Grower Stories #20: Hanna Brand

Tia Moskalenko
Tia Moskalenko

Tia Moskalenko, author of the AskGrowers blog, brings a unique blend of content to her readers. She is known for conducting insightful interviews with key figures in the cannabis industry, including brand representatives, manufacturers, and experts. In addition to her interview skills, Tia has a keen focus on CBD. She expertly curates product selections and reviews, offering her readers detailed insights into the various effects and benefits of CBD. Tia's ability to combine in-depth interviews with comprehensive CBD analysis makes her a valuable asset to the cannabis community, offering a well-rounded perspective on the industry.



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Grower Stories #20: Hanna Brand

We Had a Wonderful Interview With Hanna From Autumn Brands, Experts in Top Quality, Pesticide-Free Cannabis

Hanna blazed a trail from agricultural university straight to running a cannabis business, and you can learn her story below!

But before we start, here’s a short story of Hanna:

Hanna Brand is a sixth-generation farmer. She is a partner in Autumn Brands, a 50 percent woman-owned, family-run, and pesticide-free cannabis farm along the Santa Barbara County coastline in sunny Carpinteria. With the title of Owner/Sales, Hanna is responsible for increasing revenue and maintaining the farm’s pure growing practices that began in Holland more than 100 years ago.

Hanna arranges all of the Brand Ambassadors to do the PAD’s (Patients Appreciation Days) which are now virtual. On the farm, Hanna oversees the 20-person harvesting and packaging department, and she manages the branding and the post-harvest bulk of privately held and entirely self-funded Autumn Brands. Her favorite part of the job? The morning walk through the farm with her father and brother, which allows for an enjoyable interactive time with the plants and employees.

Tia: Let’s start with this one - you work in the cannabis industry, so do you smoke weed? What’s your bestseller from your list of products?

Hanna: Right now it’s a Strawberry Banana, it’s 28% of THC, so it’s really strong. We have some new strains that we just released, we worked with genetics as 2 years ago we got seeds for it. We have sweet tarts, we also have strong strains, which people love a lot!

Tia: Maybe you could tell us how you started the business, the hardest moments, etc?

Hanna: Yeah. So, my dad had a nursery for more than 30 years, he came from Holland when he was 18.

Autumn Brands team picture
Tia: That’s so cool! I love Holland!

Hanna: Yeah :) So, he started the flower business and then back in 2015 there was an opportunity to switch into medical cannabis, so we made this transition period. My brother and I had agricultural degrees and we’ve decided that this could be a great opportunity for us. Now he’s the head grower and I run the production and the sales side.

Tia: That’s really nice! So, as I understood, you didn’t have a chance to finish your university but already have been working in the cannabis industry, am I right?

Hanna: I did finish my university. That started well, I got my degree and started work at Autumn Brands.

Tia: I guess you like it, right? :)

Hanna: Yeah! I grew up in an agricultural family, so I love plants, love working with my dad and my brother.

Tia: Cool! You didn’t take any courses, you just had enough experience in the industry right after the university, correct?

Hanna: Yes. My degree was Agriculture and Environmental Plant science, so I’ve learned all the growing, greenhouse production etc. while my brother took Agricultural Business courses. Oddly enough, now I’m running the sales side and he’s running the grow operations, so we’re help each other out and learn from each other as we go!

Tia: Amazing! So now more of a personal question: if you had the chance to smoke with anyone on this planet, who’d that be?

Hanna: My kinda joke answer would be - my dad, but he doesn’t smoke.

Tia: That’s interesting!

Hanna: My dad is from Holland, so when he lived there (and at that time weed was really considered to be a drug), he took a fairly hard stance on it. However, later on he came to learn more about the medicinal side of weed and softened up on it a bit.. But in terms of celebrities, I’m blanking a bit...maybe Snoop Dogg? He seems like a fun time!

Tia: You’ve mentioned vets, I was curious if you have any social programs related to helping veterans overcome some difficult times or any other programs/charity?

Hanna:  We’re working on one. There’s a new law in California, you can put the veteran into the program to get the medicine and they don’t have to pay all the extra tax and extra fees. We had a friend and a coworker, who worked on the same program with us. He lived in California, but now he’s in Brazil, we’re waiting for him and his family to visit us in the next couple of years. He’s an inspiration for us.

Tia: When we talk about the very beginning of your business, what was the hardest thing to do?

