Dana Dwight: Forbidden Leaf
Potions, lotions, bath salts, oh my! Her products are something you must at least try. Meet Dana Dwight, the founder of Forbidden Leaf Hemp Seed Oil Lotion and Soap Company. Stemming from a string of personal experiences, this brilliant and inspiring woman entrepreneur has made her mark in the cannabis industry. She has everything from massage oils, to hand washes, to bubble bath concoctions, and is ever expanding her line with hemp infused products. Her passion for creating top-of-the-line hemp skin care is only the beginning of what makes her such an inspiring green rush leader. She is driven, creative, and full of ideas and our interview with her just might spur a need in you for a new box of soaps.
What was the deciding factor for you to join this particular industry?
First and foremost was the fact that I believe in this plant with my entire heart and soul. I am a cancer survivor and I am a patient, a current patient using cannabis. I lost my mother and my sister to cancer and I’ve witnessed firsthand, having experienced it myself, that this plant works as a superior medicine. And also, when I discovered hemp seed oil and how using it helped me with my inflammation, I became a great big fan!
I discovered hemp seed oil and how using it helped me with my inflammation, I became a great big fan!
What skills from your previous experiences helped you in what you are doing now?
One of the previous skill sets came from my education at Platt College where I received a graphic design diploma. That helped me design my logo, design my labels, and also, just the fact of being a girl; I loved the lotions, the potions, and bubble baths. When I was younger, my stepmother always used to buy me these beautiful bubble bath and bath salt bottles that you’d find strewn across my bathroom sink and decorating my dresser. And also, my personal knowledge of skin disorders and the health of my skin which derived from being a psoriasis patient since I was 8 years old. Hemp seed oil was found to help my skin condition so that has been a really great experience for me, discovering that hemp has the power to treat my inflammation disorders.
Right now, where are you guiding your passion and energy towards?
Well, right now, I am working on a Forbidden Leaf infused bubble bath and infusing my Forbidden Leaf massage oil. My passion will always be creating high quality hemp seed oil skin care products that customers love to use, are proud to give as gifts, and those that are receiving the gifts are totally stoked on receiving them. Aside from that, my passion and energy will always go towards supporting global hemp sustainability, spreading awareness, and sharing facts. It’s a movement and we are witnessing a revolution going on right now, a sort of re-branding of marijuana. Cannabis and hemp have always been around. I believe it was put here for us to utilize and use all the many benefits it has to offer. My passion and energy will always go towards supporting the cause.
Describe your work ethic to me in one word.
What do you consider your weakness as an entrepreneur? Your strength?
The weakness would be that, right now, it’s just me, myself, and I. I am doing everything; I do all the labeling, the scenting, the bottling, the shipping, ordering and answering emails. Every task is mine to do, it keeps me very busy and hard-pressed for time to build and grow more. Another limitation is the fact that I have more of an artist mind rather than a business-oriented mind. I am also very limited on funding; I started this business with a royalty check that I inherited from my grandmother that comes once a year.
My strength would be that I am very dedicated and extremely passionate. I am very creative and am never at a loss for ideas. I am willing to go that extra mile and I am willing to sacrifice and take chances.
How are you differentiating yourself from the competition?
I would say that by doing my own thing and not worrying about what the others are doing; I am setting myself apart. I also always engage with my customers on a personal level – I love them all! I have countless repeat customers that I’ve had for years who love my business and my products. I will always maintain a high quality product with a homemade heartfelt touch.
How do you find inspiration in this industry? What have you found that has inspired you?
I find a lot of inspiration in the patients that I’ve met as well as the patients that I continue to meet; there are many of them, with myself being one of them. One in particular is Cashy Hyde who was the first child to use hemp oil for his cancer. His parents gave him hemp oil in place of some of the harsh pharmaceuticals and I witnessed for myself how it helped Cashy. I went to visit him at the Ronald McDonald House and he was the only child out of bed playing and eating. It was incredible to say the least.
What else has inspired me are the many others in this industry who are cannabis warriors, such as Jack Herer who’s been a warrior since the 1960’s during a time when attitudes weighed much more negative about marijuana. Jack began to expose the government’s lies about cannabis when he discovered the film Hemp for Victory the government made and then tried to hide. Everyone should read his book The Emperor Wears No Clothes. It is full of facts and education about marijuana.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Pertaining to business, at a Hempcon show that I was doing, there was a business man who approached me who was very impressed with Forbidden Leaf saying he loved my products. He gave me this little bit of advice: ‘Don’t spread yourself too thin with too many products. Stay with what you have, which is very good. Keep it that way.’ And with that, it goes into something I learned in my graphic design education, the K.I.S.S. philosophy – Keep It Simple Stupid meaning that if you’re coming across creative blocks and you’re getting frustrated with designing… go back to that philosophy. Keep it simple. That always seems to work for me.
What’s your newest knowledge about the marijuana industry?
The first that comes into my mind is infusion. Everybody wants infused products with the current trend of CBD and the THC infused products. It’s fascinating how scientists can isolate all these chemical compounds in cannabis now and utilize them; it’s such a science. It’s amazing to me how the cannabinoids in cannabis work naturally in conjunction with the endocannabinoid system in the human body. It was like this plant was put here to help heal us and give us nutrition. I think everybody should have this knowledge and actively research it. But infusion is the ‘it’ topic lately and that is why I am working on infusing my bubble bath and massage oil; that seems to be what people want.
It was like this plant was put here to help heal us and give us nutrition.
If you could rewind time to 5 years ago, how would your business be different?
That’s hard to say because I was just starting out my business around that time. I have since seen tremendous growth since my tiny idea. I started out at the THC Expo in 2009 and the response was overwhelming; I totally sold out of all my products. People really loved what I had and that was an inspiration to keep going. There has been a shift since the beginning of my business in people’s perception of the plant, a more positive one.
What will we be seeing from you and Forbidden Leaf in the coming future?
You will be seeing more growth in Forbidden Leaf’s brand. I will have a team, not just myself, helping to grow the brand and share my products with the world.