Women to Watch: Michelle Poindexter
Mocann Extracts, a farm-to-shelf CBD company based in Adrian, Missouri, has made a name for itself – becoming one of the most talked about brands in Missouri’s emerging cannabis industry.
Branded as Rural Route Hemp Co., the company boasts a line of CBD and hemp products that have garnered rave reviews from customers and patients. From lotions and salves, to soap and coffee, and even tinctures and RS2.0, the company’s hemp-based take on Rick Simpson Oil, produced with limited processing to more of the natural plant compounds, Rural Route and Mocann Extracts have become synonymous with quality Missouri cannabis.
At the helm of the ship, Michelle Poindexter. “Founder, farmer, formulator, manager, marketer, messenger. As a small business owner, you wear a lot of hats. We’re not much for titles, just as long as we are working together to get the results that will help our customers,” Poindexter told Greenway.
Poindexter is uniquely suited for the growing industry of cannabis, with a B.A., in Biology from William Jewell College and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Baker University, Poindexter brings together business acumen and biological knowledge alongside passion.
“I would describe myself as ambitious, focused but flexible. A little introverted until provoked, and caring to a point that I am crying if you are crying. My deepest gut hurt laughter are the times when I am sharing something insanely embarrassing that I have done with my family or vice versa.”
While many in cannabis have taken different paths to find themselves in their current positions, Poindexter’s path has a few zigs along the way. Beginning her career as a laboratory technician working for an allergenic extracts company, then changing direction she began working in software product design and consulting. Poindexter spent 15 years leading large-scale software implementations across multiple industries. Then Poindexter changed direction again.
“In 2018, we started hearing about the benefits of CBD and how it helped with many of the ailments that our own family members had. After doing considerable research, and a few family meetings later, we decided to pursue the farming and extraction side,” Poindexter said.
“In 2019, I formed Mocann Extracts with my family in tow and a year later launched our CBD brand Rural Route Hemp Co.”
With the launch of Mocann Extracts, Poindexter found a place where her unique blend of skills and passions come together seamlessly to build something as unique and inspiring as the woman herself.
“Our business has continued to morph over the years and with all the request from our local community, we decided to take it a step further and formulate our own brand of CBD products,” Poindexter explained.
Rural Route Hemp Co products start with industrial hemp grown on the family’s farm, one of the few USDA Certified Organic hemp farms in the state.
“We are a family-owned CBD cultivator, extractor, manufacturer, and retailer based out of Adrian, Missouri. When we started this venture, it was important to us to control every aspect of the process so that we can ensure our products are of the highest quality.”
In addition to their in-house brand, Mocann Extracts also offers private labeling services for groups wanting to start their own CBD brand. “Many have asked why we would help build other brands that will compete with us, but our stance has been to do what we can to help build the industry. It’s unlikely for us to be able to touch every person in this world, but if Jane from here, or John from there can help educate their communities on the benefits of cannabis and we can put a quality product in their hand, then we’ve done something to build the industry,” Poindexter stated. Poindexter and the crew of Mocann Extracts are focused on education beyond the retail counter and labeling, “We are also engaged in associations and providing feedback to legislators to help move the hemp industry forward in Missouri.”
What motivates Poindexter to keep pushing forward and working to create a better future for cannabis farmers and consumers?
“Cannabis has shown its therapeutic capabilities through studies and testimonials from all of us that are using it in one form or another. It’s easy to find that motivation to go to work and know that we are part of an industry that is providing medicinal help without the use of pharmaceuticals and associated side effects. It definitely comes with its challenges considering with the lack of state and federal alignment and all the associated gray areas but seeing what it can do for ourselves and our customers makes the risk worth it.”
“We have customers stop by our store and share how overwhelming their anxiety is, or how much pain they struggle with daily and how it impacts all areas of their life. Some are friends and neighbors, and others are complete strangers that are desperate to find something that can help. This is what motivates me to focus on quality and healthy products, to expanding our product line because it’s not a one size fits all, and to share their feedback with others needing the same type of relief.”
Like every company that opened or was operating amid the pandemic, success didn’t come without adversity and difficulty.
“[We faced] limited supplies, limited events, & limited retail spaces… Personnel having to deal with their own, or a family member’s illness has definitely been a bit of an obstacle, however, we’ve been lucky in the fact that everyone has pulled through and we continue to get back to work.”
I asked Poindexter if she felt she faced more adversity as a woman in cannabis, her reply? “Banking is difficult for everyone, credit card processing is difficult for everyone, supply chains are difficult for everyone and the challenges imposed by Covid don’t know whether we are male or female. Maybe I am naïve, but I think the struggles are there regardless of gender.”
“With this industry still in its infancy, women have an opportunity to help shape it in ways that we haven’t before, or at least without having to fight decades-old infrastructures. That being said, it’s been interesting for Luke and I to walk into meetings over the last few years and see women gravitate towards me and men gravitate towards Luke. The difference I see now versus my corporate experience is that there are more women at the table.”
To Poindexter, much of the success of Mocann Extracts and Rural Route Hemp Co. is what also makes the company special. “The group of well-rounded people that have been involved,” Poindexter continued, “That’s not just the family that I started this company with. It’s the community around us that have supported us along the way with labor, ideas, feedback, retail space, and so much more. There are so many people that are a part of our company even though they may not be on payroll.”
As the interview concluded we posed three final questions to Michelle.
Where do you find inspiration?
“Honestly from everyone in my life. I don’t think inspiration has to come from some major or miraculous event. I find inspiration just in listening to how individuals around me have handled day to day situations in their family, their career, and in self-reflection. Of course, when I really need to dig deep, my go-to is any book by Brene Brown.”
What advice or encouragement would you give to other women in the cannabis industry?
“I would say network and learn from others in the industry, however when it comes to making decisions for your business, go with your gut. Adding your own flair and sticking to your vision is what will make you not just be successful but actually feel successful. Finally, we all need trusted advisors that are comfortable saying “You wanna do what?!”
What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishment?
“Early on we were repeatedly told we needed major capital or financial backing to make it in this industry. We have watched organizations pour money into facilities, equipment, and marketing early on and then watched them close their doors. Alternatively, we have purposely grown at a steady pace as our business and the different revenue streams have dictated. To any women out there that have been told you can’t do what you are aspiring to do, remember this quote by Shakespeare, “Though she be but little, she is fierce.”