Liz FitzGerald of Daygold: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis or CBD Business

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis
Oct 18 · 16 min read

Each state that sells cannabis has different laws in place regarding cannabis so it’s important to be aware of these laws as you plan your growth strategies for your business. What you’re able to do in one state is likely very different from what you can do in another and you’ll need to be on top of federal and state laws so you remain compliant.

Liz FitzGerald is a co-founder of Portland-based CBD brand, Daygold. She earned her B.A. in Psychology from James Madison University and has worked in the sports and wellness industries ever since. Most notably, she played a pivotal role as Chief Revenue Officer for Ma Wovens. Now with Daygold, Liz is on a mission to offer elevated and thoughtful CBD tinctures that offer help you enjoy a brighter life, naturally.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the cannabis industry?

As for my “backstory”, for the past fifteen years I’ve been working in the startup world, mostly focused within the health and fitness industry. Prior to that I worked in film, software, and publishing so while I’m new to the cannabis industry, I’ve helped to grow a number of young companies in a variety of industries.

I was looking for my next opportunity and was really focused on finding the right team to be a part of as I strongly believe that people are the most important part of any company.

A friend of mine introduced me to the team behind Daygold and I could tell right away that this was going to be an incredible opportunity to create a positive impact; it’s a really great product, created with a lot of research and care.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

A: The thing I’ve found most interesting since I began leading Daygold, and this isn’t a reflection of the cannabis industry but marketing in general, is how resistant people and systems can be when it comes to marketing to an older demographic. At Daygold, we believe that Baby Boomers and Gen X stand to benefit greatly from cannabis therapies, especially CBD, as many of them are experiencing the aches and pains of an active lifestyle, the stresses of everyday life, and are open to alternative therapies.

CBD has become hugely popular however the biggest consumers up to this point have been people in their 20’s and 30’s. This is great, as CBD offers benefits for people of all ages, however we’re really excited to open this door to older people and to provide them with education about how cannabis works in the body, why CBD can be helpful, the important role of terpenes, as well as what to consider when purchasing cannabis products.

At this stage in our business we’re relying on stock photography for our lifestyle images and it’s been really difficult to find a lot of compelling imagery of older, active people. Not only has it been challenging to find imagery that feels as strong as we’d like it to, but I have found a number of people, outside of our company, to be hesitant to market more directly to older people.

The lesson that I’ve learned is that there’s still a long way for us to all go to embracing older consumers, not just in cannabis but in a wide range of consumer products that are relevant for people of all ages. If we have a product that can help a wide range of people, then let’s speak to a wide range of people in our marketing and have the means to do so.

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?

Sure, I would say the funniest mistake so far had to do with our packaging design. Our branding agency has done an incredible job with every detail of the Daygold brand, including our packaging. From the bottles, labels, and boxes, each element has been so thoughtful and creates a feeling of uplift and calm- just like Daygold.

Our shipper boxes also have lovely branding elements on each panel: our logo, our website, our tagline (A better life, naturally.) and when we received the prototypes we were just over the moon with the results and loved seeing our logo directly on the top of the box.

It wasn’t until we started to ship Daygold that we realized that our shipping label, which goes on the top of the box, covers our lovely logo completely. It’s one of those examples that you can think things through but it isn’t until you actually are sending the product to your customers that you realize the impact of each detail.

Do you have a funny story about how someone you knew reacted when they first heard you were getting into the cannabis industry?

Well, I live in Portland Oregon which is a super liberal town and very cannabis friendly so I’ve found everyone to be really enthusiastic about my entrance into the cannabis industry. I really didn’t expect any sort of reaction, but people seemed genuinely excited for me. There really seems to be a buzz around the cannabis industry, pardon the pun, that I hadn’t been aware of. Maybe it’s just that so many of my colleagues and friends recognize how beneficial cannabis is, so I didn’t get a reaction that wasn’t entirely positive.

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?

There are so many people that I am incredibly grateful to for all the support they’ve offered me, throughout my career. My family, people I’ve worked with, people I’ve come to know along the way; really, the list is so long! But Nina Byrd definitely deserves a shout out as she’s the one who introduced me to the team at Daygold, a fantastic product, team and brand.

