Alyssa Russell: Indoor Hemp-Derived CBD

Alyssa Russell is the creative director and co-owner of Clara Jane, a CBD store in Nashville, Tennessee with a product line featuring hemp grown in-house.

Continued after the jump.

Hemp-derived CBD is legal in the state of Tennessee and urban hubs like Nashville have become home to a handful of CBD shops where visitors have access to CBD oil, flower, pre-rolls, and tasty edibles. In 2019, hemp farming grew 1100% according to the Department of Agriculture, including many small scale hemp farms looking to breed and grow plants for optimal CBD.

Alyssa Russell and Chad Cheadle were inspired by the positive role cannabinoids played in their own lives to open a CBD dispensary and cultivate hemp themselves, and that is how Clara Jane came to be. The California natives moved to Nashville in 2016 and found that cannabinoids were helpful when searching for comfort and relief. Clara Jane is a cozy, comfortable space that was built to be a cornerstone of the community around cannabinoid medicine but, for now, they are delivering in Nashville and shipping nationwide.

What inspired you and Chad Cheadle, co-owner and head grower, to start Clara Jane?

We were inspired to start Clara Jane for numerous reasons but when it comes down to it, we are in the business of helping people and wanted to share our passion for alternative methods of healing. In Tennessee, there is still a large need for education on cannabis. Our personal stories of how cannabinoids have supported us was our motivation and stories of those who are supported by the products we grow are what keep us motivated

When did CBD stores first start popping up in Nashville? When was Clara Jane founded and how many people work there?

Although the 2016 Farm Bill had been around CBD stores only started normalizing in early 2018. We originally opened in 2018 in a pop-up location under the name 615 CBD in Pleasant View, TN. Being part of a small community and helping people find an alternative approach to their own personal mountains made it apparent to us how fulfilling this work is!

In March 2019, we opened our doors in Nashville as Clara Jane Hemp Dispensary where we’re able to provide a comfortable retail space to our customers as well as an indoor grow operation.  Most of the business is run by Chad and myself, just the two of us! But as we all know, nothing can be done alone and community is so important to success on a personal level and a business level. We also have a small crew of retail associates, trim partners, and a network of other growers and CBD Pros helping us out/mentoring us.

How long did it take to set up the indoor hemp operation? How many rooms and plants are in your cultivation site?

We’ve been increasing the grow operation in stages, starting really small and just about doubling the number of plants we grow each harvest. Just this week we harvested 60 plants in three different strains with 60 more ready to go into flower. Our indoor grown premium CBD and CBG flower is hand trimmed, slow cured, and organically grown. We have one big room at this time and are using tents for cloning, vegging and drying – we’re planning to build out rooms later this year. Much of our cultivation goes to flower sales.

What vetting process does Clara Jane have in place for outside CBD products that are sold in the store?

Because quality products are so important to us, we thoroughly vet every product that we bring to the sales floor. We insist that all products have legitimate 3rd party COA’s and only choose products with a unique story behind them, and that speak to us personally. We’re looking for clean ingredients, (no artificial colors/flavors, etc no additives and only want what is necessary in the products!  A variety of Full-Spectrum and THC free products is really important to us so all customers have options to choose from. Additionally, a majority of the products we sell come from women-run businesses across the country.

Which category of products is most popular? Why do people seek these products?

Aside from flower, our second most sought out products are edibles! We carry a variety of gummies, chocolates, honey, mints and even marshmallows. People love their edibles so we’re sure to hunt down super clean products so our community can purchase edibles without all the extra additives.

Clara Jane is community-focused and driven by your customers, can you share any first-hand CBD success stories from your customers?

One of our most recent stories that just makes me so happy is about a customer who really struggled to sleep more than 1.5 hours at a time. They could get by taking their sleeping pills but we’re looking for a more natural approach without the side effects. We got them on a regimen of cbg & cbd and they’re not sleeping al the way through the night, well-rested. Sleep is so important and impacts so many areas of our lives so knowing that we were able to help this person, it’s also going to impact those around them, is so satisfying!

We get tons of customers who are from Recreational and/ or medical states that come in and are able to pick up products that support them and their ailments so they can enjoy their time in Nashville.

What type of licensing and regulations are in place for CBD stores in Nashville? Does the state require any licensing to sell or grow Hemp CBD?

In Tennessee we’re required to have a Hemp Growers License for cultivation and a resale licenses for selling. We’re required by the state to contact the Tennessee Department of Agriculture 30 days before harvest for an inspection of the plants and are required to collect labs on the flower to maintain compliance.

Do you rent or own the grow and retail space? Did you meet any complications working with sellers/landlords/real estate agents due to the hemp stigma?

We lease the building where our retail and grow op are located. We did have a hard time finding the right space that could accommodate our grow and retail. A few companies we were ready to sign with came back and decided not to move forward due to the high risk. Same has happened with banking! But we really lucked out with our space. The real estate agent who leased our space is a huge advocate for the industry!

Have the neighboring businesses and establishments been welcoming of Clara Jane?

The neighborhood we are located in is up and coming so there aren’t a ton of immediate neighboring businesses. The few businesses in the area are super supportive and we do our best to support them as well! We have a few doctors and therapists in the city who encourage their patients to come see us when they’re looking for an alternative approach to supporting their well being.

What type of advertising do you invest in for Clara Jane? Do you suffer from the same shadowbanning and inability to advertise on social media like adult-use cannabis shops?

CBD companies face some of the same obstacles that dispensaries in legal states do. We’re prohibited from most traditional digital advertising like google ads and FB. So far we’ve mostly relied on print advertising and are looking into radio. We also have attended a multitude of marker’s markets and Pop-Up’s around the city!

What advice would you give to someone interested in entering the CBD market?

For people interested in entering the CBD industry I would say you have to be so passionate! There is room for everyone in this space but we also have seen so many more hemp growers pop up in the last year that did not go into their grow with a place to sell their product. It leaves the market a bit saturated. One of my favorite things has been developing relationships with other people in the industry who share the same passion and display their unique touch with the world. This state is so small, population-wise, and everyone knows someone who knows someone that grows hemp. It’s crazy! Both of us are from the SF Bay Area and Chad spent a lot of time in Sonoma county. In Sonoma county, everyone knows someone whose a vintner or is making wine themselves. Yet the entire population of the state of Tennessee Is the same population as the Bay Area. Hopefully, that gives some perspective!

Clara Jane has continued to ship nationwide and deliver locally during the COVID-19 pandemic, maintaining cleaning and safety protocols. Check out the Clara Jane store to see what products are available. Thank you, Alyssa, for taking the time to answer our questions.


Recent Interviews

View all interviews

New to Cannabis? Start Here.

The Ganjapreneur beginner's guide to all things cannabis.

Website & branding by the Ganjapreneur in-house agency:

Blue Dream - Uplifted cannabis industry branding & marketing.

Uplifted cannabis industry branding & marketing.