Gabe Kennedy and Hudson Gaines-Ross are building Plant People thoughtfully. Laser-focused on creating a brand that delivers high-quality products powered by a mission-driven team, Plant People is redefining what it means to live well.
Read on as we go behind the scenes of this budding cannabis brand and catch up with Kennedy and Gaines-Ross to learn more about what inspired their wellness journeys and how they’re building a brand much larger than themselves.
ForceBrands: You both come from different backgrounds — what inspired your journey into cannabis?
Gabe Kennedy: Hudson was born in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and I was born in Boulder, Colo. Although we have very different upbringings in regards to healing techniques, we connected over our shared traumas of back surgeries. I, personally, come from a household of healers (my mother is an acupuncturist and a Chinese herbalist, and my father a chiropractor and an acupuncturist). On my journey of dealing with these issues for more than 12 years, I found a lot of relief in both cannabis and herbalism. About two-and-a-half years ago, Hudson and I were on a hike where we connected over our shared back traumas and our respective paths to wellness. On the other side of the conversation, we saw an opportunity to share these unique solutions with our community. And, if the need for it resonated with our community, the opportunity beyond was huge. We decided to explore the landscape and by going to farmers, extractors, doctors with the goal of creating highly efficacious products that you can’t find anywhere else. We also wanted to create a brand that represents something larger than ourselves and that communicates trust, integrity, and responsibility. Two years later, Plant People was born.
FB: What makes Plant People’s CBD unique?
GK: We are hyper-focused on finding unique plant genetics, coupling them with proprietary extraction methods, and then driving to solutions by combining other herbs and botanicals from different healing modalities. We are maniacal about the agricultural practices used in all of the plants we source and are dedicated to supporting systems that heal the planet as well as the people who engage in the production and those who use the final products.
FB: How have you gone about educating your consumers about the health benefits about CBD?
GK: Education is a tenet of our brand. The cannabis space is ever-changing and has a lot of deep history that extends beyond health benefits — we see a responsibility to destigmatize and educate around the various relationships people may have to the plant based on where they’re from or what they look like. Additionally, we see an importance to educate and advocate for an industry that addresses social justice issues and grows in a mindful and equitable way. We approach cannabis, and all plants, holistically and aim to educate not only on the singular compound of CBD, but the hemp plant as a whole and other ways in which one can live better. This means speaking about nutrition, mindful practices, and finding moments of delight in addition to using our products in their routine.
FB: At ForceBrands, we build the teams that build the brands. How have you approached hiring? Who were your first key hires
GK: People are the most important part of Plant People. We view our team as the most critical piece of our business. Hudson and I hustled just us two for a very long time so when we could afford the first hire — it was a milestone. Our first hires were in the sales and marketing lead categories because we had so much demand and need to manage those efforts effectively with speed and quality. They were able to become hubs for two critical parts of the business while we were able to focus on scaling for growth. Our goal is to invest in a team and build a family that has unique and differentiated skill sets as well as viewpoints so we can scale and operate thoughtfully.
It’s crucial that each person we bring on has ownership in the company and feels as if they’re a key decision maker. They must feel like a mover and shaker themselves.
FB: What are some of the biggest challenges about launching a brand in an entirely new industry — and one that’s highly regulated?
GK: We actually love it! We don’t have massive brands driving up our acquisition costs and fighting on shelves. It is like being a mom-and-pop store, doing it the old fashioned way. There are certainly challenges with payment processing, shipping, and other logistics, but we view them as barriers to entry and scale, as well as problem-solving opportunities.
FB: What excites you most about the future of cannabis? What trends do you foresee taking shape in the coming year?
GK: We are thrilled about innovation and the exploration of not only cannabis compounds but the plant and fungi world beyond. The cannabis industry is only scratching the surface of what is possible with various applications of the plethora of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds found in the plant. We foresee various plant compounds being celebrated and we look forward to seeing how this movement of plants will impact not only the business, but also the lives of everyone involved; we hope to see a more mindful, thoughtful and empathetic world.
FB: What’s ahead for Plant People? Any new innovations or partnerships you can share?
GK: We are always cooking up a few things and working on strategic partnerships that extend our brand into arenas that we’re experts in but certainly want to play in. We are excited to continue to grow the business in directions that suit our customers’ needs and help them live a life of wellness.
Check back next week to discover how Kennedy and Gaines-Ross like to Start It Sunday.
Interested in working at an innovative cannabis company like Plant People? Explore our HerbForce division.