I had the pleasure of interviewing Janice Buu, the pioneer of female lifestyle brands in the cannabis industry. She first created Dankgals to raise awareness of women in the canna-space, generate positivity, counteract the hypersexualization of the industry. In 2017, another successful brand was born — Kana Skincare is a CBD infused premium Korean skincare line which has been repeatedly named the best CBD beauty product by industry experts.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”? How did you first get into this business or get interested in the business?
For several years, I was a behavioral therapist for children with developmental disorders. One of my 3 year old patients performed extraordinarily well in her therapy session, meaning zero tantrums, more eye contact, more signing. She kept up the great work for several weeks after! Finally, her mother revealed her secret — cannabis oil. She had been micro-dosing (very small amount) cannabis oil into her afternoon snacks! Coming from the health and wellness industry, I was blown away by this game changing plant medicine. I wanted to raise awareness of women using cannabis, uplift the stigma, and create a positive role model for cannabis users, I launched Dankgals.
At the same time, my father was undergoing bypass surgery in Asia. Doctors warned us to not have high expectations of his recovery due to old age (he was 70 y/o). So what did I do? I smuggled CBD oil over to Asia! He quickly got out of ICU and gained his ability to walk, all within 7 days. Most importantly, he said he didn’t feel much pain during his recovery. Instead of focusing on CBD and pain, my mind was running wild on ideas of CBD and Beauty. After 2 years of R&D, I launched Kana Skincare.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company
When I first started my company at 25 years old, no one took me seriously. Distributors and buyers would pass by my booth at trade shows saying “I love your products and your prices! But I will be back to place an order when your boss comes back”. I knew there was no point in exploring the topic of who the “boss” is, because that doesn’t make me nor my products stand out. On the contrary, buyers would feel more insecure about our company due to my young age. I knew the most important thing was for them to experience the products, customer service, and my professional approach so I went ahead and introduced myself as the manager of the company, often without supervision of the “boss”, and tucked away my business card that printed “Janice Buu — Founder of Dankgals”. That was our first successful trade show with total sales orders of over $200k. I came forward and explained myself after our first deals were completed. The buyers loved it and still laugh about it till this day! We now have the best supplier — customer relationship.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Dankgals and Kana Skincare are both unique and one of a kind in their own cannabis space. Dankgals spreads awareness of women using cannabis and creates a sense of community. Dankgals often hosts cannabis infused events for the local community such as cannabis yoga, infused brunch, tea, educational seminars, as well as introducing tons of collaborations with other like-minded cannabis advocates, instructors, and small businesses. We see collaborations instead of competitions. Lifting up one another in the industry is the only way to move our community forward.
Korea to beauty is Paris to fashion. Korea is 12 years ahead globally in beauty and skincare formulations and development. Kana Skincare combines the healing powers of cannabis with the secret beauty recipes of Korea to create health and beauty in a jar. We are not interested in creating another skincare topical, we are here to create original formulations that heal us from within. Fully plant based cannabis Korean skincare with original recipes that provide effective efficient results (Made in USA).
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 fortunate enough to receive knowledge, support, and guidance from many in my circle, especially my mother. Because of her, business is second nature to me. I am grateful for her insisting on the “no-nanny” policy. I was raised in a business setting by both parents since the age of 3. Although I had my own play area, I couldn’t help but focus on the busy interactions between customers! I learned to take customer orders at 5 years old, trained employees 3x my age around 7 y/o, handled suppliers like a little boss lady at the age of barely 9. Sitting behind the cashier counter with my feet barely touching the floor, I was able to see all the strengths and weaknesses between a successful deal and a failed attempt, I was eager to hear all the positive feedback and complaints between products and services. My passion, second nature, and work ethics for business were built behind the counter. I appreciate my mother for being my father’s rock in his career while being the best role model any young female entrepreneur could have.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
I am currently on set filming for a cannabis entrepreneur show in Hollywood. I am super excited for this project and cannot wait for the show to air! It is extremely important that we are constantly spreading awareness and education on the benefits and positivity of the magical plant medicine. Everyone that I am working with on this current project is the representation of what cannabis industry is and should be — hardworking, open minded, friendly.
Other than the show, I am getting ready to launch Kana Skincare in Europe and Asia.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?
I am most excited about the increase of interests in researching cannabis and cancer, and how cannabis helps children with developmental disorders. I truly believe humans and animals can become the healthiest version of ourselves when our endocannabinoid systems are properly taken care of by cannabis. Another milestone worth celebrating is that lots of female entrepreneurs are leading the way in the cannabis industry! I am so proud of women stepping up and taking risks on being the pioneers during this crucial time of our green revolution. Nothing is more rewarding than taking care of our community and being responsible of educating the world on benefits of cannabis. Last but not least, I look forward to our industry creating more jobs for people of all backgrounds, color, and gender. Together, we will all collaborate and build towards the rise of American economy.
