Prepare yourself for a LOT of “NO”. People are going to say no. There is no way around that. I wish I could tell you that when you have a dream, the world just opens up to make a way for you to succeed — and to some extent, it might — but for the most part, you have to be prepared for a lot of that big, fat, two-letter word: NO. And you have to take that no and figure out how to work harder than everyone else to turn it into a yes.
As a part of our series about “dreamers who ignored the naysayers and did what others said was impossible”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Angela Ardolino.
Tampa-based entrepreneur Angela Ardolino is the founder and CEO of House of Alchemy, LLC d/b/a CBD Dog Health, makers of all-natural, full spectrum hemp extract products for pets. Ardolino is a medical cannabis expert and is a graduate of the inaugural program offering a certificate in the therapeutic uses of medical cannabis from the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine. She is a member of The Society of Cannabis Clinicians, United for Care, CannaMoms, and Women Grow. Additionally, she was the host of the 2016 Canna Conference in Tampa and worked on the front lines of cannabis legalization, advocating for Floridians to pass the constitutional amendment legalizing medical cannabis. In 2016, Ardolino launched CBD Dog Health and began providing full-spectrum hemp extract (CBD) tinctures, treats, and salves designed specifically for pets. She is a sought-after speaker and is the host of It’s a Dog’s Life, a podcast on Cannabis Radio, where she interviews the nation’s top holistic veterinarians and natural-minded pet professionals. Ardolino continually demonstrates her dedication and commitment to helping animals as the owner and operator of Fire Flake Farm, an animal rescue based in Lutz, FL and has cared for animals for over 20 years. Her commitment to pets doesn’t stop there, as she is also the owner and operator of natural grooming and boarding business Beautify the Beast, with two locations in the Tampa area.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit better. Can you tell us your ‘backstory’?
From the time I was a little kid, I always loved animals. I was the kid who came home with injured birds and stray bunnies or dogs and nursed them to health. I was also an extremely driven child, and I knew I wanted to be my own boss. For example, when I was 9, I opened my first business making balloon animals and doing face painting for birthday parties in my hometown of Miami. As I grew up, I continually felt driven to help animals and children, and after attending the University of Colorado in Boulder majoring in broadcast journalism, I moved back to Miami and opened the Miami Children’s Theater. The theater was a success and was the launching point for so many wonderful Broadway performers and other creative professionals, and I felt so fortunate to be part of their journey and help them find their gifts. Then, in 2008, I moved to Tampa and found that there was no resource for families in the area who were looking for things to do or local advice, so I founded Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine. Meanwhile, I was also running a rescue farm called Fire Flake Farm, which is where I felt most at peace healing and fostering a variety of animals.
Despite all of the past success, however, I still felt that I could be doing more for animals. Around 2015, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and was forced to slow down and find alternative treatment to the toxic medications I was being prescribed — which is when I found cannabis. It changed my life and I threw myself into learning all I could about the healing power of cannabis. I also learned that dogs, cats, horses, and other animals could benefit from this miraculous plant and from the cannabidiol (CBD) it produces. At that point I knew that I had to make it my life’s mission to get this important medicine into the hands of as many pet owners as possible. That is what lead me to open CBD Dog Health, where I am currently the CEO and work tirelessly to educate the public all about natural medicine and holistic pet care.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Right now, I am kicking off a West Coast tour with my education team hosting free events throughout California to teach pet parents about homeopathic healing for their pets. I am hoping that it shows people that homeopathy and better diet for pets are not “hippy” or “crunchy” but are actually part of a movement to improve their lives and the lives of their pets.
In your opinion, what do you think makes your company or organization stand out from the crowd?
My company stands out because our goals and focus are not on profit — rather, we are focused on making sure that all pets have access to natural healing when they need it. And, unlike other CBD companies that have popped up, we are run by a medical cannabis expert (me) and animal advocates and are not just producers of a human product with a pawprint slapped on the label. We are also the ONLY product on the market that has essential oils in our formulas.
Ok, thank you for that. I’d like to jump to the main focus of this interview. Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us? What was your idea? What was the reaction of the naysayers? And how did you overcome that?
When I decided to follow my dream and launch myself into working in the cannabis world, there were so many naysayers. Everyone from my ex-business partners to people who worked with a parenting organization my late mother was a member of had something to say about it — and what they were saying was not good. I also had people who were shocked because they thought I was a June Cleaver instead of a current day, Snoop-Dogg loving, ex-con Martha Stewart.
One particular story that comes to mind was when I decided to host Canna Conference in Tampa in 2016. Medical cannabis was not yet legal, so many doctors were afraid to attend. But I was determined to put on the event and educate and provide resources to as many people who wanted to learn about cannabis as possible — be they doctors, veterinarians, medical professionals, or just the average person. Still, there was this fear that if you came to a conference about cannabis, you’d be one of “those” doctors. It took serious convincing for some of them. Thankfully, I stayed the course and kept my determination, because in October 2016 we were able to host the conference and it was a success. So many people came to me afterward and thanked me for being brave enough to do something like this, and it felt so good knowing that we could help humans and animals have access to this medication, could educate people about medical cannabis, and help them know that their vote YES to legalize medical cannabis in Florida was the right choice.
