The Entrepreneur: Nidhi Lucky Handa
Nidhi Lucky Handa has always had a desire to follow in her family's entrepreneurial footsteps, but it wasn't until she noticed a lack of cannabis products that reflected her lifestyle and appreciation for luxury that she began to form the idea for a business of her own. A Massachusetts native, Handa studied sociology and political science at Columbia University, launched her career in New York, and relocated to Los Angeles to work as a talent agent. As she hit her 30s, she found herself drinking less alcohol and turning to cannabis to unwind, but her interest in cannabis quickly advanced when Californians voted in favor of recreational marijuana in November 2016.
"I'm drawn to new and emerging industries," Handa told POPSUGAR. She repeatedly found it difficult to shop cannabis brands that aligned with her casual use and affinity for high-end goods. She also noticed brands rarely lasted on dispensary store shelves and was curious as to why they were failing.
"I understood early on the reason why a lot of folks fail in this industry is because they are unable to grasp the regulatory environment and supply chain issues. Issues that are very specific to this industry," Handa said.
Without a business plan in mind, Handa let her curiosity lead the way. She reached out to compliance professionals early on to help guide her into making the best business decisions, and once she landed on the idea for LEUNE, a line of sleek cannabis products geared toward productive, high-functioning consumers, she brought in seed money from friends and strategic investors. Handa launched LEUNE on marijuana delivery app Eaze in November 2018.
Today, a year after Handa launched LEUNE, it is an eight-person team and growing, with the brand currently offering pre-rolls and pastel-hued, all-in-one vaporizers. Handa sees LEUNE as a solution for those who may be intimidated by a cannabis industry that, as she pointed out, has historically marketed to and been led by men.
"I was hearing a lot of anecdotal stuff about cannabis and how you have to market it. I didn't believe any of it," Handa said. "I don't believe that this is an industry where the only way to get people interested in your product is with booty shorts and bikinis. I don't buy it as a woman or as a marketer."
In building a brand that's thoughtful and purely recreational, Handa noticed that cultivators making products — not people interested in building long-term brands — supplied most cannabis goods. She has experienced firsthand just how much opportunity exists for anyone interested in launching a cannabis company, but she insisted that for any emerging brand to survive, an emphasis on products that put the consumer experience first must be a priority. "We should all keep our standards high," Handa advised. "Every part of the industry is evolving right now."