The Willow Effect: Advancing Cannabis Safety and Quality Standards with Jill

The Willow Effect: Advancing Cannabis Safety and Quality Standards with Jill Ellsworth

Join us as we delve into the world of Willow Industries, an innovative technology that revolutionizes cannabis safety and ensures exceptional quality in the industry. In episode #16, we are honored to have Jill Ellsworth, the founder and CEO of Willow Industries, a leading authority in cannabis kill-step and post-harvest microbial decontamination technology. With her expertise in food safety and nutrition, Jill Ellsworth has crafted a remarkable career centered around creating solutions for a healthier lifestyle.

In this cannabis-focused podcast, we embark on a captivating exploration of Jill Ellsworth’s journey as the founder of Willow Industries. Discover how her profound understanding of food safety led her to apply her expertise in revolutionizing cannabis hygiene. Our hosts, Eric and Isaac, engage in an enlightening conversation with Jill, discussing prominent contaminants in the cannabis industry, the widespread adoption of Willow technology, and the future of cannabis safety. Furthermore, we shed light on the unique challenges and triumphs of being a female leader in the cannabis field.

Join us to uncover the transformative power of Willow in the cannabis industry and its pivotal role in shaping standardized regulations that ensure safety and quality assurance.


00:01 Eric:

This is the Roots to Risk Podcast hosted by Eric Schneider, alongside Isaac Bach, roots To Risk brings you insights, the latest stories, and long form discussions about the cannabis industry. You’ll hear interviews with industry leaders and their perspective on current and future trends, how they’ve built success and what challenges they have faced. Our goal is to facilitate candid conversations and provide informative content for the cannabis community at large. Let’s go, my man.

00:30 Eric:

Isaac, what’s going on today, brother? How are we doing?

00:33 Isaac:

I’m doing good. You. How are you doing today?

00:36 Eric:

I’m great calling. We’re on this podcast, seems like far away, but we’re five blocks away and, uh, I know.

00:44 Isaac:

Well, you’re, you’re home. We get the, we get the little New Yorker ag behind you. We get my, my matchbooks, including the ar matchbook, you know, get a little little view of, uh,

00:53 Eric:

Oh, I didn’t even notice that.

00:55 Isaac:

Have you not noticed this before?

00:58 Eric:

I noticed the matchbooks. I didn’t know you got the alpha. You didn’t get me one.

01:02 Isaac:

I didn’t get myself one. Sarah got it for my birthday. She took, so she like, loves this artist. How about

01:08 Eric:

To, I’m gonna have to talk to, to Sarah about this. Yeah. But anyways, more important things. We have Jill Ellsworth, uh, the founder and c e o of Willow Industries coming on the podcast today. Really excited. I think, you know, we spoke about this too, Isaac, just trying to get a wide variety of individuals in the industry, from investors to operators, to ancillary providers. And I think, you know, this, this podcast is gonna be no different, just providing a little bit different perspective than what we’ve seen on previous episodes.

01:40 Isaac:

No, for sure. I think what they’re doing at Willow is extremely interesting and I think it’s, it’s definitely something that needs to be implemented on a broader scale. Um, I know they’re growing and they’re doing really well, but like this type of technology, um, is gonna help push the industry forward from like a product safety standpoint. So excited to hear your thoughts on that and like where we’re heading as an industry as a whole.

02:03 Eric:

Yeah. And, and Jill has a, an amazing background, primarily coming from food and beverage and, um, you know, Willow Industries is the leader in cannabis kill, step in post-harvest, micro microbio, decontamination technology. Wow. I, what’s on these types of introductions? Maybe, maybe you read them Isaac <laugh> too. Big words for me. Uh, but, you know, fueled by a passion for innovation and dedication to health. You know, Jill has made a career of creating solutions for better living.

02:35 Eric:

She’s a registered dietician. Uh, really excited to have her on here. I know Isaac, you’ve been to the facility, um, and, and met with her a bunch of times, so interested in learning more. Yeah,

02:45 Isaac:

Me too. Uh, she’ll be a, a great conversation and looking forward to it. Hey, Jill, how are you? I’m good. How are you? I am doing well, thanks. We’re pumped to have you on and, uh, thanks for taking the time to speak with Eric and I. Of course, yeah, it’s a, yeah, appreciate

03:04 Eric:


03:06 Isaac:

Go ahead.

03:06 Eric:

I think we first, well, I, I first connected with Joe. I remember when you got, when you had the, uh, the oxygen bar at, uh, at Trailblazers.

