Sara Rotman: Founder Of Wellfounded Botanicals Delves Into 5 Questions – Forbes

If you don’t know Sara Rotman yet, you will soon. She is an outspoken advocate for the legal cannabis industry and is launching a new brand, Wellfounded Botanicals, in California this summer. Together with her husband, Rotman owns an outdoor cannabis organic farm that has been described as the gold standard by state compliance officers, community leaders and fellow farmers alike. In addition to day-to-day farming, Rotman has become a local and statewide advocate for the cannabis industry.

 WB: Please tell me about yourself? 

Sara Rotman=SR: I am a relentless optimist and head strong with a refusal to quit anything. That has helped me succeed as an entrepreneur. Resilience has been a key theme throughout my life and career. I value forthrightness and transparency; I’m as authentic and truthful as they come. I am both a New Yorker at heart and a Californian, so try to exemplify the best of both. My employees call me “boss lady” although I prefer to think of myself as more of a mama bear. My primary instinct is nurturing and love. I like to care for the people in my life with the ferocity of a grizzly bear. I think that translates to the advocacy work I do for the farm, the cannabis community, my customers and of course my family.

I tell our team to embrace daily challenges with enthusiasm and optimism. Everyone has a choice, doing nothing about a situation is as much a choice as doing something. I truly believe that you must choose to be successful in the face impossible odds. 

 WB: What was your path to our plant? 

SR: It started as many cannabis stories do, with a grave illness that led to a lengthy odyssey of healing. I was the founder and CEO of a New York–based creative agency and flying all over the world, gone for weeks at a time, when one day in 2014 after suffering a lengthy and mysterious series of painful symptoms, I began to lose consciousness in an important meeting. It turns out, I had Crohn’s disease that had gone undiagnosed for so long that I nearly died. I was hospitalized, dosed with opioids and forbidden from flying for six months. Clearly my lifestyle had to change but I had no idea what was in store. I tried everything to restore my health – took a leave of absence, tried changing my diet and dramatically reducing my stress level – I ultimately ended up selling my company as I couldn’t perform as needed. Honestly I could barely walk or eat let alone work.

 The medication I was prescribed was expensive and led to dangerous side effects that proved more damaging than the disease, I became desperate. My husband had been advocating for cannabis for a while and again suggested I try products made with high doses of CBD, the non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis and hemp plants. I was skeptical but out of options, and as I often say, ‘no choice is also a choice.’ So, I tried it and the results were incredible. I’m now a true convert because it really works for me – both in reducing inflammation and taking away my debilitating pain. I could finally control my symptoms and reduce my chronic inflammation, which could lead to long-term risk for heart disease and cancer.

 What I couldn’t control was access to products that were consistent, safe and accurate in terms of dosing, quality control and actual composition of cannabinoids. My husband and I already had land in Santa Barbara where we began to grow our own organic food, but it became clear that we had to start growing our own medicine. And that’s how our organic cannabis farm was born.

 WB: Please tell me about what you’re working on right now. What are your six and twelve- month goals? 

SR: I knew CBD oil offered profound relief and some surprising added wellness benefits, but I quickly discovered that the CBD and THC oil had near miraculous effects on the skin. Removing redness and blemishes while brightening the skin, it produced a calm healthy glow. The results were dramatic and the instant relief from sunburn was stunning. The more I used it the better things got. As a beauty product and branding expert, the opportunity to turn my therapy into a thriving business was obvious. So, I sought out the best chemists working in the business today to make the best wellness products available. By using full spectrum CBD and THC as our core active ingredients and other natural botanicals native to our California family farm— we’ll be launching Wellfounded Botanicals this summer. The new brand lives squarely in the wellness category – that middle ground between medical and recreational cannabis.

 Wellfounded will be the first luxury skincare solution made with high doses of full spectrum CBD and THC to calm, nourish and protect our skin, body and mind. Our products contain powerful active botanicals such as grapeseed oil, safflower, avocado and neroli extracts all grown under the California sun. We want people to use our tinctures and capsules like they would have a glass or two of wine at the end of the night to knock the edges of the day or as an alternative therapy for wellness, pain management, stress and anxiety. Our bath and body oil and body balms are as luxurious as they are effective. All designed for the ultimate in self-care.

