Wisdom From The Women Leading The Cannabis IndustryPosted on by Lavinia
An Interview With Candice Georgiadis
Wisdom From The Women Leading The Cannabis Industry, With Katie Enright of Lavinia
As a part of my series about strong women leaders in the cannabis industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Katie Enright.
Never in her wildest dreams did Katie expect to create a community like Lavinia.
Katie’s original plan in life was kind of the opposite — specifically, she believed her calling in life was to be a nun and prepared for a life of study, reflection, and celibacy…
Until, like one does, Katie met a “Francois” during study abroad… and then priorities changed.
In stepping away from nunhood and into a life where sexuality is expected, Katie felt behind the eight ball relative to her peers in sexual experience. As a result, she began to research methods and products that would help her feel empowered, pleasured, and promote access to better, more powerful orgasms. Unfortunately, she never found the exact product she was looking for…
So she made it herself.
Through her research, Katie found that cannabis can enhance orgasms and create a better sexual experience. When correctly applied, cannabis dilates blood vessels, which increases blood flow — this makes achieving an orgasm easier and more intense while making multiple orgasms more accessible. Katie started making it simply for herself, then for friends who would ask for it, then friends of friends, and then friends of friends of friends…
From this community came Lavinia.
Lavinia’s mission is to enhance peoples sex lives through cannabis and to normalize two historically taboo subjects (sex and cannabis). Lavinia wants to empower people to live life to the climax!
– – –
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the cannabis industry?
My path to the cannabis industry has been completely unexpected and organic. A few years ago, I was training for my second marathon. My first marathon had left me injured, beat up and I didn’t want to go through that again, so I experimented with different products to help my recovery. Cannabis balms were the most effective by a long shot. I came back from a two-hour run sore and exhausted one day, used a cannabis balm on my muscles and within a matter of minutes all of my pain was gone. I was blown away. This led me to start researching and experimenting with cannabis balms. I made my own balms in my kitchen and in my research I read that cannabis can be used to enhance sexual experiences, so I made myself a balm that I used as lube. It was amazing, but I was using coconut oil as my base and coconut oil gave me yeast infections. I went on a mission after that to find lubes that didn’t have a coconut oil base and I couldn’t find one anywhere, so I started making my own silicone-based lubes in my kitchen.
At the time, I was working as a bartender and started giving my homemade balms away to friends with no intention of starting a company — I was just excited to share something that I created that had such a profound impact on my own sex life. One day, someone I had never met walked into my bar and asked if I was the girl who made the cannabis lube, they wanted to buy some, and I realized that this wasn’t just a personal product, this was a business. My progression into the industry felt so natural. I went into the industry as a consumer, making products that I wanted to see on the market and I found that others wanted those products as well. My needs matched the needs of others and once I realized that, my mission and motivation for starting a company snapped into place.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I’ve been surprised and amazed by the impact that this product has had on women. The amount of women who have told me that they were able to experience their first orgasm ever because of my products or that they finally feel empowered to talk about pleasure with their partner and take ownership over their own sexual experiences is incredible.
I created this company when I started meeting my own needs. Following the truth of my own needs connected me to other people’s needs as well. It’s a way for women to take control of their sexual pleasure and that came from first me taking control of my own sexual pleasure. I strongly believe that if you honor and follow your own needs and desires, you will not only liberate yourself but it will lead you to a place where you are able to liberate others as well. This company reinforces that truth every day.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
If you own your own business, you know that every day, you make a million mistakes. It’s not about not making mistakes, it’s about learning from those mistakes quickly and continuing on. Some of the best and most ridiculous examples of some early mistakes were around honing in on the recipes for the lubes. Because I started this project in my kitchen, I was my own guinea pig. I tried every variation of lube and tried every recipe on my body.
I put peppermint in one batch of lube. When you first apply it, and especially if someone blows on it, the warming and tingling effect of the peppermint feels otherworldly. But the second there’s penetration of any kind, it burns horribly. It was awful! Another recipe worked well but tasted really bad. I used it while having sex with my partner and although the sensations were great, we both stopped midway through sex to brush our teeth to get the taste out of our mouths. Luckily, we’re past that point and the bulk of the science is behind us but man, did I put my body through the ringer in order to come up with the recipes we have today.
Do you have a funny story about how someone you knew reacted when they first heard you were getting into the cannabis industry?
