Women in Ecommerce | Interview #2

Women in Ecommerce | Interview #2

ShipMonk is privileged to work with so many amazing ecommerce brands, and we are honored to help them achieve their business goals every day through custom 3PL services and omnichannel fulfillment solutions. This month, we proudly recognize the female entrepreneurs, leaders, and forward thinkers we work with who take on their industries with passion, savvy, strategy, and resolve. Today, it is our pleasure to honor Polly Rodriguez, CEO and Co-Founder of Unbound Babes, and Tiff Whitmore, CMO of Kush Queen. Learn about these trailblazing ladies, their approaches to the industry, and their innovative, optimistic mindsets as they build their empires.

Polly Rodriguez

CEO & Co-Founder | Unbound Babes

1.) What made you passionate about working in your particular industry? 

Sexual health and wellness is an area where it’s undeniable that access to quality education and accompanying tools are limited in the United States. I believe that sexual wellness products like vibrators and lubricants are stigmatized and weaponized as a mechanism to oppress women, femme, and non-binary individuals. Why else would those in power deny us bodily autonomy? What is the threat of experiencing joy and pleasure in your own body? 

2.) What do you enjoy most about your career and position? 

I enjoy the privilege of working beside other passionate, brilliant, hardworking individuals who defy the odds every single day. 

3.) How would you describe your business and the need it fills in the market? 

Unbound is a sexual wellness company that manufactures and sells vibrators, lubricants, and accessories. The need it fills in the market is providing innovative sexual wellness products that are affordable and body safe. 

4.) How do you see your company evolving in the next five years? 

The most exciting trend we’ve been a part of is the inclusion of Sexual Wellness within the Beauty industry. This is largely attributable to the innovative product designs that Unbound and other industry-leading companies have created over the last 5-10 years. This product innovation, combined with the diversification of the industry’s workforce, has led to sexual wellness products now being sold in mainstream beauty retailers such as Sephora and Ulta. We’re proud to have played a role in that shift and we’re excited to continue to push for the sexual wellness industry to go mainstream. 

5.) What is one of the biggest obstacles you have overcome in your business? 

The largest obstacle we’ve faced is the inability to advertise. While platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, X / Twitter, Amazon, Snapchat, Youtube, public transit, and streaming websites all allow erectile dysfunction companies to advertise, they categorically ban sexual wellness products for women, femme and non-binary individuals. Overcoming this barrier (ahem, discrimination) has been difficult, but not impossible, as we’ve been able to grow organically through content, social media, PR, and viral marketing campaigns. 

6.) What is a favorite quote from an awesome woman you admire? 

“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

7.) How has working with ShipMonk helped improve your operations and allowed you to achieve your goals?

Not having to personally fulfill our orders from our office frees up a lot of our team’s capacity to focus on higher priority initiatives. 

Tiff Whitmore

CMO | Kush Queen

1.) What made you passionate about working in your particular industry? 

Working with my family was the number one driver for making the switch from my previous industry tech to cannabis. My wife’s first cousin Olivia started the Kush Queen in 2015 and having a passion for the plant myself, I was intrigued from the beginning.

Since the “garage days”, I closely followed Olivia (Kush Queen CEO) build the company, first as a cheerleader and friend, then talking shop and marketing, admiring how she was truly creating something unique with the foundation of helping people. The magic of Kush Queen was palpable and I wanted to be a part of growing it and creating something for our family, by our family. 

2.) What do you enjoy most about your career and position? 

The most enjoyable part of my position is really seeing the impact Kush Queen products have on people. Plus, expanding the narrative around cannabis to something more than what we categorize as the typical stoner bro experience. We’re bringing the fun and the functional parts of cannabis to a wide spectrum of people that might have never stepped foot into a dispensary or tried cannabis. With our approachable product line, anyone from your grandma to your favorite stoner cousin can find something that appeals to their needs. 

3.) How would you describe your business and the need it fills in the market?

Kush Queen is a pioneering brand in the cannabis and hemp industries, specializing in innovative wellness products infused with CBD and THC. Our business revolves around crafting premium goods, including bath bombs, topicals, and edibles. 

In the market, Kush Queen addresses the growing demand for high-quality cannabis-infused products that prioritize effectiveness and safety. Our offerings provide consumers with access to the therapeutic benefits of CBD and THC in convenient, easy-to-use forms. Whether it’s alleviating stress, soothing sore muscles, or enhancing daily life, Kush Queen products are designed to be fun and functional.

We prioritize transparency and education, ensuring that consumers have access to accurate information about the plant and its benefits. By combining innovation, quality, and education, Kush Queen not only fills a need in the market for premium cannabis-infused products but also contributes to the ongoing de-stigmatization and normalization of cannabis use for everyday wellness.

4.) What is one of the biggest obstacles you have overcome in your business? 

One of the biggest obstacles Kush Queen has overcome in its business journey is navigating the pervasive stigma surrounding the cannabis and hemp industries. With cannabis and hemp being historically considered a high-risk sector, we faced numerous challenges related to accessing traditional business tools and resources. Financial institutions, for instance, often hesitated to provide banking services or loans due to the legal ambiguity and perceived risk associated. While we have made a lot of progress in recent years, about once a month we get denied some type of service or learn that an agency “just doesn’t want work in cannabis.”

Moreover, the lack of clear national regulations, particularly in the realm of hemp pose additional hurdles. Varying state laws and inconsistent federal guidance made it difficult to operate seamlessly across different markets and ensure compliance with ever-evolving regulations. Despite these obstacles, Kush Queen has persevered by prioritizing our customers, educating partners, and doubling down on transparency. 

By holding our business practices to a high standard, collaborating with industry stakeholders, and leveraging innovative approaches, we have successfully navigated these challenges and established ourselves as a trusted leader in the cannabis and hemp wellness space.

5.) If you could give advice to “you” 10 years ago, what would it be? 

This is going to sound so cliche but take the time to really understand yourself. Over the past 2 years, I’ve had the privilege of doing deep inner self journey work that has allowed me to unpack trauma, learn my triggers, and replace my survival behaviors with better coping skills. Without these tools, I wouldn’t be able to deal with the stressors that come with scaling a cannabis business, navigating ecommerce, and my personal life. So take the time to work on yourself, it always pays off.

6.) What is a favorite quote from an awesome woman you admire? 

“They can’t stop you if you don’t stop” – Olivia Alexander

7.) Outside of work, where else do you dedicate your time and passion? 

Spending time with my wife in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. You can find me snowboarding, mountain biking, and generally spending time in nature to counterbalance the high intensity computer work during the week! Oh, and I love a wellness circuit – give me a gong bath, sauna, and cold plunge and I’m set! 

8.) How has working with ShipMonk helped improve your operations and allowed you to achieve your goals?

We’re especially thankful for progressive partners like ShipMonk who take the time to learn and invest in helping us grow our business. Our partnership over the last 2 years has developed into a meaningful relationship that we can count on. The team cares and truly rises to the occasion when needed!

Migrating to a 3PL was a growth goal Kush Queen had in 2022. We were investing in new customer acquisition strategies and preparing for growth which required a fulfillment partner that would extend our shipping capabilities to 24/7/365 operations. Since moving all DTC shipments to ShipMonk we can continuously scale order volume and focus on growth we know we can support with time and resources.

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