Weed Queen: Sarah Michel
Check out our interview below, where Sarah Michel 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’m an introverted extrovert; a hopeless romantic living in Brooklyn, so you see where my dilemma lies. I’ve been working in media for about 13 years, and am currently a branded content story producer at Group Nine Media and founder of Canna Culture Connect.
What is your company about? What do you guys do?
Canna Culture Connect is a digital platform dedicated to edu’taining people about the holistic qualities of cannabis while advocating to end the War on Drugs. Coming from an entertainment background, I transmuted my writing abilities into the cannabis space to create a place where people can find relatable content around weed. My goal is to remove stigmas around the plant, because although labeled recreational, marijuana is medical. Folks stopping by the Instagram or site could find articles and posts about cannapreneurs, lifestyle, celebrity, and news.
What makes CannaCultureConnect unique?
I think because I’m a one-woman band who has a genuine relationship with weed. Although I’ve been smoking for nearly two decades now, it wasn’t until recently I understood the power of the plant through purpose. I recently celebrated 2 years of overcoming alcohol addiction, (Shout out to God) and cannabis because I learned I could deal with anxiety and stress without killing my organs. So many people have their own reasons for consuming, I just love connecting with them on that.
What’s your favorite part about your job? Least favorite?
Meeting people for sure and researching for my articles. There isn’t much research in the space, so it’s interesting to see what’s out there. Education isn’t accessible to all, which is a big reason why the War on Drugs has continued for so long, so definitely learning new properties about the plant. Least favorite is social media. Although I’ve been working in entertainment, I’ve always been more behind-the-scenes, like way behind. So coming up with new posts of value everyday, while working my full time job, while freelancing can get to be a lot.
What inspired you to start your company and how did you get started?
I started after quitting a job I LOVED because I wasn’t happy and it enabled my alcoholism. It wasn’t until I left there, walked into church, and gave my heart to Jesus that I realized I am capable, and I don’t need a company or person to validate my talent. My voice matters. After realizing I had no urge to drink after suffering for so long, I needed to share with everyone else what I was learning the best way I knew how, through articles. At the same time, I joined a group called WoCC (Women of Color in Cannabis) and it clicked for me that I still wanted to write, just not about toxicity. So rather than covering celebrities, I decided to cover anyone who is doing authentic work in the space. It’s very male-dominated and not the most-welcoming. Many companies don’t care about the people locked up for the weed they make millions off of, etc. Everyone worth having their story told has a platform on mine.
What is your vision and mission for CannaCultureConnect?
To remove the stigma around weed completely to where budtenders are invited to work happy hours to educate company employees on how to self-medicate in periods of high stress. A lot of people have the wrong idea about weed, thanks to the lying ass government. I just want people to be able to self-medicate without relying on Big Pharma. There’s always a natural option, even if it’s not weed.
What were you doing before you started CannaCultureConnect?
I was a writer for VH1 digital. Covered news and all shows, yes Love & Hip Hop included.
How did that influence what you do?
I strengthened the skills I needed to tell an effective story in different ways, whether long form, short and quippy – a attribute a lot of my ability to even run the platform on the backend to my experience at VH1.
How did you learn the skills to start and run a successful business?
I am still learning, haha. I practice affirmations and do devotions daily. I’m a huge believer of speaking your needs out loud and watching God work. So as crazy as it sounds, the moments I felt SO defeated, someone pops up and offers the help I didn’t have the strength to ask for. Thankful for the community, for sure.
What factors have contributed towards your path of success?
God, my family, and I guess my passion. Minding my business has also helped a lot. Had to unfollow the Shaderoom and all, honey, haha!
Did you ever expect a career in the cannabis space?
That’s a funny question because I don’t even look at it like that now. I love sharing the information because it’s great to know, especially during a time where doctors refuse to believe what you’re telling them. I do hope I could meet and reach more people. I have faith that will happen somehow.
Were your family and friends supportive of your venture?
Yes, my HAITIAN parents are extremely supportive. There was a time they hated “weeds” but after explaining to them their reaction to the plant is PTSD to what the police could do if you’re caught with in in Brooklyn from back in the day, they saw what I see about weed, and that’s the healing. My mom even uses RSO now for her pain. We’re much closer than ever before.
What has your personal experience with cannabis been?
It’s been amazing. Trial and error during new seasons but a fun one.
Did you ever feel like you weren’t taken seriously because you are a woman?
YES! But c’est la vie. I always just try to keep my eye on the goal and maintain peace that I did all I could to reach it.
How/do you think your involvement in this industry is going to positively impact your community?
Hopefully more self-medicating to the point where people take care of their whole selves, financially, mentally, and emotionally as well.
What has been your greatest obstacle in this industry to date – and how have you overcome it?
Again, coming up with the content to create. I’m still struggling to overcome it.
What’s the biggest change you want to see in the cannabis industry?
I want to see more Black women on boards, or women of color. Get these clueless white men up outta here!
Now that cannabis is legal, what excites you most and what worries you the most?
Excited to meet even more people, hopefully more research is done. Capitalism worries me the most and I’m worried for the budmen who can’t afford licenses. It’s great NY doesn’t have to be vertically integrated, but as the newly formed committee decides licenses, just hope my boys and gals are protected.
As a woman of color, 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?
I haven’t encountered any yet. Women of Color in Cannabis is a phenomenal group that does that work, along with so many other things for the community. I’ve attended nearly all of their cannasessions and sometimes use clips from those to share with my audience.
What would be your best piece of advice for fellow women looking to pursue the cannabis industry?
Know what you want to do, what your focus is and stay there. It’s so easy to get distracted and pulled into the wrong kinds of convos. Trust your discernment when meeting people.
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?
Give women funding, invest in them and watch what we do.
Do you have any suggestions on how we can help normalize cannabis?
Have more conversations about it, but in a serious way. It’s okay to say, “I took a couple of pulls of this sativa because my anxiety was getting to me,” or “I’ve been having trouble eating, so this hybrid helps alot.” ‘Tennis lessons were hurting my knee until I tried this CBD cream.” By being more transparent about the ways you’re actually self-medicating, people will respect 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?
The ladies of Wocc, Lo. Wagstaffe, Patricia Wright, Samantha Natumoro who also do individual work in the space, on top of WoCC.
Lo- creator of Puff and Paint
Patricia: Creator of P Dubz High Bevs (my mom loves these for her pain)
Megan -founder of Potluck Crew
Key Takeaways from Sarah Michel:
- Know what you want to do, what your focus is and stay there.
- Trust your discernment when meeting people.
- Practice affirmations and do devotions daily.
- Give women funding, invest in them and watch what we do.
Huge shout out and big thank you to Sarah Michel and CannaCultureConnect 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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