03:14 Jill:

I know lifestyle, I mean, it’s so good for conferences because I mean, you stay out too late the next day. You need a little, you need a little boost, you need a little, you know, like help good for the body. Um, so, you know, we actually,

03:28 Eric:

It was a little, it was a little hard to talk to other people with like the, the suction cup, but other than that, you know, it was, it was awesome. But no, really appreciate you, uh, you joining us today and, um, excited to learn more about Willow.

03:45 Isaac:

Yeah. So Gil, I mean, I guess to start, if you could, you know, give, uh, you know, us and everyone listening and, um, some background on Willow and, you know, how you came up with the idea and what you guys are working on right now.

03:55 Jill:

Yeah, for sure. So, I, I am a registered dietician. I have a master’s in food science and nutrition, and came to the industry from the food and beverage industry. I owned a cold press juice company in Denver and in Santa Barbara. Um, you know, we, I was able to grow that pretty, pretty quickly into large retail chains. We had, you know, a roving juice bar, uh, as a juice truck. Um, I sold part of that business and then with a lot of those assets, I started a beverage distribution company.

04:27 Jill:

So I really, really understood beverage and getting that to the shelves. And, um, you know, with my distribution company, I literally was driving like a 15 foot truck and backing that up and like taking it to Whole Foods. And I was like, all right, I’m not a truck driver. This is not my future.

04:44 Jill:

I, I need to start thinking about something else. So at the time, this was 2015 in Colorado, I mean, rec had just become legalized and I started looking at cannabis, but I was looking at it with the lens of food safety and nutrition and like, how could I bring my expertise into the space? And what I found was that cultivators were testing for microbials, so they were being required to test for mold yeast, e coli, salmonella. But as I looked through the rags, I realized they weren’t subjected to a lot of the rules that I was running a juice company that, you know, got our juices into standard retail.

05:23 Jill:

So I was like, oh my gosh, we need to find a way to, to, to fix this. And so one night I, uh, I may have consumed, you know, a little cannabis and I literally just came up with the idea to find a way to clean weed because I realized cultivators needed a solution if presented with contamination. But most importantly, and the main purpose was consumer safety, like how can we bring consumer safety standards to cannabis? And uh, you know, from there went down a very harrowing road.

05:56 Jill:

Um, but we persevered and, and now we’re here today.

06:01 Isaac:

No, that’s awesome. And I’ve, uh, I’ve had the chance to actually come by the facility and seen the machines live and in person. So it’s a, it’s an impressive operation, um, you’ve built. So I guess, you know, my biggest question is, you know, what are kind of some of the biggest contaminants that you’re trying to protect against and pull out? Is there something in particular that you’ve noticed, you know, being in the industry for, you know, a while now that, um, most cultivators are having issues getting extracted out without your guys’ products or, um, is it kind of case by case?

06:32 Jill:

Well, all cannabis has mold is what we’ve realized over the years, is that cannabis just intrinsically is, uh, a moldy plant. And I mean, you can do so many things to protect it during the cultivation cycle. And a lot of cultivators, um, you know, really dial in SOPs and ensure their facility and practices are high quality and, you know, two consumer safety standards. But, but you’re always going to deal with contamination. So one thing, I mean, the few things that we see often, and this is across the country and then also into the international market.

07:07 Jill:

I mean, mold and yeast are some of the biggest, uh, biggest issues also aspergillus. So that’s, um, a really dangerous mold species that most states are starting to test for. We also see bacteria, I mean in these, in these contaminants can come from soil, air, water, human handling.

07:26 Jill:

A lot of, a lot of ways in which contamination occurs is like, what are you feeding your plant? Right? Good. Like crappy in, you’re gonna get a crappy product out. So like, we always wanna think about good in, good out, but those are kind of standard contamination points that we see across the country. Um, you know, some cases we’ve seen really high e coli levels with cultivators, and I’m like, alright, you just need to throw that out. Like, we’re not even gonna try to clean that, cause that doesn’t even deserve to be on the shelf. Um, but most cases, you know, it’s these common common contaminants that the states are testing for.

08:04 Eric:

Got it. And, and I guess like for Willow, like when do you come into the supply chain? Is it when they’ve harvested the plant and it’s like finished stock and, and you’re cleaning that? Or is it earlier in the

08:16 Jill:

Process? So exactly, it’s post-harvest. Um, so it’s right after, okay, dry cure and typically after trim. So you, we are treating a product that’s ready to go to market, so it’s ready to be packaged, it’s ready to go to testing, and it’s ready for consumer consumption. So we’re treating that it’s that last step in the process and we call it a kill step similar to what they use in food and beverage. Um, but it’s that last step in the process to ensure that there are no pathogens on the flour.

