Karen Gaston is the CEO of Diamond Shine Community. Her main purpose is to heal, inspire, and love others through her cannabis enterprise. Her background is in psychology and she has worked for many years with people with disabilities and mental health challenges. She would love to see growth on a large scale to help all humankind and what better industry than cannabis.
Join her in this episode as she talks passionately about her CBD-Hemp business. How she has taken her whole household, her children included, to be educated about the medical benefits of this sacred plant, as they termed it, called the hemp. And at the same time use the products that they themselves manufacture. Listen in as she shares a lot of thoughts and wisdom on the different complexities that surround it with the emergence of the industry she strongly believes in.
Just along the lines of what you said in regarding to the conservative people, I think that the way that they actually get into the industry is they kind of just fell in accidentally. Someone was sick. Someone wasn’t doing well. They realized how much this product had actually healed and helped someone. And now they’re singing a different tune. – Karen Gaston
Some Topics We Discussed Include:
01:23 – Karen’s family and career background
03:12 – Did she ever thought before of starting to have a business in the hemp-cannabis industry
04:46 – What is the people’s reception over this cannabis industry around the Connecticut area
11:52 – How are Connecticut and Massachusetts responding to this growing industry
18:36 – Advice for someone in the infancy stage of their Cana-Hemp business
22:24 – The need for child-proofing Cannabis products
27:04 – What advice she can give to families who have a more conservative attitude towards cannabis at this point in time
31:35 – How to bring up cannabis to your conservative friends
37:17 – Sharing about the details about her CBD retail store
49:00 – On making things better
People Mentioned / Resources
Connect with Karen Gaston
Connect with Sonia Gomez
Sonia Gomez: We are live! Welcome to the hemp revolution. This is Sonia Gomez, your host for today’s show where we are interviewing Dr. Karen Gaston, who is a pioneer in the Connecticut, Massachusetts market. I’m originally from Connecticut and moving into the Massachusetts market, fully vertical company and making real waves as a women-owned business on the East Coast in the cannabis industry. I’ll let her do the bragging and the telling. I am so super excited to hear her story and how she is keeping things and people in line in the new and emerging industry on the East coast of the US. Say, what’s up Dr. Karen, how are you?
Dr. Karen Gaston: Good. Thank you for having me.
Sonia Gomez: I am so excited to have you. First of all, big up to being a boss babe in the cannabis space and having a women-owned business. Super powerful stuff there. Mamapreneur and canapreneur. Tell us, I’m super excited to dive in. You were just talking, you know in our pre-interview conversation you were just telling me so many incredible things about how you’re working with your community to raise the vibration, raise the standard of operation. So on and so forth. But before we dive too much into telling those stories, I’d love to hear a little bit more about who you are, what your background is and what you’re currently doing in the industry.
A Canna-Doctor Mamapreneur
Dr. Karen Gaston: Sure. So I have my doctorate in Psychology. I used to run a non-profit for folks with disabilities here in Connecticut. That program shutdown. I’m a mother of two. I have an 18-year old daughter and a five-year-old daughter. So that’s kind of first and foremost. And we are definitely diving into the cannabis industry vertically as you had described.
We have THC operations that we just received our host agreement for in Whately, Massachusetts. We plan to also find cultivation a space for that so we have full seed to sale there as well as production of vapes, oils, those types of things coming soon. All the process here in Connecticut. I farm my own hemp.
I also have hemp and a farm in Massachusetts with my godfather, also in Whately, Massachusetts. And we have a CBD store here in Connecticut.
So that’s pretty much where we are. We’re all about healing integrity of product big for me. We want to make sure that when people come in and they’ve enjoyed a product that actually works for them, that they can come back in and get that same product, the same way. We don’t want to run 50 million strains. We want to run strains that are going to actually work, help people through the healing process. It’s what I went to school for. It’s what I’m here for. I’m here for inspiration and I’m all about community.
Anyone that's trying to do it, I have no problem going out there and helping them. We've got a big community here in Connecticut.- Karen Gaston Click To Tweet
Anyone that’s trying to do it, I have no problem going out there and helping them. We’ve got a big community here in Connecticut. I’m almost on the Massachusetts border where I’m involved with a lot of farming that goes on here and no kind of what’s going on in the industry. Hopefully will become legal at some in the future for THC. But, currently, we are illegal for the hemp according to the farm bill. So we’re trying to stay in line with everything legally and run full operations as well as support the community.
Sonia Gomez: You are making waves over there, mama girl. Love it. I’m so excited like this is just such an exciting time. I talk about this with most of my guests, where we’re like, did you, I have to ask you this question. Did you ever, in your lifetime, I mean, ever think that you would be witnessing, let alone participating in pioneering a legal cannabis or hemp business? I mean..
Dr. Karen Gaston: I would say no, that, that would definitely be a no.
Sonia Gomez: No, I would have lost my bet. Like a roulette roll on that one, dude. If put 20 on black, I would’ve lost. Dude, I’m so, I’m so surprised and especially in like the more conservative states where, you know, like I consider Connecticut to be, you know, where a lot of people with old money, it’s like the suburb of New York, right? Like people who have apartments in Manhattan have their estates in Connecticut. It’s not a very big state. You know, few hotheads have big houses out there. And so I’m really super surprised that there’s like a booming industry. I follow people on Instagram. I follow people in Facebook who are, have beautiful farms, beautiful community projects, all surrounding the hemp and cannabis industry. Tell me what it’s like to be on the ground over there. Like what is the communication? What is the community like? You know, how is this being received or rejected by the surrounding areas?
