There are so many fascinating facts within the cannabis industry, but one that stands out above the rest is the fact that all the flower you see people smoking actually come from female cannabis plants. Thus, on that note, it’s even more meaningful when you encounter a brand that is female-owned and female-led.
Introducing LEUNE, who’s entire mission statement is to provide design-forward, purpose-driven plant products and accessories. Born in California, the lifestyle brand has organically been elevating the conversations surrounding cannabis and cannabis culture, upholding the highest quality standards possible.
Leune carries a plethora of products like flower, pre-rolls, PAX pods, edibles, and more. Photo credit: Leune
Beyond being a voice in the cannabis industry, LEUNE’s founder and CEO, Nidhi Lucky Handa, is committed to using the brands’ platform to raise awareness on social injustice, simultaneously bringing a positive change and breaking down the stigma attached to cannabis. To date, LEUNE has collaborated with the likes of The Last Prisoner Project and the Floret Coalition, while additionally sponsoring Eaze Momentum.
Some fan favorites include LEUNE’s honestly-grown flower and pre-rolls, all-in-one vaporizer pens, PAX pods, vape oil cartridges and the newest Gem Drop edibles — all created with purpose for the next-gen consumer.
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Wikileaf Interviews Nidhi Lucky Handa From Leune
Wikileaf spoke with Nidhi Lucky Handa about launching her own brand, and what LEUNE stands for.
[Shirley Ju]: How did you get started in all this?
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[Nidhi Lucky Handa]: My journey is a lot similar to others that I came into this industry as a consumer first. I was so excited when cannabis became recreationally legal in California, but when I went to the dispensaries, I didn’t see any brands that spoke to me.
[SJ]: When did you first get the idea for LEUNE?
Leune was created the wellness brand to contrast with the brands targeting men. Photo credit: Leune
[NH]: In the early days of recreational weed in California, there were seemingly a lot of other brands that were hyper targeting men. On the other end of the spectrum are all wellness brands, a valid vertical, I’m a wellness consumer, but ultimately it’s a niche space. So that’s where I started conceptualizing the idea of LEUNE.
[SJ]: How difficult or easy was it to launch your own company?
[NH]: I started conceiving the idea of LEUNE in spring of 2018 and we launched the brand in November of the same year. It was a fast launch and an even faster take off — it honestly took me by surprise! I was (and still am) really passionate about creating something that could scale elegantly and withstand the ever-changing complexities of the state-by-state regulatory environment.
[SJ]: You built your company to raise awareness on social injustice, bringing a positive change to the cannabis industry, and elevating the conversations surrounding cannabis lifestyle and culture. Why is this important to you?
[NH]: Before the brand was born and fully conceptualized, the only thing that was clear to me if I was going to participate anywhere near the legal cannabis industry, the brand would need to be built around mission. It’s important to remember that we’re building a new industry — it’s very, very young. To work in this industry is a privilege and I want to be part of building something that I can be proud of, that stands for progress and positive change.
The mission behind Leune focuses on social injustice and educating their customers. Photo credit: Leune
Working toward the common goal of righting the wrongs of how the cannabis plant has historically been used as a tool to incarcerate communities of color is a moral imperative. This is a female plant, exploiting her natural strength into a weapon is such a metaphor for the political agendas we see being exposed all over our country today. Reclaiming that power and strength and using it as a tool for the amplification of good is what I’m incredibly driven by.
LEUNE is a values-first company and will always put a priority on raising the consciousness about the importance of social justice reform. To me, that doesn’t mean just writing checks or treating this as a passion project, it means investing in our consumer, finding ways to engage and educate them as part of our mission.
[SJ]: Everything is made with sustainability in mind, how much of a difference does that make when it comes to consumers?
[NH]: I think that consumership has moved toward a value system a lot more now than historically. I always say to my team, “The best behaved part of the supply chain in cannabis are the consumers.” The consumers are literally the most excited, eager, interested when we share content on social media about sustainability efforts, social justice reform, anything values oriented, the response is overwhelmingly positive.
Leune works hard to have sustainable products and packaging. Photo credit: Leune
LEUNE recogonizes that waste and excessive packaging is a huge problem across all CPG [consumer packaged goods] industries creating a massive problem for the environment and our future generations. As such, LEUNE is committed to using low footprint, sustainable packaging wherever and whenever possible. All LEUNE All-In-One Vaporizers and Pre-Rolls come in reusable and recyclable aluminum tin cases, PAX Pods come in recyclable cartons made with wind energy, and honestly grown flower jars are made from ocean recycled plastic and glass materials.
[SJ]: How do you deal with navigating the industry?
[NH]: With patience and a lot of meditation. My first couple of years in this industry felt like a never ending bout of adrenal fatigue! The market dynamics are unlike anything else, completely unique and unpredictable and with that comes a lot of high highs and… well, challenging challenges. I’ve learned with time to focus on the same tenets of business that have always bode me well: persistence, hard work and compassion.
[SJ]: What challenges have you encountered and how do you overcome them?
Nidhi Lucky Handa always tries to focus on what’s best for the company. Photo credit: Leune
[NH]: One of the biggest learnings while building LEUNE and running a business has been getting comfortable with not making everyone happy all of the time. As a natural people-pleaser, this is a daily challenge. I wish I could say that it gets easier – but honestly, it doesn’t. The way I’ve handled that challenge is to simply ask myself the question: what’s in the best interest of the company? That one question always brings me back to center.
[SJ]: Do you feel it’s harder to sustain a brand as a woman in the cannabis industry?
[NH]: Yes, I have to work a bit smarter and perhaps even a bit harder than my white male peers, but that’s pretty consistent with my life experience. I was raised by first generation Indian immigrants in a business family and groomed by someone who taught me to work smart vs work long – understanding your unique obstacles should be factored into that logic.
As a WOC, adversity related to the minority groups I belong to is not a new thing for me – it’s been part of my experience since birth, so I guess I’m well adapted to participating in this world as someone that has a steeper incline to success than a lot of my peers. There’s still a lot of misogyny and racism present in the cannabis industry, BUT I also think the rate of progressive thinkers entering the space is helping to counter balance that dynamic challenge.
[SJ]: What are your favorite items & why?
The Gold Desert Gem Drops are one of Nidhi Lucky Handa’s favorite products. Photo credit: Shutterstock
[NH]: I have done R&D on 50+ products and I now have a much better understanding of what, when, and how to consume to calculate my perfect sweet spot. There’s a time for a vape and there’s a time for flower and there’s a time for edibles. Our Gem Drop rosin gummies are micro-dosed in two and a half milligrams and five milligrams. So if I’m cleaning my house, I’ll pop a Desert Gold Gem Drop or if I really need to sleep through the night and I want a gummy that’s just going to knock me out, I’ll favor a Cloud Berry or the new ratio (THC:CBD:CBG) gummy, Piña Dream.
[SJ]: Where do you see the future of cannabis?