Women in Cannabis

Interview of i-502 Professionals

Women in Cannabis
November 1, 2017 The Evergreen Market
Women in weed empower women

Porcia, Corporate Merchandiser of the Evergreen Market focuses on the positives of life and the industry to push forward on behalf of all women.

Women are dominating cannabis.

From budtenders to growers, online influencers and photographers, this field is blossoming with powerful and creative females who balance the spectrum of talent in the industry. While many professions have a strong majority; women nurses, male cops, cannabis seems evenly occupied. Though there are not many statistics to back this up currently, we can see women in cannabis are dominating, alongside their male counterparts.

With National Boss Day just passing earlier this month (October 16th), I chose to reflect on the management at our company and my journey the last two plus years with The Evergreen Market.

Though our industry may face daily stigmas, stereotypes and roadblocks, the support system of employees put in place by our founders continues to fortify the foundation of what we stand for and who we represent.

Owners, Jeff, Arnie and Eric are father’s to daughters, which makes a great difference in the way they carry themselves as bosses, colleagues and work family. I have never felt more at home, heard or valued than at this company, which operates more like a family than a three store retail giant we have become, mirroring the early prestige of Nordstrom, when it was a mere shoe-store in the Pacific Northwest.

Grateful to work in a place where my sexual orientation, gender identity or even visual identity does not matter as much as my passion and work ethic for the job, I also have a support network of positive and hard-working women who lift each other up. Since October is also National Anti-Bullying Month, I thought about the women who surround me and continue to bring love and light to the workplace and anywhere we go.

I know we all have a journey and a story to tell and I was curious how some of the other women felt at our company. So, to get a more well-rounded idea, I reached out to other women in our company to hear about their experiences, below are some of their responses.

Bri Williams, Business Analyst Renton weed

Bri: Data Analyst

“We no longer live in a world where the type of industry dictates our careers. There are male nurses and secretaries now, female CEOs and engineers; nothing in this world has a right to dictate our life choices based on gender.”

How long have you been in the industry? How did you get your start?

I’ve been employed in the legal cannabis industry for about 7 months, but my desire to get into the industry started with selling weed on the black market back around 2009 in Pennsylvania, which evolved into trimming and aiding processing years later.

What were you doing before you started in the cannabis industry?

I had spent my career in industrial supply for 8 or so years, another very male-dominated industry. It paid the bills but I definitely don’t look back.

Do you feel like being a woman either helped or hindered you in your previous career? Any/No difference?

Being a woman in industrial supply was very frustrating… I’ve seen it all, to say the least. It was very hard to get respect from customers regardless of how much I knew, I had to prove myself and my knowledge extra hard in order to gain rapport: guys would take my male coworkers on their word, but I was always asked 6 more questions to make sure I knew what I was talking about. If I wasn’t being questioned to the nth degree about my knowledge I was being hit on, not because I’m attractive but because I was the only woman in the tool store and some people don’t know how to interact with a woman that isn’t their mom or sister. It’s almost like everyone in my 99% male customer/vendor base wanted to be my father or my boyfriend. Very few people gave me respect and the majority of people who did, worked with me or already made me prove myself 10 times.

Do you feel like being a woman either helped or hindered you in your cannabis career? Any/No difference?

While legal cannabis may be a male-dominated industry as well, I haven’t experienced the same kind of hindrance. I’ve felt more welcome in Cannabis than I ever did in industrial supply, no one has yet to make me “prove myself” unnecessarily. Men in this industry are more like “Oh, you like weed? AWESOME! Let’s smoke.” There’s no questioning my commitment or knowledge, just wanting to share the mutual love of cannabis. Granted, I’ve seen it happen, as it always will, where a woman’s passion for cannabis comes into question due to gender but I feel like it’s going away over time as the market opens up.

Women are flocking to join the cannabis industry? Do you think there’s a particular reason why?

When we see an opportunity, we take it. We no longer live in a world where the type of industry dictates our careers. There are male nurses and secretaries now, female CEOs and engineers; nothing in this world has a right to dictate our life choices based on gender.

Are there certain aspects of working at TEM that has helped or hindered your success as a female?

I can only say that working at TEM has helped me as a female. The biggest factor is that I’m surrounded by amazingly dedicated, strong women all day. We support each other and nothing could be better than that, I can be socially introverted so having that has helped me open up as a person. I’ve worked in offices and have not found the kind of open communication and encouragement among women working together before as I have at TEM.

Any other points you would like to mention about working in cannabis or specifically working at The Evergreen Market?

While you can see in the cannabis industry the male-heavy presence, I walk into the doors of any Evergreen Market and feel like those gender lines don’t exist. Everyone is treated with respect, regardless of their sex or gender, and we always want to create a welcoming experience.

cannabis professionals women

Nikki: Brand Strategist

“What I’ve seen at The Evergreen Market is an emphasis on talent and correlating skills rather than gender regarding team assembly.”