People’s Reception Of A Cannabis Industry Around The Community
Dr. Karen Gaston: I think it’s being received okay. I would say kind of in the middle. I think that we’re coming together more and more, especially as we’re moving into harvest time for everyone that people are trying to figure out, well what do I do with this? Where does it go? I have males, females. I have feminized, non-feminized. My seeds didn’t germinate. All of these questions have come up. I think there’s a lot of anxiety around it. There’s been a lot of misinformation around it. There needs to be more education. I think that we’re learning through this year’s row so that next year we’re so much more, you know, available for support to help people. Not on a paid consulting basis, but more of like a, how are we going to do this? Where are we going to sell it? There’s a lot of folks coming from the West Coast that are telling us how to do things, but I’m not necessarily on-board at some times because, you know, I’m doing my own research and realizing that we need to all come together and try to figure this out.
I think it’s more of a, there’s a lot of different opinions. There’s a lot of strong players in the field. There’s farmers who have been farming for years upon years who, you know, just may have gotten tried to get involved, but may have not had enough information. So, I think that there’s a lot more to come. I don’t think that we’re going to have enough hemp, especially here in the East Coast. I think that a lot of people are realizing that, you know, hey, I’ve had too many males. What do I do with them? I wish that I had feminized seeds, but they’re astronomical in price.
I think there’s a lot of different factors that are going into what we have going on here. And I think that we all need to come together, gather that data for the department of agriculture and get back to people so that we run a better gross so that we know where to sell it. Retail wholesale, how we’re going to, you know, move it into manufacturing oils, how we can distribute it, you know, correctly across, you know, if we want to do across the U S or even across state lines, safety and issue security. Our farms are, you know, some of them are right out there. I mean there’s high school, college kids. There’s so many different dynamics in this industry, though.
Sonia Gomez: Of course, I can only imagine the high school kids like walking by the fence with their little scissors being like all that. Maybe they need it more than we do. Hey, go for it. Hey, you know what, I’m just, I don’t hate on anybody. Game rules don’t get high on my own supply. Like everything that you fucking smoke me, amigo. No. So, yeah…
A lot of money in equipment. So there’s just a lot that you, that goes into the field, so you’re absolutely correct. Yeah, I mean it’s a huge undertaking. My husband and I have about 30 years combined experience. He for about 20 years, me for about, let’s say 12 to 15. And, you know, he’s worked the whole process from soil all the way to sale. I’ve been around it my entire life. I’ve watched, you know, the real struggle of the industry from its infancy when we were still operating in the gray area under prop two 15 in California. And, there’s like, there’s something that’s so exciting about it and yet very tear. It’s like, it’s like a roller coaster when you’re like going, you get on the ride, you’re so excited. Like you’re with all of your friends. You’re like, Oh my God, we’re totally going to do this. And then you get on the roller coaster and you start going up the hill and right as you’re sitting in the front seat, right? So right as you come over there, over the peak, you’re like, Oh fuck was I thinking? Yeah.
Dr. Karen Gaston: And I think that some of your friends are jumping off. That’s the thing. They’re just jumping off the roller coaster all in.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah. Oh yeah. For sure. Or they’re sabotaging their friend. They’re like totally sabotaging their being like trying to climb out, slapping face out. Like I’m like, get out while you still can. No, you know, it’s a crazy, crazy thing to have witnessed. So we were part of legislative development here in Colorado and we were seeing people from all different walks of life, multiple, there’s been multiple layers to the entrepreneurs who are involved in the industry now and started out to be like the happy humble hippie who was coming out of the woodwork, had a ton of experience, you know, with their own little farms or, you know, serving the patients in their community and came out onto main street once the rules and regulations started to get developed and they wanted to, you know, rightfully so, they wanted their foothold in the industry. Went to bat with main stream, wasn’t a battle that they were prepared to win, too many regulations, too many rules that really limited the way that the veterans of the industry could, should or wanted to operate. So I saw that first wave sort of retreat back into the hillsides. Second tier of entrepreneurs where like the rockers who had done their career thing, they came, they wanted to play their hand in the cannabis industry. We’re willing to play by the rules cause they knew that’s what they had to do. But again, bailed out because they weren’t properly capitalized or they didn’t have the cahones to run through whatever, you know, regulatory challenges there were, and they change often.
Now we’re looking at a third tier entrepreneur coming in, sophisticated, educated, well-capitalized, you know, professionals who are industrializing and otherwise artisan industry. For me, this has been like a very organic, beautiful, you know, grassroots movement where communities have come together, families have been supported, built, nurtured. I’ve watched such incredible things happen and as the landscape shifts and the big money comes in, I’m starting to see somewhat of a clinical approach to an otherwise very organic and very beautiful plant and process of producing high quality medicine and serving the people that want to and need to benefit from its products. What are you, are you seeing that same sort of trend in the new markets over in Connecticut and Massachusetts? What’s the conversation with legislation there? And how are, how are the communities responding to this like very quick, the growing industry over there?
