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Women Leading The Cannabis Industry, With Shatoia Robinson of Budzy

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

One of my goals is to break the stigma around hemp and CBD culture through education. When administered appropriately, cannabis can have a positive effect on one’s health, including reducing anxiety, lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation, and fighting cancer.

As a part of my series about strong women leaders in the cannabis industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Shatoia Robinson.

Shatoia Robinson was raised by women who taught her to roll up her sleeves and get to work. She graduated from DePaul University in Chicago with a Bachelors in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. Her strong work ethic and motivation have given her the drive to succeed in the medical sales industry for more than a decade, and while working in the industry, Shatoia discovered the benefits of CBD firsthand. The more she educated herself on the power of CBD, the more she wanted to share her knowledge and empower women of color to embrace a holistic, healthy life infused with CBD.

This passion, along with her entrepreneurial spirit, led her to launch Budzy, the first Black woman-owned monthly CBD subscription box that introduces women to a world of high-end CBD products that are beautiful to behold and backed by research. With the experience she brings from her medical sales career, Shatoia possesses the skills to take complicated scientific jargon and express it in relatable terms. This, in particular, has been an important differentiator for Budzy, as one of Shatoia’s goals is to break the stigma surrounding hemp and CBD culture through education.

Shatoia has recently taken her venture with Budzy to the next level and has developed the first CBD infused dry cookie mix to hit the market — The Cake Cookie by Budzy. Her desire to develop a product line of her own intersects with her passion for baking. In fact, back in 2010, Shatoia was the first African-American woman to launch a food truck in the City of Chicago called Mama Green’s Gourmet Goodies, in which she baked and sold delicious cookies based on her family’s heirloom recipes.

Shatoia’s mantra is “attitude is everything” and we see that play out through every aspect of her life, including her business. She’s motivated by the fact that she’s able to inspire other women to take charge and lead their lives in a positive direction, just as her mother and grandmother have inspired her.

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

I became interested in cannabidiol (CBD) products while working as a pharmaceutical and medical sales representative. The more I educated myself on the power of CBD, the more I wanted to share this knowledge and empower women to take control of their health and wellness in a natural way.

After losing my job at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I launched Budzy, a monthly subscription box service that elevates the CBD experience with our ever-changing curation of premium products from food to fashion to lifestyle.

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?

When I first started out, I had deliveries delayed and shipped to the wrong address because I was moving too fast and didn’t take the time to double check my every step. I learned very quickly that attention to detail is incredibly important when it comes to logistics, and this alone has the potential to make or break you when you’re in the subscription box business.

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?

Carrie Solomon of Greater Goods has been a wonderful help to me. She helped design and co-manufacture our first branded product — The Cake Cookie by Budzy.

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

We are very excited about the launch of The Cake Cookie. It is the first CBD infused dry cookie mix on the market, allowing people to make edibles at home in a safe and fun manner!

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?

First and foremost, it’s platforms such as this interview that give us a voice to educate other women on what the possibilities are. Sharing our stories and educating women on how to lead in a male-dominated industry is the first step to breaking down barriers.

Additionally, I believe there is boundless potential in collaborating with larger brands for activations. The idea that a well-established brand can shed light on women-owned brands is very powerful.

And finally, there are several ways that women can enter the cannabis industry through ancillary business, including transportation, banking/finance, etc. As a woman inspired by the industry, I took it upon myself to use my skill set to forge a place within the industry that I could call my own. Now it’s up to other women who are interested in breaking through to harness their strengths and do the same.

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. Always being willing to pivot. It’s absolutely essential!
  2. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. If you come across an idea, put your own spin on it and go for it!
  3. Network like crazy. There are a lot of women in the industry with tons of experience, but sometimes, for whatever reason, they are afraid to share. It’s okay to put your guard down and reach out to connect with the women you admire.

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

  1. More diversity in the industry.
  2. More women in the industry.
  3. Seeing more non-violent drug convictions for people of color being overturned.

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?

I’m most concerned about big business coming into the industry and making everything cookie cutter. It also really grinds my gears that local governments are doing more to open up opportunities for people of color that want to come into this industry. It’s exhausting seeing the same type of people win licensing lotteries. Cannabis was built on diversity and independence. Now it seems like there are too many former naysayers jumping on board just to make a dollar.

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 medicine and it can help people heal naturally in so many different disease states. The power of this plant has the potential to heal people all over the country.

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?

One of my goals is to break the stigma around hemp and CBD culture through education. When administered appropriately, cannabis can have a positive effect on one’s health, including reducing anxiety, lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation, and fighting cancer.

On the other hand, cigarettes contain toxins and have been linked to a variety of diseases, including lung cancer. One of the biggest advantages of cannabis is that you don’t have to smoke it. In fact, edibles have been growing in popularity and are one of the most popular items among the products offered in Budzy’s subscription boxes.

That being said, I truly believe that comparing cigarettes to cannabis is like comparing apples to oranges. With my experience in the medical industry, I’m grateful to be able to leverage my skills to take complicated scientific jargon and express it in relatable terms to help redefine cannabis culture in our country.

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

Attitude is everything. Everyone has a choice about how they want to go through the day and respond to the things that happen to them. A good positive attitude can help you throughout that journey.

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 want to inspire young Black women to think outside the box.

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

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