With Women to Watch, our aim is always to use this space to tell the stories of the remarkable women impacting the industry. By providing a platform, we hope to encourage inspiration in other aspiring women and create conversations about equity and inclusion.

In this edition of Women to Watch, we’re diving into the journey of Christine Smith, a figure who is reshaping the cannabis edibles industry. We discuss building a reflective and inclusive brand while expanding your footprint and where inspiration comes from.

As the Founder and CEO of Grön, Smith has transformed her curiosity for cannabis and chocolate into a thriving business that’s making waves across North America.

Smith’s professional journey began far from the world of cannabis, in the structured realm of architecture. With a career spanning over 16 years as a licensed architect in Oregon, Smith’s foundational skills in creativity and design were well-honed before she ventured into the cannabis industry. “While continuing my career as an architect, I began to experiment with chocolate and cannabis as a side gig in my basement, where I’d tinker with recipes and whip up batches of chocolate bars to share with friends and local dispensaries,” Smith explained. “Life took an unexpected turn when I became a new mom, juggling diapers and deadlines with the help of an au pair. Together, we’d tag-team baby duties and wrap chocolate bars, blending motherhood with entrepreneurship. What started as a hobby quickly gained traction. I felt a calling to jump head-first into the cannabis space – and now here we are!” 

This blend of personal and professional life laid the groundwork for both what Grön is and what it would become – a company born out of passion, creativity, and a sense of community that perfectly blends its people and products.

Named after the Swedish word for “green,” Grön reflects Smith’s own story in its branding. “I spent some time in Denmark while I was in college studying architecture, and I feel like the name ties both of my worlds together in a unique way,” she said. 

Grön has become one of the hottest edibles brands in the country in recent years, shifting from humble beginnings in Smith’s basement to a powerhouse in the cannabis edibles sector, operating across five U.S. markets as well as in Canada. “Our expansion strategy operates under a reverse-licensing model, which sets us apart in the industry. Rather than obtaining individual licenses in each state, we forge partnerships with local entities to seamlessly integrate our expertise and vision into their existing framework. While this approach requires an added investment, it affords us complete control over the production of our products and ensures meticulous oversight at every stage. From sourcing premium ingredients to crafting signature products, our dedicated Grön team ensures our products are consistent across all markets. It’s this steadfast commitment to excellence that has driven our success story,” Smith explained.

“Grön’s most significant professional achievement lies in our independent growth journey, which has been possible without external investors. Embracing a deliberate, strategic approach, we’ve navigated a path of steady expansion that’s enabled us to flourish organically. With each step forward, we’ve strengthened our position in each market, laying the foundation for accelerated growth and heightened efficiency.”

Grön Pearls

 

Specializing exclusively in edibles, Grön crafts products like Sugar-Coated Pearls, MEGA Pearls, Pips, and Chocolate that stand out even in a crowded space.

“What sets Grön apart is the exceptional synergy between our team and our products. Our strong group is a collective of impassioned individuals deeply invested in the cannabis industry, our beloved customers, and the brand itself. This passion reverberates throughout our operations, culminating in the creation of innovative products that consistently exceed expectations across the country,” Smith told Greenway.

That passion and care have helped Smith and Grön to see an abundance of success in the Missouri marijuana market, even before a historic 2023.

“The Missouri market has been great for us. We entered the market when it was medical-only, and we were there when it flipped to recreational. Since then, we have continued to roll out our products to consumers and made many visits to dispensaries to see what our consumers like or don’t like. It was our first big jump out of the West Coast and we are seeing great success.”

In 2024, Grön was named Best of the Industry by Greenway readers, winning awards for both Product of the Year for the Grön Pearls and Best Edible – Gummy for the Grön Pearls Blueberry Lemonade 3:1. “Grön’s recent accolades, including being named Product of The Year and Best Edible by Greenway readers, are indeed a testament to our commitment to excellence.”

“For us, awards and recognition hold significant value,” Smith stated. “They serve as a validation of our efforts and resonate deeply with our mission to deliver products that truly enhance the lives of our consumers. Each award reinforces the notion that we’re not only meeting but exceeding the expectations of our customers, providing them with enjoyable and beneficial experiences.”

While Smith has created a remarkable brand, the identity of the company, in many ways, reflects the woman who started it all.

“Crafting the ethos of Grön has been a labor of love. As the guiding force behind the company and a trailblazer in the cannabis industry, my mission is clear: to position Grön as the nurturing cornerstone of all things edibles. Our ‘mother of all edibles’ mantra is a heartfelt invitation to extend open arms to consumers from all walks of life. At Grön, we prioritize creating a variety of innovative products, whether it’s providing relief, relaxation, or simply a moment of joy, we aim to be there every step of the way. This ethos isn’t merely a recent development, it’s been ingrained in the fabric of Grön since its inception. As we continue to grow, we’re determined to elevate this message to champion inclusivity for all edible consumers,” Smith stated.

Grön Mega Pearls

 

Why cannabis? 

What started as a hobby, became a real business opportunity when Oregon legalized adult-use cannabis. Cannabis became a compelling journey for me after I witnessed firsthand the transformative power of this plant. From individuals seeking relief from health ailments to fellow moms yearning for restful sleep, I quickly noticed the potential and Grön was born from there. 

What is it like being a woman in your field? 

I don’t know any different. It has presented many opportunities for me throughout my career and I have also continued to try and use it as a leverage and a power tool for other women in the space because there are not many women in cannabis who hold leadership positions. However, like every woman, we are constantly under a magnifying glass and have to be extremely careful about what we say or do because we do not have the same freedom that men have. There is a higher standard for women but there is also a lot of opportunity if we can take it.

What if any challenges have you faced that you feel men in the industry don’t generally deal with? 

Women have to overcome the social barriers and biases that prevent women from reaching top leadership positions. With that in mind, women have to be extremely thoughtful and strategic in every move they make. In any setting, we have to know the information twice as well to be taken seriously when sitting at the table with a man. We women are faced with a constant battle of being smart but also accommodating, being beautiful but not too beautiful, or being assertive but not aggressive. It is a challenge in all industries where women have to deal with a higher level of scrutiny and criticism compared to their male counterparts. 

What are you passionate about? 

I am extremely passionate about providing opportunities and guardrails for growth to everyone, both my team members and people in general. Similar to how I raise my children, I want to give people the tools to help them grow, flourish, and ultimately find their own passion. I am passionate about opportunity and providing people with amazing opportunities. As a mother, I have always said that I raise Grön the same way that I raise my children, I cannot do everything for them but I can provide the tools to pave the way. 

Where do you find inspiration? 

Everywhere. I love people, and being part of my team and growing my team inspires me to work harder and be better as a person, a mother, and a CEO. I find creative inspiration is all around us if we keep our eyes open to it as there are many amazing and inspiring people to surround yourself with. 

What motivates you? 

I am an extremely driven individual and I have been this way my entire life. When I set my mind to something, I don’t let it go until it’s accomplished. I am constantly working to get better and become the best at what we do, but it doesn’t come quickly or easily. I always think it’s like running a marathon – you set your goal and you work hard for a long time to get there, and once you do, it’s time to do it all over again. 

What advice or encouragement would you give to other women in the cannabis industry?

The cannabis industry is a tough space to penetrate and be successful in, so I would tell all women in the cannabis industry to find a hole in the market that they are passionate about and go for it with everything they’ve got. If you have a lot of passion and love for what you are doing, success will follow.

 

The post Women to Watch: Christine Smith appeared first on Greenway Magazine.