08:49 Eric:

And is that, is that, that’s before it’s

08:51 Jill:

Lab tested? Yeah, so we will have our cultivators obviously treat with Willow and then send their product in for testing, ensuring that the batch that obviously is staying behind is, um, protected in a way that there wouldn’t be any other cross-contamination. Yeah,

09:10 Eric:


09:10 Isaac:

That’s awesome. Yeah, I guess, um, you know, how’s the adoption been and like what have you seen change from the, the cultivators acceptance of it? Because I feel like early on, you know, I would assume a lot of, uh, a lot of old school cultivators weren’t overly keen on doing this, but has it gotten more and more, you know, closer to the food and beverage side of things? Um, you know, on the commercial level as you, these companies have

09:32 Jill:

Been shared? I mean, I think you’re so right in the beginning, no one wanted to deal with this at all. No one even wanted to have the conversation. They’re like, who the hell are you? Um, and what are you even talking about? I never fail <laugh> when in fact, you know, they fail. Um, so adoption was really sporadic in the beginning. Um, I think there are some really cool early players in Colorado that were like, yes, this actually makes sense. I’m on board. Um, I’m doing it. But I mean, there was definitely a lot of resistance. Now as the industry has progressed forward and become more legitimate, we’ve seen an incredible amount of adoption.

10:10 Jill:

I mean, the fact of the matter is you essentially can’t pass testing without some sort of technology. I mean, the thresholds are low across the country, you need help. Um, you know, right to the, our my previous point of like, all cannabis has mold. And so, um, so yes, adoption has been pretty astounding across the country now. It’s certainly not just us. There’s other types of technology, um, but again, we don’t talk to cultivators anymore that don’t have something.

10:42 Isaac:

No, that makes sense. Yeah, go ahead, Lisa. Sorry. And,

10:45 Eric:

And what markets, what markets currently is, is Willow.

10:48 Jill:

So we’re in 26 states plus the Australia plus Australia. So we’ve been in the international market for a long time. Um, but I mean, a lot of our concentration is, um, some of the, some of the early adopting states of legalization. Um, but we have a huge growth in the Northeast right now.

11:11 Eric:

Do you need, do you need like a physical, like a, a team to physically do the cleaning or are these machines like plug and play and, and you can kind of bring it to a market, I guess? Like what’s the, what’s the halt for expansion?

11:26 Jill:

So the machines are completely plug and play. We actually ship from, excuse me, we ship from our warehouse in Denver. So we, we assemble everything here at our headquarters and ship fully assembled machines to the cultivator. So they literally can un unload it out of the, the crate, plug it in and get ready to go. We have a whole team that will come in and onboard you, but, um, the cultivation does the actual processing. So they use it within their, got it, their supply chain.

11:57 Jill:

It’s written into their SOPs.

12:01 Eric:

Got it. And what’s like the capacity of, of one machine? Like if somebody has 10,000 square feet, do they just need one? If someone has a hundred, they need 10, like, I guess,

12:10 Jill:

What does that look like? So we say about one machine will take care of about 20,000 square feet. Um, you wanna, you wanna add additional machines after that. Um, so each treatment can hold between 15 to 15 to 20 pounds per treatment. We actually just increase the volume of our drum so you can put more cannabis in it. Um, and that, and then it really depends on cycle time. So our treatment times are between one and six hours. Now. One hour is really dedicated to those that are using this as a true kill step that aren’t, you know, aren’t seeing high levels of contamination on their flour.

12:47 Jill:

Um, and then can like quickly treat it and get it to testing and then to the shelves now higher le higher treatment time, six hours plus. Um, that’s product that’s highly contaminated and needs more exposure to ozone. Um, and I don’t think I mentioned that we use ozone gas, um, as our method of treatment. And so that, you know, the tr the amount of volume you get through in a day depends on treatment time. But I mean, typically we see about a hundred pounds a day.

13:18 Isaac:

That’s really cool. I think, um, you know, obviously the whole goal of Willow is to provide, you know, quality assurance more or less. So like what do you think, um, you know, campus companies in general can be doing to keep pushing that forward? Cuz I do think it’s one of the, the bigger issues in the industry from like a consumer standpoint is just feeling safe, taking a lot of the products. And there’s not a ton of information on that from the consumer side if you’re not, you know, already aware of, um, you know, the products and everything. So I’m curious to get your thoughts on like where the industry can go forward other than using Willow, um, course, you know, course during the process

13:53 Jill:

Of course. Well, I really think it’s looking at what does your entire cultivation process look like. I mean, with our systems, we have a whole science team, so we have microbiologists that go in, they do a full microbial assessment of your facility before you start using the Willow, because that gives us insight into how to guide you and, you know, recommend our technology, but also gives you the tools in which to start to clean up the facility. I mean, you know, we’ve seen so many cultivations just like transform some like old warehouse that really has no business growing like a life plant.

