The CBD industry is full of inspiring people who have used their creativity to build dynamic businesses around this newly legal natural resource.
One of the best known CBD success stories is that of Christine Meeusen (‘Sister Kate’), the woman behind the Californian company Sisters of the Valley.
A truly unique concept, the business consists of a collective of nuns who plant, tend to, harvest and trim their own strain of high CBD, low THC marijuana. They then manufacture medicinal tinctures and salves from it, all off of their own land which they’ve dubbed ‘The Garden of Weeden’ in the lush hills of Merced County. Sounds like a scene straight out of a very modern Sound of Music remake, right?
Well, the road that led to Sister’s Kate’s growing of the good leaf was far from idyllic. Brought up in a conservative Catholic household, she dedicated herself to her studies and worked hard to make her way up the ranks as a successful corporate executive despite constant sexism and harassment. By the end of her career, she had earned and saved over a million dollars.
But in 2004, Sister Kate learned her husband had transferred the money into his name and then lost it all. When she moved to divorce him, she learned he was still married to his first wife. Broke and wrecked by the deceit, she moved to California with her children and went to stay with her brother. Together with him she has the idea to start growing cannabis and producing medicinal products, but was again betrayed when he went behind her back to start selling to drug dealers.
“When people have everything taken away, you should be scared. Because they will do some radical shit,” says Sister Kate. Homeless and penniless once more, she resorted to doing peoples’ taxes in exchange for live chickens, which she would then kill to feed her family.
Eventually her mother gave her money to rent her own place, and Sister Kate turned her attention to social inequality and injustice. On a dare from her kids, she dressed up in a habit for marches and called herself Sister Occupy - and that’s where it all began.
People kept telling her how much they related to her story, and so she decided to get back into the CBD game and use her new motif to form Sisters of the Valley, in a bid to help other women on the road to healing.
“When people have everything taken away, you should be scared. Because they will do some radical shit.”
While the Sisters decided not to affiliate themselves with any particular religion, they wear the traditional habits and practice vegetarianism. They take six vows as part of their work: a vow to live simply, a vow to service, to activism, to chastity (in that relationships and sex remain completely private), to ecology and to be obedient - to the cycle of the moon, that is.
The Sisters operate their production process according to the lunar phases and practice biodynamic agriculture, because they believe that the work they do is spiritual. They believe that they infuse their products with healing powers through these kinds of rituals, and through special ceremonies in which they give thanks, reflect on their vows and celebrate their sisterhood.
And there must be something to it, because in 2017 they made $1.1 million in annual profit. When asked why they grow weed? “To provide honourable, spiritual jobs for women,” says Sister Kate. “We stand for the empowerment of women through entrepreneurship.” Amen to that.
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