The Daygold team was looking for an entrepreneur to launch the new brand and reached out to Nina, who is incredibly smart and thoughtful. She really liked the team but has a thriving consultancy and didn’t feel as though it was the right position for her. When asked if she could recommend anyone she thought of me, for which I will always be grateful. If everyone could have a friend like Nina!

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes, launching Daygold is such an exciting new venture. Our tinctures, which are unlike anything else on the market, have the potential to help people feel better, naturally, every day. Daygold is formulated by Dr. Ethan Russo, a board-certified neurologist and plant researcher who is one of the most well respected doctors in the cannabis industry. He drew on his 25 years of research to create our three tinctures (Calm Mind, Easy Relief and Restful Night) and it’s so rewarding to be sharing them with everyone.

Life is really stressful, especially these days, and I’ve always looked for natural ways to try to relieve stress and take care of myself. I’ve found that when I do land on a solution that resonates with me I like to share it with as many people as possible, which is why I enjoyed being a yoga and fitness instructor, and why I’m so excited to share Daygold.

Even though I exercise every day, eat well, sleep well, and follow a whole list of recommendations for de-stressing myself, I often find that I’m fighting back a sense of overwhelm. And I know I’m not alone. Daygold is another tool in my self-care toolkit that helps me to keep perspective, feel more light-hearted, and feel capable of managing my never-ending to-do list.

What I’ve found is that Daygold works well on its own, and even better when I couple it with my other practices. So I’m really excited to share information about Daygold (how our formulas are unique, how our bodies respond to cannabis, what’s important to consider when using cannabis, etc) but I’m also looking forward to sharing other self-care techniques that can help people get the most out of their Daygold (simple breathing techniques, sleep hygiene tips, etc.). We’re building a lot of supportive content that we’ll share through emails, a blog, our YouTube channel, social media posts, and more. We hope to benefit as many people as possible through our product and our information.

Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. Despite the great progress that has been made we still have a lot more work to do to achieve gender parity in this industry. According to this report in Entrepreneur, less than 25 percent of cannabis businesses are run by women. In your opinion or experience, what 3 things can be done by a) individuals b) companies and/or c) society to support greater gender parity moving forward?

The cannabis industry is not unique in that a smaller percentage of women are at the helm of businesses compared with men. As I mentioned, I’ve been in the startup world for years and am still shocked at how only a fraction of investor dollars go to women-led businesses even though the numbers show that startups led by women have a resoundingly stronger track record of success. There are so many reasons for this imbalance, but unconscious bias is definitely a factor.

We all need to recognize that having biases is part of the human condition. Biases are shaped by our culture and environment and so the first step, on an individual level, is to recognize that we may be operating with an unconscious bias and to look at our own thoughts and behaviors and be aware of the stories we tell ourselves about other people and their capabilities.

Questioning our biases and then creating systems to keep those biases in check is super important. Companies can implement processes that help to remove bias within the interview process, a fundamental part of changing these statistics. Our company, Daygold, and our parent company True Co, started the process of removing unconscious bias by hiring a HR professional, Sara Stowe, getting really clear on our values, and making interview skills training mandatory for every member of the interview committee. This has resulted in our leadership team being 44% women and 31% identifying as other than white. The bottom line is that with the systems she has helped to put into place, we’re hiring the best people for the job and it just turns out that many are women and people of color.

We all can play a role in creating more equal representation within business and when we accept the truth that diverse teams make better teams, it’s in everyone’s interest to implement changes to remove unconscious bias.

You are a “Cannabis Insider”. If you had to advise someone about 5 non intuitive things one should know to succeed in the cannabis industry, what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each.

