Getting into the cannabis industry is not always about hopping on the bandwagon, or finding new ways to make money. For some, it's more personal.

Cortney Dorne - President of Vertical Brands - spoke with Civilized about how she was inspired to enter the cannabis field after it helped her find relief from body pain and severe migraines

"I have lived in chronic pain for almost 30 years and am allergic to narcotics," she told Civilized. "I have monitored the industry closely since 1996 and about six years ago realized the leap into cannabis was my destiny."

Vertical Brands is comprised of a "dedicated group of experienced entrepreneurs that have led large, successful companies in industries ranging from Healthcare, Finance, Technology, Food & Beverage, Distribution, & the Military."

"We created a cohesive team who lives our TEAM mentality of 'Together Everyone Achieves More' on a daily basis," she said.

Walk us through a normal day.
I have no normal days, which makes life truly exciting! My day starts in the office about 6 AM, I take a break between 6 and 8 PM for my kids and try to wrap my days by 10 PM.

What has been your biggest lesson about working in cannabis, and in business in general?
My best lessons in cannabis are to get to know your partners really well before doing any deals, trust your gut and be open to life-long learning. Learn from your mistakes and don’t make the same ones twice.

What do you see as your biggest opportunity?
The biggest opportunity we see is the one to create national brands. At this point, being able to set up a vertical integration in each state will be essential.

What sets you apart to make you a potential leader in cannabis?
It’s our knowledge, experience and our chemistry. We realize this is not a sprint but a relay marathon. We are digging in the trenches to invent a groundbreaking industry. I personally could not ask for better partners to be creating greatness with!

Courtney headshot3

What is the most frustrating aspect of the cannabis industry today?
The most frustrating aspect of the cannabis industry is that regulation varies from state to state, and they are ever-changing too. 

What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into the cannabis space?
You need to choose your partners wisely, and then buckle up.

Look at your potential partner's past track record. Are they capable of getting the job done? Basically, do they have the knowledge, experience and, most importantly, chemistry within the industry? Does your vision align with theirs?

In regards to buckling up, this industry is not for the weak. California alone has been fighting for legalization for more than 20 years. Every single state has and will continue to have its challenges. Anyone that thinks they're going to come into the business and instantly make money is mistaken. You have to be willing to roll up your sleeves, put the hours in and never give up! 

What are your biggest tips for branding cannabis?
They are that, in cannabis branding, one size doesn't fit all. Know your audience, create with passion and be the best storyteller you can be. Getting to know your audience can be tricky. However once you've identified them, set up some focus groups and really do a deep dive into their culture. Go to the places they hang out, host events and invite them. Build relationships with the influencers representing your ideal demographic. An example is I'm launching a line of products for 'The Soccer Mom,' and I've been studying a group of 45,000 moms for a few years.

Do you see any big changes coming in the future of cannabis?
Legalization is coming and it’s coming fast. While I can’t foresee the specifics in my crystal ball, I'm very much looking forward to not just riding the waves but barreling through them. I believe the biggest change when legalization occurs will be the influx of capital from institutions and public companies. I also believe this will finally allow for proper banking solutions in every state. 

Do you consume cannabis? And if so, what's your favorite way to consume?
Yes, cannabis is my main source for pain management. My favorite way to consume is through edibles without sugar, topicals, and patches; however, sometimes vaping and flower are a necessity for fast-acting pain relief in order to take the edge off. The most important thing for me is to make sure I’m using a safe, quality product.