Fleurish is focused on women’s health and wellness and using cannabis without stigma
Published by: The Growth Op on July 9th, 2018
Since the 60’s and the 70’s, cannabis culture has largely been dominated by men—as of 2012, men form 49.4% of the market. But women across Canada are increasingly turning to the plant for its medicinal benefits including alleviating menstrual cramp, enhancing sex and helping with anxiety/stress, just to name a few. As female consumers have different needs and preferences for cannabis than men, the Fleurish team believes in providing customized, and gender-based health care.
But that’s not all. While 35.8% of Canadian women use cannabis, many still worry about being stigmatized—they don’t want their consumption to be the only thing that represents who they are. A widespread dilemma Fleurish founder Renée Ellison is no stranger to. Advocate for unrepresented markets, Ellison formerly spent considerable time developing the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) regulations, which have now been changed to the current guidelines called the ACMPR, during her work as the communications lead at Health Canada. Because of this, Ellison has garnered a deeper understanding and awareness of how certain communities and people can be targeted in the health care system. “When I left my government job, I started to think there was an opportunity for women in cannabis,” Ellison shares.
Throughout her time at Health Canada, Ellison learned about the cannabis industry and became a big believer in customized, gender-based health care, which led her to discover that the Canadian women’s cannabis market had 2.2 million customers and was slated to make an estimated $2 billion in the first year of legalization. In 2013, she incorporated her first cannabis company, and in 2017, changed its name to Fleurish—a playful spin on the word “flourish”, where “fleur”, French for flower, is a nod to the flower from the female cannabis plant.
From there, Ellison mortgaged her house and, alongside. company chairman Justin Shimoon raised $7 million in private financing from about 30 investors to get the company off the ground. Occupying a 20,000 square foot growing space in Kemptville, Ontario across an 8-acre property, the team is hoping to be able to produce an upward of 1,500 kgs of cannabis a year.
While they are still in the process of becoming a licensed producer, Fleurish has submitted all the documents to Health Canada, and expect the final approvals to come through as of press time. Right now, the market share is conservatively forecasted at a potential $4 billion and growing. “While there are cannabis brands in the United States that are focused on women, Fleurish will differ by being able to provide multiple forms, as allowed by Health Canada regulations, based on what women tell us they want,” Ellison explains.
For their first year in operation, they hope to start cultivation with their high-tech indoor grow facility and will begin selling products including dried flower, dilute indigestible oil, pills, and sprays.
Chief Marketing Officer Mary Beth Williamson shared that while she knows consumers are interested in other products such as edibles and vape oils, “with legalization this year, we’re very limited in the forms that we can provide and our focus to date has really been on identifying the right strains for women.”
For years, cannabis brands have lumped women and men together as one. In the pharmaceutical industry, all research and testing has primarily been done on men. But as Williamson explains, women’s bodies are different and that is important to recognize and note. “How our bodies work physiologically are different and how we process medication is different.” She notes that in the early research that the team had done in the cannabis space, they found that women are looking for products and people in the marketplace who communicate directly with them.
Oddly enough, there are very few companies who do this and Fleurish helps fill the gap. Right now, as the company continues to build and grow (from the ground up), they are committed to making it a space by women, for women.