Women to Watch: Karla Deel
Karla Deel has always been a lover of people with a deep desire to serve and uplift her community—it’s just an undeniable part of her. Couple that with her love and advocacy of living a holistic, healthy life, and she is a perfect match to work in this industry. Prior to transitioning into the cannabis industry, she worked in marketing and communications for a public library, while also pursuing her own writing career. She has a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing and Media Arts from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Her passions include photography, writing, reading, growing vegetables, cooking, and practicing Kundalini yoga and meditation. She has a love to travel and learn about other cultures and people. She believes someday she will be an expat living in the jungles of southern Mexico.
Flora Farms is a vertical operation run by a tight family of co-workers hustling hard to do big things. They are Missouri-born and raised and built from the ground up in a small rural town; they didn’t come in from another state and are proud to be modern-day farmers growing Missouri’s cannabis in the Ozarks.
A handful of small-town Missourians got together in the back of a used-car dealership in Joplin, Mo., and hatched a plan to create Missouri’s most affordable and accessible medical marijuana. And not much has changed around here. Flora is a scrappy bunch who problem-solve together and take each day on with the vigor of their first day and are fortunate to have dispensaries located across the state in Humansville, Neosho, and Springfield. They’ve also expanded to add manufacturing of infused products with a production facility in Springfield.
Tell us about your role at Flora.
We are notorious for saying titles don’t mean much at Flora Farms. Maybe that is because we all manage a lot of different components of the business at any given time. Maybe that is because we all overlap in our efforts to get the work done. Officially, I am the Marketing Director, but on any given day that might mean I am the company photographer, visiting dispensary clients, designing merchandise, celebrating our staff with milestone gifts, planning company events, organizing and attending industry events, publishing cannabis articles, strategizing outreach, championing our charitable efforts, managing our social media, providing customer service through various channels, designing signage or billboards, brainstorming new products, or pursuing opportunities to bring the support of Flora Farms into more communities. My role is always evolving. It is an ever-expanding position that requires the best of me to show up every day.
What makes Flora the right fit for you?
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I am a big picture person who wants big things. I thrive in exciting and creative environments, and especially ones where the benefit of others is a side-effect of my hard work. Not a single day is the same. My role allows me to be myself. To innovate, to brainstorm, to offer up creative ideas to grow our brand, to interact daily with patients by providing customer service and care, to establish relationships across the industry, to use my creative skills as a photographer, writer, designer, event and community organizer, which ultimately accomplishes my very favorite thing of all: bringing people together. What is special about my role here is that, in part, I have been involved with this company from before its inception. I was the person on the other end of the phone when we had the aha! moment to name our company Flora Farms. I have a great deal of love and pride for what I’ve helped this company become. Our work community and culture is tight-knit. Our humble roots keep us all focused on being the best we can be without spending too much time on our egos. It isn’t about us, ya know? It is about this healing, historic plant and how it benefits the people of Missouri and how Flora Farms can have a positive impact on this industry. I am proud to have a seat at the table at Flora Farms.
How did you get into cannabis?
As a teen, like most of us, I kind of found myself through cannabis. It blew my worldview wide open and set me on a path of much-needed self-discovery. Experimenting with altered consciousness through cannabis really set the stage for a deeper spiritual path that I have been digging into a lot more these days. Cannabis continues to help me dive into the macrocosm of existence—sounds deep because it is. The better question is what keeps me working in the cannabis industry. And it is a very simple answer: the people of Missouri whose lives are changed by having access to marijuana as a modality to heal. We all deserve to be and feel the absolute best we can.
Cannabis has allowed me to bring the best parts of myself to the forefront. It is a mysterious plant with an extraordinary history. I could read, research, and write about this plant all day. The origins of Cannabis is spiritual in nature. It is a plant that allows for self-healing rituals that truly change lives. It is a plant of abundance. It is intensely scientific and intuitive and perfect and beautiful and ought to be an accepted addition to every household; I am here for it all the way!
Do you see obstacles in cannabis you haven’t seen in other industries?
What is unique to me in this industry is its malleability and the people are responsible for that.
Everyone involved has a very specific vision of what they want for Missouri. The great task of this industry is to bring a diverse lot together to create a community that serves everyone–those of us agents with boots on the ground to those who are activists on the fringe; to the owners and investors, and patients, advocates, caregivers and everyone in between who all make up Missouri’s cannabis industry. The obstacle is to make sure we get it as right as possible for everyone.
What makes the cannabis industry unique?
The cannabis industry blends fierce business with fierce culture.
What is it like being a woman in your field?
Simply put, as a woman in cannabis, I feel valued, supported, and seen. I have touched almost every corner of this industry and never feel like I don’t belong. And I love how many women are standing tall and taking up space in Missouri’s cannabis industry, and especially here at Flora Farms. From our managers in our dispensaries to our administrative teams at our headquarters to our cultivation, manufacturing, trimming, packaging and logistics teams, Flora Farms is full of women getting sh*t done. And I see that reflected throughout the industry. Women are at the helm and doing some damn good work for Missouri.
What, if any, challenges have you faced that you feel men in the industry don’t generally deal with?
You would not have asked this question to a man, for instance.
What are you passionate about?
I am notoriously an overly-emotional-wear-my-
Therein lies my passion. To do right for myself so that I can do right for others. A cup can only spill what it contains.
Where do you find inspiration?
The laundry. The sweeping. The cooking. But most definitely…the dishes. Kidding, mostly. But all things can and should keep you digging deeper.
What motivates you?
Holding up my end of the bargain. Taking good care of strangers and loved ones alike.
What is your vision for the future of cannabis in Missouri?
It is an interesting time in the industry. There are a lot of changes and a lot of moving parts. We are at the precipice of becoming a recreational state. My biggest wish is that this community dig into its earnestness and humility. Let’s hold ourselves accountable to continued higher standards. But let’s let our guard down just a bit, too. We must allow our good will to shine through. I don’t underestimate a strong-willed population of cannabis-loving folks to do the right thing. Hopefully, we are all here with a shared goal: to be healthy, happy, helpful, and successful. We should all strive for great success, but not let it steal our humanity.