Connecticut and Massachusetts’ Response Over This Quick Growing Cannabis Industry
Dr. Karen Gaston: There are just have a lot of different things to say about that. I don’t think that we’re necessarily, I think that we might be starting from where you guys have potentially started with. I think there’s a lot of people in the industry that are probably all three that you mentioned. And I think that there’s people out there that are like, I want to make a fast buck. I’ve been growing, you know, in my closet. I can, you know, grow this big capacity and fields and then they’re like, Whoa, no, we had, I think in Massachusetts we actually had a hemp inspection yesterday, so they had noted there was seven growers last year and some had to destroy crops. So they don’t have a lot of data around that. I’m seeing everybody kind of in the pot at this point. I think that the way that, I mean I would look at it as, I think your person that’s gonna probably do the best, at least in the craft side of it and actually getting the job done is someone who is educated, who is motivated, who is willing to be part of the community that’s willing to help other people.
You can’t do this by yourself. You need a big team in order to make it happen. You would need a lot of investment if you are trying to pull a lot of acres of this plant, actually the right way. I’ve noted people here that are actually part of the association in Connecticut that were supposed to grow in specific areas that weren’t able to, maybe because of time constraints, seeds that didn’t germinate, things of that nature. So I think that yeah, the ideal setup is probably someone who is extremely educated and obviously has the capital. Then you go in there kind of free flowing and really can make it happen. I hope that we don’t get too clinical in the industry. I think that there’s a lot to offer outside of this clinical kind of streams to me maybe more of the pharmaceutical piece that we all know is eventually going to be coming to us.
But I think that just like craft beers, I think that we can stay with craft cannabis growing really well. There’s a lot of people that really know what they’re doing that can do it on a large scale that can, you know, support a community. So I think that yeah, the ideal set up is the educated, the person that has a lot of capital. But I can tell you that a lot of my capital is gone and we stay educated. And I have a team that’s working with me for now, waiting for the results in the end. So that’s how much belief is there in what’s going on in what we’re doing and what I’m doing, what my daughter’s doing and what some of the other farming communities are doing. So I think it’s still back to that relationship piece of that, you know, hometown, organic folks that really want to get something going and there’s a way for that without like the big money companies necessarily coming in.
I think there’s a space for us and I think that States are recognizing it, which was part of your question, but they don’t know how to fix it so that it’s more open to minorities. It’s more open to women. It’s not just the same kind of group that are going in and you know, buying and selling and just not having it be something of a healing property. So, I don’t know if that necessarily answers the question, but I think that we’re in a space where you guys were, and I think we’re learning on our own over here regardless. And I think that we need to take more from what happened in the West and put it into the East, to be honest with you.
Sonia Gomez: Sun always rises in the East. So I think, I think you guys are on the dawn of a new horizon here. I mean, uh, not to be cliche, but what in my opinion, California had a real opportunity in 96 to do things right and they fucked it up pretty bad. I mean, we lost easy 10, 15 years of, of what could have otherwise been taxable revenue. And you know, I believe we would have seen a significant transformation across the state had we opened up a legal model for cannabis to be cultivated and distributed and patients to have safe and legal access to quality products. Instead, we took this non-profit approach. Colorado fixed a lot of those challenges that created new ones. You know, in Colorado when we first started out, we had to be fully vertically integrated. A lot of marriages and partnerships were created in the industry to accommodate this fully vertical business model.
And we’re seeing the aftermath of that now, where, you know, these whambam, thank you ma’am partnerships where somebody was an expert grower or an expert retail person are now exploding. Multiple millions are on the line. These big brand businesses have all of this internal conflict and there’s a lot being left to the wayside. In my personal opinion.
Even though you walk into a store or you see, you know, these glossy brands, these glossy advertisings, then you walk into an environment where there’s, you know, shelves chuck full of product. There’s still this like for, for the industry insiders, there’s still this, you know, sort of battlefield type environment where everyone’s looking over their shoulder, everyone’s acting very cautiously, everyone’s kinda suspicious of one another. And, I don’t remember that being a vibe in the grassroots movement of the industry. That people have been battered and bruised in this process.
What do you think is gonna happen? As the industry matures over in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and other places on the East coast, what do you think is going to happen there as they set these rules and regulations in place? In our pre-interview conversation, you were like, I don’t do partnerships. I don’t want to be told what to, like you’re very clear about what you do and do not want. But, I believe that there is a lot of entrepreneurs who are getting involved with this industry right now who are not so certain and who are acting out of desperation instead of perhaps education. They’re feeling like it’s necessary for them to make these big moves in their business. What can you say to somebody who’s in the infancy of trying to get established as the brand or a business in this space with some advice that you can offer them to help them avoid any of the pitfalls and streamline their success in the industry?
