Katarina Maloney: Hookahzz LLC
We guarantee you’ve never met a more wholehearted person in your lifetime than this week’s entrepreneur. Her mission is to make a difference in the world and in her own way, she is certainly accomplishing that and much more. Her story is one of unwavering dedication, fearless learning, and a special kind of commitment to achieving her goals. Katarina Maloney, co-founder of Hookahzz LLC, is here to tell us about the coming of the new green era and how we can each better our own health.
What was the deciding factor for you to join this particular industry?
I can’t really pinpoint it to one particular factor; it was honestly just a gut feeling, an instinct, my destiny! I remember the day I learned about the industry as if it was yesterday. It really excited me. It’s like I found my true meaning of what I was supposed to do; sometimes you just know! I had a great high-paying job, I was the CEO of an online advertising company and practically left that position overnight to join this industry. There was no pay to begin with in my new found venture, no assurance, no certain future of how I was going to make this work; my mother thought I was crazy. To top it all, I didn’t even know that much about the cannabis arena. I wasn’t a doctor, a chemist, or an investment banker; I had no clue about the wide array of possibilities that this industry could bring me. All I knew is that I must do it!
After reading several books and articles on the amazing benefits of hemp and CBD, I came to believe that it could really save us all. I couldn’t take another step without becoming a part of the movement and getting involved; I had to do something and that’s really what guided my decision to join the industry.
I was the CEO of an online advertising company and practically left that position overnight to join this industry.
What were you doing before the green rush?
I was with my previous company for 12 years. I actually started as a receptionist and was eventually promoted to a position as an SEM Consultant for my company’s clients. We specialized in internal marketing and promoting websites via visibility in search engines. When you search for something, you usually find what you are looking for within the first page of results; our job was to get our clients on those first few pages.
This all benefited me in starting my own business; I came into this with a background in marketing, making a brand, making a name, creating a product line… creating a company. When I first learned of CBD, I knew I had to drop what I was doing and get involved. I started this business with my roommate. We sat down and started researching CBD vaporizers and saw this gap in the marketplace. So many people out there were smoking cigarettes or e-cigarettes and we believed that if they had a healthier alternative, they’d use it! Many people smoke for stress relief and CBD can do that, so we sought out to design our first product.
What are you doing to impact the industry?
My personal impact on this industry is that I’m wholeheartedly bringing my passion, dedication, and belief through my business. I stand behind my product and believe that anything can be accomplished. Our mission is to teach people that they have a choice. Many people don’t even know about the medical benefits of CBD and that is what we are trying to change. There are so many people sick in our country that could use CBD; I have girl friends who are diagnosed with breast cancer and they are only 20 years old.
This country is being poisoned left and right – GMO’s, hormones, pesticides, it’s everywhere! I’m European and travel back there quite often. I was recently there for 2 weeks and lost 6 pounds while there; I was in Italy for 2 weeks eating pasta four times a day and I lost 6 pounds. Why is that? How is that possible? Because in Europe, you’re eating real food. The food there is not like the food here – It’s real! There are obviously other factors that are making people sick, but what you put into your body is to the utmost importance.
Our motto of the company is ‘If you smoke, smoke healthy’ and we want people to know they have a choice in how they indulge. They don’t have to inhale these toxic chemicals that are in e-cigs and cigarettes, they can inhale healthy vapors from hemp oils. Our vapor liquids are not PG (which is very unhealthy), we only use VG for it’s organic vegetable-based quality; it’s safe to eat and is yummy too! We even add vitamins and amino acids to our products, so they really are designed for your better health. No GMOs, no hormones, no toxins! You know exactly what you’re getting; it’s made in the USA and you just can’t get any better than that!
Describe your work ethic to me in one word.
Passionate! My mantra is, “I got this!” Anywhere I go, anything I’m doing, I know I can do it if I set my mind to it!
Tell me about a time in your career that didn’t go as planned and what you did about that? How did you handle it?
