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 Wendy Rall, CEO of Budd Branding. Wendy Rall is a professional Graphic Designer, with over 30 years experience. After graduating from The Art Institute of Philadelphia, with a degree in Commercial Art, she embarked on a successful career in Philadelphia, which expanded to New York, Atlantic City and later to Los Cabos, Mexico.
Specializing in brand identity, Wendy designs compelling logos for branding new products and rebranding existing ones; marketing materials (brochures, print and digital announcements, invitations, packaging design); and corporate identity packages.
In 2002 Wendy co-founded Planeta Surf Magazine, a bilingual Mexican surfing magazine, where she worked as the Creative Director for 10 years. Currently, she lives in Southern California and is the inspiration behind Budd Branding, a boutique creative design studio, which helps new and existing companies succeed in the market by building magnetic brand images, advertising, and packaging designs.
In our interview with Wendy, we asked a variety of questions to gain further insight into how she decided to launch a business in the cannabis industry, her journey of launching a business in the cannabis industry and much much more!
First off Wendy, congratulations on being featured as this week’s entrepreneur of the week! Can you please share with our readers what ignited your spark to launch a cannabis startup?
Wendy Rall: After launching in Los Cabos, Mexico over a decade ago, I had moved my design business to California two years before moving into the cannabis space. I saw the need for professional branding, package design and advertising in the cannabis industry, and had the desire to help elevate the image of this highly medicinal plant.
It was quite a ride initially! I was new in California, knew few people and had no connections in the industry. I began visiting collectives in my area and talking to owners and bud tenders. I knew that with my creative experience, I could help entrepreneurs and established brands alike, to grow their businesses, therefore I rebranded my business and eventually “came out green”.
The first step was posting my contact info and web-address on various online industry listing pages. I began to be contacted by media and started giving interviews and writing informational articles (which have been compiled into the book entitled Branding Basics). This led to calls from brands in need of our services. So, I dove in deep. Networking opportunities, trade show events, and traveling became the fuel for our fire. Business is good and the success of our clients shows, as you can see in the recent case studies on BuddBranding.com.
I now educate people on the importance of good branding, as much as possible, and appreciate Direct Cannabis Network letting me share our story!
Thank you for sharing that Wendy, can you please share more about Budd Branding and the services you do offer?
Wendy Rall: Budd Branding is a boutique design firm, with over three decades of professional design experience at hand. We at Budd Branding can help you create a magnetic brand identity, package your product, advertise and promote. We offer a variety of services such as:
• Brand Identity Services
• Advertising Design Services
• Retail Display Design Services
• Trade Show Design Services
How are you helping the cannabis industry in a positive way?
Wendy Rall: Most of all, we are helping people with small startups, who have not been in business before. We guide them in creating strong professional images, which will help to sell their products and services. I also write educational articles about branding, which I contribute to various magazines and online sources. I invest my time as an advocate, as part of the leadership team of OC Canna Education, bringing education on the medicinal values of the plant as well as information on the industry and the future thereof.
Who is your role model and why?
Wendy Rall: Jesus Christ is my primary role model, followed up by my father and namesake of the business “Budd”. This is because I have received my practice of transparency, kindness, patience, and love from both of them.
How do you stay balanced? Any hobbies?
Wendy Rall: Oh yes! I have a magnificent horse who keeps me balanced, grounded and active. Balance is so important. I’m a surfer living in the desert, so I ride a horse now instead of a board, and my dogs make sure I get off the computer to play! The beauty of California calls me to enjoy the outdoors every day discovering the jewels these little old Western towns have to offer. I love to explore. And when the needs arise, I rescue dogs, that’s my deep passion.
What Book has inspired you the most?
Wendy Rall: “Your Best Life Now” by Joel Osteen. It was a long time ago when this book came into my life, but it was at a time when I was in need of inspiration and laughter. Sometimes we get caught up in the world and forget Who created us and why; this book is a great reminder.
If you could talk to one person in history who would it be and why?
Wendy Rall: Again, it would have to be Jesus Christ. Just because He’s Jesus.
Now let’s go more into some startup and entrepreneurship advice. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Wendy Rall: Dedication, self-discipline and the confidence in yourself that you will achieve.
Where did your organization’s funding come from?
Wendy Rall: Budd Branding is self-funded.
What is the best piece of advice you can give to others looking to launch a cannabis business?
Wendy Rall: To work with experienced professionals in all aspects of the business. Having funding in place is key. I have many clients who have tried to save on their marketing investment buy “doing it themselves” or working with non-professionals. This generally leads to paying more in the end. You may need to have botched jobs fixed or files that were held hostage recreated. A professional brand image that is on target with your market is much more important than many people realize. One reason is that there is so much competition out there, and new brands emerging daily. An original clean and easy to read image will serve you best.
What is the hardest part of founding and running a startup?
Wendy Rall: For me it is meeting and making alliances you can rely upon. It was a challenge for me to find consistently reliable resources for my clients. In my business I am referring to vendors such as printers, packaging suppliers, web-programmers, etc. I am happy to say that Budd Branding now has alliances with the most important resources available, and I can confidently refer our clients when needed.
Is there anything that surprised you about being an entrepreneur in the cannabis industry?
Wendy Rall: Yes, I did not expect to become a public advocate. I had no idea how much I would LEARN about this medicine and it’s extensive health benefits. As I joined networking groups and heard so many medical testimonies of healing, I was surprised at how many people were making their own “concoctions” for family members and how stunning the results were. This led me to sharing those stories with others, and eventually I came out of the “cannabis closet” due to my belief in the healing benefits of the plant. Now I can share this knowledge, without feeling that I have something to hide or be ashamed of.
Being a founder, we are bound to make a mistake or two, what is one mistake you made that turned into the biggest learning lesson?
Wendy Rall: I’d say trying to be “everywhere”. What I mean is that there are so many great industry events and trade shows available. I attended numerous events, met fantastic people, came back with loads of business cards, but there became just too many too keep up with. I could have hired help, but I wanted to make the personal follow ups myself. I found myself putting work deadlines before following up, and believe that I may have missed some opportunities. Actually I know I did, and if I had been more focused on followup or hired that help, I may have some clients that are not on my roster at the moment.
Excluding yours, what business do you admire most?
Wendy Rall: I really admire the non-profit “LifeWithoutLimbs.org”. Founder Nick Vujicic is a motivational speaker born with tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare disorder characterized by the absence of arms and legs. His mindset is amazing and very inspirational to me.
How can we as an industry continue to make a positive difference in society?
Wendy Rall: I believe we can all do our part to share our knowledge about the safety of cannabis. It’s heartbreaking to see all of the deaths and near deaths from opioids and alcohol when we have a safe medicine that can help patients get relief from so many ailments with no chance of an overdose. When the safety is acknowledged, the schedule one drug status can be removed. Lives will be saved. We can come out of the “cannabis closet”. It was not easy for me. I was concerned about not only my reputation but the reputation of those close to me. I tried to hide it, and I did for quite some time. But when I learned that this plant can help so many people and animals SAFELY, I let it be known that cannabis is good and I support the deregulation.
Wendy, thank you so much for the lovely interview! And again congratulations on being this week’s entrepreneur of the week. Is there anything we missed that you would like to share with our readers?
Wendy Rall: I’d like to say thank you to Direct Cannabis Network and all of my friends in the industry who have worked so hard to help Budd Branding succeed. Thank you all for reading this feature! I’d like to offer you a free design consultation, just give a call or visit BuddBranding.com. Have an amazing week everyone!
To see Wendy’s portfolio, you can visit BuddBranding.com, and coverage of her 30+ year career can be found on LinkedIn.