Advice For Someone Just Starting Out
Dr. Karen Gaston: I think that, that’s a terrific question. I get asked it every now and then I’ll get someone even on LinkedIn who’s feeling unsure. So, being a new industry here on the East, I wouldn’t compromise your own wall. I think that’s one thing that I don’t try to do personally or professionally. And I think it’s important to kind of know what knowledge you need. Educate yourself on what you need to do and don’t just listen to everybody who’s telling you something. I think that if you have the right feel and your intuition and your gut, that gut instinct, it’s going to keep you away from those people that you don’t need to be around. I don’t take on partners. I would rather be poor and continue to blow through and get us approved and all those things. We have the right people that you can so-called consult with your biggest people on your team is, the confidence you have in yourself, the belief you have in yourself.
Not everybody’s clapping for you all the time. You got to clap for yourself. And so with that, you get a good team. You get a good engineer, you get a good architect, you start to make relationships with the town, you let them get to know you. You let them see that you’re somebody with integrity. You show that you show up. You know, you keep showing up even when it’s uncomfortable. And trust me, this process is really uncomfortable. The people from the town are going to come at you. Whether the town voted it or not, the people that didn’t vote for it, they’re going to be sitting at that meeting, coming, waiting for you. You’re going to think that they’re, you know, just in the audience and you’re going to give your whole presentation and then at the end they’re going to come out with something that you’re like, whoa, I wasn’t even thinking about that.
I mean, they’ll talk about the, you have bricks on your ramp or those bricks going to be the same bricks that are on the building and you’re sitting there like, whoa, I didn’t think that detailed into the space. And you need to, you know, be respectful and understand where someone’s coming from. You need to see past the bricks and see that they’re concerned about what’s coming into their community, their children, you need to let them know, Hey, I am children. I would have this in my community. You know what, let me actually show you how much I care. Here’s our security plan. Make sure that you have your security person at the meetings. I mean, you don’t need to take on all these partners. The more partners you take on, the more there’s what you described before is that kind of places just going down that personal, emotional stuff. We’ll bring anything down. So it’s extremely important to just believe in yourself and research on your own. And what did you come in here for? Think about what passion and what you bring to the table and who do I actually physically need to be part of my team. And other than that, bye bye.
Sonia Gomez: Bye Felicia. So interesting topic. Cana mama, you are in the industry. Are you a cannabis consumer?
Dr. Karen Gaston: Yes I am. I’m from time to time. I take Indico to go to sleep. So I will smoke cannabis to go to sleep. Absolutely. Yes.
Sonia Gomez: So there, so it’s safe to say that your kids have exposure to it. You’re talking about it, you’re working in it. It’s a part of your daily life. There’s no, it’s unavoidable. I have four kids myself, so I always love to have this conversation and just ask the question, what and how do you talk about your cannabis with your kids? How much exposure do they have and you know, and what’s the opinion of the community around child safety?
Child Safety, How About It?
Dr. Karen Gaston: We have to have child safety. That’s extremely important. You have to have packaging that’s going to support that. You don’t want, you know, appearing to come home and to have gummies that have THC in it not to be childproof. Those things are extremely important.
You want to keep your products always safe, especially if you’re taking edibles and you leave them out because you’ve taken the edibles and you’re half dead. Definitely want to have them childproof. We want to make sure that we’re kind of going that step further to make that happen. I’m very open about cannabis, especially in my home. We run a lot of hemp. We have a lot of, you know, we’re always baking things. We have it out. It’s a plant. It’s a plant that’s useful. It’s organic. We’re not spraying it with chemicals. So everything that we’re using, I feel like it’s a completely open discussion about, I have other people, that I have a really good friend her daughter uses cannabis. I don’t think that I’d sit around and necessarily at this age, my daughter’s 18 and, you know, smoke with her, but if it was going on, that’s fine. I’m very open to it. I think that there’s such great properties about cannabis that I would rather have than my child drinking or doing other drugs.
Cannabis to me is not a gateway drug. It’s something that has pulled people out of the other drug market. It’s something that helped people where, you know, they can’t sleep, they have anxiety. We have folks that take our oils that, you know, they’ve had panic attacks, put a little bit under your tongue and your life is so much better. I mean, how can you go wrong with a product like that? There’s, you know, the research. Yeah, there’s going to be more research out there, but there it’s not supporting negative effects. And I think the plant is just amazing. Marvelous. And, we should embrace it and we should teach and educate. When you don’t educate, you leave doors open to allow your children to be educated by maybe other children and other people who might not know. So I think it’s our job and responsibility to educate our children, the community, and make sure that everybody’s safe. I mean, childproofing is important, so let’s make sure everybody’s safe at all times too.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, I agree. I think, you know, I was talking with a couple who came to one of my events who were, you know, currently, they like to use cannabis discreetly, whether it’s, you know, on an occasional edible or now that they’re retired, they’ll use the vaporizer but still discreet. And they were describing the difference, um, in their household right now. Whereas when they were parent, when they were actively parenting, their kids were in school, you know, so on and so forth. Cannabis was a no, it was a total deal breaker. You’d get your ass whupped grounded, you’re done. Like, you know, you get out of jail, free card revoked, they, it was a very harsh punishment in their household for any relationship with cannabis. And now they’re considering starting cannabis businesses. They’re taking one of our certification courses. And their response from their community is like, really, you guys do, you’re the ones. And I think what they were saying was that they were just so afraid to have anything to do with it because of what the repercussions of that would be, you know, for their reputation or for their jobs or you know, whatever.