14:30 Jill:

And so giving them the tools to, to help mitigate and control and ultimately eliminate contamination is, you know, where like the focus is. Um, and that’s what, you know, we try to instill in our customers and, and really just to the broader industries, like when federal legalization occurs, which we all believe that’s gonna happen, and whoever’s going to oversee this, um, this side of the industry, I mean, they’re going to put really strict thresholds and protocols on these cultivators.

15:02 Jill:

So why not be ahead of that? Like, why not really understand like, what’s happening to your water? What does your soil look like? How is your air, um, handling, you know, people in there and, and plants and contamination. Like these are all the things that most people aren’t looking at. And so we’re trying to like, provide that education, um, to kind of clean up, you know, the industry as a whole.

15:28 Isaac:

That’s awesome. I mean, you, you all are providing a very similar kind of service Yeah. To the risk, like assessment would be from an insurance carrier, which is, which is great. I think, um, you know, I’m sure your team has had some horror stories with walking into cultivation sites and we’ve definitely heard some from, uh, you know, our, our auditors when they walked into, you know, various sites and even dispensaries. So it’s, uh, definitely something that needs to addressed. Well,

15:51 Jill:

It’s funny you should say that because I, I think you guys will appreciate this. Like, in the very beginning I started pitching insurance companies, I was like, what you should do is require some sort of te technology, a kill step technology like ours with your, with your, um, cultivators that are, you’re insuring to eliminate, you know, crop loss and to eliminate recalls. I mean, I don’t know if you guys seen it, but like Colorado has been recalling so much product in the past couple months. I mean, new recalls come out every day.

16:23 Jill:

I just got another one. So, I mean, I was really pitching the insurance companies on this and I, I think they really liked it, but there was no one that was like, okay, yeah, we’re in. And I, I, you know, I’d love to to get your thoughts on that.

16:37 Eric:

Yeah, I, yeah, I just, I, I think, and, and I, not to speak for Isaac, but you know, they’re, the insurance companies are the most archaic, you know, types of, it is just the most archaic industry. Right. And, and I think it just takes it longer to develop. And unfortunately, like I think, I think when we, you know, have clients who use something like a Willow, right?

17:08 Eric:

Like that definitely goes into the underwriting process and they take that in, in forms of like mm-hmm. <affirmative> risk management. But mandating something like that, I just think, I don’t know, I don’t know if they would be able to or willing to just like make sure like that’s something across the board that needs to happen, like down the road. I think, you know, as the industry continues to develop and obviously if it’s required from a regulatory standpoint, you know.

17:39 Eric:

Absolutely. Right. Um, yeah,

17:42 Isaac:

No, and Jill, I think to your point, what Eric just said too, like once there is a uniform standard, I think carriers will be able to implement that. I know, you know, we have a few of our preferred providers, and Gil, I know you and I spoke about this when I was, uh, in town a while back, but we, we do have some carriers who are more, um, <laugh>, I guess less archaic is probably the right way to say it, and definitely more on the hugging edge. And I think it would definitely be worth having a, a further conversation with them. So I can loop you in with, you know, that carrier in specific as well.

18:11 Jill:

Yeah, I mean, that’d be awesome. Like what if insurance premiums went down for cultivators because they’ve started employing all these different risk mitigation techniques, like a kill step and like in benefits, you know, their bottom line. So I don’t know, I think it’s an interesting concept and maybe it’s too early and oh my gosh, like when I was pitching this in 2017, 2018, it was like so early <laugh>, but like, what the hell are you talking about? Yeah.

18:40 Eric:

Is there, is there any application for Willow? Like, cuz obviously we’ve talked to like cultivators, um, and obviously that’s the, you know, the root of, of everything, no pun intended. But like, are you guys also looking at any issues or testing, like you mentioned beverages or like other cannabis products that’s just not pure flour. Obviously flour goes into the inputs of all of those products, but, um, I didn’t know if there was any other skews that you’re looking at or I guess, you know, to, to summarize what’s on the horizon for Willow and the, you know, next 12 to 24 months and, and things that you’re looking at, whether it’s technology, market expansion,

19:22 Jill:

So forth. Well, great question. So I guess I’ll start with, you know, what other types of products that we work with. So yeah, full flour is, you know, our kind of bread and butter. We also do a lot of tr uh, pre-roll treating because some of the states have implemented, you know, final product needs to be treated. But then think of all the people that are touching pre-rolls and all the machines that the pre-rolls go into that could possibly be a source of cross-contamination. So we do a lot of pre-roll treating, which I think, you know, is a great way to ensure, you know, again, final product is safe.

