Through many years of trial and endless errors I now have a skin care regimen that works fairly well. However, I am always on the hunt for new skin care products to try. With cannabis extending itself into the beauty industry from infused lipsticks to shampoo, the evolution continues with Kush and Cute!
I reached out to Iyana, the creator of the cannabis infused skincare line, when I saw Kush and Cute pop up on my Instagram feed.
The skincare line includes body oils, scrubs and a selection of cannabis inspired jewelry.
Below, Iyana shares her cannabiz journey, starting with her August 2016 launch, and how she’s partnered with other business women in the industry to expand the brand and show support. She also shares her vision for Kush and Cute along with advice for aspiring cannapreneuers.
What was your first experience with cannabis?
My first experience with cannabis was when I was 18. A lot of my friends were stoners and my high school was full of them but I never was really into it. I had this illogical fear that it would make me dumb or less productive or something, mostly because at the time there were literally zero positive images or stories about cannabis and cannabis users.
A close friend of mine got her first apartment and she was smoking all the time and I was usually at her place when she was. She never pressured me to try it but I was eventually curious. She let me try all different types, from low quality to high quality, so I would know the difference and how they affected me. I have an anxiety disorder—have my whole life, and remember taking one puff and all those anxious thoughts becoming so much quieter.
I thought I was tripping honestly, haha. When weed was legalized in Colorado, so many other people were reporting how it helped their anxiety. About a year later, I became a regular user.
I knew cannabis was gonna be a big part of my life after that. I haven’t used any prescription meds for my anxiety ever.
How did you know a cannabis skincare line was needed in the market?
I have extremely sensitive skin, so when I started seeing cannabis skincare products on the market I was intrigued but knew I couldn’t use most of them because of my sensitive skin. Cannabis skincare wasn’t new when I started, I just wasn’t finding many cannabis skincare products that I could use without fear that it would have some sort of bad reaction or breakout.
I was making my own scrubs and lotions anyway so one day just decided to add cannabis to it and see what happened. The products I was making actually worked 10x better when I added hemp oil or CBD oil.
My skin has never been more healthy and radiant, honestly. Everyone should be using cannabis skincare, it’s the future of the beauty/skincare industry.
You started the brand in August of 2016, how has your business evolved since then?
It’s envolved so much, it’s crazy! I started making and packaging products in my grandma’s garage and just selling my products on Etsy. She had no idea what I was doing and I couldn’t tell her (now she knows of course).
Unfortunately, Etsy is not too fond of cannabis businesses and suspended my page and I was also dealing with some personal issues so I had to rebuild everything a few months after launching.
That wasn’t a bad thing though. Now, Kush and Cute has its own website and a really supportive and super sweet online following. We just launched some new CBD products (and more are coming), working on more new products, collaborating with some other great female run canna-brands, and there are investors interested. I never expected any of this at all. It’s just crazy but I’m grateful.
Before starting Kush and Cute what was your business background? Do you have a 9-5 or is Kush and Cute now your FT employer?
So, right before I started Kush and Cute I actually graduated college with a degree in journalism. I moved to California from Texas to pursue a career in media and I worked for a magazine for some time but it didn’t end up working out. I had a lot of free time and that’s when I started Kush and Cute and also started working as a freelance writer.
One of my first freelance jobs was for an online headshop/wholesale distributor and I learned a lot from them and that’s when I really got plugged into the cannabis industry.
At the moment, I’m still a full-time freelance writer (for various companies), and Kush and Cute is just one of my “side hustles” but it’s definitely the one I put the most time and effort into. If I can eventually do Kush and Cute full time that would be ideal.
What have been some of your best sellers?
Our Wake & Bake Coffee Body Scrub, currently sold out of every single scent, but I’m making a big new batch soon with new scents. The Wake & Bake Sugar Body Scrub is really popular as well, and my personal favorite. I plan on making a CBD version of that soon as well. And the Wake & Bake Body Butter, which sold out in like record time and is currently being reformulated to be a CBD body butter so it’s not on the website right now.
What are your favorite and least favorite parts of your business and why?
My favorite part is when I got to events as a vendor/seller and get to talk to people face to face and tell them about the products, let them try it, touch it, smell it.
I really love educating people about how cannabis can be used in skincare and all about CBD. Most of the time people learn something completely new and I love that. It’s always been my goal to help eliminate the stigma that cannabis is scary or harmful, especially for women.
Women are the ones who can benefit for cannabis the most and so many of us still have no idea! It’s also great going to events because sometimes people will become familiar with Kush and Cute, but have no idea who runs it so when they meet me, a 5’1″ small black woman with big curly hair and a big ole smile they are usually completely surprised I love that!
My least favorite part is the financial side. As a canna-business, it’s still hard to get people to want to buy or invest. They don’t want that purchase seen on their card or banks or financial companies and are put off by the word “kush”.
I’ve had to move the Kush and Cute website 4 times because certain e-commerce websites believe selling LEGAL hemp-based and CBD products is a violation of their rules. It’s ridiculous and frustrating at times.
Are you currently self-funded and plan to stay that way, or will you be looking for investors?
Pretty much everything on Kush and Cute is funded by me. Ingredients, packaging, labels, vendor fees, website expenses, all of it. A majority of what I make from freelance gigs/side work I just put right back into the business and just pray I make my money back.
Sometimes I do sometimes a don’t. Luckily, I have two production partners that are also awesome black women in cannabis and they are working really hard to connect us to investors. We have a meeting later today, actually, so hopefully something great will come out of it.
Advice for aspiring cannapreneurs?
Collaborate! Most industries are so competitive and even though the cannabis industry is as well, it’s so new that people are willing to help each other out.
Everyone that I’ve worked with or talked to who is also in the industry have been SO supportive. It’s the only industry where complete strangers can come together and create something just because we connect through our interest and love of weed. Especially women in cannabis, we gotta stick together and work together.
I’ve pretty much only done collabs or worked with other women in the industry, and, thus far, it’s worked out really well. Kush and Cute wouldn’t have gotten as far as it has, and so quickly, without collaborating and working with other people in the industry.
What’s your 5-year vision for the Kush and Cute brand?
I want to see Kush and Cute in stores and dispensaries all across the country. I want Kush and Cute in stores like Ulta, Whole Foods, Target. I want to be like the Shea Moisture of cannabis skincare.
It’s my dream to have a Kush and Cute store/dispensary in Seattle (just because I love Seattle). I also want to do events, in the near future, just for women to come together in a safe space and enjoy weed together with no judgment. We need more of that for sure!