In the end, how were all the naysayers proven wrong? 🙂
I am still proving the naysayers wrong every day. Some of the people who didn’t believe I could do it have reached out to me now asking for products for their pets.
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 about that?
I have an incredible team who has supported my dream, and shared in it, for years. But I think the person I am most grateful to is my business partner and best friend, Hernando Umana. Hernando is a Broadway performer who found relief in CBD the same way that I do, and his passion for not only educating pet parents and making our products great, but also for his other career on Broadway, is seriously inspiring. He started in an industry where your dreams are everything and everyone says no all the time, but his positive attitude continually inspires both me and my team.
It must not have been easy to ignore all the naysayers. Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share the story with us?
Absolutely, from the time I was a child I have had to ignore naysayers because at first, it was that nobody could fathom a child wanting to be an entrepreneur, and then it became an issue of people not understanding my dream of helping animals holistically. But, in order to become resilient, you must be confident in yourself. I believe that my experience building businesses as a child, and my experience in theater and performing arts helped me become a very confident person and I learned to trust in myself and be confident enough to go out there and be the first to do something
Based on your experience, can you share 5 strategies that people can use to harness the sense of tenacity and do what naysayers think is impossible? (Please share a story or an example for each)
The five strategies I would recommend are:
- Trust your gut. If you know you are supposed to do something a certain way — be it following your dream or just creating your own way of doing something — listen to what you gut is telling you and ignore the rest. People told me there was no way I could find the quality of hemp or essential oils that I wanted for my products, but I trusted my gut and now I know I am making the best products available.
- Prepare yourself for a LOT of “NO”. People are going to say no. There is no way around that. I wish I could tell you that when you have a dream, the world just opens up to make a way for you to succeed — and to some extent, it might — but for the most part, you have to be prepared for a lot of that big, fat, two-letter word: NO. And you have to take that no and figure out how to work harder than everyone else to turn it into a yes. When I wanted to get into the medical cannabis industry, I was met with so many nos. Our payment gateway dumped us because we are a CBD company, our previous bank left us out to dry, people who I thought I could count on for support met me with opposition. Thankfully, I had mentally prepared for all of the naysayers and it helped keep me from feeling beaten down in those moments.
- Get creative. We have established that people will say no, that is a given when you are chasing your dream. So, when they do say no, you have to get creative. In my case, when social media denied me the ability to advertise (because we are a CBD company), I had to get creative and learn about SEO and find the best SEO people out there. Getting creative is the only way to make sure you can chase your dream and be a pioneer in your industry. After all, if everything was cut and dried, clear and easy, everyone would do it.
- Find people who have the same (or similar) dreams and collaborate. You know how they say it takes a village to raise a child? It also takes a village to follow a dream. Fill your village with people who have similar goals or dreams and find ways to work together to make your dreams come true. My business partner and best friend, Hernando, had the same dream that I have: to help animals and to share the healing power of cannabis with as many people as possible. In fact, every member of my team, from my COO to my assistant, content editor, and education director have the same dream: to help animals and share cannabis medicine with the world. I filled my village with people who chase their dreams relentlessly and as a result, we can all succeed together.
- Give yourself space to change. It is okay if your dream changes through the course of your growth and development. I started with a dream of helping animals, and then it changed to sharing cannabis medicine, and finally I ended up realizing both dreams could co-exist, which is what led me to start my company. But, if I had been obsessed with just chasing that one singular dream, I would have stopped when I bought my grooming and boarding business. Instead, I gave myself the space to grow and change and adapt, and as a result, as my dream changed so did I, and now I feel more fulfilled than I ever have before and I know I am making a difference in the lives of so many animals and people.
What is your favorite quote or personal philosophy that relates to the concept of resilience?
I always say, “I am just a regular person with nothing to lose.” When you take away the fear of failure, or this idea that if you fail you will lose everything, everything changes. When you realize that you have nothing to lose, you can gain everything.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
My biggest goal is to inspire people to de-stigmatize cannabis for all mammals, pets included, and to change the mentality of what a cannabis user looks like. Businesspeople can be users, moms, dads, teachers, friends, dogs, cats, horses — completely upstanding members of society can all be cannabis users. When we change the idea of who uses cannabis, we can change the idea of cannabis altogether. Hand-in-hand with this, I want to inspire a movement to clear the names of those who are incarcerated for cannabis-related arrests.
Can our readers follow you on social media?
Please do! You can follow me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/angelaardolino and I interact with all of our members of my Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/HolisticPetAdvice/. You can also follow me on Instagram @AngieArdolino.
Thank you for these great stories. We wish you only continued success!
Angela Ardolino: “They told me It was impossible and I did it anyway” was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.