An Unexpected Path – Cannabis Interview: Hanna Brand of Autumn Brands
We all know that the number of female entrepreneurs entering the cannabis industry pales in comparison to the number of men, and it’s something most everyone would like to see change. One woman setting an example for women everywhere who are interested in making a mark in the cannabis industry is Hanna Brand, Co-Founder of Autumn Brands, a California cultivator making big things happen, with no signs of stopping.
We recently caught up with Hanna to ask her about her journey with Autumn Brands and her unexpected entry into the cannabis industry. Check out her answers below, and get inspired!
CM: You’re a graduate of Cal Poly’s Agriculture and Plant Sciences department. Did you choose that degree with a career in cannabis in mind? As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Hannah: When applying to Cal Poly in 2013 I had no idea that I was going to be in the Cannabis industry. I am a 6th generation farmer, with my grandparents growing vegetables in Holland and then moving to Santa Barbara County to grow cut flowers over 30 years ago. I grew up spending countless hours helping sleeve bouquets, sticker sleeves and help wherever needed, so naturally my brother and I both studied at Cal Poly, SLO and got degrees in agribusiness and agriculture and environmental plant science.
We grew up working in these greenhouses and I always wanted to work with my dad; I just didn’t know it would be in the cannabis industry. I always loved agriculture, but I also knew that I was pretty decent at sales, ever since those days of having to sell wrapping paper from a magazine to raise money in middle school; I just never thought it would turn into cannabis sales.
CM: Tell us about the journey to getting licensed in California. What would you say was your biggest challenge, and how did you overcome it?
Hannah: The biggest challenge was meeting the strict regulations with getting our Cannabis Cultivation licensing and Land Use Permitting in Santa Barbara County. The application, by the way, is a 100-page document, demonstrating proof of compliance with all state and local cannabis laws. A partial list of agencies signing off includes CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act), Fish and Wildlife, local water authority, fire departments, law enforcement …This extensive and exhaustive process takes anywhere from 12 to 18 months, with a minimum cost of $100,000. That’s just to submit the application. On top of that, once submitted anyone can appeal the project. Thankfully, our CFO, Autumn Shelton, took the lead on all compliance and licensing.
CM: There aren’t enough women entering the cannabis industry. Why do you think that is? And have you had any challenges as a woman specifically in starting and growing your cannabis business?
Hannah: I think it’s the stigma, and perspective people have with “Women and weed.” We need to change the culture and conversation around the female use of cannabis. Since we are self-funded, we didn’t have the issue with male dominant investors. From day one to the present, our company has sought to shift the female perspective, stigmas, and misunderstandings associated with the use of cannabis as part of a whole and healthy lifestyle. I am determined to make my mark on this male-dominated cannabis industry, with a goal to serve a growing female health and wellness market eager to embrace the myriad benefits of cannabis as part of a healthy lifestyle.
CM: What does the future hold for Autumn Brands? Do you see ever expanding beyond California?
Hannah: I believe the future for Autumn Brands is bright, and we have so much room to expand. We are currently in only about 20% of all the dispensaries in CA so there is huge room to continue to organically grow in our own state. The idea of expanding to other states has been brought up to us a few times, and I believe the right opportunity will present itself one day. I personally am not in a rush to expand to other states yet.
CM: What’s your favorite strain and method for using it? What do you like about it?
Hannah: I love our pre-roll 7-packs! We make a few different blends and my favorite is Day Dreamer or Strawberry Cake. The Day dreamer is a blend between Dream Walker x Shark Shock, and it is a perfect sativa-indica blend that I can smoke and don’t feel lazy but still is very stress relieving. Both strains also have high terpene profiles, so the favor is very tasty and smooth. B-Pinene is the highest terpene in both strains, giving the pre-roll effects of focus, anti-anxiety and pain relief.
I also use our Purple Punch vape cart, typically before bed, because with just a quick couple hits I’ll be able to fall asleep without a problem. I love how smooth our vapes are and I think this is because we are a pesticide-free farm and our oil shows it!