Only 2% of Venture Capital Funding Goes to Female Entrepreneurs
Being a female entrepreneur is incredibly difficult. A recent study by researchers from Columbia University and the Wharton School of Business found that only 2% of venture capital funding goes to women entrepreneurs, despite the fact that they own 38% of U.S. businesses.
The good news is that cannabis is looking to break the green ceiling. A survey by Marijuana Business Daily revealed that women make up 36% of the leaders in the cannabis industry, including 64% of high-level positions.
Gina Golden, founder and owner of Golden Goddess Botanicals—a California cannabis collective offering tinctures, edibles, and topicals—is a perfect example of what it looks like to be a female entrepreneur in cannabis. It might not be an easy path, but it’s an exciting one.
Gina was introduced to cannabis at a very young age. She grew up in the ‘70s, with parents who treated cannabis as a medicinal herb that could be used for both healing and spiritual expansion.
“My parents weren’t daily smokers, but my mom did teach me to roll joints at a very early age,” reveals Gina. Still, it wouldn’t be until college that she started to forge her own path in the industry.
In the early ‘90s, Gina got involved in the cannabis legalization movement in California, helping to grind hemp seeds and gather signatures for what would later become Prop 215. Soon after, she found herself working as trimmer at her friend’s grow during breaks from college at NYU.
Gina had no idea at the time, but it was the start of a life-long love affair with cannabis.
Golden Goddess Botanicals
When the industry first started out in California in 1996, most cannabis users were wholly bud-focused. You smoked or you didn’t consume. That means a lot of cannabis went to waste. Buds that were too fluffy or not right for a puff were thrown or given away. But Gina had a different idea.
“I started experimenting with making tinctures and infusions, using my knowledge of traditional herbalism,” she explains.
That was the start of Golden Goddess Botanicals. Using her experience as a personal chef in New York and the Bay Area as well as her creative passion, Gina developed a wide range of cannabis products, from a hot sauce for your favorite tacos called Chica Chica Boom to Tantra Balm, a sensual lubricant.
“My main focus has always been to make products that are healthy, but also delicious and luxurious,” notes Gina. “I grew up with health food and herbal medicine, so that was a natural progression and not based on market research or trends. I just made products that I would want to use.”
Being a Woman and Single Mom in Cannabis
Still, despite her success, the marijuana path hasn’t been an easy one.
Gina recalled when a knife was pulled on her during a cannabis transaction. Her first thought was, “How can you do this to me? I’m a single mom!”
“As a woman, if you are too soft, people see you as an easy target to get ripped off,” says Gina. “It’s difficult finding a balance in your strength where people don’t respond negatively. Then, as a mom, I have definitely struggled because there aren’t really any positive models for how to balance motherhood in this business.”
Other pitfalls have included a lack of cash flow. Thanks to the nature of the industry, Golden Goddess Botanicals has been completely self-funded, which means Gina lives by the plants’ life cycles.
“I’ve never managed to save any money or make much more than what it takes to pay the bills,” Gina remarks. “If I’d had investors who were able to help me scale the business, I’m sure I’d be in a different position now.”
In spite of everything, Gina has been able to push forward thanks to all the incredible friends she’s made in the industry, and would love to see other women find success. Her advice for other female entrepreneurs looking to break into the industry? “Do what you love.”
“Cannabis is like butter…it makes almost everything better! So just add cannabis to what you already love,” she advises. “If you are a massage therapist, offer medicated massages; if you are a graphic designer, start designing for cannabis companies.”
Gina’s only recommendation is to avoid making chocolate: “We don’t need another chocolate maker…unless you are making something really special.”
End 4/20 Shame
And as to why Gina wants to End 4/20 Shame? “It’s exciting to see people who have been closed off to the idea of an ‘illegal drug’ open up to the idea of using cannabis for their own healing and wellness,” she explains. “I love that the good press in mainstream media is starting to change people’s perceptions of this beautiful plant.”
“I really believe this medicine can heal humans on multiple levels, and most of us need this healing,” affirms Gina. “It’s been too long that we have been denied safe access, and way too many people—especially our black and brown brothers and sisters—have suffered from the War on Drugs.”
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