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Kristina Shea; Think BIG and KEEP being brave

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Kristina is a founding team member of Rapid Dose Therapeutics, senior marketing executive and a medical cannabis patient herself after she suffered from a serious brain cyst resulting in debilitating migraines and subsequent health conditions — including the undesired side-effects from prescription pain killers. Kristina then discovered the medical benefits of CBD — as a non-smoker, she desired a precisely dosed, non-smoking, delivery system other than smoking or vaping. This prompted her journey with Rapid Dose Therapeutics.

Kristina is a speaker at the upcoming Alpha Woman Cannabis Summit taking place November 12th, 2019 in Toronto. Don’t miss hearing Kristina and others explore the future of Medical Cannabis through Research, Tech and Pharma.

AW: Tell us about your professional journey prior to cannabis.

I have been in marketing for 20+ years. I always have had a passion for creativity, design and business. I began my career in the creative industry as a designer and later as a creative director for financial and insurance institutions. As a single mother, I desired more flexibility while raising my daughter — so I dove in and started my own consulting business, K Vision. I was fortunate to work directly again with Fortune 500 companies as my clients — such as RBC, UBS Wealth Management to Ontario Securities Commission, IIROC, The Lung Association to women’s beauty and wellness products.

I have always been passionate about the big idea and how to share that story — Cannabis is another story and there are so many chapters to a story that continues to grow and evolve. From the plant, the people and why cannabis is part of their lives.

AW:How did you end up in the cannabis industry – is there a personal story for your support of cannabis?

 I have a very personal connection to cannabis. I suffered from migraines for many years. I treated them with painkillers and pharmaceutical products which had many undesired side effects. I decided to look investigate alternate treatments, including pain relief.

I had a girlfriend, suffering from cancer, who introduced me to cannabis for pain relief – I told her “I do not do drugs.” She laughed and told me I already was taking drugs —I was using a multitude of pharma products to manage my pain. It worked and my migraine was gone for that evening.

However, I did not want to smoke or vape on a daily basis — it was not my personal preference. I discovered CBD tinctures and oils. I am happy to say I am now stable in my condition and I have been able to reduce the need to take pharmaceutical painkillers.

I am now passionate about this plant and the intrinsic health benefits of CBD, and how it can transform people’s lives who are suffering from a multitude of health conditions.

AW: Cannabis is still a largely stigmatized plant, so jumping in early in the industry – and often, especially as a woman – requires a lot of bravery. What in your life has enabled or prepared you to be a brave woman?

Cannabis still carries a lot of stigma as do the people who use it. This is because of mis-information, lack of evidence-based research (due to its illegal nature) and the media promoting negative stereotypes.

I never thought of it as being brave. I feel as women, we are brave each and every day whether we use cannabis or not. Cannabis is a personal choice, woman or man. However, as a woman championing cannabis, there are definitely challenges to be perceived as a professional and to be taken seriously. Now, through market research, it has been found that women are the largest growing demographic the cannabis marketplace. CBD is also now being infused in many female focused products from skincare to therapeutics globally for a projected multi-billion dollar market. Study results have also shown that companies employing women in leadership positions are more successful and profitable.

I would like to say to women – think BIG and KEEP being brave.  This is an exciting industry to enter as there are so many products and services that will grow out of this globally expanding market. There is definitely room for women at the table, and you can always build your own table too. 

AW: What do you think are the most exciting advances coming down the tubes for medical cannabis?

I am so excited to see the advances in medical cannabis. I feel research will be key — continued longitudinal clincal studies will support cannabis in being validated by health professionals globally to have therapeutic and medicinal benefits.

Merging innovation, technology and research will take medical cannabis to the next level. From the development of new delivery systems and how people consume cannabis — to the formulations that are being developed and tailored to their own customized health requirements. There are still many cannabinoid compounds to be fully understood and if these can be applied to treat specific conditions and symptoms.

“Providing the medical consumer choice of treatments whether cannabis or pharma, offering a choice of precisely dosed delivery methods, customized cannabis formulations and accessibility will be key— from over the counter, natural health products to medical prescriptions being covered by insurance.” 

AW: Women in the c-suite are underrepresented in the cannabis industry. Realistically, what do you think we can do to change this?

Be the change you want to see– women need to support other women. If you are in the leadership position, elevate and provide opportunities to women in the industry.

Mentorship & Network– Be a mentor or find a mentor. Whether you have a woman or a male mentor or someone you admire is a great way to guide your professional path. Also, be out and create connections — network and glean insights from others in the industry from all levels.

AW: As a woman in a very male-dominated industry do you have any advice for female entrepreneurs, about leadership or obtaining funding for their businesses?

In terms of leadership — speak up and put fear aside. As women we are often afraid to speak up in a room of men, as we feel we do not know enough or fear rejection. Voice your perspective, as a woman in this sector. Your thoughts have great value. Women are the largest growing demographic in the cannabis market and it only makes business sense that women should be heard at the decision-making level.

As for funding, a solid financial literacy and understanding is helpful to obtaining funding as well as growing your business. Aligning your company for support from an experienced, seasoned professional in the financial space (women or man) could also improve your position when looking for funding. 

AW: Can you tell us about one or two key marketing decisions you made that have helped accelerate your business goals at Rapid Dose Therapeutics?

The biggest challenge is many people are not familiar with the format of the delivery technology, other than a breath strip. In the cannabis market, QuickStrip™ is a No Smoke. No Vape™ delivery system. It powers the active agent to deliver increased bioavailability and rapid onset into the bloodstream (bypassing the stomach and liver). Licensed producers can embed any ratio or strain of cannabis oil into our strip. QuickStrip is like the “intel inside” and powers the delivery of active ingredients.

The marketing decision to brand our delivery system versus only the company (RDT) has been integral to brand awareness. It was key to present QuickStrip™ as a recognizable brand and differentiate our product from competitors. We want consumers to have trust in QuickStrip™ as a brand that delivers a Quick, Convenient, Precise and Discreet product Anytime, Anywhere™.

Our decision to first launch the QuickStrip™ nutraceutical product line enabled us to educate and engage consumers as well as health professionals.

AW: How do you keep yourself in shape mentally and physically?

Yoga is my go-to. My days and evenings are jam-packed. Yoga helps me unwind and not think about work or anything else for an hour. Yoga can suit my mood whether Power and Flow, Yin Yang, or even just shavasana (my favourite part!)

I also love a great adventure, and scuba diving is a passion, no cell phones 60 feet under!

Mentally, I am an eternal student. I am constantly reading about my industry, news and taking university courses to keep my mind fresh. I never want to stop learning.

AW: Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently with your career?

It is hard to say if I would do anything differently, as I would not be where I am now. However, I would advise my younger self “to not doubt yourself”. Believe in yourself and surround yourself with good people.

My career is still evolving and growing – just like the cannabis industry. I feel very fortunate to be working with a great team with the purpose of improving peoples’ lives.

Leslie Andrachuk

As a bilingual pioneer in global digital publishing and marketing, Leslie is happiest when creating new things and inspiring her teams. She is passionate about changing biases that hold women back from realizing their true power and is grateful that at this point in her career she has the skills to make real change.

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