Green Rush Ancillaries: “Transparency is your best friend when it comes to your employees”

With Chloe Spilotro

Roger Ralston
Nov 14, 2018 · 8 min read

Transparency is your best friend when it comes to your employees. Being transparent in new ventures, and ideas and involving employees in your thought process can be extremely beneficial. However, it’s also important that employees can feel they can be transparent with you: accepting their thoughts, such as ideas or constructive criticism, is critical to success.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Chloe Spilotro, founder and CEO of luxury cannabis accessories company Cannabling. Cannabling aims to disrupt the male-dominated cannabis industry with their unapologetically female brand. Noticing a lack of trendy, modern cannabis accessories, Chloe founded the company specifically focusing on creating products for fashion-forward cannabis consumers, and proudly partners with other female-owned cannabis ancillary companies.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the story of what first introduced you into this business or helped you get interested in the business?

his story actually starts long ago. When I was 12, I actually started my own business Sparkle Couture by Chloe, which was a way for me to capitalize on the creative outlet I found and loved that most people know as “jewelling” or “bedazzling.” After doing that for over 10 years, I noticed a huge opportunity in the cannabis space — there’s not many products out there that are fashion-forward and accessible. So, I pivoted, and out of that bore Cannabling.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Since we started, we were focused on marketing directly to consumers. After considering dispensaries could use some Cannabling, we tested a few shops in Las Vegas. The first partner we had in Las Vegas sold out of their Cannabling within one day. That was proof positive that we needed to take this to the next level.

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?

Every single Cannabling vape pen is created by adhering each rhinestone, by hand, one by one. It takes the smallest amount of glue to actually seep under the power button and glue it completely shut! With the glue we use, there is no way to use any solvent or other chemical to undo that error, so we quality control each pen we make before shipping it to the customer to ensure it can actually be used.

Are you working on any exciting projects now?

We’re looking into carrying cartridges that allow consumers to consume their own flower, shatter, or oil. That product is currently undergoing testing before we’re confident we can carry it for our consumers. We’re also considering creating some CBD products, but cannot disclose until the products are ready for release.

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?

Finding the time to build your business, especially while working a regular job, is one of the hardest things. You have to be disciplined, motivated, and keep that momentum going. One of the things I found most motivating was to find a group of others like myself — I found that community through the Opt Out Life. Nate and Dana, the two guys who have built this community, are truly inspirational and have built a Facebook group, book, courses, and so much more to help others piece the puzzle together. I’ve learned so much through them by virtue of their knowledge and community. I also owe a lot to my amazing family and my boyfriend who have all supported me in all that I do with a smile on their faces.

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?

Consumer generated content has been the most exciting marketing activity that can be directly attributed to growing our sales. We encourage customers to write reviews on our website and, even more unique, create an unboxing videos. Our target market loves seeing the unboxing videos and the reactions on their faces the first time that they open a Cannabling box. We also have dozens of brand ambassadors who have unique codes and whenever a purchase is made with that code, we pay commissions. When our customers are incentivized to create more content, their friends catch wind of Cannabling, and that continues to grow organically.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?

The three things that excite me most about the cannabis industry right now would have to be:

  1. Legalization, of course! With the latest states Michigan, Missouri, and Utah legalizing cannabis for medicinal and/or recreational use, it’s exciting to see state legislation reflecting the wants and needs of their constituents.
  2. The age of the industry. Because of the cannabis industry’s youth, there’s unprecedented room for opportunity and disruption — especially for female or minority-owned businesses. That’s extremely exciting for all parties involved because with more diversity comes better ideas, better products, and more innovation within the industry.
  3. Another exciting aspect of the growth of the Cannabis industry is the new research and clinical applications being discovered often. New trials, true scientific research, and new applications are incredible. It’s incredibly exciting to see how this plant is turning “Big Pharma” on its head.

With that being said, the cannabis industry also has its concerns:

  1. There is a huge gray area when it comes to the the rules of consumption in legal states. There’s an uptick in the “runaway attitude,” where consumers don’t truly understand how they’re supposed to consume cannabis. It’s a good rule of thumb to understand that where it’s unacceptable to consume alcohol (i.e. public establishments, driving, etc.), it’s also illegal to consume cannabis; however, users don’t always abide by these laws.
  2. Of course, as cannabis becomes more accepted and normalized in society, there’s a huge worry that acceptance could lead to youth misuse. It’s important to continue to educate youth about marijuana but understand that unless or until medical trials say otherwise, it may have a negative effect on their brains or bodies during development.
  3. Lastly, there’s a huge concern in consumers using bogus cannabis products. As brands become more popular, their counterfeits become more available in the market, just like counterfeit designer bags encroaching the luxury market. However, in the cannabis industry this is more serious because bogus product can be potentially mislabeled, or worse, potentially dangerous or laced.

Can you share your top “5 Things You Need To Know In Order To Run a Successful Cannabis Ancillary Company”? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. It is so important to hire a lawyer from the get-go. The cannabis industry is extremely regulated in legal states, and ancillary companies are no exception. Involve your legal team in ensuring your papers and registrations are together. There’s no sense in starting your company if it’s illegal, as it’ll likely be shut down quickly.
  2. When it comes to your target market, know where they spend their free time. And, in that same vein, it’s important to know your media channel guidelines. For instance, Instagram is notorious for shutting down cannabis related pages, so if you rely on Instagram alone to reach your target market, you may be in for a rude awakening.
  3. Networking is extremely important in this very small industry. I always recommend other cannapreneurs take time to make friends in dispensaries and cannabis production companies. The blessing about being a cannabis ancillary company is there’s always ways to work together with other cannabis and ancillary companies.
  4. Quality control is extremely important. Defects are really risky because people are consuming your product, so it’s very serious when something goes wrong.
  5. Make sure your legal team reviews your product and packaging: making sure that “Keep out the reach of children” and other warning labels are evident and available on packaging. In some states there are additional notices you may have to include on your labels, so it’s important to involve your legal team to ensure your company is compliant.

Aside from your particular vertical, which other cannabis ancillary industries to you think have very strong potential in the next few years? Can you explain why?

I think one of the most exciting cannabis ancillary industries is actually food. I’ve seen many CBD foods pop up and are used to create food and drinks that are enhanced. There’s a lot of room in the culinary industry to collaborate with the cannabis industry to create CBD infused food and drinks. Especially here in San Diego, we’ve already seen CBD infused drinks in bars across the city!

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

Transparency is your best friend when it comes to your employees. Being transparent in new ventures, and ideas and involving employees in your thought process can be extremely beneficial. However, it’s also important that employees can feel they can be transparent with you: accepting their thoughts, such as ideas or constructive criticism, is critical to success.

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 would love to create a network of female Cannapreneurs! Women are so inspiring and have such amazing ideas and innovative approaches to business. Every female cannabis business owner has been extremely open to collaboration or inviting us to events and more, and it’s an amazing community that I’d love to foster and help grow.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

We love our Instagram community @shopcannabling and we’re on Facebook. Keep in touch by signing up for our email list on our website!

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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