It’s been a surprise to everyone, myself included! I haven’t had a straightforward path. I grew up religious, studied theology and was actually intending on becoming a nun until I had a come-to-Jesus moment, so to speak, and discovered that I actually wanted to become a mother, an experience I obviously wouldn’t be able to have if I were to have gone down that path. But it was in my investigation of that path that I ended up meeting people and having experiences that changed my mind. Fast forward several years and I moved from the Midwest to Los Angeles to, of course, become an actress. I bartended on the side and that’s where I ended up meeting my future business partners. So along my path, some people have known Religious Katie, some people have known Actress Katie, and now I guess I’m Cannabis Lube Katie! Those who have been in my life for a long time have watched me follow my path to some pretty unexpected places. Not everyone from my religious upbringing even knows what I’m doing now and I’m okay with that. You never know where your path is going to take you and in retrospect, for most of us, it’s always a surprise where we end up.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My business partners have been amazing. I partnered with people who were involved in startups long before I was so any time we come across a roadblock and I think it’s game over, they have the perspective to know that it’s no big deal and they have comfort navigating it.
Our Chief Science Officer in specific deserves a shoutout. His name is Dr. Paul Lessard. I call him the Walter White of Weed. We did a year and a half of R&D together and came up with 25 different iterations of recipes before finding the mix that we work with today. We also work with a board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Kristina Collins, who is incredible. She went to Harvard and is truly an expert in her field. She’s able to explain exactly what’s happening in the body when it comes in contact with cannabis products. I’m often humbled and amazed by how much talent we now have on our team.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Yessss. The whole goal of our company is to enhance people’s sex lives through cannabis so we’re currently in R&D for a whole host of additional products that are aimed towards enhancing people’s sexual experience. But if I told you the details, I’d have to kill you. All I can say is, stay tuned…
Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. Despite great progress that has been made we still have a lot more work to do to achieve gender parity in this industry. According to this report in Entrepreneur, less than 25 percent of cannabis businesses are run by women. In your opinion or experience, what 3 things can be done by a) individuals b) companies and/or c) society to support greater gender parity moving forward?
This is a huge question and one that can easily become very political and divisive. There are always going to be tremendous hurdles to climb to start your own business, especially in a field that’s so new, rapidly evolving and still relatively fringe. So here are my tips:
Don’t allow fear of failure to steer you away from your goals. Don’t let imposter syndrome hold you back. Be humble, be willing to learn, fail, listen, pivot and go into something with very little preparation and knowledge and don’t stop when it gets hard.
Ask for things. Use your network, however untraditional it may be. Success doesn’t have to look a certain way and you don’t need to be an expert to dive into a field and play with the big kids. Everyone’s just figuring it out. The network through which I distributed my first products and eventually found my business partners was the network surrounding the bar I tended. I made friends with regulars and built relationships with the people who were around me and those were the people who I eventually asked for mentorship from. Not only did they offer mentorship, they also offered funding and collaboration.
Take responsibility for your own pleasure, your own life, your own passions and your own ideas. There are a million reasons why we can remain stagnant or remain safe and the narratives and conditioning around that is real. But ultimately, if you want something and you aren’t willing to give up when it gets hard, you can find a way there.
You are a “Cannabis Insider”. If you had to advise someone about 5 non intuitive things one should know to succeed in the cannabis industry, what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each.
Many of the stories behind these lessons have spanned years, but here are some lessons that I have worked very hard to learn:
When it gets really hard, keep going. I remind myself of this all the time. I learned this from my partners, who have more experience in the startup world than I do. They know that starting a business is a process of overcoming hurdles every single day, meaning that when you approach a hurdle, it’s not a sign that you did anything wrong, it’s just that day’s hurdle. Expect failure, expect challenges and when they come up, don’t let them knock you off balance. Roll with them and keep going. You’re the only one who’s going to prevent you from being successful and if you fail, it will be because at some point, you decided to quit. So just, you know: don’t quit.
Cannabis is a tough industry. There are high taxes, it’s very regulated and to make it worse, the rules and regulations are constantly changing. So put a good amount of time into educating yourself. That’s half the battle. Know what you’re up against.
Invest in a great attorney who can help you get through the red tape — of both this industry, and of the startup world in general. It’s more money upfront but believe me, it will save you money in the long run.
Relationships are very important. Not just with your investors but also with all the people who you work with on a daily basis. Our products are sold at dispensaries so that means that whether or not it sells is partially based on whether or not the employees at the dispensary are recommending it and have good things to say about it. Every dispensary is different and every person is different and in order for your product to succeed, you have to connect with the people who put it into the hands of the consumer.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the cannabis industry?
Oh man. There are so many things.
