In 2010, Nancy Whiteman took a bold leap of faith, leaving her high-paying consulting job to pursue her passion for cooking cannabis edibles by launching Wana Brands in Boulder, Colorado. Little did she know that her decision would pave the way for her to become one of the most successful self-made women in the United States.Since making that decision more than a decade ago, Whiteman has led Wana Brands into a company that has revolutionized the industry. “I like to say I went from the most traditional industry to the least traditional industry,” Whiteman told CNBC, “I wanted a business where I could build value, and it didn’t depend on me. I also love to cook.”
While the company began with humble roots, CNBC reported that Whiteman now has an estimated net worth of $225 million.
What Is Wana Brands?
Founded by Whiteman and her then-husband, John Whiteman, Wana Brands focuses on creating cannabis-infused edibles that have developed a well-earned reputation for consistency, potency, and premium quality. The company, started without outside funding, has rapidly grown, largely due to its ability to deliver consistent products and also stay ahead of the trend curve in cannabis.
The company operates in Colorado and several states across the U.S. Wana Brands’ product lineup includes gummies, sour candies, baked goods, and tarts, all infused with THC or CBD. These edibles provide an alternative way for consumers to experience the benefits of cannabis, allowing for precise dosing and discreet consumption.
A Business Gamble That Paid Off
Nancy Whiteman’s entrepreneurial journey began before Colorado voters made recreational cannabis legal. Whiteman started cooking edibles, driven by her love for cooking and the desire to build a valuable business. Her gamble paid off when, four years later, the state legalized retail cannabis sales and the cannabis industry began to flourish. Whiteman’s dedication and foresight positioned her at the forefront of this emerging market.
Whiteman and John Whiteman started the business from their own kitchen. They invested their own money and conducted thorough market research by visiting dispensaries to understand consumer preferences. The couple faced financial struggles, often covering payroll with their personal funds, according to CNBC.
Whiteman even took on marketing consulting jobs to make ends meet. Despite the challenges, they pressed on, driven by their belief in the potential of the cannabis industry. She and her husband divorced in 2011, but they remained committed business partners.
Success for Nancy Whiteman, Wana Brands
Despite numerous obstacles, Wana Brands experienced rapid growth after legal recreational marijuana sales started in Colorado in 2014. With nationwide interest in edibles rising, the company’s annual revenue soared. It reached $14 million in 2017 – a huge increase over the $100,000 the company made in its first year. Whiteman eventually bought out her ex-husband’s shares in the company, taking full control of Wana Brand’s future, according to CNBC.
Since Wana Brands launched 13 years ago, the landscape of the cannabis industry has undergone significant transformation. With 23 states and Washington D.C. legalizing recreational cannabis use, the market has expanded rapidly. Wana found its niche in the edibles market, which constitutes 12% of the overall U.S. cannabis industry.
As the cannabis industry matures, Whiteman recognized the need to adapt. Wana recently made the strategic decision to leave the highly competitive California market and is in the process of exiting Oregon. The company faced difficulties as wholesale pricing dropped, leaving them with a high-cost product in a market experiencing significant price compression. However, Whiteman’s resilience and strategic thinking have positioned Wana to navigate these challenges and capitalize on emerging opportunities in other markets.
Nancy Whiteman’s journey from a traditional consulting job to leading figure in the cannabis industry is an inspiring tale of entrepreneurship, perseverance, and adaptability. Her passion for cooking, combined with a deep understanding of the market, has propelled Wana Brands to nationwide success from its humble beginnings in her kitchen.