5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis Business, with Casey Georgeson and Fotis Georgiadis
This is the wild west. Stay true to your belief system. You will be challenged by competitors (or people who think they know more than you). Know your facts and stick to your guns. The industry is evolving and the brands that establish their credibility for being transparent and trustworthy are the ones that will endure.
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 Casey Georgeson, the founder of SAINT JANE, a new luxury CBD beauty collection that launched in January 2019. She led Kendo’s brand development for Marc Jacobs Beauty, Elizabeth & James Nirvana, Marchesa Parfum D’Extase and Disney for Sephora. Passionate about the high-performance benefits of CBD, Casey created SAINT JANE with best-in-class beauty formulations harnessing the power of CBD. In addition to SAINT JANE, Casey is VP of Creative for The Wine Group, one of the largest wine companies in the world. In her role, Casey is the creative vision behind some of the industry’s most sought-after wines including Cupcake Vineyards, Chloe Wine Collection and Ava Grace Vineyards. Casey received her MBA from Stanford University. She was born and raised in Northern California and resides in Ross, California with her husband and three daughters.
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?
I’ve had three very different careers…TV producer, wine innovator and beauty brand creator. I started in television as a producer for CNN. Then I dove into the wine industry where I developed wines like Cupcake Vineyards, Ava Grace and Love Noir. After Stanford Business School, I did development for Kendo/Sephora. Fast forward to legalization of marijuana last year when I discovered the magic of CBD, especially as an ingredient in beauty. I dove deep into its efficacy for skin and found that very few were using this potent botanical in the luxury category. I created Saint Jane because I passionately believe in the powerful benefits of CBD for overall wellness. And I don’t think you should have to compromise luxury to experience cannabis.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Cannabis legalization in California reminds me a lot of post-prohibition wine legalization, it’s like the wild west. My great grandmother started a wine company (Franzia) in 1933 when prohibition was ending, and I’ve always been inspired by that. What’s truly struck me in developing saint jane is how incredibly helpful the cannabis community has been from budtenders to growers to advocates. When I first started, everyone opened their arms to offer advice, navigate legal challenges, payment processing, shipping hurdles. It feels a lot like wine in the 193os in the sense that it’s a small, burgeoning industry with passionate founders all working together to help the industry flourish.
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?
When I first started working with CBD, I felt a bit like a mad scientist creating elixirs for friends to try. One particular formula was extremely potent in “herbal aroma” and it wasn’t until after using it for a few weeks that I realized I’d added 10x the target amount of CBD. It was like 100mg per use. My skin never looked better, but I smelled like a dispensary.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
We just launched our second product and first color collection, Microdose Lip Gloss, and of course have some exciting things in the works. While Saint Jane launched with beauty products, we really consider ourselves a true lifestyle brand and want it to touch people far beyond just the skin. We cannot wait to share what’s coming.
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 not have been able to do create Saint Jane without a crew of women who worked with me for more than 10 years. And my husband. He doesn’t know it but he’s my CFO, advisor and therapist. His calm focus has helped me stay the course when challenges have arisen (which is daily). When I was debating whether to start the brand and add more complexity to our already full lives with three daughters, he gave me the best advice. He said, do it with the girls. Show them how to build a business every step of the way. That advice has been incredibly powerful over the past 18 months. And the girls mirror what I’m doing with saint jane with their own creative efforts — they doodle product ideas and names, complete with little registered tm’s in them.
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?
I’ve been amazed by the power of the brand founder story. I believe people want to connect with authentic stories of makers and creators who have followed their passions. It resonates more than traditional beauty campaigns ( images of perfect women on billboards). It’s harder for a large legacy company where the founder has moved on, but the idea of connecting brands and products to real people and stories is powerful.
In more interesting news…Saint Jane has been banned by Instagram and Facebook from promoting content because, somewhere along the way, someone decided we were illegal. It makes me laugh because our name is saint jane, the innocent side of “Mary Jane”. At one point, we were totally blocked from even showing up in hashtags. I called everyone I knew at Facebook and Instagram to help unblock us. It was half-successful. We show up in most hashtags, but we still can’t promote. All of our growth has been organic because they still see us as illegal even though the farm bill legalized hemp-derived CBD in all 50 states. At one point this felt like an overwhelming challenge, but now we laugh about it.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?
1. The potential — CBD is a very powerful and ancient botanical, but its benefits are still being determined in the health and wellness space and that potential is exciting.
2. The interest in learning about CBD — everyone that I encounter is so eager to learn how CBD can be used and how it can help them
3. The camaraderie — since launching Saint Jane I have met some of the most creative people. We are all interested in the power of CBD
1. The lack of transparency — at Saint Jane, we are committed to being transparent about all of our products and where the ingriedients come from and how they are tested. Unfortunately, I do not see this level of commitment from other brands.
2. Misinformation — there is a lot of wrong information out there about CBD. Some of the marketing that I have seen is confusing and misleading. We need to be very clear about what ingredients are in products and their end benefit
3. Trend driven — while CBD is a big trend now, it is in fact a very ancient botanical that has been used in healing for centuries. However, today I’ve seen brands trying to capitalize on the trend and include CBD in products that do not use it for its end benefit but rather as a marketing ploy.
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. What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
1. Entrepreneurship is 24/7…you don’t get breaks and everyday you’re pushed far out of your comfort zone. I marvel at the things I’ve done in the past year (CEW Cannabis and Beauty Panel, editor meetings, viral videos and dreaming up these products). I sleep less and work more but it’s all worth it.
2. CBD from hemp and marijuana is exactly the same. It’s a molecule, like h20. It took a lot of “experimenting” with THC-rich formulas to figure out I could use hemp-derived CBD and it would deliver the same result.
3. Don’t get banned by Facebook and Instagram. Start a CBD advocacy blog and promote that content, not your CBD-rich products. The blog can be your advertising platform for your brand.
4. 3rd party test your supply chain every step of the way. Test samples you receive. Test batches you purchase and test your final products to ensure your results match your suppliers’.
5. This is the wild west. Stay true to your belief system. You will be challenged by competitors (or people who think they know more than you). Know your facts and stick to your guns. The industry is evolving and the brands that establish their credibility for being transparent and trustworthy are the ones that will endure.
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’d love to inspire a kindness crusade with the philosophy that if you see something good in someone, say it. It’s at the heart of our brand too…Jane means woman and the actual Saint Jane was a saint dedicated to healing women in need. It’s in our DNA to have a “women supporting women” philosophy. Plus, as I grow a business out of my home (which also serves as our Saint Jane headquarters), my 3 daughters are seeing firsthand how to create a culture of kindness in the workplace. I believe in authentically empowering everyone who works with us…if we could ignite that crusade in the world — to be more honest in feedback and prioritizing strengths before weaknesses, it could change the culture of social media, bullying and even the beauty industry.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
On Instagram — our handle is @saintjanebeauty
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Thank you for the opportunity!
5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis Business, with Casey Georgeson… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.