  1. I would say to be prepared to join a very unusual industry. There are unique challenges to the cannabis space because of the fact that cannabis is legal in some instances and illegal in others. For example, any cannabis product with more than .3% THC (the cannabinoid associated with intoxication) is considered illegal on the federal level but is legal in most states.
  2. Each state that sells cannabis has different laws in place regarding cannabis so it’s important to be aware of these laws as you plan your growth strategies for your business. What you’re able to do in one state is likely very different from what you can do in another and you’ll need to be on top of federal and state laws so you remain compliant.
  3. In addition, even though the FDA doesn’t regulate cannabis products at this time, it’s important to be aware of FDA guidelines and to follow them as best as possible. For example, our FDA attorney recommended that we design our packaging to follow the guidelines pertaining to dietary supplements, even though CBD tinctures aren’t officially categorized as dietary supplements at this time. These guidelines dictate the size of our fonts, what needs to be listed and in what order, etc and took us a lot of time and revisions to make sure we had them just right.
  4. These guidelines also pertain to how you market your cannabis product. Even though research has shown the myriad of benefits to cannabis, it is illegal to make any health claims about cannabis in any marketing materials. You’ll see companies making all sorts of health claims, but doing so opens your business up to major consequences. In fact our payment processor asked for us to remove a quote from Nature magazine, one of the most respected science journals, that referenced studies showing the therapeutic effects of terpenes (the aromatic oils in many plants, and a key ingredient in Daygold). Even though the quote referenced medical studies, and was from a reputable source, it was deemed a medical claim that we could not use on our site.
  5. Lastly, creating an advertising strategy for Daygold has been very unusual. The standard platforms for advertising (social media, Google) have policies in place that flag certain keywords (like THC or CBD) and it’s imperative that you stay compliant or run the risk of being shut out of these platforms altogether. So you can imagine the challenge of trying to introduce a new CBD product into the marketplace, without being able to refer to it as such and without being able to cite medical research supporting its benefits.

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

I am most excited to be a part of an industry that is helping so many people feel better! I’ve always wanted to make a positive impact in people’s lives, which is why I became a yoga teacher and a fitness instructor, so being a part of sharing the benefits of cannabis to as many people as possible is very rewarding to me.

I’m also really excited to see what the medical research reveals about cannabis. For example, it wasn’t until the 1980’s that researchers discovered that we have an endocannabinoid system (ECS), an internal system that helps to keep many of our bodily systems in balance. The ECS utilizes endocannabinoids (cannabinoids that we make internally) and phytocannabinoids (cannabinoids from the cannabis plant) to create homeostasis. So, in simpler terms, when we ingest cannabis, we’re introducing a compound into our bodies that mimic what our bodies naturally create, and it’s used to help many of our systems stay in balance. It’s very exciting for me to learn about how our bodies respond to cannabis and I’m looking forward to seeing what else they discover and sharing this information to as many people as possible.

Lastly, I’m really excited about the people I get to work alongside in this industry. They’re passionate about cannabis, they’re hardworking, smart, kind, resilient and non-judgemental they’re just a great group of people!

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?

The thing I find most concerning is that we’re building an industry without a lot of acknowledgement of all the people whose lives have been devastated by the US War on Drugs. Thousands of people are still in jail and prison for possessing cannabis, even tiny amounts, while the industry is growing and thriving. I think it would be great if all companies within the industry chose to contribute a percentage of revenue to organizations that are helping to address the devastation from the policies that adversely affect communities of color. Our company has chosen to support the Prison Policy Initiative, however there are many groups (including the ACLU, NAACP, Oregon Justice Resource Center and others) doing important work to repair the generational damage created by the War on Drugs.

Also, while I am a huge proponent of the benefits of cannabis, I feel uncomfortable when I see companies making wide-reaching claims about what their product can do for patients. I’m also concerned with how cannabinoids, like CBD, are used in many products, without terpenes, or without other cannabinoids. The research shows that CBD will have a greater benefit when coupled with other cannabinoids and terpenes (the entourage effect, a term popularized by Dr. Russo). If people are ingesting CBD, without the other components, they may not get much of a benefit and then may dismiss all products as being irrelevant when really they just didn’t get the right dosage or combination of ingredients.

Lastly, Daygold is tested by independent labs to ensure safety and purity but not every cannabis company follows the same high standards and it concerns me that people may be taking supplements for their health benefits but aren’t fully aware of the safety of the product.

What are your thoughts about federal legalization of cannabis? If you could speak to your Senator, what would be your most persuasive argument regarding why they should or should not pursue federal legalization?

Cannabis is a therapeutic plant and is a balm for many common challenges. Of course I believe that it should be federally legalized, it’s an amazing plant!

