Female Disruptors: Ashley Osborne of HempHera Kosmetikos On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis
Authority Magazine

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Do your most difficult tasks first. Never put the most difficult or physical task of your day off. Doing it later never works. You’ll not only get a little drop of dopamine sense of accomplishment, but regardless of how your day navigates — the most important thing is done.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ashley Osborne.

Ashley Osborne founded HempHera Kosmetikos with the belief that everyone should feel like a Goddess or God inside and out. She grew up fascinated by Greek and Egyptian mythology, as well as fashion and cosmetics, which became the gateway for her founding HempHera. By combining her experience in both the cannabis and cosmetic Industry, Ashley is bringing a hemp based skin care to both women and men.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

I think the beauty industry and cannabis industry are both individually disruptive themselves, because they both have such vigorous dynamics. Cannabis is so new legally, that we are learning new things every single day. The beauty industry is always changing. There will always be new formulations, new technology, new packaging, etc. HempHera is the world’s first fully dedicated CBD skin care line; I’m talking cleansers, toners, serums, moisturizers, eye creams, masks — ‘the whole nine yards.’ (to my knowledge, if they existed before me — I did not know about them.)

What makes us extremely unique is the scientific use of nanotechnology. Nanotechnology is the term given to those areas of science and engineering where phenomena that take place at dimensions in the nanometer scale are utilized in the design, characterization, production, and application of materials, structures, devices, and systems. Basically, we break our CBD into millions of microscopic particles so that it can be absorbed faster and penetrate deeper.

Bioavailability is everything when referring to nutrients, especially CBD. A standard-size particle of CBD will measure around 2000 nanometers in size. A human cell cannot absorb CBD particles any larger than 60–80 nanometers. A lot of chemists and scientists can nano-amplify CBD.

What they haven’t figured out how to do is keep their THC levels low enough to be considered CBD. We have, but often why we see nano-emulsions. Without breaking your CBD into true nanometers, not only will it not absorb properly, but it makes it harder to get your CBD into a water soluble state.

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?

Oh, I could tell you about mistakes I made last week, ha-ha.

One mistake I will never forget, was during our initial launch into live retail. I somehow ordered the wrong material for my labels. I wanted a clear, glossy label, and I ended up with a matte, frosted label. I didn’t think it would be much of an issue until I started labeling everything. I could see every imperfection and air bubble someone labeling a bottle by hand could have. It stuck out like sore thumbs to my eyes. I spent so much time trying to push every little bubble or tweak every little crack, that I got myself into a rushed state of mind. Keep in mind, this was my first rodeo in the tradeshow world as an exhibitor for my own company. I thought it would be a great idea to save some shipping costs and fly my products with me to Miami, after all, these were much smaller portions.

When I landed in Miami, and got to my hotel. I could have cried when I opened those boxes in that little suitcase. I think they looked worse than they did before. I ended up having my girl friends help, and we fixed them up again.

The lesson here is, don’t sweat the small stuff. Not a single customer cared. Most of them opened the sample right there and tossed the packaging in the trash.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

Absolutely, I could not agree more. Each one of my mentors has brought something different to the table. I would not be able to pick one and say that they were the best. Each of them was active listeners who listened and heard what I was saying. Each of them built a trusting relationship that is important to me. They knew how to stimulate my critical thinking and to hold me accountable for my growth.

I will start with Mr. Osborne & Mr. Liggett, my Junior high & high school science teachers. These two not only fueled my excitement and passion for science, but they were also very positive influences in my life. I will never use my childhood as an excuse for any decision I’ve ever made, except the will to break cycles. I also will not say that I had a terrible childhood, because I know there were tons of children who experienced worse. What I will say, is during a very development point of my life; they never let me down. Both were also coaches of mine as well, I ran track and played basketball. Sports, science, and music were extreme outlets for me, and still are to this very day. Teachers just don’t often know how much of an impact they made in a student’s life.

Mr. Steve Kelly — one of the most selfless leaders I have ever met. Steve was my boss at a sports bar I worked at in Indianapolis called Kilroy’s. He taught me how to work with integrity, how to be a dependable teammate, and what “one team, one dream means”. There is a huge difference between a boss and a leader. A boss tells you what to do, a leader shows you what to do — often side by side.

