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