Jamie Evans, Founder of The Herb Somm and author of The Ultimate Guide to CBD: Explore the World of Cannabidiol

Can you share with us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?
After spending over a decade working in wine, I chose to leave the industry that I loved for cannabis. While there are many reasons why I decided to make this change, one of the leading factors that ultimately led to my new path was my experience witnessing a terrible car crash near my home in Sausalito, California. After experiencing this trauma, I was battling insomnia. Instead of turning to pharmaceutical drugs, I wanted to find a holistic way to heal myself, so I began researching cannabis on a deeper level. During college I would use cannabis for recreational purposes, but this was the first time in my life that I started using cannabis with intention. After learning more about this magical plant, surprisingly, I came across many similarities between cannabis and wine including growing practices and sensory evaluation techniques, but the ways in which cannabis works with our internal systems is what inspired me to pursue a new career. 

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
One of the most exciting things that’s happened during my cannabis career is becoming a published author. Never in my life did I imagine I would write a book on cannabis or CBD, let alone two books! At the end of 2018, my publisher, Fair Winds Press of Quarto Publishing Group, unexpectedly reached out to see if I’d be interested in becoming an author, which was serendipitous because at that same time, I was trying to think of some new ways I could diversify The Herb Somm. Writing my first book, The Ultimate Guide to CBD: Explore the World of Cannabidiol, was one of the most fulfilling projects I’ve had the opportunity to work on. This experience brought me even closer to the cannabis plant and deepened my connections within the cannabis and CBD community. For the past few months, I’ve been working on my second book focused on cannabis drinks. While I cannot disclose too much information yet, it will certainly be a refreshing and mouthwatering read, expected to launch in 2021.

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?
While I always love to share my story of the time I scorched a batch of cannabis flower during decarboxylation, another funny mistake that I’ve made has to do with cooking. While doing recipe development for The Ultimate Guide to CBD, I was determined to make the perfect hemp-derived CBD dog treat for the pet section. Thinking this would be an easy recipe to create since there are minimal ingredients, out of all the recipes featured in the book, this one took me the longest time to create because I couldn’t get the consistency right. I attempted this recipe over and over again. As you can imagine, my dog was feeling extra chill during this time with all of the extra CBD treats around the house, but I was frustrated. After this experience, I learned that even the simplest things can present the greatest challenges, but it’s always worth the extra work in the end.

Are you working on any exciting projects now? 
As I mentioned earlier, I am working on my second book now with Fair Winds Press scheduled to release in Spring 2021. I am also working on a few other exciting projects that I cannot disclose quite yet, but stay tuned more!

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?
Pursuing a path in wine was originally my mom’s idea. As a high school counselor, she knew that Cal Poly San Luis Obispo had just launched wine and viticulture as a major and that the wine industry in the Central Coast of California was booming, making it an ideal place to learn. Her advice was to apply, which was the best guidance I could have ever asked for. Not only was I accepted into Cal Poly’s Wine & Viticulture Program, but it truly changed my life. During my studies, I had the opportunity to travel to Australia, France, Switzerland, and Italy to learn about wine. This was an unforgettable experience that introduced me to the international marketplace as well as other cultures. Without my wine experience, I wouldn’t be where I am at today. While wine will always be my first love, cannabis later became my muse. 
female entrepreneurs growing a cannabis business - CBD - Jamie Evans, The Ultimate Guide to CBD: Explore the World of Cannabidiol
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?
Unlike large legacy companies, I’ve never had a big marketing budget to work with since launching The Herb Somm. My advice for any company is to be genuine and to put the time and energy into building a community, which is something that I consider essential when creating a brand. It’s not just about pouring money into a product and hoping it does well. You must connect with your consumer and industry in an authentic way. I chose to focus my efforts on building a community centered around culinary cannabis by hosting unique experiences, creating educational content, and supporting my fellow cannabis industry members that are also focused on this niche. 

