From Overstock.com to the Cannabiz: Stormy Simon’s Big Pivot

(Courtesy of Stormy Simon)
“I just jumped in.”
Stormy Simon

Stormy Simon has made a name for herself in business. She joined online retailer Overstock.com in 2001, when e-commerce was still in its early stages, and by 2015 had climbed to the position of president. Then she left her post and set her sights on the burgeoning world of legal cannabis. Armed with her experience and know-how, she’s jumped in feet first, consulting for cannabis companies and serving on the advisory board for CannaKids, which offers cannabis oils and tinctures for pediatric and adult patients.

Leafly chatted with Stormy about her decision to leave Overstock, what inspired her to get into cannabis, and what other projects she has up her sleeve.

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Leafly: What inspired you to join the cannabis industry?

Stormy Simon: It still sometimes makes me speechless. I was at Overstock for 15 years, and I’ve always been a supporter of medical marijuana and the civil rights to use it. I’ve always been a supporter of the plant, even growing up and being in Utah, which, there’s not a large group of you, but there is a group of you. And I had been in an industry that started while I was there. E-commerce, when I began at Overstock, people were still hoping that it could take off. It was such a vibrant, exciting industry. So as years go by, a decade and a half that I’m there, we developed an industry and now we’re living an industry and it’s adopted and accepted, but it was through that growth and development phase that was addicting to me.

(Courtesy of Stormy Simon)

You don’t really know what you’re going to do the next day. When I started at Overstock, we were advertising on AOL and Yahoo, before search engines were big, before Google, way before Facebook. We were founded eight years before Facebook and Twitter. So very different worlds to grow up through and live through.

And as cannabis, as this industry has been developing and medicinal research is being done and the grassroots effort that is happening in different communities—50 states, 50 different ways they can do it, 50 laws, all the restrictions, everything that everybody has to do in order to move this plant. And being in Utah, Colorado is not far away, so it was close enough that I was following it and it seemed real and I started getting interested, and somewhat passionate about what the states were doing with their laws and what it could really mean.

You know, I love Overstock with every inch of my being but I’d realized, going from a temp to president, that there is a time when it’s OK to move on. It wasn’t something that I had to do another 15 years to make it real or to validate it, and I felt like it was time for me to move on, for the company to move on without me.

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The cannabis industry and what it was doing, whether it was inspiration or curiosity or just a passion that I’ve had my entire life, I’m not really sure which piece of that triggered me to go. I think collectively, my boys being all moved out and bought homes, I’d been a single mom forever, and so that added pressure of taking care of the kids kind of slipped away, and it felt like it was OK for me to take a chance to explore something a little selfishly and just jump in. Without a lot of context and without a lot of insight into what it was really going to be like. I just jumped in first.

Do you see parallels between Overstock and your new cannabis venture?

When I first jumped into cannabis, I took a job as a consultant at a grow in Colorado with two medical dispensaries, so I spent six months with the plant, walking through this amazing facility. This beautiful plant was everywhere I went. I planted a couple of plants, got to follow their life cycle and everything that they went through—from cloning, to replanting, to measuring—the whole life cycle gave me huge insight into what the industry looks like. So at that point I did realize that I didn’t feel like me touching the plant or doing retail was something I wanted to invest long-term in, personally. But I did just get an amazing education there in a short time, which just catapulted me into knowledge which I’ll always be grateful for. And then, through that, meeting these people like David Dinenberg with Kind [Financial] and Tracy Ryan with CannaKids that are really dedicated to paving the way. CannaKids is named because her daughter, her nonprofit, Saving Sophie, is all about cannabis research because it’s helped her daughter so much so she created a brand. And David Dinenberg, really wanting to take on the banking complications and restrictions that we have, so they are two visionaries and they are doing something that can’t be easy and I’m attracted to that.

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I really like the hurdles, I want to be there to help them through the hurdles and learning along the way, but actually, doing it in favor of the industry’s goals that are risky and complicated, that most people don’t want to touch, the stuff that people don’t want to go in and fight for. A consumer brand of cannabis that is for children—that’s a big fight! So I feel really lucky to have found and been able to get involved with two people who look at one of the most complicated hurdles in the industry and each say, OK, I’ll do what I can to take it on. I love that. Taking it on their shoulders to be at the forefront.

Are there any cannabis companies that you’ve been looking at for inspiration?

I find them all inspiring right now, I really do. That sounds so cliché, but because they’re so new and so agile in what they’re doing and their ability just to adjust and create while everybody’s in the full marathon.

High Times is a brand that we all grew up with. So they’ve really over 40, 45 years, they’ve hung in there and they’ve stood alone for a long time, and so I guess I do look at them and keep an eye on them just because they’re so historic and such a timeline to the movement that started so long ago.

Overall I think any company that’s standing anywhere, if they have a booth even to give it a shot and get in? There’s a piece of success with that, right out of the gate. Because you’re trying and you’re doing it. It’s so fascinating and exciting and addicting! What’s going to happen next?

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I saw that you have your own line of jewelry. Can you tell me about Moonatic?

I got sidetracked from doing this, but I have a jewelry line called Moon and Moods bracelet line and collection that represents each moon phase. “Moonatic” [which rhymes with lunatic] is a term that I trademarked. I consider myself a “moonatic”—I love the moon, I love the phases, love when my energy is a certain way when I learn “Oh, it’s a new moon, no wonder I’m doing that.” I’ve loved that my whole life and I would, as a child, I remember learning that the moon controlled high tide of an ocean and I thought, ‘My goodness, we’re 60% water, what is it doing to me? There’s no way it’s controlling the tides and not doing anything to my body.” So, a few years ago, I bought Moonatic, trademarked it, and have a dream that it becomes a place where women who follow their passions, whether that be retail or other services, but a place we can all gather and create a community and a marketplace that the Moonatic lifestyle is celebrated.

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Do you think there’s any overlap between Moonatic and the cannabis crowd?

There could be a cannabis crossover. There are plenty of women in the cannabis industry who would like a community of women to join forces. You place your three products next to my three products and then there are six products and then we’re no longer standing alone. We’d really like to figure out a way to make this a community where the people who do the products are the ones who get the richest.

What are you trying to accomplish in the cannabis industry? What are your goals?

I’m so bad at goals. I love the idea of just showing up and being open to what the world might bring next. Cannabis is so new and I know there are some skills I have that I can bring to the industry. I can see them sitting in many different arenas—e-commerce, brand-building, so many different things, even logistics—but as far as the goal, I hope that I continue to find and create relationships with people who have a bit of the passion in mind still. People think the green rush is just so full of money, it’s not! It’s full of really struggling entrepreneurs who are trying to make it, trying to do something with it. And so the green rush right now, I look at it as just full of passion. It’s all about this passion and that’s the green. People are ready. And hopefully the money follows for them.

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I could see myself wanting to do all of it, and it really is so unique so I can’t set goals because I’m surprised every day at what I learn or from someone I meet or somebody that’s figured something else out or found a little niche that they’re working on. I’m just so intrigued and inspired by them. I can see myself wanting to do all of it. So I’ve been really afraid of setting goals when I’m open to learning from everyone.

There’s not a conversation I don’t have that someone just opens my eyes about one thing, whether it’s a sickness or a state or an injustice or all of our forefathers in this industry who sit in prison today. You learn so much about what it is and the history and why we are where we are. The goal is to join a group of people that hopefully, collectively, we can make it happen.