#SWAAYthenarrative

Why The Cannabis Industry Became A Magnet For Women and People of Color

4min read
Business

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.com

With 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 . And there are a plethora of brands emerging in the industry that you can learn more about here.

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.

3 Min Read
Health

7 Must-have Tips to Keep You Healthy and Fit for the Unpredictable COVID Future

With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.

When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.

Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan

Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.

Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.

The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.

Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits

The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.

With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.

Tip 3: Start slow and strong

If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.

Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.

Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize

In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.

When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.

Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness

From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.

Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.

Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.

A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.

Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition

In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.

If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health

While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.

For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.

While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.