Even though they like had used it as teenagers, stopped using it while they were parenting and are now using it again as a retired couple. You know, they are saying if I would have only known what I know now, I would not have been so harsh. You know, I think in a lot of ways I limited my relationship with my kids because I was so close minded to this Um, and as a mom in general, what are some tips and advice you can offer to families or parents who are in a community where cannabis is becoming more readily available, it’s becoming more prominent. They may have had a more conservative, you know, thought process or set of rules around consumption or possession or whatever of cannabis for their households. What can you say to them to sort of ease their minds or help give them a piece of information that will soften the blow per se, between the parent and the child at this, at this point in history?
Advice To Families With Conservative Attitude Towards Cannabis At This Point In Time
Dr. Karen Gaston: I think talking about it, I think talking about their concerns is important, too. I think from where they’re at, talking about that, I think educating your children is really important. I also like to look at it like we’re all on our own journey, even though they’re our children. They came into this life to be on their own journey. And sometimes we look at it like, Oh, well why does my child have anxiety? You know, why would my kid be depressed? I mean I give them everything. They, where did I go here? I look at it like, you know, where did, you know, we look at it like where did we go wrong that our child is seeking out something. But yet when we have anxiety, um, you know, our day could be more productive if maybe we took a hit of a vape or we, you know, smoked a little bit of Sativa or Indica or even something from the hemp flower itself.
So I think that we do need to, as parents and you know, for what I went to school for and everything, it’s like we gotta take a step back and realize that without educating, without giving them alternatives, if that’s something that they want to explore and maybe it’s not actually use has gone down with legality according to research. So I think that the best we can do is let them know, you know, it’s available. I would rather have my child doing that than getting involved in all this alcohol and drunk and driving and you know, heroin and the epidemic with opioids and things. I think that we need to be able to be open and give options and you know, have those discussions with them and let them know, you know, that we’re not perfect because that’s a whole another issue.
So, you know, letting them know that it’s important and having that discussion, especially as you described the family that their children are older now and they want to get into the industry and maybe they were using all along when their children were sleeping and their children didn’t know or whatever the case is. And now it’s like, wow, you know, mom and dad did that and they were better parents because of it. And I want to be, you know, good too-. I mean we all have a way to cope with things and cannabis is a coping thing that’s doesn’t have long-term effects. Psychotropic drugs, have long-term effects.
They’re finding so many things out of the cannabinoids and cannabis that we were not able to study before that are actually working for things like schizophrenia for bipolar. I mean, a lot of these disorders can be worked with naturally, which isn’t going to cause side effects that we’ve experienced and we’re continuing to experience since the deinstitutionalization and they came up with all these anti-psychotics. Well guess what? These people are moving into being older and the side effects are going nuts. And what the pharmaceutical companies are doing is saying, well, hey, take this other drug, you know, in place of it. Well, no, let’s think about what we can do with cannabis to try to work with these things. There’s some great healing stories that are out there and there’s tons and tons more to come.
Sonia Gomez: So I have to ask you, I’m going to just put you on the spot here. If let’s just role play for a second. Cause another thing that I hear, so I’m not sure how much you know about us, but we have a following of over a million people. We have impacted over 50 million people around the world with our education. We’re really hyper focused on bringing the truth about cannabis and hemp to the forefront so that people can make empowered, educated decisions about how they want to treat themselves. People they love, conditions they may be suffering from or how they can otherwise preserve a healthy and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
So, no argument on the medical benefits of cannabis or hemp. I’m a huge fan, but I want to just ask you like, how the fuck do you break the ice? Like if you’ve been so right, like right-wing, devout the conversation and now you’re interested, you’re intrigued. You’ve been seeing the buzz, you’ve been following the CBD-Hemp revolution, you’ve been seeing the green rush in its all of its glory. There’s stocks that you can buy on the exchange, like shit’s changing around here. But let’s just say that you’re in a conservative community. What’s like an ice breaker frienfor like a friends group? Like if you’re going to brunch with your conservative girlfriends, you’re at a baby shower with your conservative girlfriends. What’s the icebreaker to bring up cannabis?
Bringing Up The Idea Of Cannabis To Your Conservative Friends
Dr. Karen Gaston: Oh gosh! I’m not really sure. I think that more and more conservative people are getting involved, but at a baby shower, that baby is going to be crying all the time. You’re going to need to sleep. And I think that it’s time that you start exploring some cannabis. I don’t know because you’re not going to get that sleep otherwise cause you’re kind of constantly be, you know how we are. You’re on edge. When’s the kid gonna cry? When am I gonna go to sleep? Like, and if we’re calm, our baby’s going to be more calm. I mean, I think that you use that as an educational opportunity to start promoting it.
Sonia Gomez: And if you, you can call me..
Dr. Karen Gaston: Yeah. Give you some sampling of it.