With the rise of something positive, there are going to be downfalls. One, people who wish to make “quick money” will compromise quality of product or service. I have zero tolerance for businesses that cut corners and take short cuts. Second, cannabis is still federally illegal. Banking institutions and transactions do not happen the same way as other businesses. Payment processors and financial support systems can get shut down any time. Third, I worry about large corporations and pharmas taking over and making it tougher to access plant medicine or raising prices, or both.
Can you share your top “5 things you need to know in order to succeed in the Cannabis industry”? Please share a story or example for each.
- Inspire and Be Inspired. We do not know what inspires others, or even our loved ones. It is also not up to us to say “I did this and it worked for me, so you should do this too”. However, what we can do is try to be the best version of ourselves, create positive role models within us by being self aware and self motivated. With the ability to inspire others, you are already influencing the world, unknowingly. Open your eyes, ears, and hearts to connect with those around you. There is something to be learned and shared with everyone. Your inspiration may come from a child you meet at the park or a stray dog on the street. Sometimes, inspiration is a missing piece of a puzzle; other times, it may be exactly what you need to see, hear, or feel for a life changing moment.
- Passion Over Profit. Money is just a tool. Once you have come to an agreement with yourself that money is only one of the tools on your journey to successfully help your community, you’ll soon be helping the country, later influencing the world. For those who focus on entering the cannabis industry to profit, you are already setting a ceiling for yourself. For others that truly care to make a difference in the community through the work of cannabis, think outside of the box; not only will the profit come your way, you will also be able to use this tool and contribute to others in need. We are not in this world alone, we are here with everyone else.
- Be Adaptable, Daring, and Fearless. Once you are in the right mindset, confident about your product, service, mentality, then it is time to run wild! The cannabis industry is not for the conservative, traditional, or timid. Regulations are always changing, your work environments can go from skyscrapers to skid row overnight, the crew that are with you today may not be here tomorrow, so be adaptable. It is crucial to be decisive and make the best choice with what is presented in front of you, trust yourself, be bold and daring. Put yourself out there and be an advocate for cannabis. Standing up for what you believe in could be uncomfortable. Yes, you will be judged by those who do not support your opinions. Understand cause, conflict, revolution. Be fearless in partaking in the cannabis revolution.
- Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way. Do not use regulations and obstacles as excuses to give up on your projects. Think outside of the box and don’t be afraid to ask for help!
- Research, Research, and Research! Know everything inside and out about your space of the cannabis industry. The more you know, the clearer your vision is when planning for the future of your company. Learn all you can about state vs. federal regulations within the US as well as keep a close watch on legalizations of other countries. Go global!
In our experience when people are passionate about what they do they are more successful. Where does you cannabis passion come from?
I was in the mental health and wellness industry prior to starting cannabis businesses. There is no greater pleasure or reward than to heal those around me, mentally, physically, and spiritually. Seeing others healthy and happy makes me the happiest. Cannabis is the ultimate plant medicine that could achieve all of the above with its healing powers. Seeing my autistic patient improve on performing her day-to-day tasks and communication skills, I knew I would be advocating for cannabis for the rest of my life. Then, witnessing my father’s recovery from a 12-hour operation (bypass surgery) at age 70 using cannabis oil, I decided to dedicate my career to creating the best cannabis products and services for those in need.
Where do you see your business going in the next 5 years? Where do you see the cannabis industry going in the next 5 years?
I see Kana Skincare and Dankgals expanding globally within the next 5 years covering not only selfcare and CBD skincare topicals, but also wellness products for families. The cannabis industry will be larger than the alcohol industry worldwide. Within these 5 years, people will learn and educate others about the benefits of cannabis, how to grow the best plant medicine in their homes, and completely change the way they medicate.
Are you able to identify any rising stars at your company or in your industry that people need to keep an eye on?
What growth sectors should most people be paying attention to that they might not be currently?
There will be a huge growth for hemp. For those who wish to be involved in the cannabis industry but do not wish to take on the risks of dealing with THC nor CBD can definitely consider hemp plant ventures. Hemp makes clothing, houses, cars, fuel, etc. It is the future.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
I would love to meet Michelle Obama! I admire her for standing up for girls’ education and women in the workforce, insisting on the importance of education, and providing proper transition for girls from adolescence to adulthood in the workforce. We have the same beliefs that if we give girls the education they deserve, there will only be better households, workforce, and countries. A woman’s ability to learn and create should not be sacrificed due to poor family budget nor favoritism over a male sibling. One of my goals is to empower young girls and women in believing in their true potentials and exploring their capabilities.