I love everything about the cannabis space. I love the efficacy of it, I love the business of it, I love the smell of it, but more importantly, I love the opportunity of it. And it's a BIG ONE. I'm not the first person to quote stats about the growth of the space by 2025, something like 25 billion dollars, right? Women are flocking to it at a 92% growth over the last few years and all kinds of brands are popping up to capitalize on the CPG (consumer packaged goods) opportunity. I've seen everything from coffee to shampoo with CBD and apparently there are now more dispensaries in Colorado than Starbucks. I sniff a partnership soon between the two.
Why not, grab a scone and some CBD infused coffee on your way to class or work. Sounds merrily to me. I have seen so many types of CBD brands, from the well thought-out companies with pretty packaging to the low-rent marijuana leaf boxes that look like Grandma helped label in the kitchen. This is my favorite part of this gold or ahem 'green rush' is that everyone can have a real shot at the dream. Granted, by next Q1 and Q2 most of these brands won't be around but at least they were able to give it the old college try with some friends and make some money. The reason I was originally attracted to the space was the fact that the plant not only has so many benefits but I saw so many women and people of color getting in on the action.
Victoria Flores, Co-founder of Lux Beauty ClubPhoto by Cody Jacob codyjacobsstories.comWith my previous company it was always so difficult to raise money from all the white men in VC who for the most part back their 'bros' or white women who went to Harvard or other Ivy League schools. Time and time again, I would see these male founders raise huge rounds, blow up these businesses (not in a good way) and then simply go back and get more funding. Out the window went the rational reasoning of actually building a profitable business and getting real paying customers. "Let's put a lemonade stand on Mars!"…"Yes, yes, billion dollar opportunity, here's 2 million dollars pre-seed!" Ok, ok, maybe not that dumb but felt pretty close to that. Nothing was more frustrating than seeing the men get all the capital to launch women-focused products or brands. You mean to tell me, not one woman came to you with this same idea. Not one? Yeah, exactly. Which brings me to why I love the cannabis space.
Weed doesn't see color. Weed doesn't care if you're black, brown, yellow, Snoop Dog or Martha Stewart. Weed is simply the vehicle to make money, and lots of it. From the farms, to the supply chain to the shelves at Sephora. Weed and everything about it is here to stay. I, for one, can't wait for the Napa of Weed to fully develop in Humboldt county in the next few years. It will easily be a top tourist destination, and all those growers and OGs (Original Growers) who have gone legal can truly profit from it without hiding in the shadows. I also love the cannabis space because it's not tech, it's not fintech, it's not travel, it's not SAAS, it's plain ole grass. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of VC money going into the opportunity but it's not the usual suspects of founders and investors. The people flocking to it are mostly scrappy folks with no VC connections or family money, they're simple folks with good ideas and making them work. We are people that don't fit the mold by any means. We didn't go to the fancy schools, we didn't do the VC rounds, we simply got to work, put our heads down and created incredible products that work and that people want.
Weed doesn't see color. Weed doesn't care if you're black, brown, yellow, Snoop Dog or Martha Stewart.
To be frank, although I had a successful career on Wall Street, I never truly felt accepted by the venture capitalists giving. They would often turn their noses up at me, especially since I wasn't the textbook founder with the pedigree. I wasn't under 35, single, on my 3rd startup or with an Ivy League degree. In the cannabis space I feel truly accepted and valued for the work I have put in and it feels right. And my team, well, it's mostly brown people. Our Chief Scientist, George, is Mexican, my Head of Licensing, Richard, is Venezuelan and the majority of our sales team is also Latino. We are building our company, Lux Beauty Club, on our own terms and scaling rapidly through mostly wholesale distribution since we are still not allowed to advertise on Facebook or Instagram. Why is this great? Because it's cheaper to build real relationships with buyers and wholesalers than spending millions on CA (Customer Acquisition) online. Because we can't advertise online, we've had to go back to basics and battle it on the ground. It's a land grab and most of these snooty dudes have no clue how to do this. All they know is how to spend millions chasing customers online. They don't know how to pick up the phone and make connections or even know which trade shows to attend. Never underestimate the power of face to face sales. It's been our secret weapon on scaling our business fast and furious. These are products that people want to test and try and people want to buy from people they like and trust. You can't always get that from an online website. There's also still a bit of a stigma attached to the industry as a whole, so buyers are starting to get away from the products announcing what they are on the packaging. Subtlety sells. Both my grandma and mother now use our products nightly.. We are a CBD family and household. Gone are the days of the young stoners selling you nickel bags behind the dumpsters. It's a serious and lucrative business with or without THC .
