Photo credit: Supermarket News
Some people start a business for the money, some people start a business as a means to an end, and some people start a business because they have a vision of something better.
A vision of something better is what drove Bee Downin into business. Downin is the founder and Queen Bee of Bee Kynd, a Texas-based cannabis wellness brand.
Downin has infectious energy and undeniable passion. She talks about the plant in terms of healing, growth, and spirituality. She walks through the economic impact of opening a processing warehouse in the same breath as describing her calling. Truly, Downin has a mind for business and a heart for cannabis.
She describes her approach to cannabis as “nourishing her endocannabinoid system inside and out,” and she approaches her products with the same mindset. She’s benefited greatly from a health-focused approach to the plant, and wants to share that with others who may not enjoy smoking or may not be aware of the options they have for consuming cannabis.
Downin has big plans for Bee Kynd, including a combined HQ/warehouse, partnerships with local farmers, and an increase in sustainable packaging. At the heart of it all is an intense focus on alignment, and doing that work that resonates with her and her tribe.
Q&A with Bee Kynd Founder, Bee Downin
What’s something in this industry that excites you?
“I love the fact that so many more BIPOC are coming in, specifically women of color, are coming in this industry. That brings my heart joy. And when I say women of color, I don’t just mean Black women. Women of all shades coming in here, doing the thing, because this industry has been predominantly dominated by men, specifically white men. And it’s our time to shine in this.
There’s still a lot of opportunity here, for women of color, people of color. There’s opportunity everywhere. You just gotta see it and take advantage of it.”
What’s one thing that needs to change in the industry?
“I have to start where I am- the laws here in Texas.
I’m not big on politics at all, never have been. However, when I got into this industry, I found out that I had to be somewhat aware of the laws because they affect what I’m doing and how I work in this industry. So I had to find out how the laws are made here. And I think I’ve been here 15, 16 years, but never really paid attention.
I reside in Texas where actually the laws are made for us by the legislature. So we don’t vote on laws here. It’s a group of professionals, they’re lawyers and doctors, mostly because they can afford to be off to make laws for us. With that, marijuana legalization actually only comes up every two years here in a session that spans maybe 140 days every two years. So that is why we are so behind, here in Texas well, and also cause of the governor and the Lieutenant that here as well.”
How does sustainability factor into your business choices?
“Right now, since I’m so small, I don’t have the sustainable practices that I would like to have in place, like my packaging and all that – it’s just not cost effective for me. Right now, I’m using plastic containers, safe plastic, that I hope people reuse.
Going forward, as I scale, I want to be able to use more sustainable packaging. Also, when it comes to who I source from, I really do want to use local farmers. Preferably by farmers that are for regenerative farming. I don’t have that luxury right now.
I also have to take into consideration the economic and the social sustainability as well. As I scale, when I look at economic and social, I’m looking at where I decide to put my warehouse, my headquarters, how does that affect the community in which I choose to do that? Employing people will also affect the community as well. I have to take all of those things into consideration as well as I move forward.”
Talk to me about diversity and inclusion in your business and the industry.
“Being a solopreneur, I am the organization. I am diverse and inclusive!
As my organization grows, of course diversity and inclusion will be considered in my hiring practices. The thing with me, I don’t care how you look, who you love, how you love, or whatever. But I do care about your commitment to the vision and how your values align with the company.
Do you add to the positive energy and vibration the culture in which I want in this company? Because at the end of the day, my company is set up to serve the greater good, the greater public. So are you with that mission? Do you mess with those values? Do you mess with that purpose?”
Photo Credit: Leafly
Let’s talk about social equity
“I’m in Texas, we don’t even have a viable medical program. So with that social equity ain’t even on the table right now.
From what I see when laws are made, on the state level to legalize cannabis, social equity is on the back burner. I suspect that’s gonna be the case here in Texas as well. Because honestly there’s not enough people that look like me that are making the decisions.
Even though there are advocates that are for legalization, for viable medical marijuana program, they’re still not talking about social equity. A viable social equity program to me is not just about giving the underserved community money, capital. It also has to include an educational component on how to that capital effectively. On how to run a business. Yes, cannabis is wonderful, it’s great it is the most amazing plant ever on this universe. But it’s still an industry, still a business. And you gotta know how to run a business.
So these social equity programs not only have to be able to give the capital, but have to also have that education component on for that the end user to run a business, A viable business, or otherwise it set up to fail.
I have a formal degree in business. I have a graduate degree in business and even still, I didn’t learn about entrepreneurship in business school. I’m learning it through the hard knocks.”
What about the economic impact of cannabis?
“A lot of times when we talk about, legalization, they talk about medical and decriminalization. But I don’t hear as much about the economic impact, especially in these outlying areas. These rural areas that have been forgotten, and how bringing cannabis into the fold could really revitalize them.
And honestly, if we’re going to turn around the politicians, we have to drive the money because that’s what they’re think about- the money.”
What are you really proud of?
“The thing I’m most proud of is in my healing journey, I have been able to touch quite a few people and help them in their health journey, in their spiritual journey, in their career; I’ve contributed towards change. I’m proud of the impact that I’ve been able to make on others.
The other is finishing school finally. I did not take the traditional route, I left college in my junior year, I was 19 years old. I went back to school 10 years later and finished my bachelor’s degree. And even that was a lot of struggle. A couple years later, and I don’t know what possessed me, I decided to go back for my master’s. I had a lot of bumps and bruises along that way as well and it took me six years to finally get my masters. I finally finished. It took a long time, but I finally finished.”
What do you want customers to take away from an experience with you?
“That they learned a little bit more about the plant. That they appreciate a little bit more about the plant and that they’re open to experiencing the plant more.
I try to keep it as basic and brief as I can, but with enough passion that you wanna learn more. I’m not just selling you a product. If you have questions, I want you to know that I’m there for you. You don’t have to just go online and order.”
What is your favorite fun fact about cannabis?
“A historical fact: Queen Victoria used to use cannabis for her cramps. To think about the monarchy using cannabis!”
This interview was first published on the Cannabis Creative Blog, as a part of the Cannabis Creative Interview series.
Written by: Jessica Riley
Edited by: Veronica Castillo
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