I will never forget one Saturday afternoon, it was just Shaina and I on the floor, and Steve was our opening manager. Kilroy’s is an IU based bar known for its stuffed bread sticks and flavored LIT’s. IU played Michigan, big 10 football. 2 servers. Somehow Steve forgot. We would have typically had 10–12 servers maybe 14, they had a pretty large outdoor patio that would stay full. There is also no hostess, it’s a seat-yourself location. I loved that, but it could lead to double or triple seating. Steve never let us see him sweat. He was not worried at all that he had around 165 seats that were about to fill and only 4 hands, well we actually had 6 because we had Steve’s. It was very busy, but a smooth day. Steve greeted all of the tables, even helped with drink orders, and he bussed all of our tables the entire afternoon. No complaints, great game, and us two girls walked out with $600 and home by 3 pm. I always trust Steve. If he said it would be okay, it would be okay. Fast forward all these years, he is the link between me and our extremely talented, one-of-a-kind chemist.

Lastly, my family. They have supported me every step of the way in every avenue I have ever taken in life, especially my mother. She has always been a problem solver and extremely creative. She could take nothing and turn it into something beautiful. She taught me through example how to work hard my entire life. She also makes it possible for me to be able to do all that I have done with HempHera, as I am a single mother of 2 boys myself.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

I honestly feel like you will have a positive and negative opinion on nearly any matter. It’s kind of like voting, people vote for what is best for their personal lives and businesses. If I lived and owned a business in the city, I would likely be more inclined to agree with decisions that reflected the best interest of my family and business and vice versa. At the end of the day, as long as the disruptor is making positive changes, influence, services, or options for the consumers — who is to say what is good and what is bad?

For us, we’re disrupting our industry in a positive way, in my opinion. While the Hemp/CBD Market is very new, it’s not regulated like THC. Indiana was actually the first to require labeled QR codes that linked our products to lab testing and third-party testing. We ethically source every single ingredient. I know where it is coming from, and how it is being made — I will travel across the world to make sure something is what it should be. This leads to a very saturated market. Gas stations should never be selling CBD. Tobacco Shops should never be selling CBD. After they give you cancer causing agents, you can wash it down with a low-grade oil that you will hardly absorb?

Science is real. Science can be proven. Science is facts.

Bioavailability. How much of a nutrient will your body absorb? That matters, especially in the cannabis industry. Especially when consumers are being charged 2X the price of similar products because they have this added cannabinoid. While CBD skin care is safe for all skin types, it is really made for troubled, sensitive, irritated, dry, or mature skin. My brand was inspired by many of my favorite and most iconic brands in the world, I still use many of their products to this day — not everyone can use them. If my cell can’t absorb the cannabinoid because it is too big in size, it will actually just sit on top of the skin and clog the pores. We call that feeling ‘oil slick’ and it is actually doing more harm than good for one’s skin. We have water soluble hemp extract, and I use it in 95% of my formulations. We also use Broad Spectrum CBD, which means we remove THC but we leave all the other cannabinoids to create an entourage effect. I always try to explain to new team members how CBD and other cannabinoids work.

‘Think of CBD as Michael Jordan. He was one of the greatest basketball players of all time. By himself, he was powerful. But when you added In his teammates, let’s say Pippen, Kukoc, Rodman, and Grant — they were unstoppable.’

A lot of brands are using pure CBD, because they do not want the THC in their product, particularly skin care. The purest form of CBD, often called isolate, which is literally a crystal rock. Our bodies don’t digest rocks very well, and our pores do not either. If someone had extremely troubled skin, using that product would be like taking tiny little rocks and jabbing them all over their skin.

What exactly is the consumer paying for?

We are forcing brands to step up. Take the extra steps. Ensure that your product does what you say it does.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Do your most difficult tasks first. Never put the most difficult or physical task of your day off. Doing it later never works. You’ll not only get a little drop of dopamine sense of accomplishment, but regardless of how your day navigates — the most important thing is done.

You can’t step in the same river twice. Quick actions could lead to mistakes and errors. It takes twice as long to go back and correct those mistakes or errors. I always take my time now really focusing on doing everything as effective as possible before I even start and finish my tasks.

