DRIVEN BY PAIN
After serving in Iraq, Army veteran Natalie Ourso struggled with PTSD and found herself on a plethora of medications. Struggling with unwanted side effects, she joined her best friend, Heather Carter, and her husband, Chad, on a holistic journey that introduced her to CBD, a compound found in marijuana and hemp plants known for relieving pain, anxiety and depression. Heather began experimenting with hemp-extracted CBD from Colorado, and found it started helping alleviate symptoms within a week. In late 2017, after a year of testing recipes, the trio launched Mountain Pure CBD, the first CBD retailer in Louisiana.
Because of CBD’s connection to cannabis, the fledgling company couldn’t secure a business loan, and initially struggled to garner support and sales. Using their personal savings and an American Express card, the trio focused on educational outreach to gain the community’s trust in the company and CBD products in general. Their first products were oil tinctures, a muscle rub and Vitalize, a CBD and moringa pill. To build the initial customer base, they gave away $40,000 worth of product samples. Nearly two years after a rocky start, the company’s products can now be found in more than 50 stores nationwide and they’ve grown enough to support two full-time employees.
CONTINUING TO CLIMB
Two months ago, Mountain Pure launched its most ambitious product expansion yet, rolling out CBD-infused pet treats, bath bombs, lotions and soaps. They expect sales growth to come from health and nutrition shops. Despite the growth of the company, the trio still faces a handful of challenges that come with operating a CBD business in Louisiana. New regulations approved in this year’s legislative session banned CBD-infused beverages and edibles, causing them to abandon plans for an expanded vape line and gummies. They’re currently pursuing the permits that are now required to operate in the state. The three still consider themselves educators first, salespeople second. In the future, they’d like to begin wholesaling and launch a consulting branch of the company to help other entrepreneurs enter the CBD industry. “I know the potential for this industry,” Chad says, “and if we’re the first, we definitely won’t be last.”