Sonia Gomez: I think that I would, I think that I would like how it’d be less so at my girlfriend’s baby, I’m always, so I’m always the jokester in the group. Like I’m somehow, someway I’m like in it for a bad joke. I have a great sense of humor but tons of bad jokes. So, I went to my girlfriend’s baby shower and, and I think that’s why I came up with like that as a scenario. So I went to my girlfriend’s baby shower and every baby shower I go to, I’m like, okay, cool. Here’s something for the kid. But like, here’s your tequila and leather pants and some sort of like mask or whip to like get back in the game after coming back together downstairs. So, I think what I would do is just like add that to the goodie bag instead of tequila. We have like an ounce. Yeah. Cause of ain’t it eight an eighth ain’t gonna cut it. We’re gonna just put an ounce in there and like I’m not intimidating little pipe or maybe like a vaporizer. Some gummy bears like a little gift bag and she’s going to be like, Oh my God, let’s do this. And I’m like, there’s going to be a tag, like an Alice in Wonderland that says eat this first, smoke this first. It’s going to be like that. So because then, and I’m going to have an anonymous note on it and blame it on my friends. I’ll blame it on somebody else.
Dr. Karen Gaston: How many find some unsuspecting victim that’s…
Sonia Gomez: Yes. Yeah. No, I feel like that’s, you know, that’s probably gonna, I would definitely take ownership of it. I’m loud like there’s no, there’s no way to get around the conversation. I would probably be liable to be like smoking outside before going inside to eat the cucumber sandwiches. I just had to ask because I think a lot of people are in, I did a video with my daughter and it was kids ask questions about cannabis and so my kids came on and they were just like, what’s cannabis? You know, what’s, what’s hemp? What’re buds like, asking all of the questions of the slang that they’ve just been hearing for so long. And I got probably 22,000 people to watch that in the first like couple hours. And it was a huge topic of conversation and a lot of the questions came from the mamas and the ladies in the group who were like, how do I brush this with my book club? Like I live in the Bible belt how do I open up about this and not get that exorcism appointment set for Sunday from my preacher or like it was a big topic. So, I always have to ask the question cause I’m interested to know how you would go about it. I have a funny way and you have the logical, you have the law.
Dr. Karen Gasto: Yes. And I think just along the lines of what you said in regards to, the folks in the Bible belt, the conservative people, I think that the way that they actually get into the industry is they kind of just fell in accidentally. Someone was sick, someone wasn’t doing well. They realized how much this product had actually healed and helped someone and now they’re singing a different tune. So, it’s not even just like the draw to, hey they’re stocks and yeah, I’m gonna buy these over here. And no one’s really going to know. It’s more of you’re going to get them really with conviction once they realize what the product can do too.
Sonia Gomez: Nice. Nice. I love it. Okay. Well tell me this, do you prefer Dr.Karen, Dr. Gaston?
Dr. Karen Gaston: Karen is, Karen is my preference.
Sonia Gomez: Okay. Karen, I will, we’ll go with Karen. I like El Doctor. I think women doctors are sexy and fun that I could, for summer. It’s just like one extra badge of bad-ass that you can put on your bra strap. It’s just like, so, okay, Karen, tell me about your business over in your CBD retail store. How, what kind of volume is running through there? Like I want to know it all. Like there’s all of these apothecaries popping up all over the place for CBD distribution, just like there’s cannabis dispensaries, now, there are CBD dispensaries popping up all over the place. Some people only carry their brand. Others are a plethora of brands. What is your model? Are you supporting other businesses and other brands coming into your space? Are you guys like solely selling your brand? What’s the name of your brand? Tell me about the retail store.
Dr. Karen Gaston: So we have our retail brands, our mother companies, the Diamond Shine Communities. So, that’s what we have for THC. Our actual CBD brand is LNK, so it’s LNK CBD. That’s my initial and my two daughters’ initials. So we actually run our own brand. Everything we make, we make ourselves. So it’s me and my daughter right now. We’ve been open for about three months. Our revenues continue to increase. I think what separates us is that we are a seed to sale. We actually farm it. I think a big component is an education and it will be for the THC dispensary as well. I think folks are coming in, they’re curious. Uh, we’re getting a lot of people, you know, I would say from the age group of 35 to like 90 something coming in, curious, even starting, we have folks who are elderly who are starting to vape. So we offer vape pens, we have lotions, we, of course, carry all of the oils. We make edibles. We have gummies, uh, cookies, brownies, uh, let’s see. Lollipops. We cater to what folks are asking us for, if they want higher CBD content, uh, we advise them towards the dispensary. If it’s higher than what we can offer, we haven’t taken on anyone else’s products because can’t really guarantee it. A lot of the people in the area have products from other places that may have no THC. We carry only full-spectrum items, so everything is the whole plant. I believe in that. It’s important to have the entourage effect to work for folks that are coming in for issues. Our products. We have great reviews. When people come in, it’s really word of mouth. We can advertise much.
Sonia Gomez: I can help you with advertising. I don’t know how the fuck I did it, but my husband, no, seriously, like let’s just talk about this for a second. Not to interrupt. I’m so sorry. Like, I just get so excited about this because everybody, there’s major, incredible brands, incredible businesses, incredible entrepreneurs who are being lost in the forest of nowhere because they can’t figure out advertising or , their banking shuts them down or you know as you mentioned, like their supply chain is just not steady and so they gain momentum and they lose momentum. 10 steps forward, 50 steps back. It takes so much time and energy to recover from getting shut down in your advertising or spending the time and money trying to figure out banking or you know, stabilizing your supply chain.
