Women Leading The Cannabis Industry: “Do a few things well; Quality over quantity” With Shimyrre Britt of Mana Artisan Botanics

Len Giancola
Sep 16, 2020 · 8 min read

Do a few things well. Quality over quantity. If you do products, focus on the most impactful ones. If you have a store, create a niche. In a hemp market saturated with over 3,600 brands, it’s too easy to disappear into a sea of options. Focus on what makes you unique and lead with that.

a part of my series about strong women leaders in the cannabis industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Shimyrre Britt, Co-Founder and Director of Product at Mana Artisan Botanics.

Shimyrre holds a deep reverence for the interconnection of the body and spirit through the plant world, having spent 15 years exploring the dynamics between plants, people and food. With a degree as a Holistic Healthcare Practitioner and extended training in holistic nutrition and traditional plant medicine, Shimyrre specializes in herbal formulary for physicians and fellow herbalists. She is the head herbalist for Honaunau Farm, as well as the product formulator and Director of Product for Mana Artisan Botanics™.

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

t’s a pleasure to be in this conversation! My entry into the cannabis industry sprouted from my appreciation of plant-based wellness. As an herbalist, I’ve spent many years working with plants largely from a preventative health angle. As I began to understand more and more about our endocannabinoid system and how cannabis works in the body, it was a natural expansion to incorporate this plant into my focus. I was inspired to help remove the negative stigma associated with cannabis by presenting it ways that are not only effective but enjoyable. Good health is a journey rooted in practices that sustain physical and mental vitality, spiritual contentment, and daily pleasurable acts that bring a richness to how we experience life. I believe cannabis is a natural complement to these endeavors.

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?

We didn’t intend to become a luxury line, however, doing business in Hawaii is not an affordable endeavor. Combine that with staying true to our values around the triple bottom line of planet, people, and profit; it has been a humbling lesson to scale as a company while prioritizing these considerations. One of the things that have been a great support along the way is the relationships we’ve developed with those that believe in the importance of bolstering the local economy, as well as many pioneering and similarly, challenged entrepreneurs highlighting unique offerings from Hawaii.

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

I have people close to me that initially didn’t understand what I did for a living and often would only ask me about my work in private, “on the hush”. Even after explaining that we make hemp and botanical products to sustain vibrant health, for a time, it was still only a private discussion which I thought was hilarious.

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 wouldn’t be where I am without one of my business partners, Steve Sakala, Founder of Mana Artisan Botanics. It was his work that launched the birth of what would become Mana. His extensive expertise in cannabis and genuine desire to help make an impact in improving personal and environmental health is a spearhead in what we do. He is a dear friend and leader in our journey to be a force for good in the industry.

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

Yes! We recently participated in a first-of-its-kind study in the industry to learn how CBD products impact quality of life. We’ve learned that users receive great benefits from our products with 30 days of use and even more significantly with 90 days of use. With that, we are working on a program to help support sustained wellness. It is our hope that this program will empower people to invest in their health and wellbeing in an impactful way, in combination with other tools and habits that support stability and longevity.

Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. Despite 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?

Companies should consider ways to remove bias potential from the hiring process. Incorporate tools like personality and skillset assessments in the initial phases of interviewing. Instill a sense of curiosity in the approach to expanding your team, particularly at the executive level. Women are largely the caretakers of humanity and this feminine perspective brings tremendous value, depth, and wisdom that should not be overlooked, especially when working with a plant that is an incredible tool for healing.

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.

Do a few things well. Quality over quantity. If you do products, focus on the most impactful ones. If you have a store, create a niche. In a hemp market saturated with over 3,600 brands, it’s too easy to disappear into a sea of options. Focus on what makes you unique and lead with that.

Prioritize diversity in your team. Different backgrounds and lifestyles bring unique perspectives and solutions. This contributes to a rich cumulative knowledge while spawning creativity that is critical for growth and innovation.

Make your mission part of your marketing strategy. Why are you in the industry? What inspired you to start your business? Shoppers choose the brands they support based on trusting and relating to their story, the quality of the products, and the results they feel.

Assess skillsets and values equally when building your team. Without a shared appreciation of the “why” behind the mission, efforts can be fragmented and granular which may limit the growth potential of the company vision.

Incorporate a holistic view into your problem-solving. Having a laser focus is valuable at times, however, more often than not, there is much to be gained when considering alternative or unconventional thinking to challenges or even to how you market your business.

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

It’s dynamic. Both with respect to what we continue to learn about the effects of the plant itself as well as how we as a society manage and utilize the many uses of cannabis.

It’s wonderful to see it woven into the fast-growing arena of plant-based wellness.

It’s an industry with the potential to transform the narrative around what is probably the most significant plant in human history.

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 cannabis industry is often viewed as a “green industry”, however in reality, the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides is very common. Let’s remove the toxic use of chemicals in cannabis. It is my hope that the cannabis industry can take the lead in demonstrating organic and regenerative agriculture practices that would not only produce safer and healthier end products but become part of the solution to some of our planet’s most pressing challenges. Successful regenerative models in cannabis could also cross over into the traditional food industry as well.

Those that were most heavily affected by the drug war are being disenfranchised in a major way by the emerging industry. It would be wonderful to see local, state, and federal programs established with a distinct focus to support people of color to take more leadership roles in the cannabis industry. The playing field needs to be balanced and it is not when the vast majority of businesses in the cannabis industry are controlled by white men.

I’m also concerned about the corporate take over and control in an industry that has mostly been locally controlled up until the last few years. There is still a chance to not make this yet another example of a monopoly. I would prefer to see decriminalization legislation as a first step before jumping to full legalization to give local operators/ growers a chance to become further established prior to full-scale legalization.

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?

I believe that no one should still be behind bars for any type of cannabis use, production, or distribution. I also believe the first step in any type of cannabis legislation would be to right the wrongs of the last decades by expunging any non-violent cannabis-related convictions. Given my concern about corporate influence in the industry, my preference would be to see full federal cannabis decriminalization and allow for states to govern cannabis issues. Again, my hope for this approach would be that this would allow for a more even playing field for those that want to participate in the industry.

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 don’t believe that cannabis should be regulated like cigarettes or even alcohol for that matter. Even if people choose not to exactly articulate why they use cannabis, it is being used to alleviate or improve a state of being. This is a medicinal plant and, in the case of CBD-rich hemp, can even be considered a nutritional addition. I don’t think heavily taxing cannabis is the solution and it should be available to all that need it for a reasonable price.

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

“If you’re always trying to be normal, you’ll never know how amazing you can be. “ — Maya Angelou

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. :-)

I have always thought the concept of community cannabis collectives that elevate cannabis alongside commonly used plants would be a fantastic resource for those interested in learning how to work with hemp and incorporate it into their lifestyle. This would be a two-fold endeavor. The first being community gardens for local residents to grow hemp and other healing botanicals. The second part being centralized cannabis culture centers. These centers could host workspaces, experts, and special events that share knowledge and skillsets in hands-on workshop settings to empower people to support the health and wellbeing of their families. Any takers?!

Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you only continued success!

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