Written by Silvia Fouad | Photo courtesy of Alessandra Shirley
Behind every business, there is a story; and behind every product, there is a purpose. Meet Alessandra Tanoue Shirley. She is a wife, mom, business owner, and Brazilian native who came to the U.S. to study at UCLA before founding HereNow CBD in 2019. HereNow CBD is an online health and wellness shop that offers a range of CBD-infused products.
Once Shirley learned about cannabis, particularly CBD, she wanted to share it with the world. She is passionate about her products, which translates to her customers.
Shirley’s mission is to provide a safe environment for everyone. Her products, which include tinctures, edibles and more, are aimed at helping individuals ease anxiety, pain, and stress. All are third-party lab tested for content and purity. Additionally, HereNow products are full-spectrum, and free of solvents, GMOs, and gluten.
Emerald spoke with Shirley about why she started her own CBD business, the importance of her CBD products, and her future goals.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Emerald Media (EM): You experience panic attacks, and find that CBD reduces your anxiety. But, why did you start an entire business around it?
Alessandra Shirley (AS): A long time ago, a friend witnessed me suffering from panic attacks and struggling with pharmaceutical prescriptions. At the time, she was the one who suggested CBD to me to try for my stress relief. I was a little bit skeptical and scared. But I was suffering so much. I was not even able to drive. And then I tried CBD and let me tell you; once I experienced the CBD’s phenomenal healing attributes, I did what I do best.
I am a soft engineering major and I love studying. I started digging to learn everything I could about cannabis. I learned about its benefits. And I was so happy that this changed the way I was dealing with my day-to-day life — to function and to be a better mom. And so, I was not afraid to share. For example, many people may look at a woman who is taking CBD and challenge her capabilities — whether or not she is a good mom.
One of my mom’s friends suggested that I should create a company. I wanted to create a superior and reliable quality [product] that everyone can trust because it is very important for me to be transparent and to be trustworthy. I am very focused to understand every individual’s experience to bring the best products to them. I talk to my customers and try to personalize the products according to their conditions. For example, I can intake 100 ml of CBD but another could only intake 10 ml. I want them to get the most out of it.
EM: Who is your target audience?
AS: I believe my target audience is everyone because I think CBD is for everyone. But, I would like to say that it is especially for women; not necessarily a woman who is a mom. My target audience is managers; a manager of life, a manager of pets, or a manager of work. It is for someone who is multitasking and in need of a boost to keep them doing whatever they’re doing or something to calm them down.
EM: Why is your target audience especially women?
AS: I have many friends who are women and mommies. I feel obligated to educate them and want them to be not afraid to ask for it. Because it is not shameful; it’s not something bad. It is something wonderful and it can make your life better. And you can make everyone around you feel better, too.
It’s an amazing supplement that brings you to wellness and self-care. I feel connected because I’m always with my friends and it’s nice to create a safe environment where they can share and be heard. It’s the connection.
EM: Since you are from Brazil, would you say that one of your goals is to bring your CBD business to your home country? Or is that not possible because the concept of CBD is taboo or unacceptable there?
AS: Yes, that is one of my goals. I want to help educate everyone there to understand its amazing benefits. I want to create a similar environment that I am creating here to support people who are seeking a natural pathway to better health.
However, it’s going to take a lot longer to educate people because it is illegal [in Brazil] and they are not experiencing the legalization of recreational cannabis, yet. There is a lot of work that has to be done in Brazil such as regulations and requirements. I am already starting to learn all of them. For example, I am learning the market and connecting with doctors there — any product that consists of CBD needs to be prescribed by physicians. I am in the process of exploring CBD in Brazil. I see a great impact in my business and I want to bring that to Brazil.
EM: What is one skill you have acquired from starting your CBD business?
AS: I’m very self-aware of what I’m going to do next. I’m aware of the things that need focus and strategy. I have a journal that consists of checklists that I look at every day. It helps me to prioritize versus before — when everything was a mush pile. Also, I now have patience. I plant a seed and wait for it to grow. You learn to see everything overall. Whatever you want to do, know it is going to happen. You should just prioritize.
I learned to bring a personal touch to everything I do. For example, when I pitch or talk about a product. It is something that I constantly use, love, and it makes me feel more connected to clients.
EM: You said you learned how to get into personal touch with your clients because you sell what you love. Thus, would you say that this is an important habit to have as a business owner?
AS: For me, I do believe in quality and personal touch. If you have a product, especially one that is required to go in your system, you need to know what is inside of it and what it can do to your body. I use my products and know the ingredients. This is because I recommend them to my family, my friends, and everyone. It’s not just about selling; I see people who just want to sell. It is about your wellness and not about how many products you sell. When I do something, I give it my 100%, especially when it comes to CBD.
EM: What would you tell someone who wants to take CBD products but is scared or hesitant?
AS: I have customers who come to me and they are afraid. The first thing I [ask] is “what are you afraid of?” Most of the time, they say they are afraid to get high or that they will not be able to function — like when driving. And that’s when my moment comes. I explain how it’s not going to get you high but instead, it will give you health. Then, I share my experiences since I take every single product. I share every single detail of every product. I also took courses on cannabis consulting as well. I try my best to educate and eliminate the fear in my clients.
Sometimes I like to joke and compare CBD to vitamin C. When you take vitamin C, does it make you feel like a superhero? Not really.
Like vitamin C, CBD takes some time to show its effects. In the long term then you will see results. Your mood will get better and you will see a transformation. I get a lot of great feedback, and I share it with people who are afraid to try it.
EM: What do you do if clients are still hesitant to try CBD products even after you have shared your experiences? For example, do you provide warranties?
AS: I do that or I sometimes give little samples to experiment with. The samples depend on the feedback I get. For example, if the person feels anxious or in pain, then I match products with their condition. If you are afraid, I do not want you to buy something that you feel afraid about. I want you to try it first and then come back to me. Many times, I have people come and talk to me five times before they say they’ll give it a try.
When you become my client, you become one of my friends. I want them to trust me, the product, and the brand. I often say, I know I have the top quality inside these bottles and it’ll blow your mind how great it is. When they try the samples, they come back to me and say “Wow! What do you have in this? Is it magic?!”
EM: What are some of your favorite products that you sell on your website?
AS: I have two. My first favorite one is Strong Soft Gel which I carry everywhere. I take one capsule every day in the morning after breakfast. This is designed to make you more active, to focus, and to be able to produce better — and to be less anxious. It helps with my anxiety.
Towards the end of the day, I like to take Harmony Gummies. They are so delicious. They are full-spectrum and take the edge off. They are very effective — calms you down — and the taste is gentle. They are so tasty like candy, kind of like a dessert. They are the two products that are always with me, even in my purse.
EM: What is one quote that keeps you motivated throughout your business?
AS: “Everything is hard before it is easy,” by Geothe J.W.
For me, it is a true quote. We look at something and say we can’t do it. Then you start doing it and realize it’s easy — and it becomes easier and easier. For example, I thought public speaking was hard until I started and learned it’s not that bad. I do believe that everything is hard before it’s easy, and you just have to do it.