So I have a lot of admiration for you in building this vertical brand and how you are involving your kids and creating products that are helping your community, how you’re having education be at the forefront. That’s a lot of what we’ve done. So really, really admire that. But for the last three and a half years, my husband and I and my very small team of embulimbus have been able to get at and proved and build a massive community and subscriber list around our products’ message, mission, movement, and no matter what we have to sell or no matter what the next new thing is, we’ve been able to create an internal ecosystem for our business through our methods of advertising on every major social media channel out there. Facebook, Instagram, Google, you name it. We’ve been able to do, I mean we’ve built YouTube channels to 10,000 people in a week. Like we’ve just, we’ve been able to do it and it’s so powerful. It’s so powerful for businesses like yours who are actually doing it right, who have a message, who have a mission, who are leaders in their community to be able to expand their reach and share that with the world.
So that, you know, there is becoming like a hyper-awareness right, of, of people who are doing it right, not just corporations who are coming into make that fast buck or, or extract the cash. I think that there has to be a real theme. You know, and what I love about you is you’re coming into the community and into an environment that could otherwise be misunderstood as volatile and you’re coming with the energy of what can I bring rather, what can I take rather than what can I take? So anyway, if advertising or promotion is something that you need or want support with, we can totally help. And we, one of the things that we absolutely love to do is help highlight companies and professionals like yours. That’s why you’re here on our show. Cause I’m constantly stalking you guys and figuring out like who are the change-makers in the game who need an opportunity to share their message, their mission, use their voice. I always say we have our heads, we have our hearts, but our voice is the thing in the middle that connects the two together and allows us to make the impact right. And the income is an inevitable result of the impact that you’re able to make in your communities. So, I just, I think it’s amazing. I was super inspired to tell you, it absolutely helps.
The Struggles In Advertising Cannabis Products
Good, you shared that because we definitely, that's an area that we definitely need help with. We're not able to promote certain things.- Karen Gaston Click To Tweet
Dr. Karen Gaston: Good you shared that because we definitely, that’s an area that we definitely need help with. We’re not able to promote certain things. We want to get our message out there. I get a lot of calls during the day like, do I need a medical card? You know, just things that if they were educated somewhere else to know that they could go to the CBD stores, I think that they would be exploding more where people didn’t feel like they could go. Or, you know, I even had a little sign just made up that says, no medical card needed.
You don’t need it for our store. So come in, you know, even if you’re not gonna buy anything. We were giving away samples when we first opened so that people could, you know, check it out. I mean, people need the product, it’s something better than taking, leave and other types of medication or going towards street drugs, those types of things. I mean, you know, where your product’s coming from.
Our products are certified. That’s important to us. We grow our own so that it’s organic. There’s a lot of people that aren’t, so we’re making sure of this and we’re reluctant to take it on other brands. Not that we might not be open to it in the future, it’s just that they have to be a brand that’s researched and have integrity before we can offer it to our consumers. That’s the type of business we want across the board for the mother company as well as for our LNK CBD. And I really feel like the CBD in and of itself is going to be an explosive and far larger market than even the THC market is without education, promotion as you’re discussing, people aren’t getting that right information. And then a lot of times they’re going to a store with people that don’t have our same mission.
So, they don’t know what to buy, they don’t know what to do. They don’t know even how much take. And so that’s it. You know, there are so many different variables to the equation that needs to come to light and we all need to focus as a community to make that happen. And there’s a lot of really good companies out there like you said, that is probably going to the wayside because they can’t figure it out or they can’t get word of mouth out fast enough, to kind of sustain what they’re trying to do. And you’re right, if you don’t have the consistency of products when people come through the door, the trust is lacking. So if someone came in and they got, you know, 1500 milligram oil and you weren’t able to obtain the hemp to make you 1500 milligram oil, you may have lost that customer because they’re like, wait a minute, why did you not have it?
I mean, we even have dog treats. People are huge about animals. We have a big horse community out here, so people give CBD to their horses, they give them, you know, some of the dogs treats actually to their horses. They’re all organic. So we need to make sure that that stuff is available if someone is taking gummies because it’s all they can take and they have cancer. And if those gummies aren’t there, that’s a problem. If you don’t have a product to make sure that you have them, your business is going to slip and slide away. So it’s important to always have that and building up with good people that are doing the same will ensure the prosperity of all of us. Really!
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, we definitely have a vibe of together as one. And I think, you know, right now we have a very delicate, you know, we’re, we’re walking on a delicate thread right now where big business is closing in. And those of us who have pioneered in this industry who have, you know, risked it all, we put all of our time, all of our money, major sacrifices with our kids, time that we will never get back. I mean money is not such a big thing, but when you invest the time, like bitches are getting old over here, like, I got me a new little fold, shit is getting real around this part of the town and you know, I’m like, I’m going to need SOS, send the eye cream.
So I’m just being honest like this is the time I will never get back. But at the same time, like I’m so pulled to it because I feel like I have a responsibility with me, with my background, with my knowledge, with my expertise, with my mind around life and how we need to band together in order to rise. Like, we really have a choice right now where we’re either gonna pull each other down with our choices, you know, our opinions. Um, we’re gonna make it harder for each other or we’re going to find a way to make it better, to make it easier to, you know, help the people who believe that an isolated, uh, an isolated product is a high-value product. It’s not, it’s, it’s actual harm, you know, it can actually be harmful, you know, helping people to be compliant, helping to make sure that the information and education that’s going out into our communities is in fact accurate, reputable.
