Women are making moves in the cannabis industry.
And Parin Kumar and Riddhi Bhakta are part of that movement.
Kumar and Bhakta are CEO and COO, respectively, of Clovis-based Vana LLC, New Mexico’s first approved cannabis manufacturer under the Cannabis Control Division. Since receiving approval from the state, the company has also received approvals for retail locations (they have one in Clovis, where the business is headquartered, and one in Texico) and a grow operation.
Together the two have successfully launched both dispensaries and have a grow/manufacturing facility that spans 11,200 square feet.
At the moment, the facility is being outfitted with the latest technology and should be up and running by June, said Kumar, who also founded the company.
But these two have put all their eggs in one basket and, years down the road, may be one of New Mexico’s major players outside of legacy operators that were grandfathered into the recreational industry.
The Journal sat down with the two women leading Vana in early May to discuss the future of their business, the ecosystem the company plans to create and advice they have for women looking to enter the industry.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Q: I find it fascinating that you really jumped into this industry purchasing the latest tech. You have this huge manufacturing and grow facility that you are getting set up for this summer. It seems like you two are in this for the long haul.
Bhakta: “When we decided to start this venture, we wanted to make like a reliable business ecosystem for our community across cannabis. We want to work with local producers and educate the community about the benefits of the crop for overall health. We’ve already seen a lot of people that come to our dispensary and try the product for the first time and it’s really been helping them. It’s life-changing, if I may put it that way, to see people actually getting benefits.
“One gentleman that came in, he’s a veteran and former fireman. He came in looking to find medicine hopefully. And he tried edibles and then he came back and he told us that it was the best sleep he’s had in the longest time. … So, it’s been helping him and it’s really good to see the benefits that the community has with the plant. It’s been our vision to bring this plant to everyone.”
Q: You mentioned that you wanted to create this ecosystem around cannabis. What does the future look like for Vana?
Bhakta: “We’re all learning and growing as we go, but we do want to expand and take this company to greater heights. Absolutely. We envision a world where everyone can learn about and experience cannabis. So we definitely want to grow into a wider market.”
Say there’s an 18-, 19-, 20-, 21-year-old woman in college out there who is seeking to enter this industry in sort of an executive or founding role. What sort of advice would you give to this person?
Kumar: “If you’re passionate about it, want to enter it and whatever it is — whether it’s cannabis or anything — that the individual desires, I think if you give your best and go for it, there’s nothing too big that you couldn’t dream.”