A Driftless Interview with Austin Wszolek, Owner, Carbon Cannabis – La Crosse, WI

So, what’s your story? Where were you born? How long have you been here in the Driftless, What keeps you here?
I was born in Colorado and moved here for work. Eventually quit that job to start Carbon Cannabis and will be here for the foreseeable future to help build the business and community around it.

Tell us about what you do for work or your business, and how long have you been doing this?
Carbon Cannabis is an industrial hemp processor. We take Organic Wisconsin grown hemp and extract it using CO2 into a high quality CBD oil. That oil is then turned into many different products or sold to makers across the state.

Tell us about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career with your business.
Launching our brand the month before Covid, and surviving this far!

We’re constantly making things better, faster, smarter or less expensive. We leverage technology or improve processes. In other words, we strive to do more—with less. Tell us about a recent project or problem that you made better, faster, smarter, more efficient, or less expensive.
As a manufacturer we always strive to make our product better, and after much experimentation, we have dialed our system to produce high quality, repeatable results every time.

Tell us about one person that you’ve met, that stands apart from the rest, or has influenced you while here in the Driftless.
Don Weber. He is one of the most generous & humble men I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. He inspires and helps so many people while never asking for anything in return.

What do you wish other people knew about you or your business?
That we are a small family owned and operated company. The same people selling the products at markets and stores, are the ones in the lab formulating and packaging the same products.


Let’s get to know more about Austin on a Personal Level

How would you describe yourself?
A people person. I love to hear all the unique perspectives and experiences that brought a person to a specific point in time.

What is your biggest accomplishment?
Being able to quit a 9-5 to follow my passion and start Carbon Cannabis.

Who is your personal hero?
My personal hero would have to be my mom. She has always provided for and guided my siblings and I in the right direction while making tough choices of her own.

Do you have a life philosophy that you live by?
Be a good person.

What do you like most about yourself?
I like the fact that I always want people to be happy, even if it doesn’t work in my favor.

If you could change the world, what would you change?
Aside from homelessness and hunger, I would change the way we communicate. Too much digital interaction and not enough human interaction.

What do you think is the meaning of life?
To have a positive impact on as many people as possible, including yourself.

Do you prefer working alone, or do you like working with others?
Depends on the situation, but generally with others. Collaboration is important to success.

What’s something that no one would guess about you?
That I’m an adrenaline junkie.

What is your deepest belief about life?
That everything has a purpose, even the worst parts of life have meaning.

If you could be doing anything, anywhere right now, what and where would it be?
Lying on a beach with my friends, family and dog, smoking the finest.

What’s the one thing you wish you could have a do-over for?
High school.

How do you work on yourself?
Every single day. Reflection and meditation at night and first thing in the morning.

What’s one thing you’ve had to overcome in your life?
Getting through school. I knew it was never meant for me, but would bring value later in life.

How do you handle being in a bad mood?
Decompress with my dog and consistent CBD

Who is the most important person in your life?
My entire family, without them I could not be where I am today.

What did you learn about yourself from any of your previous relationships?
That I am capable of more than I once thought.

What question do you always want people to ask you about yourself?
What gets you out of bed in the morning?

If you weren’t here running your business or doing the work you do, what would you be doing instead?
Building a career that gave me the resources to eventually be my own boss.

How has this pandemic affected YOU or YOUR BUSINESS here in the Driftless? (positively or negatively)
It has had both negative and positive effects. Negatively affected our sales, but positively affected our mission and purpose.

What is another name you would give the Driftless?
Green Valley

What is your favorite season in the Driftless & why?
Fall, perfect temperature, less bugs.

Tell us of an experience / memory you had with Driftless lakes, rivers or waterways?
4th of July on the Mississippi. What I remember was a blast.

What are some of your favorite places to go for fun here in the Driftless?
Up to the bluffs or out to the country to explore the forest. In town, downtown La Crosse always has something to offer.

What are some of your favorite (non commercial) places to eat here in the Driftless?
La Crosse Distilling Co, NCSB, Waterfront

If you were to tell a friend to come and visit the Driftless Area, and they ask “Why” … What would you tell them?
It’s the perfect combination of city and rural and the people are always nice.

Are you a Cat or Dog person?

Are you an Early Bird or Late Owl?
Late Owl

If given the opportunity, would you go to outerspace (moon, mars, space stations)?

What color socks are you currently wearing?
One black, One gray

What skill or instrument would you like to learn or play?
How to code

What 1 message would you put in a bottle?
It’s going to be ok.

What was your very first job?
Bus boy at an Italian place.

If any, what would be your dream job?
Fighter pilot or super-bike racer.

How / where did you meet your best friend?
High school baseball tryouts.

What does your dream vacation look like?
A private jet to a secluded island in the tropics with unlimited food and drinks.

Tell us a short joke or punchline.
Why did the man fall into the well?
He couldn’t see that well.

If you could learn another language, what would that be?

I Would Rather …
Live in a tree house