A huge welcome to Weed Queen, Lisa Weser. Lisa Weser was considerate enough to take the time to answer some questions about her success in the cannabis industry, how she did it and how you can do it too!
More about Lisa Weser:
Lisa Weser is The Cannabis Publicist and founder of Trailblaze, an award winning communications agency for a new generation of trailblazing brands. She has also been recently included in the PRNEWS Top Women class of 2022 in the “Innovators” category (congrats Weed Queen!).
During our time together, Lisa Weser gave us a great understanding about what it’s like to be an executive in an industry where women don’t normally hold high positions and also gave great advice on what it takes to be successful in the weed world. Check out the interview below and don’t forget to share it with other Weed Queens!
How would you describe yourself and what you do?
I would describe myself as a trailblazer – someone interested in pioneering communications within emerging sectors. From launching the first iPhone to establishing one of the first PR agencies focused on cannabis and psychedelics, I’ve always been interested in working with intrepid clients to delve into a brave new world together.
What is your company about? What do you guys do?
Trailblaze is a communications agency focused on building the next generation of leading cannabis and psychedelics brands.
What makes Trailblaze unique?
Our super power is putting brands on the map. We are a boutique sized agency, but we take big swings that get noticed. From launching Martha Stewart CBD, one of the most talked about celebrity cannabis brands to hit the market, to unveiling the World’s Largest Pot Brownie, a stunt that landed on SNL and generated over 1,700 stories, we are known for coming up with campaigns that truly break through.
What’s your favorite part about your job? Least favorite?
The best part of the job is also the hardest — finding new ways to outdo ourselves. We have high expectations for ourselves – and our clients do too.
What inspired you to start your company and how did you get started?
After many years working in the beverage industry, I started my cannabis career representing CBD beverages.
What is your vision and mission for Trailblaze ?
We aim to bring a more sophisticated and mainstream approach to marketing and communicating about cannabis.
What were you doing before you started Trailblaze ?
Prior to starting Trailblaze, I led U.S. marketing communications at ABInBev, overseeing brand PR for their portfolio of beer brands like Budweiser, Bud Light, and Stella Artois.
How did that influence what you do?
When alcohol giant Constellation Brands made their first investment in a cannabis company – Canopy Growth – I knew it was time to make the leap from the declining beer industry into the fast-growing cannabis sector. I knew everything I’d learned about building culturally relevant brands could be applied to cannabis as it moved from a commodity to a CPG, also recognized that my experience navigating marketing in a highly regulated sector like alcohol would be valuable.
How did you learn the skills to start and run a successful business?
Like most people in this industry, I am learning on the fly! There is a lot coming at you every day, and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. Our business has doubled year-over-year for the past three years, and I’ve learned a few hard lessons along the way. The key to our success has been to stay focused on the results we deliver for our clients. If you get that right, the rest will follow.
What factors have contributed towards your path of success?
The best moments in my career have come when I’ve been bold enough to put my neck out and make what others might consider a risky move. Whether it was taking a big job I wasn’t sure I was qualified for, moving to New York City for a new opportunity, or leaving a prestigious job to start my own company, the biggest rewards have always come when I was brave enough to bet on myself.
Did you ever expect a career in the cannabis pace?
I grew up in the age of “Just Say Now,” so a career in cannabis is something I never imagined. Some days I wake up and I still can’t quite believe this is what I get to do for a living.
Were your family and friends supportive of your venture?
I was concerned that launching a cannabis business might be the nail in my career coffin, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth. From friends and family to acquaintances, almost everyone I encounter is curious and enthusiastic about what I do. I think a lot of people are a bit bored in their jobs, and that’s definitely not the case when it comes to careers in cannabis. Every day is something new.
What has your personal experience with cannabis been?
I didn’t become a regular cannabis user until my 40s, when I found myself working in the industry and exploring all kinds of new products and modalities. Just as other people might rely on caffeine, alcohol, or prescription medications, I use cannabis to boost creatively, to unwind, to relieve chronic pain and to fall asleep faster and more deeply.
How/do you think your involvement in this industry is going to positively impact your community?
It’s my hope that the work we are doing today will one day be recognized as a milestone along the journey to cannabis legalization. For example, I think the launch of Martha Stewart CBD will one day be recognized as a significant inflection point on the journey to legitimizing and destigmatizing the plant. It’s gratifying to be a small part of that.
What has been your greatest obstacle in this industry to date – and how have you overcome it?
COVID! My industry has historically been very reliant on events and activations, so growing a business in the face of a drawn out pandemic was unexpected and has presented unique challenges. It’s difficult to launch a product or create an immersive brand experience when you can’t bring people together. The pandemic has required us to dig deep and get very creative, and I think it’s ultimately made us even more effective.
What’s the biggest change you want to see in the cannabis industry?
It would be a game-changer for social media marketing to open up to cannabis. Platforms like Instagram are critical to brand-building, and the constant shadow-banning and disabling of accounts is crippling for brands and influencers alike.
What would be your best piece of advice for fellow women looking to pursue the cannabis industry?
Figure out what your unique gift or talent is, and find a way to bring it to this industry. Women buy and consume as much CBD and cannabis as men, and our products, services and ideas need and deserve to be here.
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?
Like any other industry, women really need to bring each other along on the journey – investing in their businesses, mentoring them, hiring them, or just making useful introductions. I’ve been fortunate to be on both the giving and the receiving end when it comes to women helping other women succeed here.
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?
Coming from the alcohol world, I’m quick to point out that enjoying a cannabis beverage or edible to unwind is no different than having a cocktail or a glass of wine — and in fact, might even be better for you.
Do you have any suggestions on how we can help normalize cannabis?
The best thing we can do is keep talking about it. Polling shows that Americans overwhelmingly support cannabis legalization, and the more they see it and hear about it, the less stigma it will carry.
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?
Brenna Eller – VP of Communications at Canopy Growth
Laurie Gregory – CMO of Good Day Farm
Barbara Goodstein – Founder and CEO of B GREAT CBD
Beth Corbett – VP of Sales at AE Global, a leading cannabis packaging company
Key Takeaways from Lisa Weser:
- Women really need to bring each other along on the journey – investing in their businesses, mentoring them, hiring them, or just making useful introductions.
- Figure out what your unique gift or talent is, and find a way to bring it to this industry.
- Stay focused on the results. If you get that right, the rest will follow.
- The biggest rewards have always come when I was brave enough to bet on myself.
Huge shout out and big thank you to Lisa Weser and Trailblaze 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!
Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter for more interviews! If you have a Weed Queen in mind that I should interview next, drop us a line below in the comments and we’ll check them out. Thank you for reading!