Eunice Kim’s journey with cannabis, unlike most entrepreneurs in this industry, started late. She was 30 when she decided to use the plant to treat the anxiety, depression, and insomnia problems that her career in NYC brought upon her.
By then, the US cannabis industry was almost nonexistent, and information around the plant and its many uses was scarce. After much research and trial and error, Eunice finally found a natural product that helped her with her ailments – CBD.
This led her to dedicate herself to learning more about cannabis and creating a platform that would help bring that knowledge of cannabis to others who needed it. Thus, HiVi was born. HiVi is an online site dedicated to assisting conscious consumers in making informed health decisions while supporting underrepresented womxn, BIPOC, and LGBTQA+ organizations and brands.
Photo courtesy of HiVi
Think of HiVi as a personal concierge to understanding cannabis products and how you can use them to deliver your desired health and wellness results. HiVi aims to match the right user with the right strain, offering a full spectrum of cannabis experiences while educating users about the effects of various types of cannabis.
Eunice Kim believes cannabis can change your life. It took her five years and 100 different strains to find the magic combination of marijuana that is right for her. Now, she wants to spread the word about how safe, effective, and fun cannabis can be.
We spoke about how her journey has been, the lessons she’s learned as a woman in a male-dominated industry, and her thoughts of how the next ten years of cannabis in the US look like.
What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Eunice Kim and I am a second-generation Korean American who grew up in Los Angeles, California.
Tell us about yourself and your journey with cannabis?
I actually didn’t know anything about cannabis until I was 30 years old. I’m 34 now. Like a lot of the millennial women and new consumers out there today, I had so many questions about cannabis and its safety and efficacy. Decades of propaganda and misinformation trained me to believe that cannabis was bad and a source of harm to our health, life, and livelihood. It wasn’t until I decided to throw away what I thought I knew and actually do the research that I discovered that plant was actually quite the opposite.
Discovering how to consume cannabis with intention changed the course of my life. After more than a decade of living a really fast-paced and demanding lifestyle, consisting of a full-time office job and my own business, I had lost touch with myself. My mental and emotional health were spent and I didn’t know where to turn. I knew it was time to prioritize myself and reconnect from within and was curious if cannabis could be a tool for that journey.
Even only four years ago, the cannabis industry was a totally different world. Information wasn’t readily accessible and I couldn’t find education that really catered to me and my goals. I felt that the women’s demographic was seriously underrepresented and it affected my comfort level with the plant. Despite the blatant and masculine branding and tone, I stuck to really educating myself on the plant and its benefits and began to apply it to my daily life.
While there was a ton of trial and error, aka a lot of “too high” nights alone at home, I started to understand that cannabis is medicine. I slept better. I felt less anxious. I was feeling like myself again.
I knew that I couldn’t be the only one who could feel better and I definitely knew I wasn’t the only one who was confused about this space. So I became a passionate cannabis evangelist, talking about the plant with anyone who would listen. Turns out, my friends and colleagues were also curious about the plant’s potential but never had the opportunity or safe space to learn, share and discover.
Photo courtesy of Voyage LA
HiVi is my answer to that problem and I’m inspired to help people with this platform. Not only do I want to create a safe and stigma-free space, I want to provide consumers with a solution that actually works and gets them to their goals faster and more efficiently.
That’s why I prioritize credibility, education, and data-backed guidance. You’ll definitely be seeing more of this from HiVi in the next year, starting with science-backed personalized recommendations that guide consumers to the right products for them based on their goals and products’ actual formulations.
What makes you passionate about being a CEO/Founder in the cannabis industry?
It would definitely have to be the growing wave of new cannabis consumers who are curious to learn how cannabis can truly help them. I can see myself in everyone I’ve connected with through HiVi’s growth and understand how important and needed it is for us to have a resource that is not only accessible and credible but also supportive and safe.
Discovering anything new for your health and wellbeing is hard, but add on a seriously stigmatized and racially charged history. Adoption won’t happen overnight. In fact, it is easier to dismiss it altogether. Discovering cannabis in the right light requires leadership and comprehensive and effective guidance and I am so amped to be that guide for women and folks like me who are ready to feel better naturally and on the right terms.
How does it feel being a BIPoC womxn founder in a predominantly male-led space?
It feels empowering! I have always been a problem solver who loves the challenge of being faced with a seemingly impossible task. The cannabis industry can feel overwhelming and daunting at times and we certainly have a long way to go in terms of representation and equity. It’s not yet federally legal, legislation is disjointed and contradictory from state to state. The top decision-makers are still mainly white cis male and the barriers for entry for anyone new or from the legacy market are sky-high.
But, that only fuels my fire to stake my claim and create change in the space with the support of fellow like-minded founders, especially women and BIPOC. As individuals who see the plant for its true form – a healer – we really pay respect to the plant’s history and future and build brands based on that. The growth and innovation coming from those with honest intentions are beautiful and I believe consumers will be able to sift through the noise to support those fighting the good fight.
What inspired you to create a safe space for womxn in cannabis?
My own convoluted journey with discovering cannabis really prompted the idea for HiVI to be a safe and trusted cannabis resource for women. Learning that so many other people have suffered through that same journey or are currently fumbling through it are great reminders that validate that we all need this space and it needs to happen now with the industry growing as rapidly as it is.
Photo courtesy of HiVi
Tell us about the Higher Ups community that you have built.
The Higher-Ups community is the heart of HiVi and is what keeps the platform pumping, both literally and figuratively. When I was discovering cannabis, I, unfortunately, didn’t have any friends I could talk to about it. Don’t get me wrong, my friends and I can talk about anything, but cannabis was a topic that no one ever brought up! So I felt very wary of asking questions or asking for advice. Discovering cannabis was a very solo, lonely journey for me, but I now know it does not have to be that way at all.
The Higher-Ups community has grown organically to be over 110 members strong in one year. We are all cannabis advocates who lead dynamic and high-functioning lives: mothers, entrepreneurs, creatives, working professionals. We are slashing the stoner stigma and doing it with grace and finesse. We share our journeys, we support new and ethical brands, and most importantly, we support each other and the work we individually do. It’s high vibes all around! I’m hopeful that the stories of these amazing women will inspire others to experience cannabis for their health and share this awareness with others.
Where do you see the industry going in the next few years especially with the potential federal decriminalization?
We’re certainly headed in a positive direction and I envision this legalization of this plant opening the floodgates for holistic medicine to combat the opioid epidemic. I see the work of great visionaries repairing the wrongs of the war on drugs and providing equitable opportunities for BIPOC, especially Black and Brown leaders, to get recognized and find success. I see people healing and feeling better and happier.
Will this all happen in the next few years? Unlikely, as all good things take time, but we’re all in here for the long run and the exciting ride it will be to get there.
What lessons have you learned from working in the industry thus far?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to find your support network within the industry and always pay it forward. Cannabis is a hard industry to navigate and it is impossible to do it alone. Reach out to those you admire and those who are building companies that align with yours. Because the legal market is still so new, many of us working within it are unified in the mission to make this a better space. I believe that we want to help each other succeed, and by working together, we can all be stronger.