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?
The three things that excite me most about the cannabis industry at this point in time are:

  1. The Future of Phytocannabinoid Medicine – I am especially fascinated with the potential healing powers of lesser-known cannabinoids (i.e., CBG, CBN, CBDA, THCV, etc.). Personally, CBN has been a great addition to my nighttime routine. I’m excited to see what the future holds for continued scientific discoveries.
  2. Infused Beverages – There is so much room for innovation within this category. As science and technology continue to improve, so will cannabis-infused drinks. Coming from the wine industry, I am naturally drawn to cannabis drinkables, so it will be exciting to see what innovative products come out next.
  3. Cannabis Cuisine – While COVID-19 has heavily impacted the canna-culinary industry at this particular moment, I am excited for the future of cannabis-infused cuisine. The Crop-to-Kitchen movement is growing thanks to the help and support of some of the most influential members of the culinary cannabis industry.

The three things that concern me the most about the cannabis industry are:

  1. The current state of culinary cannabis due to the impact of COVID-19 – With the recent restrictions put in place, cannabis chefs, cannabis/CBD educators, event planners, and cannabis hospitality workers have seen their world’s turn upside down, some losing their jobs for the foreseeable future. Compared to other industries, cannabis businesses are unlikely to see the same financial support from our government.
  2. The approaching economic recession and the impact that this will have on cannabis businesses across the board. As a nascent industry that has always had difficulty with access to capital, these uncertain times will put additional strain on many businesses.
  3. The continued impact of the illicit market. As we observed with the vaping illness that swept across the United States, the products that caused these illnesses were traced back to the illegal market, not legal licensed dispensaries. As many businesses face even more pressure given the current state of the economy, the illicit market poses a greater threat.

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. Don’t Be Afraid of Failure – The cannabis industry is not the easiest industry to operate in. There are many challenges and hurdles that you’ll face when owning a cannabis business, but you must not be afraid to fail or to take risks. This is just part of the territory. The more times you fail, the more you will learn, so don’t get discouraged. Use your failure as a learning opportunity.
  2. Be Nimble – With the constant changes in cannabis regulations and market factors, you must learn to be nimble. Having the ability to quickly and effectively respond to the demands of change will greatly benefit your business in the long run. In my opinion, being nimble is one of the most important skills of any entrepreneur. 
  3. Diversify – Don’t put your eggs in one basket. Rather than focusing all of your efforts and resources in one place, diversify the work that you’re doing so if things go wrong, you have options.
  4. Be Transparent – Now more than ever, it’s important to be transparent in the cannabis industry. If you’re not comfortable sharing your businesses practices, ethics, values, or where you source your products from, then it might be time to find another industry to operate in. Transparency is crucial and should be considered essential in the cannabis space.
  5. Become an Expert – If you’re planning to own a cannabis business, do your research and become an expert in your category. Cannabis is an extremely complex plant. Take the time to read the latest studies and research papers that are out. Most importantly, if you’re making health claims, be sure it’s backed by science, not speculation!

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
The cannabis world is constantly changing. In order to stay relevant, you must empower your employees to succeed. Never micromanage, be open to new ideas, and continue to innovate.

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.
Due to COVID-19, I’ve been focusing my efforts on raising money for culinary cannabis and cannabis hospitality professionals who’ve been negatively impacted by the global pandemic. My first initiative was organizing a fundraiser called “Buy a Book, Support Culinary Cannabis,” where I donated 50% of book sales profits from a limited inventory of The Ultimate Guide to CBD to a culinary cannabis professional in need. While I’ve met my fundraising goals for this initial program, I am working with Crop-to-Kitchen on another fundraising effort. The time is now – if you have the means, help those in your community!

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
I am most active on Instagram and Twitter @TheHerbSomm. If you’d like to learn more about how to incorporate cannabis and CBD into your daily routines and rituals, please give me a follow! Also, be sure to pick up a copy of my brand new book, The Ultimate Guide to CBD: Explore the World of Cannabidiol officially launching this April 2020 by Fair Winds Press of Quarto Publishing Group.