As the pandemic rages on, stress and anxiety are affecting many of us. As an entrepreneur, I have felt the pressures of the pandemic, the election, and growing a business at the same time. I heard a lot about CBD being used in various products to help alleviate stress and contribute to overall better well-being but never pulled the trigger until a few months ago. I was introduced to a new line of organic CBD wellness products and was instantly hooked on their calm. I was able to snag a conversation with Flora Chang, the founder of FLORA Cher Organics, to learn a bit more about CBD, its benefits, and her decision to venture into entrepreneurship (at the beginning of the pandemic!)
Flora started her career as a pharmacist.
She learned that most medical and drug labels and trials were based on “men, and not just men but white 170-pound men”. Flora recognized right away that the effects of drugs on men of different ethnicities and sizes might react differently, and women especially were not being observed.
She knew then that she was going to start a company geared toward women.
Today, she’s the Founder and CEO of the eponymous FLORA Cher Organics, a CBD based wellness company steeped in the science she knows so well—lovingly formulated and made for women. “I wanted to create products for women’s wellness that they want and need. I wanted to create products that combine wellness and beauty geared toward self-care to help them glow.”
It may have been a long road from behind the pharmacist’s counter to heading her own brand, but Flora says she had great role models. She comes from a long line of strong female entrepreneurs. The Taiwan native’s grandmother practiced Chinese medicine; Flora says she spent days in her grandmother’s shop, which was lined floor to ceiling with drawers full of herbs and roots. Because of that foundation, she says, “I’ve always been intrigued by the medicinal qualities of herbs, that’s why I jumped into CBD.” Her mother was in textiles, a man’s world at the time. She was often the only woman in a meeting, but she let nothing stop her. Flora learned perseverance from her mother as well as the idea that “a woman belongs in the workplace and should command respect as much as men.”
She said getting into the CBD business and developing products for women saved her from the competition she saw in the more male-dominated pharmacies field. She says that for the women in her business, there is a level of camaraderie that was missing in her last career, noting that “In the world of wellness, it’s rare to have an ingredient that really delivers.
CBD is so effective that there is an FDA approved drug that treats seizures that is high dose CBD. Most people are curious and want to know more about CBD.
Flora has taken the science from her pharmacist training, the herbal know-how from her grandmother, and created FLORA, which uses the best all-natural quality ingredients. She said that as she launched her line, she was shocked that she was the first person to combine ingredients, for example, her OHM Better Sleep Oral Spray, “everybody knows that melatonin helps with sleep, but I combined it with valerian root and pure CBD extract. The three harmonize in the system for a better night’s sleep.”
She also found that as the CBD craze took off, products weren’t clearly labeled and didn’t disclose how much melatonin they contained. Flora set high standards for herself from the highly-regulated pharmaceutical industry, providing each product with a QR code that gave all of the information about every product when scanned. She said since she started doing that, she’s been thrilled with the feedback from customers, “the level of expectation was pretty low. I heard from people who didn’t know they could expect more from CBD products,” she said.
But her entrée into entrepreneurship did hit one big snag—she launched right as the world was closing down due to the COVID-19 epidemic. But since Flora says being an entrepreneur means adapting quickly to change, she threw out her original launch plan and went a different route, “my plan was focused on festivals, meeting people and pop up stores. When it became obvious we wouldn’t be able to do that, we had to change course quickly and go for creative ways to get the word out.”
She turned to social media, where people looked for wellness information in the frightening early days of quarantine. She created videos and appeared on TV to talk about CBD. She said that although it wasn’t the start she had envisioned, she appreciated the feedback she got on social media and said she found it helpful knowing that she wasn’t alone. She used her Instagram and her #selfcareissexy hashtag to raise awareness of her products and CBD.
As Flora finds her footing in the wellness market amid a pandemic, she looks to the future, says that business is growing, and she has ideas for new products, “I’m excited to add things like colors to my lip enhancer line and to work with new ingredients that work synergistically with CBD like apple stem cell for anti-aging. I want to explore new ingredients in the natural ingredients world.”
She also says that female entrepreneurs have to support each other, and she has some thoughts for the next generation. “My advice to women who want to launch a business is find something you’re passionate about. If you think ‘why isn’t there a product that does this?’, it is a good idea! Do it. Don’t take no for an answer.” She says that was the advice she got when she was launching and reminds herself of it every day as she takes her business to the next level.