How long have you been in the industry? How did you get your start?

I’ve been in the industry a little over two years. I started out by applying for a budtender position with no prior cannabis experience other than smoking it. I had been using high CBD flower to temper anxiety, so I think that might have made the people who worked at my regular dispensary think I might know more about cannabis than I actually did at the time. When I got into the interview I leaned on my years of bartending experience and as suspected moving from bartending to budtending translated well. I worked hard and had the perfect opportunity in a new industry to move up into management and buying very quickly. I absolutely credit it to passion and work ethic.

  What were you doing before you started in the cannabis industry?

I was a bartender—another passion of mine. A reason why it’s easy for me to bounce between spirits and cannabis is because of flavor. I still pair different strains together to create flavors and see what profiles you can pull out of it. Cannabis has another dimension, though, the range of effect. You can create a perfectly portioned Moscow Mule and the intoxication just results in getting drunk. With cannabis you get high but the categories under the umbrella of that high are extensive—euphoric, relaxing, energizing, awakening, sleepy, couch-locked, hyped.

  Do you feel like being a woman either helped or hindered you in your previous career? Any/No difference?

In the bartending industry this was always interesting to talk about. Male bartenders tend to feel like women get preference for the position while a lot of women feel it’s the opposite. I’ve come across bars that both either hire only women and bars that hire only men and each with their respective reasons for quietly doing so (because yes, whichever gender you exclude it is still discrimination). The interesting thing is according to Datausa.io 58% of the bartender work force in the United States are female making them slightly more of the majority, but the average salary of a female bartender is $19,687—a whole 8k less than the average male salary of $27,875. On a personal level I would say one of the bigger things I could note would be the experience I’d have with other female co-workers. As a female bartender who would break the management threshold and move up the bad blood and push back from that success was always from female co-workers.

  Do you feel like being a woman either helped or hindered you in your cannabis career? Any/No difference?

I wouldn’t say the difference was massive or anything impossible to overcome—but in the beginning, there was a little bit of an obstacle regarding ego from the males who had been in the industry for awhile longer than I had. If you’ve ever heard of the struggle that some females in the “nerd” culture face, I would say that might be a relative comparison. Much like the exaggerated challenges of, for example, “you’re not a real Star Wars fan if you don’t know Darth Vader’s blood type”—if I couldn’t present more intricate and obscure knowledge than my male counterparts there was a sudden question of validity in my position. This experience was much more common closer to the entry level positions in the industry such as budtending. I see it less and less but there’s not an easy way of knowing whether it’s due to my own knowledge getting expanded daily, moving up and gaining notoriety among peers, or the industry as a whole taking a turn away from people who carried that attitude.

  Women are flocking to join the cannabis industry? Do you think there’s a particular reason why?

Women are finding opportunities all over the cannabis industry and in turn the cannabis industry is embracing it. I think it’s a natural fit. Not to say that men don’t belong or don’t have room to succeed but this industry attracts a lot of open minds and passion. Open minded, opinionated, and passionate women are traditionally the ones who get stalled out in many other industries for being “bossy”, “overbearing”, or “obnoxious” with their drive and unwillingness to be held back. The women in the cannabis industry are a complete flip from the women I sometimes crossed paths with as a bartender. We more frequently than not make it a point to be supportive and encouraging towards one another instead of jealous or inclined to sabotage.

  Are there certain aspects of working at TEM that has helped or hindered your success as a female?

What I’ve seen at The Evergreen Market is an emphasis on talent and correlating skills rather than gender regarding team assembly. We currently have an all male educator group because the people that were best for the position happened to be all male—I can say that with absolute certainty because I was the one who interviewed them and made the decision. The last full time female educator we had was promoted to an assistant manager and she is currently with the company at our Renton Airport location. On the flipside, the entire marketing team is female—again because gender aside the best people for the team happened to be all female.

  Any other points you would like to mention about working in cannabis or specifically working at The Evergreen Market?

For any continuing interest on the topic I would recommend a quick google search of simply “females in the cannabis industry”. The results that pop up on the first page tell you exactly the course cannabis is taking for us ladies. “Females breaking the grass ceiling”-Forbes, “Ladies, want to be a CEO? Join the cannabis industy!”-Good, “Why the cannabis industry is a magnet for female executives”- High Times

Porcia Droubay, Cannabis Merchandiser

Porcia: Corporate Merchandiser

“Knowing that I get to wake up every day and do something I’m so passionate about and get to work with a team of people who share the same morals and values, this is truly the American dream and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”

How long have you been in the industry?How did you get your start? 

I have been in the industry since 2010 so almost 8 years. I started out working at a local headshop that sold everything from glass bongs, pipes, tee shirts, artwork and all sorts of different “adult” novelties. My mom was the one who actually got me the job fresh out of high school at 18.

What were you doing before you started in the cannabis industry?

