Last November whilst in NYC, I had the opportunity to meet some amazing women creating innovative businesses. The female founder community in the states is definitely more progressive than the UK (in terms of opportunities and growth) but I hope with several communities like, For Working Ladies, we will be able to change that.
One of the female founders I met was Christine Yi the co-founder of Potli which she runs alongside her co-founder Felicity Chen, both daughters of Asian Immigrants. Potli is a high-end, wellness company that enhances the products in your kitchen pantry with the physical and mental benefits of cannabis. They have created two products so far honey and olive oil which come in varying forms, infused with hemp or infused with cannabis.
The cannabis industry is one that is booming yet also surrounded by a lot of stigmas, so when I heard Christine pitch her business in front of 100s of women and to the founder of the Female Founders Fund, I wanted to know more about how she is tackling the industry.
After Christine got her major in Business and Finance at Boston University, she started her first job as a management consultant at PwC, specializing in customer experience and sales strategy for the Tech, Media, and Entertainment industries. She then moved on to work as a strategy manager at Ann Inc, which oversees the LOFT, Ann Taylor, and Lou Grey clothing brands, working on business development, brand and growth strategy. She’s a self-diagnosed wellness junkie, constantly thinking about her brand, Potli, and how she can empower wellness in other lives.
Being the daughter of an Asian immigrant has really shaped her perspective on
Christine shares her story on how her and her co-founder got started with Potli, the challenges they have faced and why cannabis is so important to them.
How Potli All Started
My co-founder Felicity and I actually met as randomly-paired roommates in freshman year of college at Boston University. I sometimes question myself if it was really random because we got along so well and were both from the Bay Area of California, and now I tend to agree that it wasn’t random- it was fate!
We started having conversations in late 2016 about the state of the cannabis industry in California, and how there was a huge opportunity to make something healthy, high quality, with modern branding and communication. My background is in customer and business growth strategy, so I’m always thinking about what consumers look for and why. Within cannabis, we recognized that what was wanted was simply something that people could trust, something that could empower people to utilize cannabis as a part of their daily health routines.
At the time Felicity’s family had gotten involved in beekeeping on their land in the Bay Area. So with this incredible resource and our vision in mind we got to work on small batch,
In spring 2018 we launched a hemp CBD line (legal outside of states with medicinal/recreational marijuana programs) because we really saw the desire from people who wanted the benefits of CBD- a powerful physical and mental health agent.
There is so much research around the benefits of cannabis that it’s actually not very hard to convince a skeptical
consumer of at least being open to giving cannabis products a try. It’s really just about education and communicating from a place of love and empowerment.
We are one of the few brands that offer both hemp and cannabis products, which has enabled us to reach wider audiences and really take a stand for cannabis powered self-care.
People often ask me what advice I’d give to someone wanting to start their own business, and truly it just comes to time and intention. In the beginning, my partner and I were both juggling
Behind Every Brand, There’s a Why? Tell Us About Potli’s.
At Potli we have three key missions we stand for: Happiness, Health and Honesty. The pursuit in all we do is happiness, and we hold a very positive outlook not only on the future state of the cannabis industry but in how we approach our daily lives. Health is our highest priority as we carry out this mission, and want to always ask how we can make something healthier. While we make cannabis-infused kitchen pantry staples, the emphasis is often on the cannabis-infused portion, but a lot of our time is spent sourcing the highest quality, unprocessed, natural, base ingredients to infuse in the first place. And lastly, we hope to always be candid, unfiltered, and honest with our clients. Cannabis is such a versatile and powerful health agent, whether via it’s anti-anxiety, anti-seizure, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory properties or it’s
How Has Your Experience Been Navigating The World Of Cannabis?
Battling stereotypes is a challenge that truly excites me. There is so much research around the benefits of cannabis that it’s actually not very hard to convince a sceptical consumer of at least being open to giving cannabis products a try. It’s really just about education and communicating from a place of love and empowerment. Conducting research from a business perspective can be a little tricky- regulations change often and there are few “case studies” that can be read to help us make decisions as everything is still so new.
There is definitely a sense in the industry that we’re all navigating and learning together, and I’ve been so pleasantly surprised by the amount of support within the cannabis community, despite sometimes technically being competitors! Those who we work with are truly passionate about making the world a better place with our products, and that’s inspiring.
Challenges So Far
Funding is definitely a big challenge as being in the legal cannabis industry is not cheap! There are significant costs and expertise needed to manufacture your own product and have the license to do so. The regulatory environment- while very important in ensuring quality for customers- can be very costly and time-consuming. Marketing is also difficult as there are restrictions where companies in other industries would not have them. We’d love to buy ads on Instagram and reach a wider audience, for example, but simply can’t! But the restriction has pushed us to rely on more creative and intimate forms of marketing, which has, as a silver lining, helped us build such a strong community.
The Future For Potli
We are currently raising from friends and family, and are so excited to be able to have some runway to expand our product line. We currently have honey and olive oil, but can’t wait to create more healthy, delicious products that you’d find in your day to day cooking. Felicity has been working full time for half a year, and I’ll actually be moving from NYC to San Francisco this month to join her full time as well. It’s very scary but extremely exciting. We’re pretty hard on ourselves, thinking about how much there is to get done and how restricted we feel compared to bigger,