Dr. Leslie Apgar And Gina Dubbé
Dr. Leslie Apgar And Gina Dubbé
ABOUT GINA DUBBÉ
Gina Dubbé is a serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist. Currently, she serves as the Managing Director and Co-Founder of Greenhouse Wellness, an award-winning dispensary in Maryland, and is also Co-Founder of Blissiva, a female-focused cannabis line. Dubbé was also the Co-Founder of TheraPearl, a revolutionary hot and cold compress. Her work with TheraPearl led the company to rank on the Inc. 5000 list and she received accolades, including Forbes Magazine’s Women Who Built Outstanding Companies.
ABOUT DR. LESLIE APGAR
Dr. Leslie Apgar is a board-certified OB GYN with 17 years of experience in direct patient care. She is also the Co-Founder and Medical Director of Greenhouse Wellness, a medical cannabis dispensary, as well as Co-Founder of Blissiva, a female-focused cannabis line. Dr. Apgar is also the Founder of PuraVida, a Maryland-based cosmetic spa and laser center, which continues to thrive well into its tenth year of operation.
The two have written a book that chronicles their personal, medical, and entrepreneurial journey from best friends and suburban moms to vocal advocates for shifting the narrative on medical cannabis: High Heals: How Two Women Found Their Footing in the Medical Cannabis Industry (October 22, 2019).
Warren Bobrow=WB: Please tell me about yourselves? Where are you from? What was your path to your healing with cannabis? Who was your mentor(s)?
Leslie Apgar is from Mercer Island, Washington, a small island between Seattle and Bellevue on Lake Washington. She grew up in the fairly open-minded Pacific Northwest and started on a path toward healing from an early age when she doctored the family pets and later, her horses. She went to school thinking veterinary medicine, but opted instead to focus on humans, and then on women, when she chose OBGYN as a career. Practicing western medicine for so long was rewarding, but clearly revealed what was missing, and that was natural healing from within.
Gina Dubbé grew up in the small town of Fairmont, West Virginia, deep in the heart of coal country. From a young age, she realized that she wanted to pursue a career. She went to school and got several Engineering degrees. Through her career, she took a company public, ran a venture fund and had several businesses. Her most notable business was TheraPearl, which was on the Inc 500 for two consecutive years and got her named to Forbes Women Who Built Outstanding Companies.
When an opportunity to bid on a cannabis dispensary was presented in a fairly offhand manner by one of Leslie’s patients, we leapt at the chance. This was what had been missing all those years. An ability to provide balance and healing with cannabis, and to help reverse the stigma that still surrounds the plant and the industry today. It wasn’t an industry that we were actively seeking to participate in, but the opportunity was too great to pass up.
Both of us had too many mentors to count. From teachers in grade school through graduate school, to friends, entrepreneurs, patients and staff, we are constantly inspired by those around us to be better.
WB: Why Cannabis? Where do you source your products from? Talk to me about the terroir…Indoor? Outdoor grown? Tell me about your company a bit more?
Dr. Leslie Apgar And Gina Dubbé
Why not cannabis? Traditional medications are falling short, we have an unprecedented opioid crisis to deal with, and cannabis is changing lives right in front of us on a daily basis. Our cannabis is grown almost exclusively indoors from all over the state of Maryland. The grows all have a slightly different approach and it results in a vast array of flowers with varied terpenes and chemical profiles from which to choose. Greenhouse Wellness was started very mindfully from the start as a state-of-the-art medical dispensary, to be run like a residency program, which a medical director (Leslie) as the attending physician, and a well-trained staff of wellness consultants and nurses. Happily, our vision has come to life and patients visit us from all over the state to get true medical advice about cannabis. We give lectures and seminars all the time to educate the community, the patients and the healthcare providers locally. When we first opened, we were astonished to see that cannabis was fairly intimidating, especially to women, with strain names like AK-47 and Pootie Tang. We saw an opportunity to do better and we started Blissiva, which caters to women. Our customers love it and eagerly anticipate the next product rollouts. Blissiva works on men too, but it celebrates and focuses on women, which has been incredibly empowering for us.
WB: Who is your mentor? Did you go to B-School (or school of hard knocks?) What is your professional background? What is your six-month and twelve-month plans?
Apgar: These days, Gina is my mentor. She has taught me so much and continues to do so. She is fearless, asks for forgiveness, not permission, and is not easily intimidated. She is the reason I decided to take the jump into the cannabis industry, and I will be forever grateful to her for that. We are a little unique in this industry. I am a university trained OBGYN who practiced in a private practice setting for over 17 years. I started a medical spa as an offshoot in 2008 and have continued to grow that business alongside the expansion of the cannabis businesses.
Dubbé: Leslie is my mentor on all things medical and cannabis. She has amazing insights into healing and patients. We make a team with each of us knowing our roles. I went through school with a BS and MS in Engineering. I am also a licensed Professional Engineer. Geek! The school of hard knocks, however, is the best instructor! We both can say that we learn every day from our patients. They are truly the best teachers. We are focused every day in giving our patients the absolute best experience in the dispensary and with Blissiva. In the next 6 months we are focusing on rolling out Blissiva to more states and sharing our book, High Heals, with the industry. High Heals is our story on how we got started in the industry, the hurdles we faced, and where we think (and know) that cannabis fits. Our plans after that are to capture the national and international market.
WB: What kind of stigmas do you face? How do you anticipate removing these obstacles? What do you see as the future of wellness?
Many of our friends and acquaintances still bristle when they learn what we are doing in the cannabis world. Funnily enough, though, some of the ones who were the most vocal against cannabis as medicine are now patients themselves or have sent their loved ones to us for care. Education will always be the way to remove the obstacles. People fear what they don’t understand. Doctors traditionally have not been trained on the endocannabinoid system and in time, it will be part of the normal training curriculum, but for now, it is our job to try and educate whenever and however we can. The future of wellness will be much more inclusive of eastern training. True holistic wellness will incorporate the best of all worlds. Patients need to be educated and be much more proactive in their health. Prevention and wellness are key and will be the new focus moving forward. Cannabis can be a big part of this as it brings balance back to the body.
WB:What is your passion?
Our passion is helping people, but especially lifting women up. We like pointing out that they are already wearing their Superwomen capes. Sometimes they just need a little help to see that. What they do with their newfound power and sense of self is inspiring to us. When we lift up women, we lift up society and the world at large.
Maya Angelou once said, “Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.” As half—scratch that, more than half—of humanity, women can’t wait for anyone to give them opportunities, like that individual on the conference call; women need to take their opportunities. It actually seems fitting that we would get into the cannabis business at such an exciting time for both women and cannabis. The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements were changing the entire social landscape, with more women finding the courage to stand up for themselves and each other every day. Every election cycle these days sees more states legalizing cannabis. Still, there’s a long way to go in both arenas; less than 5 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are female, and the current administration’s explicit antagonism to cannabis shows that it could all fall apart at any minute.
So here we were in this changing landscape with an awesome opportunity in front of us. Sometimes it’s better to not overthink things and just act. You never know what might happen until you try. That fateful day we did have the courage to try, and honestly, it has made all of the difference.