Iron sharpens iron. A dull blade is pretty much useless. It will require more difficult force and provide poor results, if any. Iron– sharpeners are leaders that are focused on building the best & strongest team possible by utilizing & sharpening the strengths & talents that are around them. I’m also a firm believer that the company we keep and the people we invite into our lives matter. My inner circle is very small, but very mighty; mainly because we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, we are problem solvers, and we know how to work together to achieve the best results- regardless of whose business or life, it involves.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

Oh no, the CBD industry is just getting fired up, and it has many veins. I can’t say a whole lot of detail at this very moment, but we have a few big announcements to make and a few awesome new products that are just coming out of testing for 2023 — we plan to shake things up next year! I think I have finally realized that I have gone as far as my two hands can take me. 2023 is all about growing. I plan to spend as much of the year as I need to be locating the perfect investors, or I should say, partner(s). I know that I can’t get where I want to go alone and in order to really kick the next door off the hinges, it’s going to require more than just myself. Fresh thinking, more skill sets, and shelf access.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

Women must contend with a very wide range of challenges in business. On paper, the workforce has never looked better for women. In the ’70s, women-owned business was under 5%, now we own nearly 50%. Additionally, for every 1 male college graduate, 3 women will graduate. We’re still the minority.

While there are many other adversities women must overcome, these are some I’ve personally seen or experienced:

Being taken seriously. Earning respect is not always easy but being a woman can be a huge conflict when dealing with certain men. I was a manager at Twin Peaks before exiting the service world and venturing onto my own avenue. Countless times I would have to cut someone off for their behavior or maybe they were just nearing what we felt comfortable serving them, and I would get asked ‘where is the real manager?’ I would always ask, what is a real manager sir? As if I were a fake manager? I was the highest paid female in the state. Higher paid than some men who had been there longer than me, which caused another issue in the long run. I can remember shrinking myself to play a “female “role even when I knew better. On the other hand, being too aggressive can have adverse effects. Trying to be too tough and over proving myself never ended well for me either.

Lack of funding. Even though women make up nearly 50% of the entrepreneurs in this country, if we added together all female-founded or co-founded companies, we would receive under 10% of investment funding and venture capital funding. I have ironically had interest from venture capital funding but haven’t dug deep into what all it would entail.

Lack of Mentorship. We need more mentors. It is almost as if it is not that there are no mentors available, it is finding one another. Time management is a huge issue for a lot of women, especially ones with families. A lot of women would like to mentor but say that they have never been asked. Don’t wait. If you know someone around you that could save costly mistakes, help them. I have been fortunate to find a few organizations that really go above and beyond for their members. Cosmetic Executive Women, Financial Women’s Association, Women’s Business Club

Balancing business and family. I absolutely 1000% understand why households were run the way they were in previous generations. Just imagine not having the access we have that facilitate us to be able to leave the household and work. A washer and dryer to start. Could you imagine having to hand wash every load of laundry and clip it up on a line and wait for it to dry? My kids would lose every clip in 3 days, and it wouldn’t be from doing laundry, ha-ha. Or the food preparation you don’t see, even just a piece of corn on the cob, can be prepped for you already. But the stereotypes should have been buried long ago. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being a SAHM at all & I think a lot of people discredit what those women do. They support and enable the breadwinner and set him up for success. I would love to have someone prepare my meals, wash and press my laundry, support me, take care of my children, manage my home and yard, etc. I’ve met men that say they wish their wives would work as they do. I asked him, well — if she works too, who will take care of you? If your income far surpasses what she could make, why would you want her anywhere but helping you?

We are significantly underrepresented in leadership roles. Then again, we’ve only been considered humans for like 100 years. We couldn’t even vote.

Gender gap. While it is improved, I still must work 42 days longer for a job I am equally skilled and qualified for than a male.

Insufficient maternity leave. A lot of companies are really going all out and starting a movement. We need that. I don’t think everyone understands how strenuous having a child can be on your body and mind. We don’t need time to cuddle and take pictures every day, we need time to heal. After all, we have 42 extra workdays to squeeze into the rest of the year.

You never have to mold yourself into anyone’s idea of what a leader looks like. Stay focused, stay dedicated, and keep working hard!

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

Becoming Michelle Obama

This is an amazing read and Michelle is such an inspiring woman. It made me realize that there will always be adversity in life, and no matter who you are or where you are — you can get past it. Our stories are real. Our stories shape who we are and I want to be the one who tells my story.

