We had the good fortune of connecting with Erica Daniels and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Erica, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
My professional aspirations were influenced directly by my personal experiences. My son, Leo suffered for years from symptoms of autism. There was no therapy, no medication and no relief. Apart from Leo’s struggles, I was struggling as a parent and a human being. When I tried medical cannabis—Leo’s life changed and so did my family’s. I knew I wasn’t alone in my journey and the benefits of medical cannabis were too miraculous not to share. I started a non-profit, Hope Grows For Autism—to raise money and awareness for access to medical cannabis and guidance on how to properly use it. I also partnered with Zelira to design a medicine specifically for autism, called HOPE™. It is a tincture available in several states but we are working tirelessly to make it available to individuals who need it. Where you live shouldn’t determine the kind of healthcare you receive.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I am the Founder of Hope Grows for Autism, a nonprofit aimed at improving the lives of families affected by Autism as well as a Autism Advisors LLC, a research and advisory firm providing strategic solutions to healthcare professionals, manufacturers and universities to empower them in making data driven business and healthcare decisions involving autism.
What sets us apart is that we make the impossible possible. There are always those in business who say “it can’t be done,” but I am here to tell you that with enough passion and hard work anything is possible. I learned this lesson personally in my family’s challenges involving Leo’s autism and take that into every professional project I am involved with. I get excited by the challenge and the drive top help those in need.
Hope Grows for Autism and HOPE™ have changed so many lives including my son, Leo’s. This was not an easy journey and frankly, I never envisioned myself in the medical cannabis business. I overcame the challenges of making this business and product a reality by surrounding myself with other parents in the autism community. I also find daily motivation and joy from Leo’s progress. There is no greater satisfaction than watching your child emerge from a dark place and prevail in the most incredible way. This work is very [personal to me. It saved my son’s life and mine as well. I’ve learned that when you find a way out of what seems like a infinite rabbit hole, you have a moral obligation to help others. Leo was not alone in his suffering. Neither was I. All families affected by autism should have easy and affordable access to this medicine. Denying them this treatment is a medical crime.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am born and raised in Philadelphia. We love cheesesteaks, hoagies and water ice! More importantly, Philly is a city of great history that all Americans should experience.
Definitely coffee at Get Cafe in Narberth, a Cafe that employs people with developmental and neurodiverse differences. I helped a friend open the cafe 3 years ago with the dream that Leo would work there someday. Well… I never thought it was possible, but at 16 Leo works at the Cafe everyday and has never been happier!
Lunch or dinner at a Stephen Starr restaurant is a very Philly thing to do. Buddakon and Morimoto are a few of my favorites. A visit to Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the Italian Market, the Rocky Statue at the Art Museum and Boat House Row are all must dos in Philly. Dinner on Rittenhouse Square is always fabulous way to end the evening.
And of course all this who visit Philly need to stop at Wawa for some Tastycakes and peanut chews!
I love to take my kids to Morris Aboretum and to walk around Chestnut Hill for a more family fun type experience.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My shoutout goes to Dr. Dare Oludare Odumosu, CEO of Zelira Therapeutics, co-creator of HOPE™, my business partner, friend and mentor. If not for Dare there would be no HOPE™ for families affected by autism.
It was very challenging to find an individual or company in the cannabis or pharmaceutical industries who was not mainly focused on the bottom line. Dare taught me that you can do well by doing good and a balance of financial and patient success of absolutely possible. Dare and his team sat through my first rounds of public speaking, sat with parents and really listened to what these families are going through all the while supporting me and giving me invaluable feedback that I take with me to this day. I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else!