19:54 Jill:

Um, we, you know, I’ve always championed for, uh, extraction companies to clean the flour going in. I mean, the extraction process is considered a kill step so the consumer doesn’t have to worry about contamination, but again, bad product in is not high quality product coming out.

20:12 Jill:

So, you know, I’ve always said make sure the product’s clean going in and you’re just gonna get a high quality product coming out of that. So that’s been taking a lot longer to, uh, <laugh> to really work. Um, but I will keep championing for that. Now, on the innovation side, for us, I mean we, we continually are innovating and improving. Um, so we are adding some really cool I improvements to our current Willow P 360, which my goal is to debut at MJ Biz, so hopefully, hopefully engineering and, you know, the whole team product can make that happen.

20:47 Jill:

And then we’re additionally coming out with a new product that’s a standalone system that would be, you know, that could work in tandem with our Willow P 360, but it goes kind of further up the supply chain. So working directly in cultivation, but grounded in utilizing ozone. So ozone is, you know, ha like everything around this company. And so we’re continually developing products around that. And then of course, like market expansion. I mean, you know, there’s, uh, like Oregon just started testing for Aspergillus.

21:21 Jill:

I mean that happened the beginning of March, um, and has been a big change for them. So expanding into states that are changing regulations, um, and then seeing more expansion within, um, the international market, although again, you know, kind of challenging and like weird regs there.

21:39 Eric:


21:40 Isaac:

That’s what I was gonna ask. I was gonna say, uh, like see, you know, what have, you know, in the countries, you’re obviously in Australia, but in the other countries you’ve had conversations with, like how do those testing guidelines kind of differ from in the US and are some, you know, a higher quality and closer to the food and beverage side of things in the more traditional way? Or are some even further behind than the us? Well,

22:01 Jill:

Canada does really, I would say really in front of it. Um, so their testing is like super low, total yeast and mold is a thousand CFUs. And let me tell you that is, that’s very, very low in, in comparison to what we see. So most of the Canadian companies are using gamma irradiation, and we typically see that happening in the international market. Um, Europe is, is a bit different. Um, I mean a lot of irradiation is occurring there, but E U G M P has very specific, um, requirements to then get approval to utilize equipment in those countries.

22:41 Jill:

So, you know, we’re slowly working on that, um, expansion in Latin America. I mean, Latin America is kind of, um, an open opportunity. There’s some irradiation being used, but I mean, cultivators are looking at other types of technology, specifically us as as an option.

23:04 Eric:

And, and Joe, like the, the existing technology that you have, was that, was that something that you, you know, bespoke created with obviously your background in food and beverage, or is that like ozone? You know, I haven’t heard that, you know, previously, but is that something that’s been existing in other industries and you brought that into

23:24 Jill:

Cannabis? Oh, zones existed, uh, in many other industries for a really long time. So ag, it’s used in food and beverage, um, mostly in agriculture, it’s used in waste wastewater treatment. So when I, I mean, I’d originally gone down the road of using high pressure pasteurization, which most beverages use now. So it like pressurizes a product and destroys any sort of pathogen. So I tried to do that with cannabis and it was like an absolute disaster. I destroyed all the weed and it like turned into mush and it was just a total nightmare.

23:55 Jill:

So I realized, okay, well H P P wouldn’t work. And I started researching other types of methods and came across ozone, um, and realized, wow, it’s used in ag, could this be utilized in cannabis? So we did some early testing and found out there was, uh, a really great reduction of contamination. And so kind of ran with that and then developed a system that would flow within a cultivation. And so our original system was much more of like a chamber with shelves, um, very similar to what you’d see like in a bakery.

24:30 Jill:

And, uh, and that was good. It was a good mvp, but it, you know, wasn’t where it was gonna take us today, which is why we completely rehauled our system now, have a drum, um, and treats the cannabis much better.

24:46 Eric:

Are you, are you finding Joe, like, and I think we, we see this a good bit that other, other players using their existing technology for the application for the cannabis industry. Do you see that like other, other peers or competitors, you know, from other industries trying to just capitalize on the cannabis industry without, cuz I know like you’re very present, right? You’re constantly on events. We’ve built the relationship through trailblazers.

