The Lady Jane Society, a Central California-based event company, hosted its inaugural event for women in the cannabis industry on October 4-5, 2019 at the scenic Bella Forrest venue in Hilmar, CA. Nestled in a private forest located just off the Merced River, the Women in Cannabis Central Valley retreat brought together female leaders, influencers and educators from throughout the nation to the scenic location — many of whom made the trek from Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington state and Florida,
The Lady Jane Society retreat spotlighted the regional Central Valley cannabis industry and featured sponsorships, speakers, and pop-up shops from local businesses such as Legacy Nursery, and Lyfted Farms — both based in Modesto, CA — Sisters of the Valley, Mission Nurseries/Don Primo, and Highway 33 Cannabis Club. Meals were prepared by local eateries Greens on Tenth and Traveling Pizza.
The event was held in the secluded, magical grove of fig trees, creating a natural, whimsical outdoor setting protected from the elements — lit by sun rays in the daylight and hanging lights in the evening. Dotted throughout the luscious landscape were lounging areas, and vendors offering infused goodies and decked out accessories.
Also on site was the multi-media social movement This is Jane Project, Peace of Mind 209, Wind Valley Apothecary, Custom Blingggs, Potency No. 710 skincare, and clothing and accessories from White Buffalo Spirit, Collective Hearts jewelry, among more pop-up shops.
Attendees were treated to a plethora of infused goodies, which included CBD sparkling waters from DayTrip, THC-infused coffee from SomaTik, pre-rolls from Sexxpot, and a dab bar courtesy of Eel River Organics.
Guests also sipped on mocktails and cocktails from Humboldt Apothecary and enjoyed activities such as Sparked — an interactive card game created to uplift and celebrate women — before ending the first evening with a collective ‘cheers’, made possible by Lyfted Farms pre-rolls.
The weekend’s agenda emphasized education, networking and the celebration of all who were in attendance.
MC’ed by Kay Ramirez, aka Mskindness B, the speaker series spotlighted community building and women in the supply chain.
The panel included Jennina Chiavetta of Legacy Nursery, who spoke about breeding, genetics and building a canna-company in her hometown of Modesto, Wendy Kornberg of Sunnabis Farms spoke on cultivation, Angela Kadara of MediZen discussed manufacturing, Margot Wampler of Fenix Distribution, Kimberly Cargile of A Therapeutic Alternative talked about retail, Jaqueline McGowan of the Facebook group California City and County Watch spoke about policy, Manndie Tingler of Khemia talked about community building and Scheril Murray Powell, Attorney, who made the journey to California from Florida to speak about civic engagement.
Kyra Reed, co-founder of LJS, said the event was an offline manifestation of what the group has been cultivating on the Women Empowered in Cannabis (WEiC) Facebook group: “encouragement, empowerment through honest dialogue and sharing of resources,” she adds, “all while in a gorgeous environment that made us all feel like we were in a bubble of support that our emcee, Mskindness B, wrapped us in from the moment our guests arrived.”
In addition to the inspirational and educational speaker series, attendees were also treated to some serious swag. Each ticket holder was sent home with a goodie bags with more than $200 in edible, smokable, wearable and topical cannabis products, including pre-rolls by Sexxpot and Lyfted Farms, snacks from MediZen and SolDaze, CBD oil and capsules from Manitoba Harvest, salves by Sisters of the Valley and more.
As relaxation was at the heart of the event, attendees received the full retreat experience.
The second and final day of the retreat opened with a Relaxation and Recharge session, complete with breakfast, guided meditation and CannaBliss Yoga with Michelle Patino, and sound healing with Eliza Moroney, the Cannabis Yogi.
During the afternoon, visitors were treated to massages, a taco bar, an afternoon of engaging speakers, and pop-up shops selling clothing, accessories and infused goods.
As the sun started to set on the final evening of the retreat, more women took the stage for The Lady Jane Society’s Award Ceremony. The society’s co-founder, Kyra Reed, presented scholarships to Oaksterdam, and Cloverleaf University.
The awards ceremony, sponsored by My Bud Vase, recognized leaders and allies. Awardees included Manndie Tingler of Khemia, educator Amanda Soens, and Ed Breslin and Brian Walker, founders of Making You Better Brands, which include Xternal topical relief sprays.
AnnaMaria Riedinger, founder of Hey Honey! Artisanal Lemonades, said she noticed the doors opening slowly for women in cannabis here in the Central Valley, “not only to connect but to own their truth as team players in the local industry and understanding their success depends on moving forward collectively.”
