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Genevieve Dolan of Vieve’s Leaves: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis or CBD Business

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

They say you’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with. While I learned this in my event planning career, it resonates more when it’s your own business at stake. I go back to the importance of due diligence and plugging in the numbers to know what you’re up against.

As part of my series about “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis Business” I had the pleasure of interviewing Genevieve Dolan.

Genevieve Dolan is the founder and CEO of Vieve’s Leaves, a scientifically backed wellness company designed for health-conscious individuals seeking natural remedies for the wear and tear of everyday life. Burdened by body aches, insomnia and anxiety, Genevieve was determined to combat any negativity that clouded her space — which led to her discovering the magic of CBD. With Vieve’s Leaves, Genevieve hopes to help others achieve internal and external balance through products designed to soothe both the skin and psyche.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was introduced to CBD at the recommendation of a nutritionist to naturally treat anxiety and insomnia. After doing my own research, I found that CBD wasn’t just a better alternative to pharmaceuticals, it could also help people who were experiencing mental health struggles like anxiety, depression and addiction — something that resonated personally with people close to me. It was on this journey of CBD discovery that I learned many of the internal benefits of cannabinoids can also be experienced when used externally.

When COVID-19 forced me to pause my (super fun, yet stressful) career in event planning, I decided to dive headfirst into learning about how else I could incorporate CBD into my lifestyle and what that could mean for others. As a late 20-something who struggled with adult acne and sensitive, aging skin, skincare was the next step in expanding my use of CBD to live a more balanced, natural 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?

Once I had the idea for Vieve’s Leaves, I focused all my efforts on creating the best possible product. I knew nothing about running a business or the science behind creating skincare, so I surrounded myself with partners who could complement my skills and bring my vision to life.

I still had to learn everything there was to know about operating a business in the cannabis world — which was intimidating. It took a long year of personal growth — trusting who I am as a person and believing in myself — to build something that I didn’t even realize I had been dreaming about.

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?

Building a brand from nothing has taught me so many lessons; and, while we’ve had our funny moments, they didn’t seem funny at the time. I think the most impactful lessons thus far have been the beauty of patience and the importance of diligently researching everyone and everything that comes in contact with your ideas and plans.

While it might seem like simple things to ‘know’ how to do when starting up, it’s easy to get blinded by the excitement, creative pieces and potential success of the journey. I’ve embraced learning how to understand the time it takes and give myself the space to pause and embrace the rollercoaster.

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

Right now, our focus for Vieve’s Leaves is generating buzz for our flagship products and teaching consumers about the benefits of CBD-enhanced skincare. I think people hear CBD and immediately think it’s going to get you stoned or that it’s illegal; but it’s a perfectly safe and effective alternative to the chemical-laden products on the market.

I also have a new team in place that is helping drive our marketing and public relations strategy. It’s a refreshing change of pace to work alongside individuals who are just as passionate about the brand as I am.

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?

If it weren’t for my family’s support, Vieve’s Leaves would not exist! Everyone from my dad for believing in me and investing in our business to my brother for helping with sales and operations. Not to mention my sisters, mom and younger brother cheering me on, whether it’s on social media or just sending me a text to see how I’m doing that day. They’ve witnessed the intensity of the rollercoaster and have never failed to be by my side when I needed them most.

Of course, a huge shout out to all my friends, who not only religiously use the products, but believe in the brand and in me. I’m incredibly lucky to have such an encouraging support system surrounding me!

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?

Our marketing strategy has primarily been to connect with our customers through organic social media. I think what we do that larger companies could learn from is lead with vulnerability and honesty — both from the perspective of a consumer who struggles with skin issues and wants to feel like the brands they’re using care about them, and for other entrepreneurs to know that it’s a challenging industry with a lot of ups and downs.

We have an advantage because I personally deal with skin issues that many others also suffer from; so, I truly do care about my consumers and their reactions to our products. At the same time, this is a small business in an incredibly saturated industry with a lot of challenges. So much of what is shown in skincare marketing is perfect, pore-less glossy skin, or doctored before-and-after images; with Vieve’s Leaves we use unedited photos and are transparent about everything in our products, so our users know exactly what they’re getting and what to expect.

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:

  1. Industry growth — specifically to mainstream consumers
  2. Health and wellness innovations
  3. Environmental benefits

The three things that concern me:

  1. The potential oversaturation of the cannabis market
  2. Lack of information and bias — specifically among the medical professional community
  3. The number of synthetic versions of cannabis coming from overseas

Can you share your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis Business”? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. You can’t sell CBD products on social media or Amazon, so we’ve created a strong e-commerce platform and are being aggressive with our PR and marketing strategy to drive brand awareness.
  2. Doctors can be super skeptical; however, I’ve been able to talk with more who are giving me great perspective and insight on their knowledge around the industry. We are both teaching each other — which is exciting!
  3. There’s a lot of ambiguity surrounding CBD, hemp and cannabis products. Some consumers are more hesitant than you’d think. We’ve gone to great lengths to research the benefits and potential side effects of our ingredients to ensure we provide honest information to educate our community.
  4. Like not being able to sell on Amazon and social media, there are some platforms that continuously flag CBD-related content, so we are incredibly mindful with the content we create. We want our customers to know that we have their best interests in mind and try to be as transparent as possible.
  5. They say you’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with. While I learned this in my event planning career, it resonates more when it’s your own business at stake. I go back to the importance of due diligence and plugging in the numbers to know what you’re up against.

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

As a founder, I always try to lead with empathy and strive to make our workplace an environment where everyone’s ideas are heard. I love learning from other people! While it’s rewarding when people agree with you, I also love when I’m challenged, and a new perspective is brought to light.

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 for there to be continued research and education around natural alternatives to pharmaceuticals, specifically as it relates to mental health and wellness.

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

You can follow us on Instagram @vievesleaves

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

Genevieve Dolan of Vieve’s Leaves: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.