"Have an open form of communication where people can feel comfortable expressing their ideas, opinions and concerns about the business. Be open to receiving constructive criticism. Don’t underestimate newcomers and younger talent as they can offer a different perspective and add value to the business. Challenge team members to be creative, innovative and bring something unique to the table- recognize and appreciate them for it."
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 Kay Kazmi. Kay Kazmi is a California based Product Developer in the Beauty & Lifestyle space and the brand visionary of SAFI, a CBD wellness line focused on pure and potent plant medicine. From a young age, her multicultural upbringing influenced Kay to be drawn to unique aspects of beauty and creative expression. Known to be creative and curious, Kay obtained a Bachelors in Entrepreneurship, then graduated with honors from FIDM’s Beauty & Marketing program. Since then, she has used her creative talents to launch world class products in the beauty space for brands like Smashbox Cosmetics. After years in Product Development in cosmetics, Kay started shifting her interest into clean beauty, skincare and holistic wellness. While on this path, she bumped into Cannabis, and discovered all the multi-benefits of this miracle plant. Kay has been on a mission to improve quality of life through products ever since, applying her knowledge of product development in the creation of new, modern and creative lifestyle products.
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?
Working in the beauty industry, I was very intrigued by all the research and recent studies on the benefits of Cannabis as an ingredient. At first glance, it seemed more of a “trending ingredient” in the beauty space, but being a Cannabis user myself- it was something I found very beneficial for myself. It helps me deal with anxiety, depression and stress. That being said, I became more and more curious to know about how it could benefit the skin and just overall well-being for other people.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
The most interesting and challenging part has been navigating in this new space where laws and regulations are still forming, evolving and changing as it relates to Cannabis. One day you think everything is great and good to go, the next day you find out there’s online merchant issues or new compliance requirements. Cannabis businesses are considered to be high risk, so securing a merchant service can be a challenge, but like Varys from Game of Thrones once said, “the greater the risk the greater the reward”.
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?
The funniest mistake I would say was being under the impression that similar to other botanical and herbal ingredients that everyone would be accepting of cannabis and its benefits in the beauty and wellness world. Of course there is the legality piece, but what I have come to learn so far is that there are a lot of different views and opinions surrounding cannabis and still a lot more research that needs to be done and education that needs to take place about the subject. Staying on top of the latest news and doing your own research is key.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
I am currently working on an innovative project with Cannabis that I am very excited about as it’s right down my lane! It’s a soothing product- that’s as much as I can share at the moment. We are hoping to launch by next year if all goes well, so stay tuned on that.
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?
I have been very lucky and fortunate to have had a group of people from professors, industry professionals, colleagues, and supervisors who helped nurture my skills and shape my career path. I consider myself to be an introvert with a creative mind and a deep passion for product development. Everyone I have met on my career journey has helped me come a long way in some shape or form to be able to do what I feel I can do best- come up with creative visions and create meaningful products.
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?
Finding your niche and sticking to it. I like to think it’s just clever and smart business to listen and pay attention to your audience and cater to their wants and needs. Also engage with them- whether its online, social media or in real life to try and establish open dialogue and a real relationship with the consumer.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?
Three things that excite me most:
1. It’s new, dynamic and cutting edge which allows room for innovation, opportunities, and growth in so many different areas
2. Cannabis is a super plant with so many unique benefits that we haven’t even fully discovered ourselves yet
3. I genuinely believe it can help the world become a better place- for people and the planet
Three things that concern me:
1. The unknown of laws, rules and regulations that have yet to be established
2. If it will take a long time for Cannabis to be fully embraced- especially globally
3. Misconceptions about Cannabis- gateway drug, it’s dangerous, makes you stupid and lazy
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. It can be a little bit like chasing a moving target with all the unknown factors
2. It’s a grey area, so being legal and compliant takes extra work, effort and resources along the way
3. You really have to do your own research and homework and stay up to date on everything Cannabis
4. Supply Chain- establishing a solid supply chain to try and better prepare for any supply shortages
5. Retail Partnerships can be challenging because of legalities, compliance, and just lack of information and knowledge about Cannabis
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Have an open form of communication where people can feel comfortable expressing their ideas, opinions and concerns about the business. Be open to receiving constructive criticism. Don’t underestimate newcomers and younger talent as they can offer a different perspective and add value to the business. Challenge team members to be creative, innovative and bring something unique to the table- recognize and appreciate them for it.
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. :-)
Having Cannabis themed outdoor festivals and experiences in a safe and comfortable environment for the public in which people can learn about the benefits of Cannabis, experience using it, mingle with brands and like-minded individuals, experience healing sessions through reiki, yoga, sound baths, healthy foods and drinks.
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