I had the pleasure of interviewing Julianna Carella, CEO and Founder of Auntie Dolores and Treatibles. Julianna is proud to lead two woman owned, women run businesses dedicated to helping bring calm, balance and vitality to pets and people. She has been invited to speak at prestigious events ranging from the Harvard Club in Manhattan to the Cannabis Creative Conference and Pet Connections Expo.
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?
Thank you for having me. There was a series of events that led me to establish Auntie Dolores in 2008. It began with spending a couple of years watching friends and family members suffering from various diseases and disorders. I began making medical cannabis edibles for them. Not only did they genuinely love the taste, their health was improving. There were some decent edibles on the market, but not a whole lot of variety — most were chocolate or baked good-based. And most made it difficult for people to figure out the best dose for themselves. So I set out to change the way people consumed medical cannabis. I choose to develop delicious savory pretzels, sweet popcorn and pecans and spicy peanut options. I felt it was important to offer options in the milligram count of THC and effective phytocannabinoids. And I created vegan, paleo, gluten-free, low sugar options and more.
I also wanted to empower people with managing their doses, so I was sure to quantify the THC and other phytocannabinoids in each pretzel, pecan, peanut, serving of popcorn and even in the baked goods. For the more traditional edible consumer, I made brownies and cookies, but with coconut sugar to keep them low on the glycemic chart. This made them attractive to people suffering from specific diseases and disorders.
Treatibles was initially created in response to our customers wanted to share their edibles with their pets. I was already aware that THC can be harmful to many pets, but that hemp derived CBD offered incredible benefits without any psychoactive compounds. We were the first company to introduce hemp derived phytocannabinoid products to pets. That was 6 years ago. Now it’s one of the fastest growing segments in the pet industry. We are proud to still be leading this segment.

Growing a Cannabis Business for Pets CBD  Treatibles

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company
One of the first testimonials that came in around four years ago was about a little chihuahua with big anxiety. This particular dog had a habit of chasing his tail all day long, literally running around in circles in a manic frenzy. After one dose of Treatibles, the dog stopped this behavior. We did not expect this outcome; of course this result was welcomed! The mom made sure to keep him dosed all the time. The dog had many other health problems that she was also addressing,
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
We are not afraid of taking on challenges and we are not afraid of change. That goes for both companies. With Auntie Dolores, new cannabis laws in California made it clear that the cost to produce edibles with medical cannabis along with potency thresholds and distribution restrictions was going to be prohibitive for us. So we decided to discontinue the edibles and concentrate on hemp derived CBD in two formats, dropper bottle oil and capsules.
Treatibles continues as a leading phytocannabinoid nutraceutical company for pets because of our genuine devotion to helping pets thrive. The phytocannabinoid rich (PCR) oil we use is extracted from whole plant medicinal grade hemp grown in the USA. In addition to several therapeutic phytocannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids are included creating what is known as the entourage effect, providing a full spectrum of benefits for pets. We ensure the purest, most effective, non-psychoactive and non-toxic PCR oil.
We are also deeply devoted to educating our customers, the media and the general public about the benefits of phytocannabinoids, the endocannabinoid system and how to dose properly. We also third party test from raw materials to the final product to ensure phytocannabinoid content and that our products are free of toxins, pesticides and biocontaminents.
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 am very fortunate to have had great advisors along the way. In the earlier days when it was still impossible to raise money or get a bank loan (still is!), I had a friend that helped with a small loan. This loan ultimately helped me grow the company substantially and in a shorter amount of time. In fact, given all the challenges we have faced, I wonder if we would be here now had I not had a great friend to help me ten years ago when we got our start.

Growing a Cannabis Business  CBD  Auntie Dolores

Are you working on any exciting projects now?
Yes, we are deep into the research and development of several new products for the Treatibles line. Stay tuned!
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?
The things that most excite me:

  • Innovation and creating products for a new and exciting industry
  • The industry has great advantages for women in leadership roles. In fact 35% of the cannabis industry’s CEOs are women!
  • Prohibition is finally ending!…slowly, but surely

The things that most concern me:

  • Cannabis is still listed as a Schedule 1 Narcotic on the Controlled Substance Act
  • Big Pharma develops cannabis products that are single molecule medicines, ignoring the value of the full plant
  • Confusion around hemp and cannabis regulations seem to prevail, in fact regulators in many jurisdictions don’t even know their own laws!

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.

  • To be successful in the cannabis space, you need to have a Plan A, B, C and possibly D! Goals can often be diverted by regulatory changes and limitations; be prepared to adapt as needed for the longevity of your brand and company.
  • Be prepared if your business concept is more of a long play, and then be prepared to stick it out. Know which goals can be accomplished in the long term as well as the short term, and then focus your company’s attentions accordingly.
  • If you don’t like the laws in your jurisdiction, fight to change them! No cannabis industry operator should enter the space without knowing some activism will be necessary. The best business ideas in the cannabis space work because the local regulations support it. Being involved in cannabis has enough challenges already, no need to compact it with a business or product idea that will be impossible to grow to its full potential.

In our experience when people are passionate about what they do they are more successful. Where does you cannabis passion come from?
Whether derived from cannabis or hemp, phytocannabinoids are making people and pets feel better. I have always been deeply devoted to the health freedom movement. Seeing the movement grow, driven by public demand is a true driving force. Knowing that both of my companies produce superior products and that we work tirelessly to help empower people to take control of their health and the health of the furry members of their family is a daily inspiration.
Where do you see your business going in the next 5 years? We plan for Treatibles and Auntie Dolores to be household names…and not just in the households of cannabis enthusiasts, but all households across the world.
Where do you see the cannabis industry going in the next 5 years? The industry will have massive growth in the next five years, making it a multi-billion dollar industry that has the potential for changing the US economy. Countries that implement reasonable laws around cannabis will be able to position themselves better in the global economy.

Growing a Cannabis Business  CBD  Treatibles  Auntie Dolores

What growth sectors should most people be paying attention to that they might not be currently?
Medical Cannabis and Biotechnology are both considered growth industries. I am fascinated by how those two worlds can collide/collaborate, but we have only scratched the surface.
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’d love a sit down with Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon. I’ve got questions, he may have answers!
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!