• Sat. Jun 3rd, 2023

Hotel Alumna Karli Miller-Hornick ’12 Fulfills Entrepreneurial Path By way of Cannabis Small business


Mar 30, 2023

When Karli Miller-Hornick ’12 1st attended Cornell, she by no means believed she would finish up founding a cannabis organization right here in Ithaca. Now, 15 years later, she operates a dispensary, as the cannabis industry continues to develop.

In 2008, halfway by means of her freshman year, Miller-Hornick transferred into the Nolan College of Hotel Administration. Even though she 1st pursued a culinary profession, Miller-Hornick quickly realized this was not the path for her. She began to discover other careers, spending a summer time producing flatbread pizzas at the Ithaca’s Farmers Marketplace.

Miller-Hornick appreciated the neighborhood spirit the farmers industry fostered, as she stated she has usually admired the way meals brings persons collectively. Functioning at the farmers industry led her to take into consideration becoming a farmer, but just after taking a six-month course in sustainable agriculture involving her junior and senior year, Miller-Hornick realized she was not reduce out for farm life. 

Nonetheless, Miller-Hornick stated she gained beneficial information about farming and the agricultural market from these experiences. 

“These farms had no instruction or interest in branding and sales,” Miller-Hornick stated. “While they have been developing veggies, they have been getting a definitely tough time discovering sales outlets for them.” 

Due to difficulty attaining sales, numerous farmers with which Miller-Hornick worked struggled to help themselves and their households financially. Witnessing these hardships demonstrated to Miller-Hornick the significance of creating sustainable organization models for farmers. 

Leaderboard two

Miller-Hornick had usually envisioned that she would 1 day develop her personal organization. Her entrepreneurial spirit prompted her to resolve this issue, and she started browsing for jobs inside agribusiness. 

“[I] actually located my dream job on my final day of classes, and [I] applied for it,” Miller-Hornick stated. “The job was remote, and it was for this brand-new startup that had designed a software program to assist neighborhood-supported agriculture farms.” 

Miller-Hornick started operating for Farmigo, an on-line farmers’ industry platform. Despite the fact that she initially planned on beginning her personal organization straight out of college, she decided to obtain practical experience in the market 1st. 

Newsletter Signup

“Before beginning your personal organization, go understand on somebody else’s dime 1st, and then take these learnings to begin your personal organization,” Miller-Hornick stated.

Miller-Hornick worked for Farmigo for six years. The practical experience taught her fruitful lessons in entrepreneurship — she discovered about organization models and software program and worked with much more than 350 farms nationwide. 

With this information, Miller-Hornick began a test farm with Allan Gandelman, whom she met by means of the six-month sustainable agriculture plan at Cornell. Miller-Hornick and Gandelman co-founded the Farmer Group, a licensed New York cannabis cultivator, in 2017, along with numerous brands — which includes Head and Heal, Florist Farms, Blotter and Tune Seltzers. 

When she 1st began her organization, hemp and CBD have been not on Miller-Hornick’s radar. Her and Gandelman’s initial purpose with the test farm was to double the size of their Neighborhood Supported Agriculture, which delivers locally-grown farm solutions on a subscription basis. In their 1st year, they elevated membership from one hundred to more than 350 members. 

The pair’s organization thrived till Gandelman was diagnosed with Lyme illness in 2017. 

Even though Gandelman visited medical doctors in attempts to remedy his illness, they initially had difficulty figuring out what was producing him sick. Sooner or later, Gandelman started performing at-house cannabis extractions to make himself medicine.

About the very same time, the New York Division of Agriculture and Markets produced the 1st licenses out there for men and women and enterprises to develop and course of action cannabis. The hemp licensing plan presented a excellent chance for Miller-Hornick and Gandelman. 

The pair began off promoting CBD solutions at the Syracuse farmers industry. More than time, their organization gained reputation, and Miller-Hornick and Gandelman even had frequent prospects.

“People [were] coming back and telling us their stories about how properly the item performs for them and telling all the strangers about them about their experiences,” Miller-Hornick stated. 

Miller-Hornick and Gandelman two have been invited to present at Rev — an Ithaca-primarily based organization incubator that provides businesses mentorship, networking and other tools for results. Immediately after their presentation, Miller-Hornick and Gandelman have been invited to sell their CBD solutions at Wegmans. 

Reflecting on her Cornell years, Miller-Hornick has noticed how her education in hospitality plays an vital function in operating with a dispensary. Miller-Hornick emphasized buyer satisfaction as making certain every single buyer feels valued aids enterprises develop trust with their clientele. 

New York continues to see much more cannabis dispensaries pop up across the state — lately, a new dispensary opened in downtown Ithaca.  Miller-Hornick stated hospitality continues to be a essential element to the results of these enterprises. 

“I believe a lot of persons overlook that in the cannabis planet, that level of service is definitely required — and even much more so required simply because it is a item that is been stigmatized for so extended,” Miller-Hornick stated. 

Miller-Hornick also expressed surprise at how her existing profession path turned out to be so distinct from her expectations in college.

 “If you had asked me my freshman year if I believed I was going to reside in Ithaca, I would’ve been like, ‘no, no way,’” Miller-Hornick stated. “If you had asked me my freshman year if I would be the CEO of a cannabis enterprise, [I] wouldn’t have believed you.”

Dunia Matta ’25 is a Sun contributor and can be reached at [email protected].

Leave a Reply