25:17 Eric:

Like I, I know you’re invested in the space and I feel like that’s obviously a key competitive advantage over people that don’t really understand cannabis, but see the market potential and just try to apply their technology. Have you seen, um, folks like that? You know, try,

25:33 Jill:

We definitely have <laugh> and you know, it’s hard. I’m sure you guys deal with that too. Um, yeah, <laugh>, uh, we, yeah, totally. A lot of technology has come into the space that was used in, um, healthcare has been used in food, um, radio frequency came from the almond industry. A radiation came from blood and, um, bug mitigation. So yeah, I mean we, we definitely see them adapting and adopting into cannabis. But again, like I invented this for cannabis because I saw a problem that needed to be solved and it was a problem that, you know, has had widespread implications and now everyone needs a kill step.

26:19 Jill:

Now everyone needs help passing testing. So I saw this from the very beginning and, and yeah, sure. It’s hard when you, when you have other like, huge companies come into the space with like tons of money, um, and you know, we bootstrapped this and raised VC capital, you know, a couple years ago, but still, you know, we are all cannabis all in and here to move the industry forward, but, you know, competition’s good and that just means there’s a need. But yeah, <laugh>,

26:48 Isaac:


26:48 Eric:

It’s know and I, I feel like we, I feel like we feel very similarly and have a, a very similar ethos. Um, and, and I feel like people in the cannabis space too, which like really unique and awesome is that they can sift that out pretty, pretty quickly. Like if you’re not invested or like understand their specific pain points, it’s really hard to cater

27:11 Jill:


27:11 Eric:

Yeah. To those issues, right? Um, and, and so I think being invested, you, you can’t fake it, um, in the cannabis space. No, cuz it was funny because before, like even before, you know, when we started to do this exclusively, you know, we, we definitely noticed that we didn’t know everything. Um, and, and we were like doing it with one foot in, one foot out and, you know, Isaac and I looked at each other, we said, listen, if we want to have success here, we have to go two feet in and dive into it. Um, and it’s, it’s definitely, you know, changed alpha route a lot and, and um, added a lot of benefits.

27:45 Eric:


27:45 Jill:

You’re so right. People in this industry know, know fake and they know those that are just trying to like make a quick buck and that aren’t here to see the industry evolve and the way that we all want it to evolve and progress. Um, so that gives me hope that, you know, yeah, a competitor <laugh>.

28:07 Eric:

Yeah. And you, and you look at, and you look at, I know it’s different, but like I think the paychecks the other day, you know, last week pulling out of the industry very quickly, I think like that’s a sentiment that people when they’re looking for other vendors or providers, right? Yeah. They’re like, Hey, are you in this for the long haul, right. Or are you gonna all of a sudden say, Hey, sorry this is only 2% of our revenue and we don’t wanna work with MRBs anymore and pull out, right. And they want, you know, people deserve long-term partners that are invested like Willow.

28:40 Jill:

Totally agree with that.

28:45 Isaac:

No. And Jill, I know you, you kind of mentioned this like, uh, the progression of the industry and everything I, I know, um, you’re pretty getting evolved in a lot of things, but would love to get your thoughts on like how the industry is progressing from like a female leg perspective. Like obviously you’re a female founder, you know, it’s something, uh, you’re very proud of and near and dear to your heart. So like I would love to hear your thoughts on like how that’s progressing. Cuz it’s definitely something we hear in the industry quite a bit and it should be an emphasis. So, um, and I know it’s like very on top of mind for you.

29:13 Jill:

Well I will say I saw a lot more women at Benzinga than I have in the PA the past few years. So that was really encouraging. I was like, yes, there’s more women stepping up and stepping into your power and wanting and knowing how valuable they are to this industry. Um, I mean, again, it’s, it’s hard, it’s hard to be, it’s hard to be a woman in a, uh, a very male driven industry. But honestly, like, it really gives you kind of an edge because I’ll say in the beginning, when I started this 2015, 2016, I felt like being a woman gave me competitive edge and got people to answer my phone calls, right?

29:55 Jill:

I mean, here I was, I also was like pregnant and pushing around an 800 pound like, like microbial killer <laugh> into cultivations and people are like, who are you? But also I do feel like that set me apart and I got, I got in the door and so, you know, continuing to like be, uh, a woman that knows what she wants and being powerful and having a clear vision and and knowing your strength really sets you apart.

30:26 Jill:

And so, um, I’m excited to see more women. I mean obviously, you know, we, there needs to be more especially, um, at the sea levels and I know there’s a huge push for more women on boards, but I do feel like it’s their tide is changing. But I also think it’s up to the women like, get out there. Like, do it. Yes. Knock on those doors, knock those doors,

30:52 Isaac:

Kick them down, <laugh>, kick

30:53 Jill:

Them down. Totally.

30:55 Eric:

Absolutely. Absolutely.

