Women to Watch: Rebecca Reardon

 

Rebecca Reardon | Nirvana Investments

 

In 2020, N’Bliss’ dispensary in Manchester celebrated the first retail cannabis sale in Missouri.  N’Bliss is the dispensary brand for Nirvana Investments, a family of licenses that include 5150 N’Fusion, Bold Lane Logistics, and relax Premium CBD Brands.  Take a moment to think about the immense marketing machine that is required to manage all of these and it’s a daunting thought.  However, Rebecca Reardon makes it look effortless.  Reardon is the Chief Marketing Officer for Nirvana Investments and if you’ve heard of their brands and are a customer, she’s doing MANY things right.  It should come as no surprise to see her featured in Women to Watch – she’s a true guru in Missouri’s industry. 

So where did her cannabis story originate? 

“I have family in Colorado and worked there as well… while cannabis was all around me, it never occurred to me that I would find myself working in the industry. Two and half years ago I reconnected with Bradford Goette, our “Captain” and CEO. I actually worked for Brad 15 years ago and when I found out about the Nirvana mission and the team he was building, I went for the incredible opportunity to step into this emerging industry. 

“As I rapidly immersed myself in everything cannabis, many personal stories were brought to light for me. One example is from my good friend who has a son that suffers from severe epileptic seizures. Since the age of eight, he has had three brain surgeries, has undergone countless tests and procedures. In his late teens now, currently he takes approximately two dozen prescription drugs every day. Their family wants nothing more than to try a natural alternative to possibly start weaning him off some of these pharmaceuticals. Living in Texas, up until recently, cannabis could not have been an option, but soon she is hopeful to explore the potential benefits cannabis for their son.”

We asked Reardon how she felt about the representation of women in the industry and her answer was different than those we’ve seen before – a testament to Goette’s employee-centric employee culture?  Perhaps, but Rebecca said she has worked in several male-dominated industries in the past – beer, liquor, ad agencies, and others.  She said from her perspective, “This is absolutely an industry where women are respected and in many, many, cases in leadership and executive roles. I have the pleasure of working with some incredible women across the state, building businesses, brands, and helping to serve the patients of Missouri. Accordingly, we work with several National industry partners, and many of them have women in influential leadership roles.”  

Like all of the women we’ve spoken to and continue to interview, when asked the question about her favorite part of the industry, Rebecca was hard-pressed to find just one. 

    

“Hard question, so I’ll pick one of my favorites that is also one my most challenging… building brands. Day one we began building the N’Bliss brand with a mission, purpose, and a promise. In my leadership role to see it come to life in design, build, and how it translates down to patient experience at our dispensaries was no doubt a challenge. But fast-forward to the present day, it is honestly one of the proudest achievements of my career. 

“Now as we begin to produce premium products and launch brands, we recently launched LOTUS Premium Extracts. This is our first brand from 5150 N’Fusion. 

“Building a brand from the ground up brings out the Creative Director in me, but also presents challenges. Packaging is an animal all in itself. Resources. Timelines. Budgets. It’s an amazing process, but a long one. And while building brands is challenging, to see our products on our shelves and those of our partner dispensaries is incredibly rewarding.” 

Does that mean the industry is perfect?  Far from it, but everyone has visions for change – and for Reardon, the wish she’d like to see granted would be an increase in public education.  “Everyone in this industry knows, there is a stigma that will most likely never be completely lifted, but with greater public education surrounding the medical benefits of cannabis, we can build a greater understanding of what we are doing and why.  

“As part of our mission, we dedicate a significant amount of time and dollars towards these efforts for patients and future patients. At each of our N’Bliss dispensaries, our Wellness Specialists are extremely well-trained and take as much time as needed with patients. But that is once they come in the door. As an industry in Missouri, I believe we need more of a collective effort, not just from license-holders, but also from the state to help drive public education.”

To wrap up our time together, we asked Rebecca what it takes to be successful in cannabis – she answers without hesitation, “Passion, adaptability, a hunger to learn, and team talent to bring everything together. The reason we have succeeded and continue to do so is the people that make it happen each and every day.

“I feel that I can speak for many license-holders that the reality of the importance of teamwork and cross-functional leaders within your organization are essential. From intern to executive, we all wear multiple hats here at Nirvana and we all have each others’ backs. That is where Brad would say, “the magic happens.“