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?
Cristina Espiritu: I had to learn to follow my gut more. There were a few business decisions that gave me that weird feeling at the pick of my stomach, and instead of ignoring it, I should have listened to my instinct.
What book has inspired you the most?
Cristina Espiritu: I love anything by Malcolm Gladwell. The last one I read was “David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants.”
How can we as an industry continue to make a positive difference in society?
Cristina Espiritu: By creating exceptional products and services that really make a difference in people’s health.
Thank you so much, Cristina, for being a positive influence, we again are honored to have you as this week’s Entrepreneur of the Week. Is there anything we missed, that you would like to share?
Cristina Espiritu: Only that I would like to thank you for the opportunity. I love what you’re doing and how you’re making a difference in the lives of cannabis entrepreneurs out there.
To learn more about Cristina and the 420 Foodie Club, you can go to www.420foodieclub.com