This week, b.Blunt talks to CEO and Co-founder of Ellementa, Aliza Sherman. Ellementa is an online and offline community created for women to educate themselves on the benefits of cannabis and CBD.
This global women’s network not only offers, feminine forward product reviews and webinars, but face to face monthly gatherings in over 45 cities hosted by Gathering Leaders that focus on a variety of topics including: Cannabis for Women’s Sexual Wellness, Finding the Right CBD Product for You or Cannabis for Beauty and Self Care.
This is a safe, modern community where women, of all different levels of cannabis experience, can come together to share their stories, learn from experts and discover products and services that compliment their personal cannabis health and wellness journey and Ellementa aims to empower as many women as possible with quality information to enhance their exploration of cannabis for a healthier, happier life.
Aliza, you are a web pioneer and started several other women-owned companies. What inspired you to start Ellementa? Why did you want to transition to the cannabis industry?
I came up with the idea for Ellementa because of something I needed that didn’t exist: a forum where I could ask questions about cannabis related to my health as an aging woman. At the time, so much of the content online was geared toward an experienced consumer or focused on the “stoner dude culture.” I was desperately seeking credible information about cannabis for health and wellness and specifically for menopause relief.
After attending a few events geared toward the cannabis industry, I realized that something I did back in the 1990s could be a good framework for what was needed in cannabis. In 1995, I started a global network and resource for women interested in the Internet to learn from other women, both online and through offline monthly meetings. That was Webgrrls International, a part of the company I had founded, Cybergrrl, Inc., that was the first woman-owned Internet company.
Fast forward to 2016: I was publishing HerCannaLife.com, a website featuring profiles of women in the cannabis industry and saw a gap in what was being offered: a network and resource for women interested in the health and wellness side of cannabis where they could learn from other women. The idea for Ellementa was born! I spent a lot of time after that trying to convince my good friend, Melissa Pierce, to join me in launching Ellementa. She finally did, and we debuted in the Spring of 2017.
Any uncanny similarities between the tech world and the cannabis industry?
There are so many similarities between tech and cannabis. First, both are complex things. Back in the 1990s, the Internet was completely foreign to most people, scary to many, confusing and complicated. Just like cannabis has been over the last number of decades.
There were early adopters and industry pioneers who faced many obstacles and a lot of politics involved. While the Internet wasn’t “illegal,” it was certainly deemed dangerous by some and was not easily accessible. Both industries have experienced a lot of misinformation and hype.
The early days of the Internet industry was very Wild West and cannabis has felt like that as well. Then the big corporations began throwing money at Internet companies and ventures. That is happening now in cannabis. The bubbles are starting to expand in cannabis just like they expanded and then burst in the Internet industry—several times. I’m sure we’re going to see that burst and then a new bubble.
With bigger money came way more political influence from the top few tech corporations, a lot of consolidation with smaller companies being bought up. Some of that is already happening in cannabis. Big difference: It took 7-10 years for the various phases and stages of maturation for the Internet industry. Cannabis is moving at lightning speed, so expect many of those stages to transpire over the next five years.
Tell me more about Ellementa Gatherings. Who comes to Ellementa gatherings or events?
Ellementa Gatherings are more “women’s wellness circles” than networking events. They are inspirational while being educational. Women who attend range in age from their 20s to their 70s plus. Our main Ellementa Woman, however, is in her 40s or 50s, peri-menopausal or menopausal. She is seeking relief, often from insomnia or pain. Some are caregiving for aging parents or a special needs child or a friend with cancer. Women who are more experienced with cannabis share their stories and experiences with women who are newer to it or researching cannabis as an alternative medicine or a health supplement. We showcase predominantly female experts and work with brands with quality products to provide women with information they need to get to the right medicine.
How do you find an Ellementa event in your local area? Do you have to live in a medical or recreational state to participate?
We list our Gatherings on Eventbrite, our Facebook page @EllementaWoman, and on our website. Ellementa Gatherings are non-consumption events; they are conversations with women getting their questions answered. We’re legal anywhere free speech and educating women is legal.
What were some of the things that you learned unexpectedly since starting Ellementa? Have there been any challenges that you’ve had to overcome?
While not entirely surprising, I learned that most first wave legal cannabis companies and CBD companies were not thinking of women when formulating their products, especially not menopausal women, so many of the products on the market either didn’t work well or actually made some women feel worse, not better. Part of our company is devoted to educating the brands, not just the consumers, about what women are looking for in cannabis and CBD products. We provide consumer insights and have been tracking data for the last two years specifically around women’s habits, preferences, and use of cannabis and CBD.
The main challenges we face are no different from any other startup: capital, human capital, cash flow. We’ve been running for two years without outside investment but it is time. The challenge now is getting investors to recognize the value of female consumers and the wisdom in investing in a women-owned ancillary cannabis company.
If you could invite three people, (dead or alive), to a dinner party, who would you invite and why?
I feel like I should be deep, philosophical, and historical, but to hell with that! Oprah Winfrey, because she is self-made and a force. She should be president. Lady Gaga, because she is this generation’s Madonna (although Madonna is also this generation’s Madonna and I love her), and has held it together as she transforms her public persona year to year. I love this year’s version of her: elegant yet approachable. Kristen Bell, because she seems to have a great head on her shoulders about life, career, marriage, motherhood, and cannabis. I could use some of that. And she is funny as hell.
What brands or products do you predict are going to take 2019 by storm?
Pax: ultra sleek, discreet and portable. Plus, vaping is better than smoking. Kikoko Teas: gorgeous branding, ready for the mature woman who likes her tea with a little something extra.Ellementa: going global, educating consumers, AND the brands that want to serve them. A smart play.
Any brand that understands what women need and want that are part of educating about and normalizing cannabis—those will be the big winners. Because women are making the major household decisions about what health and wellness products are in their homes and dispensed to their loved ones. We hold the power. Cannabis brands who acknowledge that will win bigger and faster than those who ignore us.
How can you be reached?
@ellementawoman or @alizasherman on Twitter – best way to reach me! @ellementawoman on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest