Weed Queen: Lisa Weir Co-Founder of Ally
Lisa Weir is the Co-Founder of Ally. Ally is a forward-thinking company with a focus on responsible consumption. Our inaugural product is a stylish lockable storage container that is multi-purpose, food-grade, and allows you to securely keep goods away from unintended users. It was created as a solution for parents who need a safe storage space for their indulgences, which are often disguised as innocent treats. As moms, we wanted people to have a way to consume responsibly in their own homes, without sacrificing convenience or aesthetic.
Check out our interview below, where Lisa Weir talks about how she started her business, her entrepreneurial journey in an industry dominated by men and shares some really helpful advice on how to jump into the cannabis industry.
How would you describe yourself and what you do?
I am the co-founder and COO of Ally. I am responsible for all our operations, growth, sales, and product development. We are an early stage start up, so “what I do” changes daily, but I love it!
What is your company about? What do you guys do?
Ally is a forward-thinking company with a focus on responsible consumption. Our inaugural product is a stylish lockable storage container that is multi-purpose, food-grade, and allows you to securely keep goods away from unintended users. It was created as a solution for parents who need a safe storage space for their indulgences, which are often disguised as innocent treats. As moms, we wanted people to have a way to consume responsibly in their own homes, without sacrificing convenience or aesthetic.
What makes Ally unique?
What sets Ally apart from the rest is that it is food-grade, making it safe for anything you wish to store inside. Aside from cannabis-infused foods, Ally is extremely multi-purpose and can be used for anything you wish to keep private: a journal, jewelry, supplements etc.
What’s your favorite part about your job? Least favorite?
My favourite part of the job is seeing an idea come to life in the form of a tangible product. The least favourite part is the waiting game and perseverance that comes along with manufacturing a product from scratch.
What inspired you to start your company and how did you get started?
We got inspired to start Ally when we noticed how many parents were experimenting with cannabis once it was legalized, without a dedicated safe storage solution in their homes. Once we decided to pursue this idea, we put pen to paper to come up with the best design, and began looking for the right manufacturer.
What is your vision and mission for Ally?
We are on a mission to bring peace of mind to people in their homes, and help solve the pain points of daily life through beautifully designed products. Our vision is to eventually expand into other categories – and continue to be a female-operated company.
What were you doing before you started Ally?
My business partner Dalia and myself worked closely together for many years running TEDxToronto; Dalia is a talented designer and marketer with background in the CPG and Security industries. Prior to launching Ally, I led marketing teams at several retail and hospitality companies.
How did that influence what you do?
After many years of marketing other businesses, I felt equipped, inspired and ready to apply those skills to my own product.
How did you learn the skills to start and run a successful business?
I love learning from other business leaders, investors, and entrepreneurs. However, the best way to learn is to jump in and do it yourself. You have to be willing to learn from your failures, adapt, grow and stay the course!
What factors have contributed towards your path of success?
So far, with Ally, the most important factors have been perseverance and courage. There were many opportunities when we could have doubted ourselves or given up. It’s a long journey, and so far we have learned that trusting your intuition can serve you well.
Did you ever expect a career in the cannabis space?
No! I could have never imagined this, but I am so inspired by this industry. There is so much opportunity for education, innovation and collaboration.
Were your family and friends supportive of your venture?
Absolutely. Our friends and family loved the idea from the beginning and offered great feedback along the way.
What has your personal experience with cannabis been?
I belong to the group of people who experimented with cannabis in my teenage years when there was only one type of “high”, and now re-discovering it through occasional micro-dosing with high quality products.
Did you ever feel like you weren’t taken seriously because you are a woman?
Sometimes yes, but we are feeling encouraged about the opportunities for women in the cannabis space.
How/do you think your involvement in this industry is going to positively impact your community?
Our mission is to offer people with a tool to consume safely, which in turn could contribute to shifting the perceptions around cannabis use. Eventually people will accept that parents can be knowledgeable cannabis users while being mindful and responsible.
What has been your greatest obstacle in this industry to date – and how have you overcome it?
Our greatest obstacle so far is never having enough time! As co-founders, we divide and conquer, which keeps us productive and allows us to keep up momentum.
What’s the biggest change you want to see in the cannabis industry?
We would love to see more education. Many producers and dispensaries have included education as part of their mission, but we think it needs more attention in mainstream media.
Now that cannabis is legal, what excites you most and what worries you the most?
On a personal level, we are excited to see how people learn to embrace cannabis as a positive and natural therapy in their lives- whether it’s for anxiety, productivity, self-care, pain-relief or relaxation, it can be such a powerful tool. What worries us is when people don’t source their cannabis from the proper channels and then judge their experiences on that, which then perpetuates the stigma.
As a woman, what challenges did you encounter (if any) building your business in a male-dominated industry and how do you plan to create change and inclusiveness for future WOC joining the industry?
Interestingly, we have been dealing mostly with women in our day-t0-day initiatives with Ally. Although the industry is still very male dominated, we think this is bound to shift as the industry demographics continue to evolve. We will continue to collaborate with women, hire women and champion our fellow female entrepreneurs.
What would be your best piece of advice for fellow women looking to pursue the cannabis industry?
There will never be the “right time”, and there will always be an excuse not to take the leap. As busy mothers to young children, we both know how intimidating and demanding it can be to take a chance, especially in this industry. What we now know for sure is that you won’t regret it. Take the chance, and bet on yourself.
What would you consider to be the most effective way or initial steps of breaking down barriers and ceilings to pave this path for women in the industry?
By helping each other. Whether it’s responding to an e-mail asking for advice, connecting people in your network or taking a chance on a woman-owned company, the opportunities are there to support one another.
There’s still a perception or stigma attached to the people involved in the cannabis industry or just consumers that partake in recreational or medical use, as being stoners- if you have encountered this kind of close minded perspective, what would your argument be to shift the conversation to one of the importance of the weed market and why it should be celebrated/normalized?
We do encounter this, and it’s often not said to us directly. We are noticing a gradual acceptance towards natural products such as adaptogens (through education in mainstream media) and we think the same will be achieved with cannabis. It’s still early days, but we see it going in the right direction!
Do you have any suggestions on how we can help normalize cannabis?
Keep doing what you’re doing at Weed Queens! By featuring productive women, mothers, and trailblazers, you are truly helping to normalize it.
Where can we reach you? (IG/ Twitter handle and or email)
Name 4 of your favorite women in weed that you’d like to give a shout out too. What do they do and where can we reach them?
Mimi Lam – www.superetteshop.com
Nikita Stanley @therebelmama
Taylor Lamb @Juna.world
Equilibira Women @equilibriawomen
Key takeaways from Lisa Weir:
- Collaborate with women, hire women and champion our fellow female entrepreneurs.
- Have perseverance and courage.
- Learn from other business leaders, investors, and entrepreneurs.
- You have to be willing to learn from your failures, adapt, grow and stay the course!
- The best way to learn is to jump in and do it yourself.
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Huge shout out and big thank you to Lisa Weir and Ally for taking the time to chat about her experiences as a female entrepreneur and executive in a male dominated industry, for giving us great advice and tips on how to be successful in the weed world and for shouting out other dope Weed Queens!
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