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 Maya Page, co-owner of OILLY (www.oillycbd.com). A serial entrepreneur, Maya is originally from Europe and has built several businesses from the ground up. She is currently the Creative Director of The Chicago Web Co., a one-stop-shop for entrepreneurs and businesses looking to build a brand and website. Early in her career, she emerged as an influential role model and game-changer for the e-commerce industry, being one of few women to be featured and recommended by Shopify. Page has always had a passion for a more natural, healthier lifestyle, which ultimately inspired her to start OILLY with her husband, Evan. A husband and wife duo, the Pages are taking the CBD industry by storm with their innovative ideas and creative approaches to the business, adding a more personalized touch to a rather impersonal industry.
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?
Thank you for having me! It’s been a great journey thus far!
My background is in International Business and Finance and I have been passionate about entrepreneurship since I was little. I always knew I’d own a business, I just never thought it’d be a cannabis business.
Like most, I fell into the corporate world, searching to carve my own place in the world. I was a Financial Analyst for a time, and then an Account Executive for a marketing company. I tried different careers, but none of them fed my thirst to do something more meaningful with my time.
It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my first son that I faced what many women in America face today — a heartbreakingly short maternity leave. My son was just 5 weeks old when I had to go back to work and I lasted merely a day, vowing to never work for someone else again. Since then, I have started, owned, and sold several businesses.
Fast forward to a few years later and I found myself experiencing postpartum anxiety, a common condition when your hormones are trying to re-balance themselves after having kids. I sought out my doctor and he prescribed me anti-anxiety medication, which seemed to help, but the side effects worried me. Always having been passionate about a healthier and more natural lifestyle, I discovered CBD oil, which helped me.
However, the entire process of purchasing CBD oil frustrated me. I’m just a Midwestern mom — I didn’t need chocolate haze-flavored CBD oil. I just needed a clean product that was effective and most importantly, organically grown.
Since CBD is not yet regulated, there is so much misinformation out there. Each company seems to have different labeling techniques and dosing, which, in the end, left me with more questions than answers. With my background in launching businesses, I decided to go straight to the source.
I knew others felt my frustrations, so I decided to start my own line. This way, I knew exactly what was in the formula. I started this business out of necessity, but also with the hope to help bridge the gap between an amazing product and the end user.
I hope that by organically growing our product, having clear bottle labeling, lots of useful information on our website, and by having a more personalized approach, that we can help others discover the wonderful benefits of CBD oil while feeling confident that they’re purchasing a quality product.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
It has been a whirlwind! We’ve received such a welcoming, positive vibe from our community and families. We get stories all of the time of how CBD has changed our customers’ lives for the better — and not to sound cliché, but that is the best story of all! Being able to not only help ourselves and our needs, but having a business where we can in turn help others is amazing.
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?
Being new to the hemp business, we always asked a lot of questions. I would call up our farm and ask them a million questions — I think they got a bit frustrated with me after a while, but we all ended up laughing about it.
I wanted to make sure that we were formulating a good, clean product, without any additives. Already having owned companies before, I knew to ask the same question more than once and get everything in writing. We’d have these really wonderful conversations and I’d always end with “OK, can you send that to me in an email?”. They would always laugh. I think they weren’t used to us — we’re not here just to make a quick profit, but to provide a truly good product to our customers (and ourselves!). Since we’re the users of the product, too, we’re basically a customer formulating our own needs. It’s a wonderful process!
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
Yes, we are always working on new and exciting projects! We’ve had a lot of really great feedback about our products so far and we are currently working on bringing on a few more — including a few topicals. We’re also working with some local coffee shops and candy stores to bring in some more “fun” products, too!
We have lots of ideas and lots of excitement and interest from other businesses — we just want to make sure we’re forming good relationships and that at the end of the day, everything we do is to benefit our customers and their needs.
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?
My husband, Evan, will always be my true partner and supporter and I am extremely grateful that he is by my side. He is the ideal co-owner in this business, as he is extremely patient and charming as I run off in a million different directions with a million different ideas and he helps to reel me back in.
