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When COVID Shut Her Spa Down, She Turned It Into A Hemp Dispensary

Maya Gilliam's advice to entrepreneurs looking to pivot: "Make what you love a source of income."


Maya Gilliam owned a spa called Ma’ati Spa. It was a good business… until COVID-19 hit, and this place of relaxation suddenly became a financial liability. “It’s important to have multiple streams of income, especially in times such as these,” says the Winston-Salem, North Carolina entrepreneur. So instead of sitting tight and hoping for the best, Gilliam rethought her entire career.

Maya Gilliam

She put the spa to the side and turned it into an upscale hemp dispensary called Hempress Farms. She also opened a farm about 30 miles away. Once lockdowns eased and she was able to reopen the spa, she did so — having both businesses share the same space. But now she’s especially focused on new opportunities. “Most of our time, effort, growth, and marketing is geared more towards Hempress Farms,” she says.

This summer, Entrepreneur magazine put 137 people on the cover to celebrate how entrepreneurs have adapted and stepped up during the crisis. Gilliam was one of the people included. Here, she explains how she made such an abrupt change — and how any entrepreneur can make an important change.

Related: The 35 Most Influential Women In Cannabis

You went from running a spa to being in the hemp business. Did this new path require a lot of education?

Absolutely! I actually have been studying how to become a master grower for the past year before COVID-19. When the Governor shut down all of the spas during the pandemic, it enabled me to focus solely on growing hemp indoors during that timeframe. All of my distractions were completely taken away and I was able to discover my new passion! I also did a tremendous amount of study on how to create my own CBD-infused product line. 

What’s been the biggest learning experience since you made the transition?

My biggest learning experience is that it is very necessary to have multiple streams of income and to diversify your portfolio. I learned that it’s critical to have plenty of liquid cash flow accessible at all times in case of emergencies. I’ve also learned that it’s very necessary to have multiple businesses that are deemed “essential”. 

What advice do you have to entrepreneurs who may feel stuck, or unsure what to do once COVID interrupted their businesses?

My advice is to follow your passion. Make what you love a source of income. Use your originality and merge all of your knowledge and skills to create products and services that will better the entire world! Also do not forget self-care, with all of the madness going on in the world.

Spas have returned to operating in some areas, in limited capacities. Were you excited to re-open that business?

Absolutely! When spas were able to re-open, with some major adjustments. we were able to continue that stream of revenue as well. The spa is a very important revenue stream and must not be discarded completely. The star power from the spa has and is currently fueling the new business, Hempress Farms! So the spa is very important to our rapid growth here at our downtown upscale dispensary.

We have a customer list of over 20,000 people. We have successfully been able to convince the majority of our spa clients to purchase our CBD infused products. The one thing that both companies have in common is five-star service and presentation! Both companies are alive and well, and they both rely on each other for the most rapid growth possible. 

Related: 5 Ways To Have The Perfect Staycation With CBD