First of all, cannabis changed my life. As an athlete, it completely changed my game, allowing me to run marathons without destroying my body. And now, it has revolutionized my sex life. I’m fully convinced that cannabis is a miracle plant and because legalization is new, I feel like I’m on the cutting edge of cannabis’ potential.
Despite all of its benefits, cannabis is only barely becoming normalized. I think CBD is a great gateway for normalizing other forms and parts of cannabis, meaning that it’s becoming accessible and welcoming to people who normally wouldn’t turn to cannabis but are now finding entry points to it. I’m just excited that it’s getting to a place in society where more people have access to it.
The history of cannabis in the US is super cool! Cannabis as a medicinal plant has been around for thousands of years and used to be prescribed by doctors in tinctures for therapeutic reasons. But when it was first used for this reason, we didn’t have the science and tools to regulate the dosage so doctors turned to pharmaceuticals that were more easily dosed. When prohibition was ending in the US, the Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) turned their attention toward cannabis as the evil that would replace alcohol. It was entirely marketing. They rebranded cannabis as “marijuana,” which felt more dangerous and elicit, and branded it as the gateway drug to street drugs that were actually dangerous. Knowing the history of cannabis shows us that the way that we frame something determines so much about how we, as individuals and as a society, approach and experience it.
Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?
As of now, unfortunately, cannabis is still pretty expensive. Part of this is taxes and part of this is just because it’s such a new industry. The fact that these products are cost prohibitive to a lot of people who could use them is a shame and I really hope that changes over time.
The fact that cannabis products can still only be sold at dispensaries is a huge barrier to entry for a lot of people.
There’s still a ton of stigma around cannabis. Even CBD products for sports recovery and chronic pain with no psychotropic effects whatsoever still have stigma because they’re connected to marijuana, which has been framed as an illicit substance.
What are your thoughts about federal legalization of cannabis? If you could speak to your Senator, what would be your most persuasive argument regarding why they should or should not pursue federal legalization?
I would love to see cannabis products being completely federally legal. I’m not a lobbyist and have no intention of becoming one but on a legal note, I would argue that there’s a historical precedent for cannabis being used in medical and therapeutic environments with very positive proven results.
Today, cigarettes are legal, but they are heavily regulated, highly taxed, and they are somewhat socially marginalized. Would you like cannabis to have a similar status to cigarettes or different? Can you explain?
I actually think that cannabis has a similar status to cigarettes in a lot of ways. It’s highly regulated, highly taxed and socially marginalized. There are a lot of differences though too. Just in terms of ingestion, I know that I personally have trouble inhaling smoke into my lungs. I don’t find it to be a pleasant experience and in my marathon days, it hurt my performance. Cannabis is unique in that there are more and more ways to ingest cannabis so everyone can find a way that works for them. As for the health effects, positive or negative, they’re pretty different. I don’t know the science behind tobacco but I’m deeply immersed in the science behind cannabis and there are a lot of studies out there that show extraordinary health benefits of cannabis, both physically and mentally. As for where these products should be sold and to whom is a larger question of lobbying, legality, education and regulation, but I do believe that cannabis should continue to be normalized in its many uses.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Yes! Live life to the climax.
This is our company’s motto but it has a lot of meaning to me personally as well. Climax means a different thing in every different context and for every different person. Every day, living life to the climax is going to be different. Some days, it will mean staying in bed all day catching up on rest. Some days, it will mean going on a hike. Some days, it will mean making inroads on starting the business of your dreams. It just means that every day, you should do what makes you incredibly happy and satisfied.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
My big mission in life would be to improve sex education. Coming from a religious background, my sex education wasn’t great, and this is a very common experience. Religion aside, the sex education I got in school had nothing to do with intimacy, consent and comfort, and was completely detached from bodies and emotions. It was a purely physical education about the mechanics of sex and the science of physical development.
What this means is that the way that a lot of kids and teens today get educated about what sex actually looks like or what it means in their life is through porn. And while porn can be fun to watch, it shouldn’t be the basis of your education around sex. Porn is watching two paid performers engage in acts that are not motivated by pleasure but are motivated by profit. It’s also important to note that in most scenarios, the actors will have met just an hour before filming, leaving little to no time to build the intimacy, relational dynamics and vulnerability that are foundational to many of our sex lives. Porn is only about the physical act and doesn’t factor in intimacy, vulnerability and connection. If someone uses porn as the basis of their sex education, when they actually experience a sexual encounter, it will be very different which can lead to sexual disappoint, frustration and feelings of inadequacy.
I think sex education should not just speak to the mechanics of sex but also to communication, intimacy and consent.
Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you only continued success!
To see the original article, visit mycannabis.com