Stacy Verbiest is the CEO of W!NK, a CBD wellness and skincare company established for women, by women!
Tell us about yourself and your business!
I am a mother of 4 amazing children and serial entrepreneur always looking for ways to make life better by following trends and exploring my creative side. Early 2015, a close friend was battling breast cancer and vaped marijuana on a daily basis to relieve the side effects from her chemotherapy.
Being "high" most of the day, she found it hard to raise her 4 kids and maintain the household. I started searching the marketplace for natural products without the intoxicating effects and ventured into my first dispensary. When I asked the bud-tender what he would prescribe he went right to product that was equivalent to what she was self-medicating with.
That night I sat my family down and told them I was creating a brand of therapeutic cannabis to ease the mental, emotional and physical side effects of female related conditions. WINK launched the summer of 2015 and today we have over 20 products catering to women's needs from vape therapy to tinctures and a full collection of skincare.
What inspired you to start your own business?
I grew up with a father who owned his own businesses. He was hard working and very successful in all aspects of his life from family to faith to work. I was always inspired by him and thankfully he gave me the gift to create. I graduated from USC and immediately got into fashion working for a New York designer. From there I started my own fashion company, then home accessory company and now WINK. To have the ability to create has always been my inspiration.
Is this your full time job?
Yes, finally all four of my children are at a place in life where they are self-sufficient. I have two in college and two in high school. Children in school full-time has opened the door for me to focus all of my time and energy growing WINK.
How do you structure your days?
My day starts out each morning driving my kids to their bus stop at 6:30am. I get a quick workout in, eat and open my computer. I start with emails, orders and scheduling calls. Then I am off to my warehouse to oversee production and distribution and meet with my manufacturing team. I head over to my shipping department to confirm incoming and outgoing shipments. I peak into my accounting department for a thumb's up that my books are updated and business is thriving (wink, wink). I then head back to my office and continue with the day to day operations of setting up events, coordinating PR and social media, and getting updates from my sales representative and distributors. To structure my nights so I can shut off my creative mind and sleep, a simple CBD gel-cap does the trick every time!
Where and how do you work best?
I'm fortunate in this day and age with technology to have the ability to manage W!NK from anywhere; whether it is in my office, on a plane, or in my car, I can multi-task. I do however work best in my office where I can be hyper-focused without interruptions.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
Every month we run contests on Instagram (@loveatfirstwink) for the opportunity to receive one of our therapeutic products.
Where is your business based?
Our company is located in Southern California where we do all of our manufacturing and distribution.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
After my first trip into a local dispensary where I discovered there were no natural, organic cannabis products for women, I started WINK. I began mapping out all of the mental, emotional and physical side effects women suffer from and one by one began to develop products. During this process I came up with a name and started branding the look and feel and the image behind WINK. I began to source the highest quality hemp, oils, butters, salts, sugars, etc. to start creating formulations. Within 6 months, the brand was created and we started selling!.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and attracting new customers?
We have been fortunate to be recognized by many well-known magazines, media and technology companies such as Allure, PopSugar, Conde Naste, Well + Good, USA Today, French Toast and many more. We have a successful social media campaign and PR director who brings new products to life. Our combined efforts drive traffic to our website where we are able to educate women on the benefits of CBD and ultimately generate sales.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Our biggest challenges to date are working around the restrictions the FDA has placed on social media and selling cannabis, the ever changing cannabis laws in California, and the lack of public awareness surrounding the therapeutic effects CBD has to offer.
How did you overcome these challenges?
In social media we are very selective in the words we choose so we do not get shut-down. This is our biggest media outlet to educate women on what to use for their specific ailment. We have no control over the the California cannabis laws and we just hope one day the FDA sets national regulations.
To create public awareness, we work hard to direct traffic to our website where women can learn the difference between Marijuana and Hemp and have access to a full education on how CBD works!
How do you keep motivated through tough times?
One word: TESTIMONIALS. Every time a customer writes a note thanking me for helping them, I feel complete. I am creating natural, healthy products and women everywhere are thriving. We post many of our testimonials on our website that relate to alleviating drug addiction, chronic pain, anxiety, migraines, sleep disorders, auto-immune diseases, cramps, acne, etc; the list goes on. This is what keeps me motivated every single day.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
I stay true to the foundation of why I started W!NK - empowering women one product at a time. I do this by creating top quality products that are safe, all natural and priced affordably. We provide a full education behind our products, post our lab results and offer in-store training sessions to our customers. I also personally formulated the ingredients in most of my products so the formulations are proprietary!
What is the best advice you have received recently?
The best advice I've received lately was last weekend at an emotional intelligence conference I attended. I learned to turn "have to" into "I am blessed to" . I do not have to go to work everyday. I am blessed to go to work every day! I am learning simple ways to make positive changes to impact my life and those around me.
What do you wish you had known when you started your business?
Knowing that marijuana is federally an illegal product, I wish I new more about the analogy "The Wild Wild West" associated with it. Being the trusting person that I am, I used most of my initial personal investment to buy oil from a supplier who provided me with false test results.
Due to my business ethics, I had the oil tested for quality assurance. The oil came back with pesticides. To this date I have not received my money back from the supplier and I destroyed the oil. I learned that California regulations do not provide any protection and from that point on I had to seriously qualify every single business partner I work with today. I found diamonds in the rough!