When Evelyn Wang was appointed CEO of California-based cannabis and CBD safety company Papa and Barclay in January, she joined the field after 15 years of senior management experience in the beauty industry and a lifetime of cultural heritage.
Born in the Taiwanese capital, Taipei, Wang fled to Vancouver, British Columbia, at the age of 18 months. She graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in business and became an American citizen about two decades ago.
Wang’s top leadership experience came as he led major beauty products at L’Oréal and Estée Lauder. Most recently, she served as the Chief Marketing Officer for Milan Cosmetics, a global brand. From her beauty to her cannabis, she was robbed of her knowledge of building and branding.
Personal commitment to herbal medicine, health and sustainability Wang agrees with the core values of Papa and Barkley: Adam Grosman, who founded the company five years ago, made a home-made cannabis ointment in the kitchen with his father’s back pain. He said the perfume, in conjunction with other treatments, was able to get Papa out of the hospital and back home. “Barkley” is the family’s faithful bull.
“The board and I are confident that Evelyn is the right leader to build on our speed and brand,” Grosman Wang told CEO Grossman in his previous position. Papa and Barclays supply THC products in California and export CBD products to all 50 states.
Here, Wang’s transition to cannabis and the CBD is associated with trade and cultural background in connection with the Asian American and Pacific Islander (API) Heritage Month.
Editor’s Note – This interview has been edited for style, length, and clarity.
Tony Lange: What drew you to Papa and Barclay to take on the role of CEO?
Evelyn Wang: I have always been passionate about things like plant medicine, safety and health, and I have always been personally involved with those different industries. Especially with cannabis, I thought it would be fun for a while and I really thought it would be wonderful to get into an industry that would help shape the nursery. So, when I hired Papa and Barclay, I really learned about the history of the brand and how our founder Adam Grosman created this product for his own father. Adam desperately wanted something to help his father get out of the hospital, and he turned to cannabis for help. I felt it was such a related story. It is very real. He talks to me a lot and connects me. He wanted to find someone who could help him, so he got him into Cannabis. Just knowing that there are many other solutions that we can still understand, I think it is a great mission to be a part of this.
And then just learn all about Papa and Barclays; This is a company that goes through different lengths to ensure the quality of our products. We make things more expensive to make sure we deliver truly effective whole-spectrum, whole-plant, insoluble products to consumers. So, all of that, and the idea that this is the company that has had so many amazing airports for size and growth – those I can’t say for sure.
TL: Having been leading beauty and cosmetics products for over 15 years, were there any other special reasons you decided to change things and join the cannabis and CBD space?
E. Surprisingly, there are many crossings between beauty and cannabis. And there are, of course, many people with this dual beauty, cannabis background. I think both industries attract people who are very passionate, creative and able to receive and accommodate informal things. They like things out of the box. I say this was my external understanding, and that is now true. I really like how this industry is for people who are passionate about what they are doing and are moving in a very pre-determined way. They are all very different people from different backgrounds. So, I like to be in such an environment.
TL: Why do you have a deep and personal commitment to plant-based medicine, safety and sustainability on an individual basis?
E. I think these are the main issues of our time. And I think they’re all connected. I think we have a health crisis in the country. I truly believe. And I think we often learn to look at the most common types of symptoms, the most common types of medications, and obviously we need those things. But I think there is a lot of room to understand health in general, to understand how everything works as a system. And for me, herbal medicine is a big part of that. I really think you are eating, What you eat is really you.
TL: Has senior management experience leading the way as Milan’s Chief Marketing Officer or L’Oréal or Beauty Brands Mrs. Lauder Did Papa and Barclay help you in your current position?
E. Yes, for sure. Beauty is a great story to tell. It is to tell a great story, to tell it visually, to show the effectiveness of the product. These are the things that I think are very practical for the products we sell at Papa and Barclay. Even the first story of Adam is a testament to how cannabis was a solution for his father. So, it is very important to know how to talk about a product.
And then I think beauty is really a category that has learned how to use the power of social media influencers. I think we can get into cannabis. Because, again, if you think about it, you want to tell others about your product to the community you love the most. And then I see a lot of things that I have to learn, for sure. I see a lot of ways in which my background can bring many great experiences to Papa and Barclay.
TL: After becoming CEO in January, what did Papa and Barclays focus on helping the company move forward?
E. I think creativity is always the lifeblood of any company. So, not only for 2021 but also for 2022 and 2023, we were spending a lot of time preparing our productivity. We are even starting to think of ideas for 2023. That’s really big for us to try to double. Be creative and make sure we have a strong road map not only for the California market but also for the nation as a whole. We see a great opportunity for us, the brand, to expand our national direct-to-consumer e-commerce business.
And then there is the fact that we, our company, work extensively in the same quality, the same source, the same experimental products in our national seat. And we can use our B2C [business-to-consumer] To contact a consumer in New York, Florida, Iowa. In general, even before we can legalize cannabis products, we can start building papaya and barley products using our CBD products. We will double our efforts there because we think the opportunity will be felt by the cannabis-branded national health brand.
TL: I saw that you got your MBA from USC – are you originally from Southern California?
E. No, I was born in Taipei, Taiwan. And I grew up in Vancouver, Canada. So I am American, but I became American about 20 years ago. I’ve been on the map for a while.
TL: In 2021, have you been personally or indirectly affected by the “Asian Hate” movement?
E. Yes. First, in public places it was sometimes a scary, tragic, terrifying strange moment in terms of fearing for your own safety. This is something that is very important to me in 2021, ‘Should I take extra safety precautions in certain situations? At that point, it affected me in this way. Also, ‘What is my role in this?’ In my opinion, what are the steps I should take? What should I do? Because you have to be a voice and sometimes you feel this tedious responsibility. Sometimes, they do not want you to represent them. But as much as you want, you have a face that people want to know, ‘Hey, what do you think about this? What is your position on this? ‘So, yes, I say I am only affected by personal safety. Also, I have reflected on how my personal comments can be helped.
TL: What is your view on the importance of increasing the difference between AAPI in cannabis and CBD?
E. Whether I was in cannabis or not, I always felt this way – I think diversity is what we want in every category, in every industry. If you have a category, if you are trying to appeal to different consumer bases in any intelligent way, I think you should have different people bases in your company so that you can connect with that consumer. If you talk to any cannabis or CBD distributor on this day, they will tell you that consumers who come to the distribution are also changing. There are many different types of demographics that you did not see three or five years ago.
So cannabis really starts to appeal to a wide range of people. I think we need more diversity in this industry. There is still plenty of room for creativity in the industry. One thing that still fascinated me about the industry was that it was very young. In terms of the kind of creativity we can bring, we are just on the edge of the iceberg. So, we have a lot of different ideas, it’s better for the industry.
In general, I would say, yes, most people from AAPI background are probably from a cultural background. There may still be more cultural skepticism about the federal illegal industry. But I think a lot of people who go into the industry as ambassadors and come back to their communities, it’s better to discredit the industry.
TL: How do you feel about cannabis and how does it relate to your estate or the API community?
E. I have been involved in the history of cannabis myself and if you want to see cannabis in history, it has really been a part of Asian culture for thousands of years. It was a large crop grown in China about 4,000 BCE There is definitely a historical connection.
In any case, it does not matter how far back in your culture cannabis goes. You don’t have to be in the industry to say ‘Oh, thousands of years ago my people were part of cannabis.’ I really think, ‘Yeah, I’m interested in cannabis and I feel like I can say I’m here. I have a role and I have a voice at the table. ‘It’s really what I see. I think cannabis is for everyone. And I’m sure Asians have some relationship with cannabis, no matter what, they’re in the industry.