Marlo Richardson was already a successful entrepreneur before entering the cannabis space; now, she holds a cannabis license in California and helps get cannabis brands to market, having worked previously with successful brands like Napalm, Tremendo Treez, Just Mary, and Homeschool.
In this written Q&A, Richardson — the CEO and owner of Greenwood & Company — shares insights from her many businesses, explains finding success in social equity licensing, discusses launching and operating brands amid controversy, common challenges in the cannabis space, and more!
Read the full interview below:
Ganjapreneur: When was The Greenwood Company founded, and how does this company serve as a backbone for other cannabis projects?
Marlo Richardson: Greenwood & Company was founded in 2019. It serves as the parent company and holds all of the licenses to cultivate, manufacture, distribute and deliver cannabis products. The cannabis projects that we deal with usually have to deal with wholesale products that we either grow independently or purchase from another farm. It is also the way we create brands by manufacturing the consumer goods and packaging them for retail.
What is the benefit of working with The Greenwood Company to bring a brand to market?
The benefit of working with us is that we have the ability to customize solutions for the retail market. We have had great success in developing consumer products for wholesale and retail market. We don’t have a standard type of agreement. We are willing to work with brands so that they are completely satisfied with their products and the level of service they will receive working with us.
I have a very hands-on approach in regards to brands that we bring to market. My standards are very high, and I work with brands that want to create quality products and are willing to market and brand with us.
Did you have to navigate hurdles in the licensing process? How did you overcome these challenges?
Yes, so many hurdles it was unbelievable. It’s one of the pitfalls in this being a new industry. Everyone is learning and there are mistakes that are made. I’ve sent checks that were never received, been charged fees that I shouldn’t had been charged and were ultimately refunded. I’ve dodged a few bad partnerships and I’ve lost money, but I am still here. I was able to navigate the hurdles by being organized. I keep a file for everything. The bills, the communication, the screenshots and I keep notes. So, when something doesn’t work right, I know exactly where to go. It may be a skill that I picked up in law school. Everything potentially has evidentiary value.
Do you have advice for social equity applicants who are struggling to get licensed and operational in California?
Absolutely, all money is not good money and the most important thing they can do is to be selective with who they work with.
As someone with years of financial and entrepreneurial success, what do you find interesting or unique about the cannabis space compared to other emerging markets?
What is unique about the cannabis industry is the inability to market and advertise items that are for sale. Marketing is extremely challenging, but I am currently building an infrastructure to manage that as well.
How have your past successes contributed to your success in the regulated cannabis space?
I honestly believe I have had success because I am unafraid to fail. In life we all have experiences. Some of those experiences are great others are both horrible and tramatic. I refuse to be defined by mistakes that I’ve made. I take the good lessons and experiences along with the bad and use everything that I’ve learned as lessons on what to do, as well as what not to do. I feel like too many people fall victim to their fears or that they allow the fears of others to dictate how they proceed in life and in business. I don’t care how many stories I hear about a person that tried and failed; those people are not me and if I had listened to all of the things that people told me not to do, or to do it a particular way… I might be where they currently are. But, I am not; I am where I currently am because I believed in me and didn’t get discouraged.
What is your role in your partnership with Xzibit on Napalm Cannabis?
I am the owner and CEO of The Greenwood Company, the licensed entity that is capable of creating cannabis brands and bring them to market. The Greenwood Company is licensed to cultivate indoor flower, manufacture vapes, edibles, beverages, and distribute them to licensed dispensaries and deliver products direct to consumers.
There was outcry from the AAPI community regarding Napalm branded grenades and strains named after nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during WWII. Has this changed the branding strategy going forward?
No it it has not. Unfortunately, it was a reminder of how the world processes information. Napalm was the name of an album Xzibit dropped in 2012 and no one made mention of the album’s name. The minute the album name is affiliated with cannabis, it became an issue sparked by a small group. I spoke in several platforms in regards to the name and branding and the consensus from the consumers were that the name was clearly defined by the album and what Xzibit referenced in the songs back in 2012 and was in no way related to any historic event or group of people. I personally try to be aware of history and how it impacts the way that we think, see the world. It wasn’t by coincidence that my company has the name Greenwood in it. We respect everyone and their views but can’t allow all opinions of people that are either uninformed or misinformed dictate how we do business. We are motivated by culture, and want to help move it forward in a positive direction.
Tremendo Trees products dropped at the end of 2021, what products will make up the line and what differentiates that line from Just Mary and Napalm?
Tremendo Trees has a premium and mostly exotic 7 gram and 3.5 gram flower line, preroll packs and singles. Just Mary has taken on more of a Costco Wholesale approach and has one ounce cans and preroll packs designed more for the daily consumers that don’t want to have to place orders multiple times a week. Napalm in just a unique product line altogether, it’s like a novelty.
Are there benefits to opening a delivery service like Just Mary over a brick-and-mortar retail shop?
There will always be people that like to walk in a brick and mortar store. They want to be able to touch, see and smell the item. There are also people like myself that would prefer to never have to enter a physical store ever and would love to know that a product that is known to be consistently quality can be delivered to me directly; there is a lot of power in that.
You were inspired to enter the cannabis space after helping your mother seek alternative pain relief options — do the products carried by Just Mary reflect that mission of wellness?
Absolutely, I hand pick all of the strains and like to focus on strains that are equally balanced in grades to relaxation, focus and well being. The goal is to feel good, or to feel better.
What type of CBD products will Just Mary launch in 2022? How do you choose which products to develop in a saturated market?
Just Mary will be launching CBD products that are designed again for the daily consumer. To start, gummies in the morning and a beverage at night. There is room in the edible market because taste matters. I have given away the gummies that we are currently testing for market and the reviews are outstanding.
What areas are served by Just Mary and where can 21+ readers find the menu?
JustMaryDelivery.com will be live in a few weeks and the menu will be live on the site and consumers in the LA can order to have products delivered direct.
Thanks, Marlo, for answering all of our questions! Learn more at JustMaryDelivery.com