The other great part of this industry is that most VCs cannot invest in this space because their LPs (limited partners) won't allow them to. VCs have LP's to answer to or even larger institutional money so it's not easy for them to invest even when they want to. So that leaves the true cannabis investors that don't care where you are from or look like, as long as you are pushing the product out as fast as possible. Even the big brands are getting in on the action through partnerships and licensing deals. It's an opportunity of a lifetime and history making. And, I, for one, want to be in the forefront of all the possibilities cannabis can bring.
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"There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before." -Willa Cather
A logical fallacy called bifurcation (yes, it sounds like a disease) is used to make people believe that they can only choose between two extreme choices: love me or leave me, put up or shut up, etc. In relation to my career and my love life, I was once stricken by this crazy malady.
I spent over a decade in and out of love relationships that undermined my career and drained my creative energy along with my finances. The key problem was that I was convinced that I had two options: be a kickass, and powerful professional who scares off any prospective mate or surrender to that deep and profound love such that my ambitions blow away in the wind. For years, my psyche ping-ponged between these two choices like that was the only game in town. But why?
Turns out we women are often programmed into thinking that we can't have love (at least that good, juicy heated kind) and any sort of real career. This is not actually that surprising given the troubled history that America has with women in the workplace. Post WWII, women were supposed to quit their jobs and scurry back home and leave the careers for the returning men. And if you think we've come a long way from making women feel they don't belong in the workplace, consider Alisha Coleman. In 2016, she was fired because her period leaked onto a chair!
But try to keep a good woman down, and well, you can't (Alisha sued her former employer). Given enough information we will always find a way to overcome our situation. As we teach in my practice, Lotus Lantern Healing Arts, we are all our own gurus. The light in the lotus just offers a way to illuminate your path.
So what was I missing so many years ago when I kept struggling between two suboptimal choices? The answer is the understanding that if I wanted to have it all, I had to start living right now as if I could. For me to be with someone who supported me having a fantastic career, I had to believe that that was actually one of my choices and start living that way.
Of course that is easier said than done (like most life lessons). So once I made that realization, here are the three key changes I made (and no they didn't happen all at once):
First, I stopped apologizing. Why the hell do women always feel the need to apologize for everything! (Sorry for swearing! Jk.) In particular, why do we have to feel bad about time away from the homefront? Remember Don Draper stopping off at the bar before heading home? I took a Madman lesson from him and stopped apologizing for my free time and let go of my usual rush to get back. Instead I focused on enjoying the transition, which was often needed to release the stress of work. Whether I was slow-driving listening to my jams and singing at the top of my lungs or stopping off for a pedicure, a little ritual went a long way to making me feel like a real human when I walked through the door.
Second, I let go of perfection in order to be present. I stopped stressing over a work deadline and instead rescheduled it to tend to my love life or postponed a romantic dinner because a juicy work opportunity appeared. In this way, I did not force an unnatural choice or one I did not want but really paid attention to what felt right. Instead of feeling subpar in each realm, I end up getting the most out of my time in both places.
Third (and perhaps most significantly) I began to welcome and expect encouragement from the most significant person in my life. I made it clear to my partner that I wanted insight and not criticism. And since I knew I needed understanding and not saving, I said, "Please help me look at my career woes from a different angle instead of offering me advice." Ultimately, I only accepted partners that truly supported my dreams and didn't let me play small.
Today, some of the most exquisite pleasure I feel comes simply from my partner witnessing me. Having a cohort who really appreciates my struggles, helps me integrate work and life, and enjoys the wins together can be mind-blowing. Likewise, when the shit hits the fan (again, not sorry!), it's really important to have a partner that can hold space for you and help you remember those wins.
It's a constant battle. Our culture still perpetuates the myth by pitting love and career against each other (ever see Fatal Attraction?). Men don't always get this message, but then we don't need to wait for them to get it. All we have to do it start living right now in the way we truly deserve and bring others along with us. When my friends see me and my partner together separately killing it in the career department and fiercely loving each other they say, "Your relationship gives me hope."