Almost since the moment of its founding, Women Grow has been one of the cannabis industry’s most important and powerful business networking organizations. Three years ago the group started with a handful of entrepreneurs in Denver. Now more than 1,500 members meet in 35 cities on the first Thursday of every month. The Women Grow Leadership Summit, held every February in Denver (this year’s event is Feb. 1-3), draws business leaders from all over the nation for a sold-out three-day conference at the city’s Ellie Caulkins Opera House.
Leafly spoke with a number of this year’s summit participants during a Thursday night gathering hosted by the advocacy group Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP). We asked each of our portrait subjects: “What’s your reason?” They could interpret the question however they liked. Here are a few of our favorite people, portraits, and answers.
Jamie Johnston, 28, Denver
Designer, Stashbox: “I just joined the company two weeks ago. Natasha [Irizarry, Stashbox co-founder] and I went to college together. Stashbox uses data and surveys to connect people to products they’ll enjoy in a monthly subscription box. We’re a team of about ten. I design the outside, the inside, and some of the pieces that go in the box. Cannabis has opened a lot of broad creative doors for me. I’m able to use it in the industry while working, and it’s not looked down upon. Some of my friends are jealous—they’re like, man I wish I could smoke and others will just never get it. I don’t function without it so I don’t know what it’s like to not be able to work and create with it.”
Antuanette Gomez, Toronto
Owner, Pleasure Peaks topicals: “What’s my reason? I want to help empower women financially and also sexually. I’m doing that by building my company and sharing my story. We’ve been in business about eight months now. We’re best known for our Pleasure Peaks cannabis lubricant line, but we’re an all-encompassing company that embraces sex, cannabis, and spirituality. A lot of women aren’t comfortable with their vaginas. We’re helping bring them closer to their genital space with our cannabis products, and helping them use it in a very spiritual and meditative way. We’re very interested in helping women connect with their divine and erotic energy.”
Jyl Ferris, New York City
Creative Director, Tikun Olam USA: “We’re the American joint venture of Tikun Olam, which is based in Israel. They develop their own proprietary strains dedicated to treating certain ailments. I’ve always had a passion for natural medicine. The more I heard about medical studies, and all the research that was happening in Israel, the more I was amazed and drawn to it. I’m a creative person. I’ve been doing cooking shows for the past seven years. Seventy percent of the audience watching my show Cooking for Bachelors are millennials. I’m young at heart, and I decided this is the industry I want to be in.”
Stacia Cosner, 29, Oakland
Deputy Director, Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP): “I got involved after being arrested for less than a gram of cannabis 11 years ago. I was a University of Maryland student. There was a knock at my door, I let them in, and they tore my room upside down. They took me to jail, put me in five-point shackles, and kept me there for nine hours. When they released me, I had to walk back to campus in my pajamas. It was January. They evicted me from my dorm, and told me that in order to remain enrolled I had to submit to random drug testing for two years, attend NA meetings, and write essays about what a terrible person I was. That’s what turned me into an activist. SSDP helped me feel like I wasn’t some criminal. I found this community of people and they totally changed my life. I was hired when I graduated college in 2009 and have been on staff ever since. Now I’m the longest running staff member in the organization.”
Victoria Harris, 29, Washington D.C.
Co-founder, DC Taste Buds: “I own a culinary cannabis company for medical marijuana dispensaries. Initially, I sort of fell into the business. It was very serendipitous. All my culinary friends started to hand me packages that were vacuum sealed, they were having me try edibles and stuff, and I like cannabis. I talked to my business partner and a separate business partner at the same time. They had never met each other, but they’re like, ‘Hey lets open a company,’ so we did. The brand launched amount 9 months. We’ll probably launch our products in the next 2 months. We’ll have the first culinary edible products in D.C.”
Rhiannon Snyder, 31, Houston
Director of Sales, Reliable Bud: “I work at a Texas hospital. I’m out here because I’m supporting my new venture with my partner. We’re launching a new application, called Reliable Bud, that is going to demystify the marijuana industry. I do what I do because I love making a difference and feeling like I’m helping people, making a positive change in their lives.”
Raea Campbell, 38, California
CEO, Bosm infused topicals: “I do breast health. I’m producing a topical oil for breast massage. It’s a preventive, detoxifying topical that stimulates the lymph system and keeps the breast healthy. I’ve been doing this for about a year. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. Going through that with my mother, I did a lot of research and we ended up making our own cannabis topical oil to help her. After taking the cannabis oil, her blood markers became stable. She’s been in remission now for about two and a half years. Fucking amazing! My mom had stage four cancer. And now she’s back at life.”
P Clark, Arizona
Consultant: “I take brilliant ideas and enhance them. I’m a consultant in health care. I’m in this industry because this plant is a healing agent; everyone can benefit from it. I think it’s phenomenal that women are leading in this industry.”
Chelsey McKrill, 28, Oakland
Industry consultant: “I specialize in brands and marketing strategy for cannabis industry startups. I’m working with Synchronicity, which does cannabis wellness parties for women. And a cannabis hot tea company that makes really beautiful, organic, water-soluble, microdosed cannabis teas. I believe that the right to choose your own medicine is a civil right. We should all be empowered, knowledgeable, capable and free to do so.”
Amy Peters, New York City
CEO, Kizzle Kit: “I’m interested in normalizing cannabis culture, and we’re doing that at Kizzle Kit by creating cute, stylish looking products. In the past, cannabis accessory style has been very male-centric and utilitarian. We strive to make things cute, fun, and exciting.”
Laura Beohner, 25, Boston
Co-founder, The Healing Rose: “The new recreational law went into effect in Massachusetts on December 15. That’s when I officially launched by topicals company, The Healing Rose. We’re in a gray market time right now, we can’t legally sell. So we’re donating our products to people and asking them for feedback. That way we can do market research and create value without stepping over any legal lines. We’re going to have a CBD product line out soon. I’ve always known that the main focus of my life would be to help people, and that’s what drove me to cannabis. There are just so many different ways to impact people’s lives in this industry, from quality of life, to safer alternatives to alcohol, to new opportunities for jobs and economic growth. It’s a really exciting time to be a part of Women Grow.”