Thankfully because I am only 25, I haven’t had a chance to experience another industry and don’t plan to anytime soon either!

Do you feel like being a woman either helped or hindered you in your previous career? Any/No difference? 

I don’t believe it hindered me amongst the glass community, but even before i-502 the cannabis culture always felt more male dominated, in my opinion, but I have typically always been treated as an equal.

Do you feel like being a woman either helped or hindered you in your cannabis career? Any/No difference? 

I believe it has had it’s pro’s and cons at times but for the most part I believe I have been given equal opportunity at the handful of companies I have worked for and when I felt like I wasn’t being treated equally I left, respectfully, of course.

Women are flocking to join the cannabis industry? Do you think there’s a particular reason why? 

In this industry and community, I feel that women are much open to helping build one another up rather than tear each other down to get to the top. When you add cannabis to any equation it’s hard not to get some form of love out of it. Women are choosing cannabis because most of our male counter parts believe we have just as much of a voice as they do. There’s more and more women becoming strong, independent industry leaders but we still have a ways to go.

Are there certain aspects of working at TEM that has helped or hindered your success as a female? 

Since becoming a part of the evergreen market family I have felt more empowered as a woman in the industry than I have at any other company. Our team is so good at making sure everyone’s opinions and voices are heard to make rational decisions that it doesn’t really occur to me whether it’s because he’s a male and I am a female. We just do what’s right to make our team better and stronger and in the end we all become more successful as a result.

Any other points you would like to mention about working in cannabis or specifically working at The Evergreen Market? 

Knowing that I get to wake up every day and do something I’m so passionate about and get to work with a team of people who share the same morals and values, this is truly the American dream and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

legal weed cannabis educators

Vee: Assistant Store Manager

“This is an amazing industry that teaches you to bring the best out of yourself, have fun, learn everyday and become even more of an empowered woman.”

How long have you been in the industry? How did you get your start?

I have been in the industry since summer of 2016 and it has been the best decision I’ve ever made to leave my profession of 12 years to pursue my passion.

I started by being a loyal customer, coming from once to six times a day, for a gram or a preroll, so my face was always around. Not to mention my best friend had just gotten hired and told me to put in an application.

What were you doing before you started in the cannabis industry?

I was pursuing business management classes to start my own business. I was going to open my own “Panera Bread” style meets “Bigfoot” 24 hour coffee stand since coffee was my other passion, besides cannabis. I wanted to own three stands themed after my favorite three places I have lived; NYC, San Fran and Washington state. I was a barista for 12 years and counting.

Do you feel like being a woman either helped or hindered you in your previous career? Any/No difference?

To be honest, I don’t think it’s really made any difference. I mean, there are daily challenges, but that’s a given. For the most part, my time in the industry so far has been nothing but fun, positive and invigorating.

Women are flocking to join the cannabis industry? Do you think there’s a particular reason why?

In my opinion, I think it’s because in this industry we are so open, accepting, loving, free-spirited and inspired. I’ve found that every woman I’ve encountered has been so positive and uplifting, women constantly build each other up; so who wouldn’t want that acceptance and love in their everyday life?

Are there certain aspects of working at TEM that has helped or hindered your success as a female?

Gosh, I feel like I’ve gained nothing but knowledge, empowerment, confidence and success since I have joined the TEM family. So many doors have opened for me and so many experiences have taught me things I can apply in my future. TEM is an amzing company with more than a “job” to offer.

Any other points you would like to mention about working in cannabis or specifically working at The Evergreen Market?

That’s such an open ended question. I could potentially write a novel on that. Honestly, its simple. This is an amazing industry that teaches you to bring the best out of yourself, have fun, learn everyday and become even more of an empowered woman. My job isn’t a job, it’s a living dream everyday. Waking up everyday to share my passion with everyone else is a dream come true!

girls women females in cannabis

Who rules the world? We think you know the song!

Women in cannabis are just getting started. From all-women run publications, to pot farms and everything in-between, females are climbing corporate ladders in cannabis, empowering and inspiring other women to follow their dreams and work within their passions.

I think the plant itself has always created a space of understanding, care and love. One of its slogans is “puff, puff, pass.” It’s meant for sharing! It’s meant for creating community. Because of this I think it has defined a space in the industry that is inclusive of all with love and care bred into the culture. Women are by nature, caring individuals, I think it just happens that they also smoke weed. Women are also go –getters. They see opportunities and go after them. As caring as we can be, it is in our biology to want to take care of others and ourselves, though we can be mothers; we are providers and supporters, so we find ways to support ourselves and the communities we stand behind, like the cannabis community. As active participants we want to engage in the best way possible, by enjoying the product and working within it’s realms.

legal cannabis seattle weed

Photo courtesy of Kate Devine Photography, another woman who is making waves as a photographer and team member of a cannabis farm  in Eastern Washington.

Written By: Masha Brown



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