“Every Single Person Has a Unique Story” The 5 Lessons I Learned Being a 20-Something Founder
I had the pleasure of interviewing Cody Coulson, Founder of Stop & Smell the Roses. Stop & Smell the Roses is one of the first ever hemp-based wellness retail centres in Canada. He opened his first brick and mortar location in Port Elgin, Ontario, in July 2017. Within his first year the business grew into 4 physical locations. Cody also holds a Plant Production and Facility Management Diploma from Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
Jean: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory” of how you become a founder?
I started Stop & Smell the Roses when I was 22 years old. The company started as a website that I managed from my apartment, and has since launched 4 successful brick and mortar stores. Currently we employ over 20 people around Ontario.
When I was 11 years old, my father was diagnosed with cancer and began using medical cannabis to relieve the discomfort. The cannabis worked, but it was almost impossible to get access to it.
Unfortunately, my father passed away after his second diagnosis.I was devastated, and so frustrated with the cannabis system’s lack of regulation and access to quality products. If I knew then what I know now about the benefits of CBD, my father could have had a much better quality of life.
Later, when I was 18 I was diagnosed with epilepsy and prescribed a series of daily prescription drugs. While they did stop my seizures, they also came with cold sweats, anxiety and the loss of my livelihood in general. After doing some research I decided to quit my meds cold turkey and begin a CBD regimen.
The first night I went off my meds and onto CBD I was in tears. Not only were all of my negative side effects gone, but I felt like I was alive again. I had my emotions back and my anxiety lowered tremendously. I also stopped walking through life worried I would have a seizure at any given moment.
I immediately began sharing my story throughout different communities, trying to get the word out as much as possible. The more I told my story, the more I realized other people sharing similar problems and looking for a solution. Eventually it felt irresponsible not to help educate people and allow them access to CBD.
Jean: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
The educational aspect of Stop & Smell the Roses is largely unique about us. Every single staff member is so driven to learn everything they can about CBD and then share it with our customers. We aren’t just selling a product, we pride ourselves in educating the public and ending the negative stigma that typically surrounds the industry.
Our stores offer free consultations to anyone who wants to come in and learn about CBD. I will sit down with them myself and answer any questions they have as well as giving them all the information I can.
Jean: Are you working on any exciting projects now?
We sure are. We’re currently in the process of licensing a solventless extraction facility for cannabis.
Jean: Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?
The Way of Zen by Alan Watts has definitely been an inspiration to me. Firstly because being a 24 year old Founder in a quickly emerging industry can be extremely stressful. The book also has an amazing, modern take on modern Buddhism.
Jean: What are your “5 Lessons I Learned as a Twentysomething Founder” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
I’ve learned something new every day since I’ve started my business. I never stop learning. Between my own research, industry news and the lessons my staff has taught me, I am constantly learning.
1. First and foremost, I have learned that delegating is so important in a growing business. For example, when I first started our Instagram account I couldn’t get more than 500 followers and our engagement rate was extremely low. A few months ago I delegated all marketing, event planning and communications duties over to Shelby, my Branding & Marketing specialist. Now we have over 11 thousand followers on Instagram. We’ve also increased our Google search rank, online sales and we’ve pinned down all of our branding policies.
2. I’ve learned how to stay calm in times of crisis… Because crisis is always going to come around at some point.
The biggest issue has been simply getting people to a point where they understand the general legalities of hemp-derived CBD. The hemp regulations have been around since early 2000s, but the technology available to start production is relatively new. So while the product is a fairly new concept, the regulations have been around a very long time. But, because the product is new, people are just now learning about the regulations.
3. I’ve learned that every single person has a unique story. Every member of my staff, every person who walks through our doors in a store, every person we connect with through social media. They all have a unique story to tell.
4. Never stop networking. This is another huge lesson I’ve learned in a short amount of time. There are always new people to meet, new connections to be made, new relationships to be formed. Never write anyone or anything off. Like I said, everyone has a unique story. You never know how they could impact your own story.
5. Lastly, I’ve learned to take time to enjoy what I’ve created…. I’ve learned to take time to “Stop & Smell the Roses,” literally. My team and I have worked hard. It’s important to work hard, but it’s also important to take a step back from all the moving and shaking to breathe it all in and enjoy where you’re at.
Jean: Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
Elon Musk. I’d want to ask him how much it would cost to orbit earth and watch a floating violin orchestra.
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— Published on June 27, 2018