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Sonoma County cannabis firm Garden Society CEO wins North Bay Women in Business award

Erin Gore

Founder and CEO

Garden Society

840 N. Cloverdale Blvd., Cloverdale 95425

707-331-0136

thegardensociety.com

Erin Gore, co-founder and CEO of Garden Society in Cloverdale, is a winner of North Bay Business Journal’s 2021 Women in Business Awards.

Professional background: Prior to Garden Society, Erin worked with her husband, Tom, on their joint venture with Constellation Brands on Tom Gore Vineyards, an award-winning farmer’s wine. Before the wine business, she had a decade-long corporate career at Henkel, where she managed a global adhesive business valued at nearly $100 million.

Her time at Henkel provided a solid foundation in leadership, development, and achieving exceptional financial results.

Education: University of Wisconsin, Madison, Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering

Staff: I work side-by-side with Garden Society co-founder Karli Warner and several other rockstar females helping pave a path for women in cannabis.

Tell us about yourself and your company: Garden Society stems from Erin’s personal journey to find balance in her life and being surrounded by women feeling the same pressures. Alongside her business partner, Warner, the company is built on their shared passion to encourage people to explore non-traditional ways of finding joy in their everyday lives.

Women-owned, Garden Society is a craft cannabis company based in Sonoma County, California. Inspired by the surrounding wine country, Garden Society strives for exceedingly great products, made with uncompromising quality, that turn down the daily chaos and turn up the joy. The company's effect-based, full spectrum edibles and sun-grown pre-roll Rosettes connect responsible farming, sustainable ingredients and strain-specific cannabis.

Erin is an active member of the Northern California cannabis community, and a fearless advocate for women-owned cannabis businesses, and equally dedicated to breaking the stigma and rewriting the script around the plant.

Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share?

HA - Surviving the pandemic!!

In all honesty, it’s been a very trying few years between wildfires and then the pandemic.

In addition, we are building an industry at the same time we are building our start-up, so the ever-changing regulations and fast pace of business is very challenging. Over the past year,

I’m so proud of our team’s focus on sustainable business, reducing our cash burn, leaning into our strengths, getting to cash flow positive, and coming out the other side as strong (and big) as we’ve ever been.

What is your biggest challenge today?

Keeping up with our growth!

Scaling is challenging and right now at Garden Society we are scaling our team, production, marketing efforts, and consumer demand - to name a few.

I think it’s important to understand there are different stages to one's business and what we needed in the early days is different from what we need at this moment in time.

I am always thinking about how we place the right people in the right roles to realize our fullest potential. I am also always thinking about how I make sure I have enough dollars in the bank account to keep up the growth as well. In cannabis we don’t have access to traditional financial solutions other businesses have, so we have to manage our cash flow very directly.

Words that best describe you: Passionate, energetic, gritty, focused

The pandemic placed an extraordinary burden on women. They’ve had to deal with remote learning for school-aged children, plus juggling their own remote working circumstances.

Personally, which of the adjustments you’ve had to make in your home life and career have been most challenging?

Absolutely the pandemic has placed an extraordinary burden on women. My family was lucky that my son was not in school yet and day care was able to stay open for the most part during the pandemic.

Days with no child care were absolutely the toughest. There was one instance at the start of the pandemic where I was pitching to a large audience on zoom, my son was home, and literally every time it was my turn to go on camera he would jump off the bed where he was watching Paw Patrol with every snack in the house (so I could attempt to be put together on screen), and come screaming to my lap sticking his head on camera. It was a disaster to say the least.

The organization asked me to come back, but this time to get child care - which, as all working parents know, was not really possible during the pandemic (Hello! - no one else inside your house!). Let’s just say they didn’t fund us.

How about the women you work with, or know outside the workplace? What adjustments have they had to make?

My Co-Founder Karli had to make several changes as well. Her daughter was in preschool, and she has high risk family members, so they formed a tight pod with immediate family.

Erin Gore

Founder and CEO

Garden Society

840 N. Cloverdale Blvd., Cloverdale 95425

707-331-0136

thegardensociety.com

She swung her work hours around and was blessed to have her In-Laws watch her daughter so their pod could stay very small, but also have some form of child care.

Lastly on COVID, which changes in routine or approach to your job you’ve made as the result of the pandemic will remain in place, either at work or in your outlook on your home life?

I love the ability to exercise at home! I would always go to the gym before, but during the pandemic we purchased a stationary bike for our office.

It has been amazing to squeeze in 20 min workouts here and there without the headache or huge time commitment to get to the gym. This is something that will definitely stay in place.

Also, we focused on our garden, and in general just doing less, enjoying more down time at home with my family. I love growing what we eat, and will continue with new recipes and cooking.

I also love having a structured way to say no to more things, putting up stronger boundaries.

As a successful female professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?

Definitely raising capital has been the most challenging aspect of our business. Last year, less than 2% of funding went to women.

It has proven critical to our ability to scale our business and we compete against those who are much more well funded. We have been able to create an incredible slate of women angel investors who believed in our vision, mission, and ability to execute.

These women became core to our business and are now but of our advisors as we continue to the next phase.

Also, we’ve found allies in some incredible men who view us not as female founders, but rather just founders, and are funding us with the ammunition (and cash) we need to realize our full potential.

How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?

In my world, I predict everything will change in the next five years! Hello federal legalization!

Who was your most important mentor? And tell us a little bit about that person: I have a few women who are incredible mentors to me, but also peers and investors in Garden Society. Wendy Berger (board of GTI) and Heather Molloy (Previously CSO of Terrascend) are two women who have impacted me as a leader.

What advice would you give to a young woman entering your profession or the work world today?

My best piece of advice is to stick with it--if you are entering the cannabis industry, it's most likely because you, like so many of us, have a deep passion for the plant.

It's no secret that cannabis is a male-dominated industry, I've felt it, all women have. I have always succeeded in aligning myself with the right partners, men and women, who understood and took my vision for Garden Society seriously, regardless of me being a female founder.

There will be bumps along the way, but if you stick to your vision and find the right partners and investors, you will succeed.

Most admired business person outside your organization: Bozoma Saint John, CMO of Netflix.

Typical day at the office: Usually I start my day meeting with our production team, then move into working through any emails that need my response. It’s then a mix of calls, appointments and working alongside my team to reach our goals.

Best place to work outside of your office: I love working on my back porch when my husband is at work and my son in daycare!

Current reading: I’m reading this amazing book that one of my advisors suggested to me, “Eight Essentials for Scaling Up Without Screwing Up”

Most want to meet: I’d love to smoke weed with Rihanna! :)

Social media you most use: Instagram, though I try to stay off social media as it can truly have a negative impact on mental health.

Stress relievers: I own a cannabis company...need I say more.

Favorite hobbies: Fishing on our farm with my family, spending time in our garden, and cooking/entertaining for friends and family.

What would parents or significant others say if asked to brag about you?

That I’m one of the most dedicated, driven people in business they know. I’m also very dedicated to my friends and family, I always make time for them when they are in need.

Is there something we didn’t ask that you would like to add?

This was a pretty comprehensive questionnaire! I’d just like to add that I’m super proud of what we have built at Garden Society, of our team and all that we have accomplished; and proud of myself for taking the leap to leave a high-powered corporate job to fulfill my dream of becoming an entrepreneur.

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