Wendy Bronfein uses her eclectic background to help Curio Wellness flourish.
Wendy Bronfein’s career has taken her from coast to coast, creating companies and categories within companies from the ground up.
From positions at global entertainment organizations to her current job as director of marketing at Curio Wellness, a premium medical cannabis company in Timonium, Bronfein focuses on building innovative, brand-defining campaigns.
“Many of the jobs I had in television were start-up-like because I was usually working on new series,” says Bronfein, 38, who lives in Northwest Baltimore. “I never walked into something that was already established, which made moving to a start-up like Curio Wellness an easy transition.”
Founded in 2014 by Bronfein and her father, CEO Michael Bronfein, Curio Wellness provides safe, effective and reliable medical cannabis and holistic pharmaceutical products to patients throughout Maryland.
“Starting this business has been fun, invigorating and exciting,” Bronfein says of Curio Wellness, whose flower was named best in Maryland by the website Leafly. “My family has been in the health care business in Maryland for a long time, so we are familiar with the place, the policies and the players. There is a prideful nature in building a new venture in our hometown. This is a company for Marylanders by Marylanders.”
Brad I. Rifkin, attorney-lobbyist with the law firm of Rifkin Weiner Livingston LLC, worked on behalf of Curio during Maryland’s 2019 legislative session.
“I believe Wendy, much like her father Michael, will push the envelope when others in the industry might choose to sit on the sidelines,” he says. “Within the world of medical cannabis, it takes visionaries and leaders — not followers — to change laws, change minds and ultimately achieve the medical breakthroughs needed to benefit the patients in Maryland and elsewhere. …
“On a personal note, I have much admiration for Wendy,” Rifkin says. “As the son of the founder and managing partner at our law firm, it’s often an easy fallback to be labeled by others as ‘the son of …’ or in Wendy’s case, ‘the daughter of ….’ And while being linked to our fathers is a truly wonderful thing, it’s evident to me that Wendy is striving to shed that label in order to make a name for herself based on her merits at Curio, as am I at RWL.”
Bronfein grew up inside a family business, working with not only her father but also her sister, Rebecca Bronfein Raphael. It is a dynamic she says she truly loves and says the family feel of Curio Wellness extends beyond the Bronfeins.
“We have married couples who work for Curio Wellness, so there are multiple families inside the family business,” says Bronfein. “The narrative of being a family business carries through in how we engage and build the culture of Curio.”
Entrepreneurship wasn’t always in the forefront of Bronfein’s mind. It wasn’t until she decided to pursue a master’s in business administration from New York University’s Stern School of Business that she really started contemplating that path.
“I’ve always been driven by leadership,” says Bronfein, who specialized in entrepreneurship/innovation and marketing in graduate school. “I’m focused on building and defining brands as opposed to a specific company, which is how the idea to work with my father came to be. He has 30-plus years of health care experience with pharmaceutical distribution, and I have the marketing and brand-building background. I wanted to meld those two together and bring the best of what we both have to offer to Curio.”
Prior to working at Curio, Bronfein worked at multiple television networks, including MTV in Los Angeles and NBC Universal in New York, where she served as the creative director for the Emmy-award winning “Live with Kelly and Michael.” While the medical cannabis industry is a far stretch from television, Bronfein says the industry is “extremely rewarding.”
“You have such a quick feedback loop to the patient,” says Bronfein, a Baltimore native. “You hear amazing stories from people who have bought product and can now do mundane things like sleep through the night, hold their walker or minimize pain to do activities like household cleaning or getting in and out of the car.”
With the great rewards of working at a start-up also come some great challenges, and Bronfein believes those who want to get into the world of start-ups must understand how much time is put into a new venture.
“You have to go all in if you are going to start a business,” Bronfein says. “You have to let those closest to you know your lack of visibility is not an indicator of how you feel about them or your relationship.”
But she adds there is no better feelings then seeing your hard work pay off.
“At Curio, we are starting to see the process of our system working and that allows us to look to expand and duplicate in other markets,” she says.
Aliza Friedlander is a Baltimore-based freelance writer.