As an Oregonian, I’m lucky that Ron Wyden is our senator and Earl Blummenauer is our Representative in the House as they have long advocated state’s rights (as Oregon decriminalized cannabis in the 1970’s). Recently Senator Wyden joined a team of legislators to bring forth the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act. This legislation aims to end the federal cannabis prohibition and unfair targeting of communities of color.

Wyden and other senators are putting forth important legislation. I would simply encourage them to continue to invite many voices to the conversation, including members of the cannabis industry, and medical researchers, so that many perspectives and voices are taken into consideration as we move forward.

Today, cigarettes are legal, but they are heavily regulated, highly taxed, and they are somewhat socially marginalized. Would you like cannabis to have a similar status to cigarettes or different? Can you explain?

I think that cannabis deserves to be in its own category as it is both a form of medicine and also a tool for recreation. While cigarettes are used recreationally, there are no health benefits to cigarettes, in fact quite the opposite is true. Cigarettes, and alcohol, are subjected to higher taxes due to the health impact that those substances have on our society as a whole.

Cannabis, on the other hand, is not addictive and has been shown to be very effective in dealing with a wide range of health issues. If a pharmaceutical company created cannabis, it would be heralded as one of the greatest inventions ever made!

It has been a decades-long effort on the part of the federal government to stigmatize cannabis but the reality is that this plant has so many benefits to offer us and the thoughtful use of cannabis should be celebrated.

I do believe that safety and purity of any consumable product is incredibly important. Whether it’s the food you’re buying at the store, a vitamin, or cannabis, consumers should be able to trust that systems have been put in place to ensure the safety of what they’re ingesting. While we have chosen to follow high standards with the production of Daygold, and to use independent labs to test for purity, there are no industry standards in place at the moment and there should be. It would be good to formulate standards on a federal level, made from input from many stakeholders including companies within the cannabis industry.

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

My favorite life lesson quote is from Henry David Thoreau, which I’ve adapted slightly here: “If one advances confidently in the direction of their dreams, and endeavors to live the life which they have imagined, they will meet with success, unexpected in common hours.”

A friend gave me this quote twenty five years ago, when I was living in Boulder, and it has been on my wall in some form or another ever since. I’ve found this quote to be very true- that our mindset and attitude create our reality. It’s almost like magic and yet I can often find myself straying from this truth. Keeping the quote on my wall is a gentle reminder that we are in the driver’s seat and when we believe and are confident in what we’re doing, the universe opens up to support us.

So given my history with this quote, you can imagine my surprise and delight when Nina texted me the job description for Daygold and Thoreau’s words were at the top of the page. I couldn’t believe it, as I’d never seen reference to this quote within a work context before- I took it as a sign that this was likely a great company for me to be a part of, and I was right.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

At the risk of sounding far out there, I’m going to speak honestly. If I could inspire a movement in which everyone was able to connect with the fact that we are all one, that each and every one of us, along with everything in our universe, comes from the same source, that would be simply amazing.

Have you seen the motto on Dr. Bronner’s soaps? All One. Have you heard the Buddhist concept of “I am that”? While I have seen and heard these phrases, something shifted within me where I felt, deep down, that we truly are all one and that the divisions we make in our minds between one another, between ourselves and everything around us, are just constructs in our minds.

The reality is that I am that. I am that person who is on top of the world, I am that person who is lost and alone, I am that tree in the forest. I am all that, we are all one. If I could start a huge movement that helped us all to connect to that truth, and we all felt more compassion for ourselves and one another as we’re all fragments of the same whole, then I would feel as though I had made a truly important impact on the world.

And self-care plays a big role in creating compassion and connection. Since I’m more likely to feel compassion for myself and others after taking care of myself- doing the things that help me keep perspective and connected to the moment- then I see the work that I’m doing with Daygold as being a part of building this powerful movement. It is meaningful and exciting work for me and I’m excited to try to share the tools with as many people as possible to create the greatest positive impact.

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

Authority Magazine

In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Pop Culture, Business, Tech, Wellness, & Social Impact

Authority Magazine

In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Candice Georgiadis

Written by

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

Authority Magazine

In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.