“As co-founder of the Lady Jane Society, I am so honored to be part of making the space and shift for women wanting solid and authentic lasting relationships,” she added. “I truly believe change begins at the local level, and witnessing the change all weekend was the most heartfelt experience!”
The most important thing women took from the Lady Jane Society event, explains Reed, is that women were given “permission and inspiration to ask for what they want! And the results were real empowerment.”
Many of the women in attendance had little to no cannabis community with other women. “That changed at the event, too,” added Reed. “That is what we wanted — to build community and truly empower women to thrive in their cannabis careers.”
Make sure you don’t miss next year’s Lady Jane Society retreat. Save the Date — the first weekend in October 2020.
5 Tips for Owning and Operating Successful Cannabis Dispensaries
The cannabis retail landscape has changed. Once regarded as somewhat of a novelty, legalization has allowed cannabis dispensaries to evolve into modern and innovative retail storefronts more akin to an Apple Store than the dark, secretive spaces they used to be. Some, like Shiny Bud, are proving to be leaders in the space, setting an exemplary standard of a contemporary cannabis retail experience.
Shiny Bud is one of Canada’s most successful dispensary chains. They pride themselves on offering customers a premium experience from the moment they enter, from a contemporary and inviting store design to highly trained staff, and of course, premium products.
Co-founder Alex Ledesma joined the cannabis industry when the Canadian government passed the Cannabis Act in 2018. She comes from a forward-thinking family of entrepreneurs, so the move to cannabis was an obvious next step.
“I saw an opportunity to be part of something big in Canada’s history, so we started following the industry, and applied for an application,” said Ledesma.
Shiny Bud opened its first dispensary in Toronto on February 14. Fast forward only a few months, and the company has opened the doors to its fifth location in a small town called Orleans, just outside of Ottawa.
“We have a pretty aggressive rollout,” said Ledesma. “Coming from a quick-service industry, we’re quite comfortable with builds and finding locations. We took our expertise from that and put it into cannabis. And it’s all completely within the family.”
Shiny Bud was awarded 75 dispensary licenses by the Canadian government. The company’s expansion plans include two more Ontario store openings this year, bringing the total number of store openings to seven. And they have no plans to slow down.
“We should be hitting 30 stores by the end of 2021. And we’re planning on maxing out to 75 stores allocated. When we stop to think about it, it can take our breath away.”
The constant march forward of legalization has created an ever-growing interest in dispensary ownership. Below, Ledesma offers up five pieces of advice for those looking to enter the cannabis game.
1. Have a Well-Trained Team That’s Focused on Customer Experience
As the industry is still so young, formal education in cannabis is still relatively scarce amongst prospective employees. For Shiny Bud, this presents an opportunity to reinforce one of their most important business objectives: provide cannabis education and training for their budtenders to pass on to their customers.
“Education is everything because the industry’s so new,” Ledesma said. “We truly believe that we’re an industry where we need to listen to our guests. This is one of the first things we teach our budtenders, along with providing a safe and educational experience for our customers in-store.”
For many customers, the biggest value in going to a dispensary is learning which products are best suited for a specific condition or effect, whether they’re seasoned cannabis consumers or newly curious.
“The goal for budtenders at Shiny Bud is to ensure customers are choosing the right product for them to provide a safe experience both in-store and at home,” Ledesma said.
2. Create a Guest Centric Environment
This goes without saying, but customer service is critical to the success of any retail operation. Ledesma attributes Shiny Bud’s success to the brand’s core vision of providing a “fast and friendly cannabis retail destination.”
“We strive to offer our customers a unique and memorable experience — this has stayed with us since day one,” Ledesma said. “When you walk into any of our Shiny Bud cannabis dispensaries, they’re bright, they’re big, and there’s a lot of education. The budtenders are dressed uniformly, and there’s personality — it’s not what people expect.”
Watching the change in customer demographic has been encouraging to Ledesma, who notes the increase in the 60+ demographic looking to add cannabis to their health and wellness, whether it be recreational, or to aid with a specific ailment.
“As a disclaimer, we always have to tell them that we’re not doctors and we can’t give them medical advice, so to start low and go slow,” Ledesma said. “It’s nice to see people like my mom, my dad, and grandparents come through the door, because you also know you’re helping break down the stigma.”
3. Stock the Best Inventory
With so many quality products now available, choosing which ones to bring to Shiny Bud is quite a lengthy process.
“We carry out a lot of research in terms of what’s new or trending, and what our customers are looking for in each location,” Ledesma said. “I wish I knew consumers’ buying preferences before our initial order was placed. We ended up buying too much!”
