As a part of my series about strong women leaders in the cannabis industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kara Harrison. Kara is a Cannabis educator and founder of SHEbd™, a female-led CBD company dedicated to educating and empowering women to take control of their health by offering the purest, highest quality, THC-free hemp supplements on the market. Kara was diagnosed with endometriosis in 2009 and had a well-intentioned yet botched surgery to relieve the pain. After nine surgeries and miles worth of misinformation, necessity was the impetus for Kara’s self-education. Her life changed the day she chose CBD. Her business and sales leadership skills, combined with her education into the Cannabis space, provided an opportunity for Kara to create a CBD product exclusively for women.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the cannabis industry?

was diagnosed with endometriosis in 2009, after which I endured a botched surgery that led to nine more surgeries. I was tired of all the synthetic drugs and their side effects and set out on a journey to heal myself, searching for anything that would relieve my pain that did not come from a prescription. Along the way, I found CBD and my life was changed forever. CBD was the only thing that worked, the only product that brought balance back to my body. Women have unique bodies and require specialized treatment for many aches, pains, and ailments that join us as we age. I wanted to create a CBD product exclusively for women and empower them on their path to wellness.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

We entered this market because we believe in the product. There is so much good that can be done when it comes to the wellness space. Sometimes there are bad characters who enter the same market but not for good intentions. It’s interesting to navigate what we feel is integrally the right path to stay on in this market while noting that many do not. There are so many that are here for the wrong reasons. The lesson learned is to be aware of the landscape of your industry and steer clear from those who don’t have the best intentions for the ultimate consumer at their core.

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’ve made thus far is that I spent a significant amount of time and resources on packaging for a balm container only to realize months later that the container could only hold half an ounce. Concise, accurate, and collaborative communication with the right experts is key. Supply chain is not for the faint of heart.

Do you have a funny story about how someone you knew reacted when they first heard you were getting into the cannabis industry?

My mom was mortified! It speaks to a lot of the reasons as to why we wanted to approach SHEbd in the way we wanted, putting education first. My mom is so misinformed about this industry. She was mortified that I was going to provide a product into the marketplace trying to get people high. We spent many hours and tears over what the real goal was. She now happily wears the SHEbd sheet mask once a week as part of her care routine, which is a long way from where we started.

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?

There are so many people in my life that I could highlight here. My investor Ed has been incredibly supportive and actively involved in SHEbd. Without a lot of data or science in the industry he’s been supportive and inquisitive, which has allowed us to launch a product that is superior because of his belief in the model. I’m lucky to have a backer that believes in the mission.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

SHEbd excites me every day. I cannot think of anything more fulfilling than helping someone heal themselves and find balance with their body. I want women like me, like you, like all of us, to not just get up each day, to not just be alive, but rather to thrive — when we feel good, we thrive.

Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. Despite great progress that has been made we still have a lot more work to do to achieve gender parity in this industry. According to this report in Entrepreneur, less than 25 percent of cannabis businesses are run by women. In your opinion or experience, what 3 things can be done by a)individuals b)companies and/or c) society to support greater gender parity moving forward?

The dearth of women-owned companies is not unique to the Cannabis industry. Support women’s organizations anywhere you can. There are so many great companies, like WAKE, which amplifies the work of women’s rights and social justice leaders and their organizations around the world, that you can work with by volunteering your services and mentoring our young women leaders.

We have a great responsibility to move the bar for women higher, and that continues when we take action. When we as women stand up for what we believe in, and our rights, companies and society take notice. We must be a united front in our efforts to move that dial further.

You are a “Cannabis Insider”. If you had to advise someone about some non-intuitive things one should know to succeed in the cannabis industry, what would you say? 

1. Do your research. Knowledge is truly power and the more educated you are the more you have an edge in the industry.

2. Keep up your research because the Cannabis industry is constantly changing.

3. Be nimble and flexible in your business strategies. The Cannabis industry is both young and changing rapidly, which means that your Cannabis business must adapt and evolve.