31:00 Isaac:

Um, this has

31:00 Eric:

Been, this has been really great Jill, and I think honestly I learned a lot. I didn’t, I didn’t really understand like this step before lab testing, right? I just thought it went from cultivation production to lab and, and from there, right. Um, so this has been super educational and, and I learned a lot and I’m sure our viewers will as well. So I just wanna say thank you for, for the information. Um, and, and if people wanna learn more, how can they, how can they find out by going to your

31:27 Jill:

Website, reach out. Yeah, our website is willow Uh, if you wanna reach out to me, certainly reach out on LinkedIn. I’m very active there and you know, I’m always at the conferences. Again, being part of this industry and being collaborative is so important to me. But also continuing to educate the industry about consumer safety. I mean, like, that’s what’s gonna help us continue to move towards legitimacy.

31:56 Isaac:

No, a hundred percent. I think the one kinda last like main question I had was on that front as well, cuz we’ve heard over the last few years that Eric and I have been really focused on this, you know, kind of issues on the lab testing side of things and, um, some practices that may or may not be great overall for the progressing of the industry. You know, obviously adding your technology and prior to that kind of helps mitigate some of those issues. But have you heard or seen any advancements on the testing side? Cuz I, I do think that is an area for improvement that we could see from an industry as a whole.

32:26 Jill:

Definitely. I mean, I know we all know there’s like a huge issue with labs being transparent and honest, especially with, uh, potency. Um, but there’s also, there’s also a lot of shadiness that goes around microbial testing. Um, because if you do not pass that batch, depending on the state that you live in, you may have to destroy it. There may not be an opportunity for you to retest that. So there’s a lot on the line and I know the labs take a lot of flack for, um, you know, their protocols and their processes.

33:00 Jill:

But the fact of the matter is like they are necessary, um, to ensure that, you know, the product that’s getting to the shelves is safe for all types of consumers. Immunocompromised, you know, the average, average consumer, um, the baby boomer that’s just starting to try it. I mean, what we don’t want in this industry is someone getting sick because they unfortunately ingested contaminated cannabis. Um, so, you know, I think the labs are starting to realize like we need to step up to the plate and many do.

33:32 Jill:

Um, they’re still, you know, shadiness happening, but I think it’s moving. We’re all moving in the right direction.

33:40 Isaac:

No, for sure. And I think unfortunately like every other industry there’s always gonna be shaking us cuz it’s just the, the nature of capitalist society. But, um, no, I I appreciate that insight and like, honestly it was just a curiosity cuz Eric and I, one, we’ve had clients who’ve rung into issues with testing to your point where they’ve had to destroy full batches, which is never ideal. And so there’s no process to redeem that. So, um, no, like Eric said, it’s been, uh, it’s been great getting all the educational side, um, especially on something that Eric and I don’t see on a day-to-day basis. Um, so we appreciate it.

34:12 Isaac:

But, um, you know, before we go, we have a few, couple quick, uh, fun questions for you. Not, not cannabis or Lego, but um, you know, what would, uh, you know, what would your pump up song be? What, back when you were pushing around the 800 pound, uh, you know, machines by yourself, what would be a song you’d throw in the headphones to get you amped up to push that thing around?

34:32 Jill:

Um, you know what it, I actually used a song to go on stage at Arcview when I presented to Aview for the first time in 2018. And it was Thunder by Imagine Dragons

34:44 Eric:


34:46 Isaac:

I love that. It’s a good one

34:47 Jill:

Now. I hear it all the time and, and think of Art View, which is like whatever. But, um, I, it’s, it’s, I love that song. It’s good.

34:56 Eric:


34:59 Isaac:

No, that’s awesome. I feel like that’s one of the ways a lot of things happen. Like I remember songs from, you know, specific warmup, CBS back in different years of college that like, have always stuck with me, so they, they get pushed into the workout, uh, playlist from time to time. Um, but cool. The, the next one is, you know, what’s kind of a book that you would recommend everyone look into or one that you’ve read a few times and would, you know, turn to, um, for ideas or just, you know, kind of helping you push through tough Times?

35:30 Jill:

Well, to be honest, I really love books about other founders. Um, um, I really love Shoe Dog about Phil Knight. I mean, there’s that movie coming that’s out. Um, I, I mean I love Tim Ferriss. He, I mean, everything that he writes really resonates, but I spend a lot of time reading books about founders and how they’ve built companies and of course, I mean, who doesn’t love, um, you know, all the podcasts on that and how I built this and all that stuff. So, I mean, I typically go to that.

36:01 Jill:

I mean, I’ve been reading more recently a lot of leadership books. Um, I’m, I have an executive coach and so continuing to work on being a strong centered leader. Um, but I, I always gravitate towards like, how did they build that company? Tell me all the things. So I will always read them.

