Her Canna Q&A with Kristen Williams, Hempsley Health

Kristen Williams: 

“My goal is to normalize the cannabis plant in the context of a healthy and responsible Midwestern lifestyle…”

Describe yourself and what you do.

I am a lifestyle designer and educator determined to help end cannabis prohibition.

I’ve been working in the cannabis industry for over three years as a graphic designer, focused on providing a professional and credible face to the incredible companies I work with. This work inspired me to launch my own cannabis brand called Hempsley, a wellness guidance company focused on educating people in conservative prohibition states about the benefits of holistic approaches to health, including cannabinoid therapies that are available in their area.

While my training lies in the realm of visual communications and business, I’ve always been passionate about helping people. Hempsley allows me to exercise my graphic design muscles by creating educational content while offering personalized guidance on developing a self-care routine that works best for you — with or without cannabis. I also have experience with meditation, yoga, Ayurveda, energy medicine, herbal medicine, aromatherapy, and more!

My goal is to normalize the cannabis plant in the context of a healthy and responsible Midwestern lifestyle while disseminating accurate information about cannabis, especially in prohibition states where reliable resources are virtually nonexistent.

What is your cannabis business origin story?

When I first started working with cannabis, design in the industry was lacking. I was frustrated with the “stoner style” branding that ran rampant with pot leaves and tie-dye graphics. I felt that this type of aesthetic wasn’t doing anything to help the reputation of medical cannabis. The graphic design of a company or product is the first impression it will give the world — it matters. I always had an obsession and knack for design, so I decided to enter the industry in that way to help start changing the conversation surrounding cannabis.

After working as a designer for a few years, I began to see a need in the industry for cannabis education targeted at conservative states. The brands out there all focused on the “elevated” experiences that come with cannabis in a beach, mountain, or big-city setting, but no one was showing what it looks like to be a legal cannabis consumer living somewhere like small-town Missouri.

Cannabis isn’t just marijuana; the term “cannabis” refers to hemp as well, and imported hemp products have always been legal.

My ultimate goal is to end the stigma surrounding cannabis and eventually be able to create and sell my own cannabis-derived products. Until that’s legally possible, I want to introduce people to the health benefits of this plant in whatever way is most approachable and comfortable to them so that they can become familiar with it in a non-threatening way. That actually often means avoiding the topic of THC, instead focusing the conversation on products like hemp seeds or CBD oil.

What is your personal cannabis origin story?

I grew up in the conservative Midwest, completely against cannabis until a close friend convinced me that I couldn’t judge it until I tried it. After I did a little bit of my own research and decided to give it a try, I realized that it wasn’t what I had thought at all and discovered that it worked wonders for my anxiety, back pain, and even migraines,

It was in early 2014 that I heard the story of Charlotte Figi, a young girl whose 300 grand mal seizures per week were being subdued with CBD oil. I found myself distraught over the public’s backlash on Charlotte’s parents for treating her with cannabis. Overwhelmed with empathy, it was then that I decided I wanted to help people understand how this plant works within the body to bring medicinal relief — and that using it didn’t necessarily mean getting ‘high.”

What is your Superpower?

My superpower is being able to listen to what’s going on in someone’s life and then recommend self-care practices to help improve their wellbeing. Sometimes, cannabis is the answer — sometimes, it’s not. No matter where they are in their wellness journey, I can help people reflect and objectively analyze what is and isn’t working for them.

What has been your greatest obstacle in this industry or with your business to date?

Since I live in prohibition Missouri, starting a cannabis company has been a unique challenge. In the beginning, I had conceived Hempsley to start as an events company, hosting intimate parties where we learn about cannabis and sample various CBD products.

Then, just as I was about to launch, the Missouri Attorney General sued four businesses in Missouri for selling CBD products without a license (we have a CBD law for patients with intractable epilepsy). After that, I was advised on multiple accounts not to proceed with my business plan and even had a lawyer recommend that I go so far as to not be in possession of CBD products.

Throw in our legalization effort’s failure to get a vote on the 2016 ballot, and I got pretty depressed for a while this past winter. I tried to tell myself I could proceed with my plan but only promote things like hemp seeds or oil, but my gut told me it wouldn’t be the same. So I decided to back it up a step further and begin with wellness guidance and education, simply recommending – instead of selling – cannabis products that I’ve tried. So far, it’s my worst money-making endeavor to date, but I’m trying to be patient and continue laying the ground work for the brand now so that it can be successful later.

What is your vision for women in this industry?

You really can do anything you want in the cannabis industry; there are no precedents, and you have the potential to create any job you want, anywhere you want. The catch is that you need a fire inside you to keep you going.

The reality of this industry is that there will be people who disapprove of what you’re doing, and they will make it hard for you to get where you want to go.

To be successful, you have to truly trust that what you’re doing is right and be willing to decide that their opinions don’t matter.

Connect with Kristen



Kristen Williams (/kristen.williams.90) 


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