“We also use recommendations from our team members, our budtenders, and our customers. A lot of times we bring in representatives of the licensed producers to educate our budtenders about the products we’re selling.”
The three most popular purchases across three Shiny Bud locations are dried flower, vapes, and pre-rolls. “Our most frequently asked question is, ‘what is your highest THC or CBD?’” Ledesma said.
4. Have a Great Location
The age-old proverb of “location, location, location” rings true in the cannabis industry, too. Finding the right real estate is arguably the most important part of retail success. Plus, because of the industry’s prohibition history and the nature of the products being sold, it’s important to find understanding landlords.
“Initially, landlords have said to us, ‘absolutely not, we will not entertain the idea of having a cannabis retailer here,’ so I invite them to take a look at one of our dispensaries so they can see the vision of what and who we are as a company and as an industry.”
5. Ensure Your Cannabis Dispensaries Connect with the Community
Dispensaries are already major focal points in their communities. For Ledesma, giving back and helping break down old stigmas related to cannabis is a top priority.
Shiny Bud is in the process of launching a collaboration with Tsaichedelic to create a line of tie-dyed tees and other merchandise. The proceeds will go towards supporting Cannabis Amnesty projects, like providing legal counsel to get those with criminal records over minor cannabis charges expunged.
“Being a woman and a person of color in the cannabis space, I really believe in the fact that it needs to be the same playing fields for everybody,” Ledesma said. “Teaming up with Cannabis Amnesty just felt right.”
With the regulated cannabis market still so new, it’s important that business owners are able to adapt to changes and weather the ever-changing landscape of cannabis and the regulations.
“It’s ever-changing, so we’re constantly learning and growing from it,” Ledesma said. “Regulations are always changing, so being fluid helps a lot.”
Look for Shiny Bud cannabis dispensaries in Canada and keep an eye out for their expansion into America in 2021.
Gwyneth Paltrow and a Slew of Celebs Invest in ‘Social Tonic’ Brand, Cann
Gwyneth Paltrow is one of several high-profile celebrities investing in cannabis-infused beverage company, Cann.
Rebel Wilson, Ruby Rose, Darren Criss, Tove Lo, Casey Neistat, former NBA star Baron Davis and Bre-Z have also invested in the company.
The actress and Goop CEO and founder calls cannabis a “hero ingredient of the future” for wellness and says she was drawn to Cann’s drinks, which are infused with small doses of THC and CBD, as an appealing alternative to alcohol.
“There’s a whole sober-curious movement that’s going on and the cannabis-curious movement that’s going on, this is kind of at the intersection of those things in a way,” said Paltrow.
Cann is not the health and wellness moguls’ first cannabis investment. Paltrow admitted that while she’s not a big cannabis user personally, she acknowledges its “amazing medicinal qualities.”
“There’s no reason why alcohol should be so much easier to purchase than Cann, and I’m confident the founders will lead the charge in finding ways to integrate it into the same purchasing channels and drinking environments,” she said via a news release.
Cann founder Luke Anderson called the comments made by Gwyneth Paltrow “a sign that Cann (and microdose beverages more broadly) are a viable answer to that very common consumer pain point.”
He added that when people think of Paltrow, “they don’t think of ‘weed’ – they think of cutting-edge solutions for today’s health and wellness needs.”
Cann has positioned itself as a “healthy” and hangover-free alternative to alcohol. Most of Cann’s “social tonics” contain roughly 30 calories and are “microdosed” with 2 milligrams of THC and 4 milligrams of CBD. A recently introduced Pineapple Jalapeño flavor contains 50 calories and 5 milligrams of THC.
Earlier this year, Cann secured $5 million in funding as part of the company’s 2020 production and distribution expansion plans for 2020.
According to TechCrunch, the beverage startup has sold 150,000 cans, which retail for $4 each, since last May. Cann products are available at just 60 dispensaries in California, and online via the Eaze cannabis marketplace, making the $600,000 in revenue the company generated in less than a year even more impressive.
Miss Marijuana: Canadian Beauty Queen Alyssa Boston Is on a Mission to End Stigmas
Alyssa Boston is a woman on a mission. The 24-year-old Canadian beauty queen is using her platform to start a conversation on ending stigmas around mental illness, competing in pageants — and cannabis.
While she doesn’t actually smoke weed, Canada’s crowned Miss Universe caused a media uproar when she wore a sparkling cannabis-inspired look during the 2019 Miss Universe competition in Atlanta, Georgia.
Cannabis Aficionado spoke to her about breaking stigmas, social media and of course, that costume.
CA: How was your Miss Universe experience?