By: Bianka Anguiano | May 21, 2020
Weed Queens! I had the incredible opportunity to interview the one and only, Rosie Mattio. Rosie is the CEO and founder of MATTIO Communications, one of the top cannabis PR firms in the country and has been named a High Times Female 50 and Forbes Fifteen Powerful And Innovative Women In Cannabis.
Rosie is considered a market maker in the world of cannabis and has helped usher in the New Cannabis Age, garnering global media coverage in mainstream publications for clients, including the first cannabis article ever published in Oprah Magazine!Check out our interview below, where Rosie 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 Founder and CEO of one of the longest running and largest marketing agencies in the cannabis space. I work with my team to set communications strategies for our 35, and counting, client base. What inspired you to start your company MATTIO Communications? I was approached to do a crowdfunding campaign for a cannabis cookbook in 2014, the same year I moved to Washington, which had just approved adult use. The success of the campaign inspired me to pivot my agency to focus on this rapidly growing industry and bring my expertise to the space. What is your vision and mission for MATTIO? My vision for MATTIO is to remain the leading cannabis marketing agency and help companies gain global recognition among media, investors and consumers. We have been really gratified to help “mainstream” and destigmatize the plant and industry with the work we have done. I hope we can continue to move the industry forward through our communications strategies. How did you go about getting your company started? When I started, I was working on my own out of my home office. The company really started to scale when I brought on my partner, Mitch Rothschild. I was a skilled publicist, but had never built a company. So, I was really lucky to have a trusted colleague and long-time friend who was a serial entrepreneur who wanted to help me grow the firm. While I work the creative side and do the block-and-tackle work with clients and media, he helps with finance, HR and all of the operations to keep our company running. I am a firm believer in asking for help when you need it–and that to be successful you need to surround yourself with those who can do better to help you do better. What was the most challenging part about starting your business? The most challenging part was right before I started hiring my team when I was managing 12 clients all on my own. I knew I needed to scale the business, and knew I needed help, but didn’t know how to do it. I was constantly stressed. I not only feared failing my clients, but I also feared managing that growing business. What has been most rewarding about starting your business? This entire experience has been rewarding, but what makes me the most proud is watching my team flourish. We have hired the most talented and dedicated people. Day after day, they amaze me with their hard work. As an entrepreneur who worked alone for so long, it’s hard to know if anyone else would embrace the work the same way. There’s nothing that makes me happier than seeing the team execute at the highest level. We’ve created a special culture, and my employees have made deep friendships with one another that stems from working hard and trusting each other. I love seeing them have fun and enjoy the work they’re doing. What’s your favorite part about your job? My favorite part of my job is the friendships I have made throughout the years and the campaigns we have launched. We have been launching cannabis brands for over six years, so we have been really gratified to help these companies gain exposure among mainstream consumers and media. To that point, I think the greatest campaign to date was actually my first Agency Of Record account, an app called High There! I was tasked to launch it, and to get the word out we pitched it as “The Tinder for Tokers.” That launch garnered close to 500 media placements – and the app is still popular today. The founders are now two of my closest friends, and we still work with them to this day. When you get to do great work and create lasting friendships,the work becomes so rewarding. What has been your greatest obstacle in this industry to date – and how have you overcome it? My greatest obstacle came during the early years when I was trying to convince lifestyle media to cover cannabis. It wasn’t legal for adult use in California and many of the other states where it is now regulated today. Getting mainstream media to cover these emerging brands was a hard sell. I am always proud that we were responsible for the first stories ever written in Vogue and Oprah because we believed that if we continued to push the narrative of mainstreaming cannabis it would eventually resonate Did you ever feel like you weren’t taken seriously because you are a woman? Fortunately, I come from a long line of women entrepreneurs and work was an integral part of their lives and identities. I came into the workforce knowing that I belonged there and that has helped me feel confident in many male-dominated settings. I’m fortunate to be a woman in the cannabis space working with some of the most impressive women I have ever had the opportunity to work beside. They give me the push and energy everyday to keep doing what I am doing. They are all warriors and each one is making a huge impact on this new industry and helping define what is possible when women lead. 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? I have built a successful career and agency, and I still get the “stoner” mom jokes and puns. Some people still think what I do “cute” or “funny.” When I started my firm, I initially positioned it around the “business” of cannabis. But as I’ve learned about all of the powerful uses of cannabis for both medicinal and recreational uses, I have become an advocate for both the economic opportunity and the medicinal value. What I tell people is read about Charlotte Figi, or about cancer patients who can now eat again and look at all of the cannabis tax dollars being used to build schools and roads. Let’s stop making quick judgements that this industry is all “stoners.” How/do you think your involvement in this industry is going to positively impact your community? I think in a small way I have helped destigmatize the cannabis space. I am a young (ish lol) mother of four daughters running a successful company in this new industry. If I can do it, anyone can and I hope that will inspire other women to take a chance on the cannabis space. What’s the biggest change you want to see in the cannabis industry? What I would like to see most is those that have been incarcerated due to the War on Drugs be released from prison. We are proud supporters of the Last Prisoner Project and Possible Plan and want to see a day that those who were most impacted by social injustice be freed. What factors have contributed towards your path of success? The biggest factors have been my network of colleagues. We have really grown by word-of-mouth. We have long standing, really happy clients that refer us to their friends and partners. That’s the biggest secret to our success. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve also found so much support from the other women in the space. They have helped me by making introductions, as well, so I am forever grateful to them. What would be your best piece of advice for fellow women looking to pursue the cannabis industry? This is a new industry, and while there are many men in leadership positions, now is the time to enter the space. Make allies with both women AND men in this space. You’ll be surprised how willing everyone is to make introductions for you. Lean into your current skill set and really mold a role for yourself given your expertise. This is a young industry and it can really use a wide-range of skills. Where can we reach you? IG? Twitter? @mattiocommunications ( IG) @rosiemattio ( TWTR) Name 5 of your favorite women in weed that you’d like to give a shout out too. Emily Paxhia Karson Humiston Cynthia Salarizadeh Tahira Rehmatullah Debra Borchardt
Key Takeaways from Rosie Mattio:
- Make allies with both women & men in this space.
- Lean into your current skill set and mold a role for yourself given your expertise.
- Ask for help when you need it.
- Surround yourself with those who can do better to help you do better.