36:21 Isaac:

No, for sure. And no, I think those are all bullet, yeah, <laugh>, what’s the magic pill? How do we be, how do we build Nike? But

36:31 Jill:

You take some really good tidbits from that, especially in like how to, how to build teams. Um, and also there’s comfort in, you know, kind of misery. Also <laugh>, I feel like, you know, like <laugh>, they also went through all the shit and so it’s like, I can do it, I can keep going.

36:52 Isaac:

No, a hundred percent. I think honestly that’s 90% of Eric and I’s conversations these days is just like, what the hell is going on <laugh>? It’s always nice to have someone to, you know, complain, complain about stuff with and like help battle it through. So I agree with you. Yeah,

37:07 Jill:

Like how is this person acting this way? Like, who are they?

37:11 Isaac:

I know. And then, uh, the la last one is, you know, what’s your favorite restaurant or the best restaurant you’ve ever been to? You know, either one. I know, I know you’re in Colorado, so I have my second Colorado restaurant, so I’d be curious of what your favorite restaurant is back

37:27 Jill:

In Colorado. In Colorado, okay. Cuz I love eating is, uh, you know, one of my favorite things. And I love going to new restaurants in every city that we go to. And unfortunately when we were in Miami, I mean like we didn’t get to leave except to go to your thing where it like stopped raining for like five minutes. Um, I would say in Colorado I really love, um, pogie, which is kind of farm to table food and also Barolo Grill. Um, incredible Italian, but I have so many favorites.

37:58 Isaac:

Damn. I’m, I’m from there and I’ve never even heard of either of those. So when, when I move back in August, I’ll have to go try ’em out.

38:07 Jill:

I’ll make sure you have him.

38:12 Isaac:

Awesome. But awesome Joe. Uh, we really appreciate you taking the time. Um, you know, e any final thoughts on your end?

38:20 Eric:

No, um, like I said earlier, just, just really appreciate the time and learned a lot. I think, uh, part of the goal of when Isaac and I, you know, wanted to do this was obviously providing education to the space and highlighting, uh, you know, people that what we think are leaders in the industry, um, and trying to also provide just like a diverse set of businesses, right? We investors, there’s the ancillary side operators and, and just pro providing well-rounded education. And this is just a, another, um, testament to that because we haven’t had anybody on that’s providing, uh, this type of insight.

38:58 Eric:

So really appreciate adding to that. And, uh,

39:01 Jill:

Thank you. Thanks again, really appreciate you guys. You were such leaders in this industry and um, it’s nice to, it’s nice that I’m connected with you,

39:14 Isaac:

Very interesting, uh, insight that Jill just provided us. I obviously, we, you know, mentioned that I’ve been to the facility, but, um, definitely got much better understanding of what they’re doing and how important this step is in the overall process.

39:27 Eric:

Yeah, and I think it’s, I think it’s really important for everybody, right? For cultivators it, you know, assures quality product, right? To help and make sure that there’s no issues with the lab testings phase and then obviously for consumers, right? Making sure that we’re getting quality and safe products in the hands of, of those that are using cannabis. Um, and excited to see what they have on the horizon, right? I think there’s, there’s a lot, um, to be done in, in their space and I think Willow’s gonna continue to be a leader because they genuinely care and invest in the industry.

40:04 Eric:

I mean, you remember she was saying how she, they they built this machine for cannabis, right? Right. Not agriculture and trying to, you know, fit a a a circle into a square peg, right? Um, and, and so it’s, uh, it’s great what they’re doing and, and how they’re constantly innovating.

40:21 Isaac:

No, for sure. And I think it was cool that she provide the insight, like the, the first, the first couple tries she had with the technology, like literally turned the canvas to mush. And I think it’s, uh, it’s something given what we’re going through as an industry right now, that like, you know, just because something’s not working right away doesn’t mean you pack it in. I think it just great perseverance and I think they’re gonna continue to push industry forward, like you said,

40:45 Eric:

A hundred percent. And, and knowing Jill, she’ll continue to to kick down doors, which is awesome for

40:50 Isaac:

A hundred percent.

40:53 Eric:

Very cool man. Well, looking forward to the next one.

40:56 Isaac:

Yep, me too. Excited.

Subscribe on:

Subscribe on:

Listen On Spotify Listen on Soundcloud Listen on Apple

Our Latest Podcasts

roots to risk
By Isaac Bock

Exploring the World of Minor Cannabinoids Beyond THC and CBD With Dr. Shane Johnson from Bay Medica

By Eric Schneider

Insights from Willie McKenzie of Left Coast Holdings on Building Community and Success in Cannabis