 WB: What is your passion? 

SR: That’s easy, the survival and success of my organic farm – and that of all small, independent farms. Very early on we knew it was vital to treat cannabis as an agricultural crop rather than some far-off mystical journey. While there is something deeply satisfying and even magical about nurturing a living thing from seed to healthy harvest, from a practical perspective, one has to embrace science and proven practices. And we’d have to rely on traditional agricultural practices to ensure our survival. Embracing this steep learning curve, we are now growing cannabis at scale, replicating best practices from our local strawberry farmers combined with learnings from legendary cannabis botanists like Ed Rosenthal. 

Like all farmers, we have to be able to operate on thin margins to ensure we are still alive next year, the year after or ten years down the line. That requires scale and efficiency – a standard metric for success in all agricultural endeavors. And while we are just like other farmers, cultivating plants in dirt, we are pioneers. Growing cannabis like this requires all the cultivation skills of a conventional farmer including the need to understand regulations that fall under OCEA. But we are also navigating intense public scrutiny, legislative complexity and constantly evolving regulations at the state and local levels. For example, in order to gain our local permit and state licenses we have spent over 24 months meeting the requirements of over 10 state and local regulatory agencies. No other farmer in any other industry, faces such expensive and time-consuming challenges. Or uncertainty. To grow a plant! Farming is hard enough and sometimes farming organic cannabis feels like a fool’s errand. 

 Thankfully, due to our overwhelming public support for the industry and the foresight of our County Supervisors, Santa Barbara is among the 5 counties that allows outdoor cultivation. Our leaders embraced sensible cannabis legislation and worked in partnership with the public over the course of almost two years to craft a legislation that would allow for agricultural practices. Santa Barbara’s economic engine is agriculture and our leaders understood better than most, the need for cultivating at scale and the implications for establishing a viable industry to push out the illicit market. You asked what I’m passionate about? Surviving these challenges and thriving in my home. On my farm. With my family. Supporting our employees, vendors and contract workers. Stamping out the illegal illicit market. Growing safe, organic, pesticide free cannabis for our community. Legally. Successfully. Beautifully.

In addition to running my farm and employing a highly skilled local workforce, I serve on the Lompoc Valley Cannabis Association board and am a founding member of the ‘Good Farmers. Great Neighbors’ education campaign focused on Cannabis advocacy and community education for the industry. We’re fighting an uphill battle that requires resources and resilience to stay open, operational. We are working to help pave the way for the future of cannabis and the freedom to grow outdoors.

WB: What’s it like to have a 63-acre cannabis farm right outside your front door? You grow your own organic food and cook, what is your favorite meal to serve people when they come to visit the farm?

SR: We are right off the highway, there’s no hiding the farm. We have this incredible, unique terroir with the right amount of humidity and an ocean breeze that creates natural air circulation. We have high temperatures during the day and low temperatures at night that you can’t replicate in an indoor environment or in any other city or state. We live in the best growing region in the world which is why our pinot noir is also so good. Cannabis benefits from the exact same conditions as grapes and brings a better, truer expression of the plant than anything else I’ve seen. You know when you eat a tomato right off the vine and tastes like the best tomato you’ve ever had? Think of the cannabis we grow just like that.

 Before COVID-19, we loved to entertain at the farm, and hope to get back to that soon. For me food is love. Cooking for my friends and family with provisions grown right here on our farm is the ultimate expression of my love for the farm and the people who live, work and visit here. For me cooking is a meditation and celebration of all that sustains us. I’m desperate to cook for our people again, until then my husband and I are expanding as I cook my stress away every day. I have a few go to favorites and annually brew up my own THC infused habanero hot sauce for a little extra enjoyment with any meal. I’m a fan of outdoor cooking, so whole beast BBQ’s figure large into our entertaining program.

 

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/warrenbobrow/2020/05/27/sara-rotman-founder-of-wellfounded-botanicals-delves-into-5-questions/