He is a very level-headed guy and I am always bouncing my ideas off of him. I tend to get really excited about our business, so he helps to check me and make sure the idea I am chasing makes sense.
We’re working on bringing a really amazing product to the market so he helps me ensure that everything we do has a purpose and it is not just for the novelty of it.
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?
Instead of running impersonal ads, we believe in building relationships with our customers. People reach out to us all of the time with their needs and we take a more personal approach to helping them.
We built this business because we were frustrated with the information that was already out there — we know what it’s like to be the consumer and to be confused by the labeling, information and dosage. Therefore, we’ve truly tried to bridge the gap between consumer and product.
We also come from a more collaborative approach — instead of advertising or marketing, we work on collaborating with both local and national businesses. We want to be an integrative part of our community and have joined the chamber of commerce, for example, and will soon be hosting workshops where we can help answer questions and further help to bridge that gap.
We care deeply about our customers’ experience and journey — from the moment they land on our website or are introduced to our product, all the way through how they integrate it into their daily lives. We want to make sure they have a positive, empowering experience.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?
Things that excite us:
1. Acceptance — The stigma around cannabis and CBD is disappearing and people are starting to realize all of the amazing benefits of it. We’re really excited about where the industry is going.
2. Availability — It is easier than ever to buy CBD (we can sell it online!) and we’re really excited to help bridge the gap between the product and the end user.
3. A healthier alternative — CBD is such a healthier alternative to modern medicine. We are so happy that it is so readily available and that we’re able to formulate more products.
Things that concern us:
1. Misrepresentation — Since the market is not yet regulated, there’s a lot of misrepresentation out there. Dishonest businesses are sometimes taking advance of users due to their lack of knowledge.
2. Threshold for entering the market is lower — Therefore, a lot of people are trying to enter the business to make a quick buck, not really caring about the product, itself.
3. Misunderstanding — CBD is an amazing product, but it is not a cure-all. People get really excited when they hear it helped with someone’s ____. They expect it to do everything for them, and it’s not like that. We feel that with further market growth, people will truly understand, and benefit, from all of the potential this product holds.
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. Credit card processing is hard to get and very costly — One of the hardest parts of starting this business has been finding a credit card processor that will process our online payments. A lot of them wanted us to open up a European checking account, which we weren’t comfortable with.
This has been the most difficult process — not just finding a credit card processor, but negotiating down our rates. When all is said and done, we’re paying about 6–7% per swipe (versus the standard 2.9% per transaction).
2. CBD is popular, but people don’t know much about it — CBD has become extremely popular, but people are left with a lot of questions. Thankfully, we were on the other side of the fence before and were ready and anticipated a lot of those questions, which we tried to answers in our packaging and info that is available online. A lot of our time is spent educating our customers, and we’re glad that we’re able to help answer their questions.
3. You cannot advertise — Because of the nature of the business, we cannot run any ads on FB, Google, or Instagram. This is great, because a lot of our time and focus, then, is spent connecting with our community and our customers directly and honing in on our tribe.
4. Your heart will break — My heart breaks on almost a daily basis. People contact me with their ailments and stories of struggling with chronic pain or debilitating anxiety and my heart truly breaks for them. You’ll want to ship their CBD oil to them with a big, warm hug.
5. Stay Informed — Like any business, you need to stay informed and on top of legislation, rules and regulations. You’ll need an unstoppable drive to make everything come together. Your expectation for quality will have to be unsurpassed.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Foster a creative, growth-centered environment. Trust your employees and allow them the freedom to grow and collaborate. Help to truly educate your employees and make sure they know as much as you do about the ins and outs of your product.
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 want to inspire people to live their best lives — and I think that starts from within. Eating healthy, putting the right fuel into their bodies. I want to inspire people to look at their labels and try to find a healthier approach. Ask questions. Don’t settle — you deserve good, healthy nutrition to fuel your body.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/oillycbd/
Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/OILLYCBD/
Website — https://oillycbd.com
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Thanks so much for having me!