There are several of these instances in my life. I mean, there are so many things in our lives that we cannot control. It’s hard and we can try, but there are certain things that you just do not have the power to oversee; there are things that will happen in your life that are out of your hands.
In my previous position at my online marketing company, we were selling a large amount of text-links, a form of advertising. This was the second most in-demand form of advertising, closely following pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Google was widely respected as being the top search engine; they essentially ‘owned’ the internet. Google didn’t like that other companies like ours were making money from their search engine, so they started punishing companies who were using this kind of advertising. They figured out a way to find these ads and eliminated the companies one by one. It didn’t matter who you were; they even took JC Penny off from their search for using text advertising.
So, we had to find another way for our clients to advertise and get more traction to their websites while abiding by Google’s laws. My assistant and I sat down and brainstormed and ultimately came up with an idea that we called, bait links. What that meant was that we’d help companies advertise for free with other companies. For example, we had a large online European art gallery where anyone and everyone could sell and buy artwork from across the world. And what did we do? We created an art contest having artists use Adobe Studio software to create art. When we reached out to Adobe on behalf of the gallery, Adobe agreed to partner with the gallery, offering several Adobe packages as prizes, and agreed to advertise the contest on their website. Win-Win!
Google took away our main income source, so we got creative and came up with new ways to help our clients advertise. If you’re creative, there’s always a way! That is something that can help you in every aspect of your life.
Tell me about an esteemed achievement of yours.
I am an immigrant; I grew up in continental Europe and came to the United States in the year 2000 with $250 in my pocket. I didn’t speak a word of English, didn’t know even one person here, but I believed that if I worked hard enough, I could become anybody! Today, I speak 4 languages, I own my own car, I co-own my own business in the United States and in Europe, and I’m not afraid to learn!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Thank goodness for all the good advice I’ve gotten in my lifetime. I’m a very open-minded person; I believe in good energy and sharing love with absolutely everybody and helping everyone because, in the end, we’re all on the same boat. One of my favorite words of advice is, “If you’ve never been scared or embarrassed or hurt, it means you’ve never taken any chances. Living your life in your comfort zone, isn’t living at all. ”
If you’ve never been scared or embarrassed or hurt, it means you’ve never taken any chances. Living your life in your comfort zone, isn’t living at all.
How would you advise someone who wants to join the industry?
If someone wants to join the ‘green rush’, they probably already have their heart in the right place. But besides that, in what I’ve learned in the last two years, is to never give up! The cannabis industry comes with a lot of legality challenges and risks. We all know it, but just don’t talk about it very often; we all feel like firefighters from time to time, putting out fires of all kinds: From having to change a merchant account or a bank account, to having PayPal block you, to anything and everything because there really is no standardization or regulation yet with CBD or THC products; it’s still a grey area! But if you have your heart in the right place and stay true to yourself, you’ll do just fine! The cannabis industry will come to you with open arms, we are all good people. There is not a better industry to be in – Join the Adventure!
What is a skill or trait that you think is necessary to make an impact in this industry?
If I’m allowed to be funny, I’d say, “Do not smoke too much THC! Hahaha.” 🙂
What is the most important thing for us to know now about the legal marijuana industry?
Something that I’ve seen from past to present, is how much medical marijuana has changed in the public eye. It is much more accepted and has a growing credibility and that is something to definitely know. We are making progress! Maybe it’s the testimonials, the research, or the entrepreneurs standing behind their products, but the stigma is starting to disappear.
If we are sitting across from each other a year from now, how will our conversation about the ‘green rush’ be going?
I’m hoping that medical marijuana will be legal in most states. I believe we will be seeing millions in state taxes coming from cannabis sales. There are going to be thousands of jobs created. I’m hoping to see cannabis product vending machines strewn across the country. I’m hoping for health insurance covering cannabis as a treatment. I’m seeing Industrial Hemp being grown here again and I’m feeling very good about all of it because I believe that the US will be saved. This is the start of a new green era!