Hanna: I think it was the feeling like you weren’t allowed to talk about anything, even when you had all the documents and all the legal docs to have.  I remember the time when we saw the helicopter flying above our fields looking up  and that was a really weird thing, because we knew it wasn’t wrong, but it wasn’t federally legal. Now we feel very safe, as California has a bunch of medical laws and everything is running smoothly.

Tia: As you’ve mentioned, you grow cannabis outdoors, or you do that indoors as well?

Hanna: It’s in a greenhouse. So it’s inside with the natural sunlight, humidity and temperature control.

Tia: Maybe you could share with us some specifics of growing cannabis?

Hanna: The biggest thing that we do is that 2.5 years ago my brother decided not to use any pesticides at all or sprays. So what we use is climate control to control pests and diseases. That, I admit, was the hardest thing we did. That took us a year to develop a program which doesn’t include pesticides. Now we’re completely spray/pesticides free farm!

Tia: That’s really nice! What’s your production volume by the way?

Hanna: We have about 3 acres of flowering greenhouse.

Tia: That’s huge!

Hanna: Yeah, for some people it is

Tia: Who’s your ideal customer/target audience?

Hanna: Ideal customer for us, it’s someone who uses cannabis, so it’s a variety of people! For instance when a mom is trying to relax after a really hard day when the child is asleep already - it’s our client as well.

Tia: About COVID-19. How did it impact your business?

Hanna: Originally, cannabis wasn’t a part of agricultural categorization, so we weren’t sure if we’d be able to open. Thankfully we could, so we’ve split up the farm into different groups, so it’s not dangerous for people.

We also have air control units, it’s called “molecules” which kills viruses and makes life easier. Delivery services really helped here, as a lot of people stay at home but want to get the products. These services have shown an uptick in people buying flower.

Tia: Totally agree. Delivery services are great at this point.  How do you measure success? What is it for you?

Hanna: For me a lot of it is seeing the growth, over the last 2 years we’ve seen a great growth and this is really fun! The consistency of knowing that we’re building a customer base and that people get back to us is a great success I think.

Tia: By the way, do you have any plans to expand your business?

Hanna: I mean, I would love to! It’s difficult cuz we are in California, it’s the biggest market here. When you expand you might lose the control, and this business needs tweaking.

Tia: Yeah, that makes sense! What would be your advice to people who just start the business in the cannabis industry?

Hanna: I think you should keep your costs low, you never know where this market is going to go. People are losing money because they’re always overpaying for things, and treating cannabis as the new gold rush. So yeah, being smart with your money is pretty key.

Tia: Exactly! Have you tried yoga btw?

Hanna: Yeah. I had!

Autumn Brands products picture
Tia: What would be your advice to someone who does yoga and wants to try cannayoga instead? Maybe there are some particular strains that are relaxing for the body?

Hanna: We have Dreamwalker, it’s a Sativa. Especially if you want to do yoga in the morning. That brings a splash of a calm mood and relaxation. So it doesn’t want to make you go and take a nap afterwards.

Tia: Nice :) Are there any brands you appreciate and follow?

Hanna: We’re always looking at other brands, always curious to follow similar types of farms. Goodbrands is one we’re always compared to a bit. I personally like brands who have their own farms, how they deal with it. It’s always more consistent when they’re making it themselves.

Tia: Got it! Also, what social media channels do you use to promote your products?

Hanna: Our biggest SM channel is of course Instagram. We also have Facebook and Twitter. But Instagram is by far the leading one right now.

Tia: What are the top 2 strains to grow? In your opinion.

HannaWedding Cake, love the structure of it and it almost looks like it’s indoor grown, even though it’s been grown in a greenhouse. Also Dreamwalker, I can’t really get tired of it!

Tia: What are the top 2 strains to smoke in your opinion?

Hanna: We actually made a cool mix of our Orange Crush, our Dreamwalker and our Mandarin Glue and we created Sweet Cherry Orange. It’s a really good hybrid.

Tia: Do you have a team of genetics who help you grow all the strains you’ve mentioned?

Hanna: The majority of it is a 3rd party. Last year we bought different kinds of seeds, so we had to taste them, check what’s the best one, mix it etc. So this was with a help of genetics, of course. That takes a while.

Tia: Regarding everything new :) Do you plan to implement any new products in the nearest future?

Hanna: We’re actually working on a topical, it’s mainly with THC and CBD as well.

Tia: THC is a great choice!

Hanna: Yeah, because THC really helps with pain. This is crucial for a lot of people. We also add Magnesia into the.

Tia: I really enjoyed our talk with you, Hanna! I’m sure people will be falling in love with you this coming Autumn ;)

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