Mary’s Medicinals’ founder left her high-powered corporate banking career to create a cannabis powerhouse.
Shortly after launching Mary’s Medicinals, Chief Executive Officer Lynn Honderd responded to a knock on the door to the company’s manufacturing facility in Denver. A nine-year-old girl stood just outside, holding her mother’s hand. “Hi, I’m Leah,” the child said, “and I want to meet the people who make me feel better and thank them.”
Leah had suffered secondarily generalized tonic-clonic seizures for years and was ingesting eight pharmaceuticals daily to control her debilitating condition…until she began a high-CBD treatment regimen using Mary’s Remedy Oil. Today, Leah is completely off pharmaceuticals and living the life of a happy, healthy teenager.
Honderd swears she had nothing like this in mind. “Growing up I was not a user and, quite honestly, was not an advocate for legalization,” she admitted. “You could have called me Nancy Reagan’s poster child for ‘Just Say No.’” After earning bachelor’s degrees in finance and international business, Honderd spent fifteen years in senior positions at Bank of America and UBS PaineWebber, working on marketing strategy and initial public offering execution across diverse sectors. Then, when voters approved recreational use in Colorado in November 2012, she examined the market and realized “there were no adults in the room.”
“There were no accurately dosed and clean products on the market for those seeking alternatives to smoking cannabis, and the psychedelic culture associated with the industry masked the ability for those seeking true relief to find it,” Honderd said.
Mary’s Medicinals launched in 2013 with the first-ever transdermal cannabis patch. After five years on store shelves, and with California’s new packaging regulations taking effect in July, Honderd felt it was time to freshen up the brand’s look. The facelift wasn’t a big departure from Mary’s traditionally elegant, clean design, though. “It’s still simply black and white, and we hope everyone loves our new look as much we do,” Honderd said.
Catch us up on Mary’s market status.
We’re now active in eleven states, and we’re one of few infused product manufactures with this footprint. We’ve doubled in size over the past year in terms of full-time employees, going from thirty to sixty-plus. We continue to hold on to more than 80 percent of the topicals market share in Colorado. We’ve averaged 60-percent year-on-year growth over the past three years, and we now have three, soon to be five, brands under the Mary’s umbrella. Two of these brands are hemp-derived CBD brands that are available nationwide, in Canada, and soon in Europe.
On what states are you bullish?
The potential in both Florida and Michigan is huge. Right now, Mary’s is in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Vermont. Our home base of Colorado has always been a hugely successful market for us, but California is really taking off.
What is your best seller?
Our transdermal patches remain the top seller, but the transdermal gel pen has become a favorite, too. It’s a great accompaniment to the patch. Our Muscle Freeze has always been a customer favorite, as well. Its immediate soothing and cooling effect turns consumers on to Mary’s. This product and the patch are usually the first two people try.
From day one, Mary’s has been committed to accurate testing. That’s impressive.
All of Mary’s products are internally tested prior to distribution to ensure accurate dosing. The cannabis material used for all of Mary’s products is organically sourced and third-party tested prior to use to ensure a pesticide-free product. Mary’s is committed to finding and using the safest ingredients in all its products.
Who is Mary’s Medicinals’ core consumer?
Our patients range from [age] two to ninety-two, from ultra-marathon runners to grandparents to professionals. At Mary’s, we are proud to be challenging and changing the industry’s stigma and furthering conversation. We love that we are shifting the face of cannabis, moving from “alternative medicine” to “an alternative to medicine.”
What is the company’s culture?
Work hard and play hard. Everyone is willing to jump in and help others get the job done, but we also like to have fun. We recently took a Monday off and went ziplining. We’re always moving toward the goal of an atmosphere of excellence. We’re not ripping off other products on the market; we’re creating novel innovations and conducting [research and development] to prove the legitimacy [of our own products].
Competition has really heated up in the past year. How do you size it up?
Brands are entering the market at an exponential pace, because they see an opportunity to make money. While their product might be affordable, they’re not taking the necessary steps to ensure it’s safe for consumers, like really looking into where their raw materials and other ingredients are coming from. Testing for potency, microbials, pesticides, etc., at the raw material state and at final product is imperative. Transparency is something we pride ourselves on.
What has been the key to Mary’s growth and vitality?
Remaining a source of truth for consumers. We want to educate them about the plant and its benefits first, then help them decide which delivery method and cannabinoid mix is good for them. If Mary’s is a fit, then it’s a win-win.
Something else you’ll hear us talk about is daily proactive cannabinoid therapy. We want to take cannabis from a reactive choice to a proactive choice. It’s a few drops of a tincture in the morning, a topical or patch midday, and a capsule at night. This is something that sets us apart.
What gets you up in the morning?
Cannabis is the only industry I’ve found where capitalism and altruism coexist. Also, that we’re paving the way for the future of medicine—innovating completely new technologies and isolating parts of the plants that haven’t been introduced to the market before. It’s awe-inspiring to work with such a dedicated and intelligent team.
What little-known fact about Mary’s Medicinals would surprise people?
When we started Mary’s, we worked in what I lovingly refer to as the corner of crack-house and shithole, but it’s where we started. The second product we launched was our patented transdermal gel pen. When we launched the gel pen, we were still in bootstrapping mode with very shallow pockets. We decided we would make 1,000 units and if they sold within the week, we would invest in the automation to make more. So how did we do it? We did it with a KitchenAid blender and a pastry bag. This is how it all began