It's no doubt there have been major breakthroughs regarding cannabis, and especially CBD products, in the wellness world. Yet, despite the growing popularity and number of new companies popping up, something about Amy Duncan's company, Mowellens, feels different. Maybe it's their stand-out commitment to clean products free of chemicals and artificial ingredients, or maybe it's Amy's story and her passion behind starting the company. It's probably a combination of both.
When Amy's husband, former MLB player Chris Duncan, was diagnosed with a brain tumor, the couple were undoubtedly forced to face some of life's most difficult challenges. And when the tumor returned for a second time, Amy felt a deep desire to pursue something that had been bringing both of them comfort and relief — CBD. Having experienced the healing powers of the cannabis, Amy knew she could help provide the same solace to others, and she was dedicated to doing so in the purest way possible.
We chatted with Amy about Mowellens, the cannabis market, and how CBD has improved her life.
How did you first discover CBD?
I was running a genetics laboratory and at the time the lab was talking about testing cannabis. I was the chief operating officer and that was one the projects I was working on. So, I was interested in cannabis from that perspective. Also, researching and doing a deep dive into the plant prepared me for the knowledge I needed to get my husband clean cannabis when he was ready to incorporate that into his wellness routine in order to combat side effects of chemotherapy. As for CBD in particular — when I was initially starting the company I knew I wanted to be in the cannabis space but I didn’t necessarily know it would only be in CBD. I knew I wanted to create products that would help people live better lives, and really optimize their lives and eliminate stress from the daily grind. In developing and learning more about the cannabis environment, that's when I decided that the people I wanted to help they were normal people like me living a normal life and just stressed out from the day to day. CBD was really the best ingredient compound in the cannabis plant to target and help those people, so I narrowed my focus from there.
And then what made you take the leap of faith of leaving your job and starting Mowellens?
My husband was first diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2012, and we came out to California a year after he was diagnosed. He had surgery to remove brain tumor, then he did radiation and chemo for a year, and then after a year he was stable. In the summer of 2016 I started researching the cannabis plant at the lab and then in October of 2016 his brain tumor returned. And it was when it came back that I said to myself, you know what, I can either do this for this company or I can take this leap of faith and go fulfill my dreams. I then basically took my earnings from throughout my career and decided to invest it in myself.
Was it scary to do all that?
I've always been someone who doesn’t make big decisions big decisions. I don't really even dwell on it or write out the pros and cons, I just wait until the decision that needs to be made comes to me. I’m very spiritual in that regard where I wait for this intuition to really say that’s what you need to be doing. It was a big decision in the grand scheme of life, but it didn’t really weigh heavily on me. I thought, I made it this far in my career, I can make it wherever I want in the future, so let’s go.
What need did you see in the cannabis market that you felt you could fulfill?
That's where the lab background came in, because regulations for testing products are still to this day in a grey area. In January 2018 they rolled out new regulations but July 2018 is when they really start implementing even more testing and a wider testing portfolio. So, in 2016 there were products on the market that were not safe to use, and the consumer didn’t know. That was the need I was fulfilling — my commitment to testing and transparency, and to making those tough ethical decisions to produce clean, natural products. I didn’t feel that there were many, if any, doing that.
How do you use CBD and how has it impacted your life?
Right now I’m training for a marathon, so when I'm running I put CBD in my CamelBak, and after I'm done running I put it in the bath and soak with the topical CBD oil. And overall, when I’m stressed, or when my hormones are crazy the week before my period, or when I’m training, it helps me eliminate the stress. It helps me feel like a normal, healthy woman. I think women in general just have a lot of thoughts, and our minds can start spinning and our hormones kick in, and CBD really has helped to settle that. It creates that calm for me.
As a female entrepreneur, how was it breaking into this field?
My career in general has prepared me for being a female entrepreneur, I worked my way up the ladder in corporate America, so dealing with men and their comments and having my voice heard has been the most challenging part. Most women in any leadership position have strong opinions, but getting those opinions heard by our male counterparts takes us raising our voice. Cannabis has been really refreshing for me because it is dominated by women entrepreneurs. But overall, it's just about having your voice heard and doing whatever it takes to get your voice heard.
From the get-go — I’m young, blonde, and I'm a female, and they underestimate what I can do. Most men do, most people do. One of the things someone said to me, they were asking questions [about my company] and I showed them the products and the website, and they just were so in awe and shocked, like how did you create this? I just kind of tapped on my temple and said, just me and my smart brain. I've also had men send me articles about other female entrepreneurs and how they chose their career over their marriage and how you can’t juggle a marriage and being an entrepreneur. I’m the same women in my marriage, in my friendships, and in my business relationships — you’re not going to get someone different.
How has your life changed since starting Mowellens?
For me, I like the process, I don't ever really see this magnificent ending I’m going to reach. I always say I see a light in the middle of the tunnel, I don't ever see a light at the end of the tunnel — that’s not my goal. I don't think I'll ever not work. I didn’t work when my husband was playing baseball and I felt like a caged animal. My life has changed in having my company in that the flexibility to spend time with him is at my own discretion. It feels really good not having someone putting pressure on me and breathing down my neck and directing me which way to go on a daily basis. I didn’t have that at the lab but I've had that in various ways throughout my career. I think that starting the company has been the most amazing, rewarding, lonely, and challenging thing I've ever done. There have been so many difficult conversions that I've had to have with myself. Not because I wanted to give up, it’s just that your mind can slip into places, doubts can creep in, you may stay in this gray area of making a decision for too long. And I think if you’re willing to have those difficult conversations with yourself and remind yourself where you’re suppose to be, why you’re here, and what it’s going to take to continue to move forward, that’s when eventually those small steps you take accumulate and you look back and see you built something from nothing. It’s a pretty cool feeling.
Here at Livingly our motto is "live life beautifully." What does living beautifully mean to you?
For me living life beautifully is having people remember you for how you made them feel. Going through what I've been through with my husband, it’s extremely challenging, especially on a daily basis to be patient and kind. I think that living life beautifully is finding the ability to make people feel good even though it may be really, really challenging.
Do you have an inspiring woman in your life that you think should be featured on Livingly? If so, we'd love to hear about her! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org