That we’re promoting the professionals who are change-makers in the game. And that the pioneers who are blazing this trail right now are not only safe but secure to grow their businesses. And when we go to bat with the Davids, with the Goliaths of the industry, that we will be prepared with the standard in which we want to operate. The way that things have been done for generations is not working in our modern-day world. And we really have to take responsibility for the change that we want to see in the world and exemplify that ourselves in the way that we do business, build a business and serve our families and our communities. We really have such a unique opportunity right now to set the bar, raise the bar and rise to the top together. So that’s a lot of what we’re focused on and why we’re starting the hemp revolution podcast because we want to share those stories, share the messages. We want to give people behind the scenes talk about the shit that’s hard and talk about the shit that’s fucking awesome and talk about, you know, the stuff that makes us human beings who own businesses and not business owners who are trying to be family people. Like it’s, it’s the opposite. It’s the opposite. I think it’s time to turn those things on its head.
The Responsibility Of Making Things Better
Dr. Karen Gaston: I totally agree. I believe in the responsibility of big time. I mean, Maya Angelou is definitely one of my heroes. And she’s always saying, you know, or prior to her death was when you know better, you have a responsibility to do better regardless of how you feel. You really do. And there’s a lot of people that may have a few opinions to say about me from time to time or maybe more than from time to time. But I can assure you that I’m not gonna let that get in the way of helping them or anyone else because I know better and whatever they have going on is a reflection of them. And my responsibility is to still do better and if they needed something from me, you damn sure I’m going to be there if I can come through and make it happen. So
Sonia Gomez: I love it. I love it. Well, Karen, I’m so honored to meet you. Congratulations on all of your incredible success and going toe to toe with your community there and trying to bring awareness and you know, create an opportunity for the generations that are going to be raised in that space is amazing. And another even bigger accomplishment, in my opinion, is how you’re bringing your family together around this plant. If for me, it could be underwater basket weaving, but you know, I think a lot of families are struggling to find something that they can work on and work towards together. And this modern, there are many distractions out there that we’re really losing touch with our children. We’re really losing touch with our next generation and you know, everything is digital and all, you know, all of these things. So I just really commend you and finding a way to bring your family, your girls closer to you and letting them see you in all of your glory. This is, this is an incredibly empowering moment for you. And, you should be so proud that your girls get to see you empowered in a power position and you know, respected and loved and recognized in your community. That’s gonna make a beautiful way for them. So congratulations on that. Any final words for our listeners?
Words of Wisdom For Everyone
Dr. Karen Gaston: Just keep going. I mean, don’t let things deter you. If you have a goal, if you have a dream, you know if somebody is coming through to you, they’re just coming through so that you can learn what you need to do to become an entrepreneur. A lot of those people that are saying no, push them aside and make sure that what they’re really saying is, I’m scared I wouldn’t do that. But you need to know to keep going. If you have your own mission, we’re all here to serve. We’re all here for a different reason.
If you have a dream, no matter what it is, don’t let anyone get in the way of that and take anyone that’s saying no as a learning experience. Because as you become an entrepreneur, no is going to be a word that you hear quite frequently and you need to know how to maneuver around it because for all the nos you here, there’s far more failures and success than there is actual success. So people see that success, but they’re not seeing that downward struggle that we all go through. And the struggle is real. It’s to build you up, it’s to strengthen you. And I’m, I can tell you that what’s coming is going to be amazing and just keep going. Keep going.
Sonia Gomez: Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Dude, that is the vibe right now just to keep swimming. Now you guys, this is such an empowered, this is such an empowering moment, for this generation. What we are witnessing in our lifetime is, is absolutely incredible. It’s historical. This is, this is next to the gold rush. This is next to the um, oil boom, the tech boom. This is, you know, next to all of these points in history where life, as we know it, has transformed. This is the hemp revolution right now. We are seeing the true value of this plant being brought to life every single day. Whether it’s, you know, four relieving, um, occasional side effects of daily life and struggle, whether it is preserving an otherwise healthy lifestyle, whether you are looking to this plant and its relatives than it’s derivatives to transform the way that you feel and function on a daily basis or even manage a life-altering diagnosis.
This is such an incredible time to be alive right now. And while you’re considering entering into the industry and trying to decide or determine what that safe entry point is for you that makes the best sense for you or while you are, you know, trying to navigate your health path and figure out which products are going to be best for you, plug into information and education like this so that you can be empowered. You can be informed and be a part of the change that we want to see in the world. Helping to create products that can be safe and legal for you to access no matter where you live in the world and really understanding how to use such an incredible plant to build a life that you love and feel and function the way that you used to when you were jogging big OS. So I’m so grateful to be a part of this incredible community. Thank you so much for tuning in. This is another episode of the hemp revolution. I’m your host Sonia Gomez, our guests, Karen Gaston, I’m so honored to have you and we will see you on our next broadcast. Peace out.
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