NY’s women in cannabis: Rianna Young
Rianna Young is the founder and CEO of Happy Hounds, a business focused on selling CBD products to help dogs through pain. Here, she shares the story behind her unique business, as well as ways to succeed in the industry as a woman.
Women are vastly underrepresented in cannabis, and not just in New York. From 2019 to 2022, executive-level females have seen their industry wide status drop from 37% to 23%. Yet the MRTA makes things very clear: women-owned businesses are a key component of the state’s social and economic equity plan.
NY Cannabis Insider is seeking to elevate women in cannabis through a hyper focus on female story sourcing, quoting and visual layouts, balanced representation in our “People to know” and “Behind the story” series, and prioritized guest column submissions.
Why did you launch your career in the cannabis industry? Were there any women who inspired you to do so? How did you do it?
To pave my own way and give pets the support I saw was missing. My own dog who was hit by a car would have truly benefited and loved my products. Countless women inspired me from mentors to my fellow women-owned businesses.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to women leadership? Are the barriers different in cannabis than any other industry?
Funding. Yes, as a CBD pet brand I see a lot of fellow women-owned operators facing logistical, operational, and most importantly financial challenges that cannot be fixed with a license or mentorship.
Why do you think women are so underrepresented in leadership roles in cannabis?
I see a lot of women leaders who are represented, but like many other industries, cannabis, pre-legalization, was more of a man’s game due to the physical danger involved. It is now legal, but the players in a sense remain the same.
What are some ways in which companies can support gender diversity at senior levels?
Promoting and speaking the names of women-owned businesses in your sphere of influence. Writing about us — many mainstream papers are hesitant to publish or promote cannabis businesses in general, let alone women-owned businesses that cannot afford the type of marketing required to get their name out there. A list of women to watch in cannabis published periodically would be helpful.
Shout out your other favorite women-owned or women-led businesses in the industry.
My own! Happy Hounds, but there are many notable brands such as ButACake, Puff Cards, Nekktar, and many more.
Who/what are your favorite tools and resources in the industry?
Women Grow, Our Academy, Budsfeed, Tsumo snacks (founded by my mentor, Caroline Yeh), SCORE, WEALF fund, and many more have helped me along this journey.
What advice would you give your 25-year-old self? What advice would you give to the next generation of women leaders?
Keep going because you never know where you’ll end up. Also, you have a lot more time than you think – and energy :)
Is there anything we left out that you’d like to add?
Opportunities like this are what help women founders. Media can be quite pricey and not everyone has a newsworthy bite, but expanding the landscape or lowering prices for us or even offering group rates would be helpful.
To learn more about our founder, Rianna Young and her inspiration to help pets read Our Story!