Cannabis has been consumed for centuries as a natural method for relieving symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, and physical pain. The earliest recorded use was in ancient China in 2800 BC. As the years have passed, humans have continued to use cannabis in various new ways: Soft chewy gummies, infused food and drinks, as well as traditional methods of smoking flower. While cannabis is becoming more accepted in America, women and other marginalized groups comprise very little market share in this male-dominated industry.
Despite 38 US states legalizing medical marijuana and 23 allowing recreational use, very few women work in the cannabis industry. A recent study highlighted that only 22% of cannabis-related businesses are owned by women. At the executive level, cultivation, and retail, female employees are much less common compared to male counterparts. This disparity exists for many reasons that are unique to such a stigmatized industry, but the natural truth is that female entrepreneurs have many more obstacles compared to males. Whether it be funding issues or being underestimated by male entrepreneurs. However, women can overcome these barriers to working in the cannabis industry and establish themselves as successful business owners. West Virginia natives Riley, Jamie, and Macie Queen have shown this as their cannabis company, Moon Flower Hemp, has reached over one million within the first two years and become a leader in the West Virginia cannabis space.
The Queen sisters have transformed what was once their side gig during college into a full-scale business that not only sells products online, but also has a brick and mortar store in Buckhannon, West Virginia. Moon Flower Hemp has become widely popular because of its high quality products, but also because of its story. Macie and Riley are the co-founders of Moon Flower, but two generations of Appalachian women are leading the business. The Queen’s mother, Jamie handles operations and scientific research while a team of West Virginia women make the company’s best-selling gummies.
Riley and Macie were inspired to open Moon Flower Hemp after their father asked them if they would be interested in a business opportunity with CBD products. Their father’s idea stemmed from recent legislation on these substances and later caused the 20-something sisters to section off a piece of their father’s land for their own plants. Macie and Riley planned to start a small business with the products they could produce from these plants, but the pair never imagined becoming full-time business owners. However, this idea was welcomed as the Queen family has a long history of entrepreneurship. Jamie and Jason (Mother & father of the Queen family) founded and sold over 20 businesses since Macie and Riley were babies and have encouraged them to explore any path that feels right.
Caption: Moon Flower Hemp Founders
Moon Flower Hemp grew over 400% during its first year of business, but it also experienced a tragic accident when the Queen family's warehouse caught fire, merely a week before black friday. This devastating event cost the sisters over $50,000 in inventory and hundreds of thousands in building damages. Since Moon Flower Hemp had a loyal customer base, many rushed to donate money to the sisters as a way to help them recover. However, Macie and Riley only wanted their clients to pre order products as a guarantee that they could make up for these lost profits and generate long standing customers.
After several all-nighters, the sisters were on track to re-launch Moon Flower Hemp’s product line. They were immensely relieved that this became possible as the Queen family had grown over 15,000 plants in the first year of business and a portion of those belonged to Riley and Macie. The sisters had spent countless hours cultivating those specific strands into the products that would soon be Moon Flower’s first offerings.
Once Moon Flower Hemp’s products were launched, the company organically received coverage in various media outlets for their unique backstory and attractive product line. This allowed them to grow the customer base and have funding for expanding the product line. Riley believes launching in December 2019 was a big reason why Moon Flower received so much recognition. People wanted some kind of relief as the pandemic began and the company provided that with ultra transparent marketing around how their CBD and THC products are handled.
Moon Flower Hemp has extended its online success into a physical store in West Virginia and plans to scale its online customer base in the coming years. As one of West Virginia’s fastest growing hemp companies, Moon Flower is poised to surpass competitors that lack the human touch and quality control the Queen’s business can provide.
"It was really interesting to try establishing Moon Flower Hemp as a leader in this industry when so many people had a different picture of what a cannabis business owner looked like, but we have found success thanks to our customer base that is 87% women,” says co-founder Riley Queen, “Since we are young female founders, I think women can look at this brand and be proud of our accomplishments, but also how we are taking up space in a male-dominated industry. Outside of that, I am also motivated to prove that local Appalachians can establish a cannabis business in a politically conservative state like West Virginia.”
Moon flower is now proudly taking up space in the brand new, West Virginia, medical Marijuana industry. They will be launching a branch of Moon Flower called Moon Flower RX in late 2023. This is a significant step not only for Moon Flower Hemp but the industry as a whole. Moon Flower RX is now the one and only Women owned medical marijuana brand in the state.