“Even when it’s not pretty or perfect. Even when it’s more real than you want it to be. Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.” — Michelle Obama

“Think and grow rich” by Napoleon Hill

This book centers around the idea that your mind is the most powerful tool you have.

Believes that success in any endeavor can be reached through mental visualization and imagination. Essentially, you can become anything that your mind believes possible; as a result, your mind becomes the one thing that can ultimately push you into success, or completely stop you.

“Where you go there you are” Jon Kabat-Zinn

Are you mindful or is your mind always full? This book will really break you down, but in a great way. It can be difficult to process negative feelings or emotions without letting them control us. It’s also difficult to focus on the present if you are always looking ahead or behind. Mindfulness is so important in our lives. It’s often thought to associate one’s self with higher levels of vision, greater levels of thinking, and more purpose in life. You know the saying, ‘same stuff, different day.’ I used to say that all the time. I never say it anymore. Now, I say ‘livin’ the dream.’ I used to feel like my life ran on autopilot. I was living, but I wasn’t experiencing. Meditation disrupts this process and helps you turn the other way. It helps you empower every current circumstance and to embrace every experience in your life; like ‘stop and smell the roses.’

I am just so thankful every day that I can wake up, a lot of people don’t get to do that.

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.

Now you are talking my language!

I would like to think that we can all be a person of great influence. If we influence one person, and they influence one person, and then they influence one person, the domino effect will continue. I would also like to think that I am already am/have.

My hometown’s population is a little over 30,000 people. My graduating class had 64 students. Before the pandemic, the state of Indiana was already under attack by the opioid epidemic. In 2018, Indiana was losing around 15 million dollars a day just in loss of wages. I’m sure those numbers have not changed much today. Our local hospital had to create its own internal police station because officers were being dispatched so much. Psychology will show us a great way to kick a bad habit, is by replacing it with a healthier habit. I wanted to create affordable and healthier options for my hometown, generate jobs, and hopefully generate taxes. I sponsor a large number of youth activities and sports, as well as local schools, and internal programs inside of those schools. I have an annual Christmas giveaway and we leave no age group left behind. I have a lot of access to a variety of merchandise so it’s easy for me to help in those areas. I want to show my peers that anyone can make a difference. It literally starts with just one person.

My biggest goal would be to start a movement somewhere along the lines of ‘One team, One dream.’ While I love being involved with the organizations I am, I think all of us have the biggest challenge of, ‘what happens when they leave here?’ Not everyone has a functional home life, some don’t even have food or a place to sleep.

I have a friend based in Indianapolis, Former Superbowl Champ, Marlin Jackson. After football, he established the Fight4Life Foundation. He now has his own school system, and also acquired an entire apartment unit he has incorporated into his school system. It involves active parenting in exchange for subsidized housing, it might be free housing, I will have to double check. I really want to create something like this in Richmond, but incorporate the school system that is already there, the additional resources, and local law enforcement. Statistics show that kids 12+ get into the most trouble during after school hours. Using Boys and Girls Club of America and Fight4Life Foundation as inspiration, I would like to create a space for older kids to go after school.

A hang out. A safe place. Somewhere you can talk if you need to, get help with homework, fellowship with classmates, play sports, games, etc. Maybe one day even incorporate mini-workshops of different skills. How I plan to utilize everyone would be establishing a store area, if you will, inside of our space, and with the help of the schools, programs, and police — we reward good behavior. Random acts of kindness, helping someone, achieving a goal, etc.

We reward them with a monetary value and inside our store, they can purchase things they might need for themselves and their household. Healthy, food/snack options, undergarments and socks, school supplies, hygiene goods, and whatever else might be an issue at home.

I want to show people that one person can make a difference, but together we change lives.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Never put your key to happiness in someone else’s pocket.

Basically, never attach your happiness to people or things. People aren’t possessions for one, we don’t own them. Tangible things can be taken away, be broken, lost, stolen, etc. Another person or a physical thing should never be the only reason we are happy.

Attach your happiness to your goals.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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Candice Georgiadis
Authority Magazine

Candice Georgiadis is an active mother of three as well as a designer, founder, social media expert, and philanthropist.