It’s Time to Liberate Cannabis

Jane West, Founder and CEO of Jane West, is on a mission to bring high quality accessories and home goods for the mainstream cannabis consumers. Always honest about her own positive experience of using cannabis for a healthy approach to life, Jane was inspired to change the taboo mindset that still surrounded cannabis — even despite its legalization in many states. Jane tells us more about her lifestyle brand, which aims to make cannabis a normal part of society.

What is your business, and what problem you are solving?

Jane West is a cannabis lifestyle brand that appeals to mainstream consumers who are eager for stylish, high-quality methods of participating in the new legal lifestyle. Our product lines are all about having fun, taking care of yourself, and looking good while doing so. I believe our brand addresses one of the most pressing issues plaguing the booming cannabis marketplace: it’s black-market aesthetic. While the majority of Americans support legal cannabis, the cannabis industry still reflects an underground aesthetic that alienates mainstream consumers and keeps cannabis culture in the closet. It’s time to liberate cannabis from the dominion of sketchy head shops!

What inspired you to start your company?

I created Jane West because I couldn’t find cannabis products that made sense for my lifestyle as an active, working mother who wasn’t afraid to be upfront with my cannabis use. (That attitude once cost me my job as a corporate event planner; in response I dove headfirst into the cannabis industry and never looked back.)

From organizing the first-ever cannabis friendly symphony performances to founding the cannabis industry’ largest professional networking association. I’ve always been eager to showcase cannabis in ways that turn heads and start conversations. Shouldn’t the cannabis accessories I use do the same thing?

Who is in your core team? How did your team come together?

The Jane West brand wouldn’t be what it is today without the incredible core team of women who have been by my side as we built this brand from the ground up. They come with different perspectives and skill sets that have transformed Jane West into a bigger, better, more successful brand than anything I could have created alone.

My rock star CFO Heather Molloy earned an MBA from NYU and spent ten years on Wall Street before coming on board to oversee our financial strategy. I met my COO, Jesse Meighan, and immediately knew she was more “Jane West” than I was! She takes the ideas that are swirling around in my brain and turns them into things that are more beautiful and powerful than I thought possible. My PR Director, Susannah Grossman, has been working with me since the early days of Women Grow, and her ability to create the right messaging for me and the Jane West brand is practically second nature at this point.

Please explain your edge (or differentiation) over your competition?

I believe one of our key strengths is the built-in international following we’ve developed from years of organic media exposure, stretching back to the launch of adult-use cannabis sales here in Colorado.

Thanks to in-depth, compelling coverage from the likes of the New York Times, CBS This Morning, and the UK Telegraph, Jane West has become synonymous with bold and exciting ventures in the new legal lifestyle, and that’s a concept that resonates with existing cannabis users and new mainstream consumers alike. Furthermore, by focusing on accessories, packaging, and marketing support, we can leverage our brand identity while transcending the fractured, state-by-state regulatory environment that can limit the expansion of companies that “touch the plant.”

Why Republic/equity crowdfunding?

Equity crowdfunding through Republic fits perfectly within our mission. The idea of helping women and others who have long been denied a seat at the table is embedded into our brand’s DNA. Through crowdfunding, we’re able to democratize the investment process and help shift the status quo.

If in unfamiliar territory, what do you do to learn and thrive?

When we venture into a new business territory, we look to the proven experts in the space, then partner with them! To develop top-of-the-line glass pipes, we collaborated with Grav Labs, one of the nation’s top glass designers. To craft our line of groundbreaking flower accessories, we worked with Ed Kilduff, the revolutionary designer of the Rabbit Corkscrew. Now, as we jump into equity crowdfunding, we were eager to work with the most proven name in the space — Republic!

Shout-outs or plugs for people or anything else?

It’s been so fun to learn about the people who are investing in Jane West. Our investors are diverse — Jane West is 80% owned by women and people of color — and I am so inspired every time I do a deep dive to learn more about the people backing us. There are way too many fascinating people invested in Jane West for one blog post, but Ramona Ortega is a fantastic example. She is the CEO of My Money, My Future, which is an online financial planning platform that empowers culturally diverse millennials to manage their money with confidence.

What one thing would you say founders care too much about that ends up being meaningless to their success?

All too often, I see entrepreneurs become distracted by too many potential business opportunities. That’s especially true in the cannabis space, where new, exciting business options seem to arise all the time. That’s why we’ve always remained focused on the big picture: developing products that elevate the experience of consuming and can lead to bigger and broader social change.

What’s a recent tool you have adopted for the business?

I recently downloaded Pipedrive CRM, and it is proving to be a fantastic sales tool. We’re a start-up in serious growth mode, so sales outreach is a daily all-hands effort. Having such seamlessly integrated support for our hustle has been hugely helpful. When I get a call on my phone, the number gets added and the outreach gets logged. Successful sales programs demand methodical planning, implementation, and tracking, and Pipedrive is making it easy for me to focus on what’s most important: connecting and closing.

What’s the latest product that gave you the “wow” factor using it for the first time?

Cannabidiol-infused SteepFuze coffee! The CBD did away the stomach issues and jitters I usually experience with drinking coffee. The product has reinvigorated my love of coffee — which I definitely need, considering my busy schedule these days.

What’s your top fundraising tips for founders?

That’s easy: Stick to your guns and stick to your mission. Don’t be swayed by conflicting advice. What I said in my speech at the 2017 Women Grow Leadership Summit about my first year of startup life is true: You will be so much more effective and efficient when you’re running your company according to your vision.

If you could invite anyone out for a coffee chat, who would it be?

Sarah Silverman. She was one of the first celebrities to open up about her use of cannabis for anxiety, which is something I can personally relate to. The fact that she’s one of the most brilliant, obscene, and hilarious women anywhere is also pretty compelling. Of course, I wouldn’t just make it a coffee chat — I’d invite her out for a coffee and a joint.

If you could swap lives with a CEO/Founder for a week, who would it be and why?

Martha Stewart — and no, it’s not just because I’ve been called “The Martha Stewart of Pot.” She’s a self-made billionaire, one who’s found astronomical success without having to sacrifice what makes her unique as a woman and a visionary. If I could live in her shoes for a week, I would try to soak up as much of her world as possible. As I’ve discovered, the best way to learn is through observing.

Best career advice you ever received?

I love the “shine theory,” the idea popularized by podcast hosts Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow that it’s far better for women to work together and support each other than to compete for recognition and success. As Friedman likes to say, “I don’t shine if you don’t shine.” It’s why founding the Women Grow networking organization will always be one of the defining moments of my professional life. Not only has it helped to bring thousands of talented, powerful women into the cannabis industry, but by surrounding myself with all of these awesome women, I’ve become far more confident and ambitious.

Originally published at republic.co.

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