It’s been my experience in life with a lot of Women; there are some who love me and some who don’t. I have had the same friends in my life for 30-20 years. No matter what happens or how much time passes in between, they have always been there for me.
There is a common stereotype that Woman can’t always get along and often end up in “cat-fights” over stupid stuff. I cannot totally deny this because after working in the Bank for over a decade, I can confirm some Women definitely do bring the drama.
What if we totally misunderstand how this happens?
Sadly, Women are known for having our challenges when it comes to getting along with each other as much as we are for our Mental Health conditions. We are often shamed for struggling with Post-Partum Anxiety and Depression which is something most Women don’t even realize they are suffering from until it seriously progresses.
Then a stigma is attached to us and it becomes hard to shed. Our Families, Spouse/Partners often don’t understand what is happening and why you can’t pull up the slack. The conflict eventually implodes and often times; it causes trauma for the family involved.
In more serious cases; especially if one has already experienced a Mental Health Crisis or Active Addiction, the person suffering would eventually find comfort in something. That something is often an addictive substance which causes hell all on its own.
This epidemic of suffering causes great harm to everyone involved, especially to children. The Economic impact is great; just think of a great big hole in your backyard that you keep digging. Every household in Canada knows someone who has been through a serious addiction.
There has always been a Silver Lining in an industry that supports Entrepreneurial Women and Men who face adversity – Cannabis.
Part of the Market Research for my Canadian Cannabis Startup: Original Product Cannabis & Concentrates Inc. involved running a Direct Sales/ Distribution Network for Cannagirl’s out of Hamilton, Ontario.
I was inspired by the retail operations performed by the Black Market during the height of the illegal storefronts here in Hamilton. Ontario. At its peak, there were some 90 stores or so operating right out in the open.
My experiment in the Black Market Dispensaries took place between December 2018 until April 2019.
Below are two of the illegal Dispensaries I frequented during my Retail Experiments. Stores were spread across the City; often open from 10 am until 10 pm. They employed hundreds of people and obviously created a ton of opportunity for the Black and Silver Market Cannabis Producers and Products.
My objective was to find out how the Black Market and the Legal Market would come together, or remain apart. The profitability of these stores was so insane, I wondered how the Legal Dispensaries would ever compete.
There is obviously a considerable amount of Financial Crime involved when running something of this caliber. However, the front-line workers and bottom players were compensated quite well considering they risked their freedom everyday.
Unfortunately I was unable to take pictures inside because they did not allow you to use your phone. Often times, many locations wold employ their own Security to work the main entrance.
Inside everyone was hustling and bustling and on average, 200 people a day bought their Weed and other products through these stores alone. One particular store; Canada Cannabis had two locations and offered amazing deals like $99 Half-Ounces and 5 pre-rolls for $20. The staff were knowledgeable, friendly and warm.
Sure, the lineups were long and sometimes only shitty product remained at the end of the day but everyone was happy to be able to buy their Cannabis like this. It was easy, fast and fun – the way Weed intended.
I knew around March the Dispensaries would be closing soon and the access to product would become difficult. The Brands I discovered in those Dispensaries would need people like myself to invest otherwise they would lose Market Share before October 2019 legalization.
I was also concerned about the flood of Counterfeit products in the Market. Tinctures made from CBD Oil are the most commonly counterfeited. The risk of harm to the Public is great and so I wanted to ensure the Companies I chose would support a path to Legal Market Distribution.
Over a 4 month period, I sought Women out over Facebook by way of the Cannagirl – 4/20 groups which are everywhere especially in Ontario. They are easy to find and are an excellent resource for any Cannabis-related question one may have.
The Recovery Project was my code-name for my Multi-Level Marketing/Direct Sales venture in Cannabis with products like Baked-Goods, Gummies, Tinctures, Extracts, Vapes and Distillate products.
I hypothesized I could teach and motivate Women based on my 20 years experience in Retail Sales and 14 years as a Banker to build their own mini Cannabiz. Once established, their new business would be working towards their own Personal Recovery, financial security, new Professional relationships and Life Goals.
They were all extremely passionate about Cannabis and I thought if I could motivate them to be that passionate about their own Cannabiz – we would be successful as a whole.
Of course I was essentially my own experiment because part of my role was to grow my own Brand locally. It was my goal to do this solely based on my own strength of skill. I did not take any Investor money. This was done with my own money which was $600 initially.
My title of Hybrid Manager/Director included tasks of Sales Planning, Mentoring and building up their basic business building skills. Relationship management, Product Knowledge, PR, Advertising and Recruitment for new Directors online was also part of my role.
My first brand was discovered by accident through the BM Dispensaries. Vapemount makes a Vape Pen Starter Kit which comes with a 500 mg Pineapple Express Rosin Vape Cap.
My former Husband got me one for Christmas and I loved it. This Brand was so popular in Hamilton’s local Black Market Dispensary stores that they would be sold out within days.
The Refills were all I was initially seeking by contacting Vapemount for a Bulk Order. I realized the spread between Wholesale and Retail was impressive enough to run the Network with this product alone but I needed more variety in order to appeal to other demographics.
Harm Reduction is a huge aspect of Original Product as we promote #Microdosing with Vape instruments as a way to decrease the potential intoxication of Cannabis. Many who rely on the medicinal benefits find Microdosing to be a beneficial way to Dose throughly throughout the day while minimizing the risk of Smoking Leaf/Flower Joints.
Vapemount is based out of Niagara Falls/Welland, Ontario. They make their own Rosin with a Press and fill the Capsules. The Vape Refills come in a variety of Flavours but only in a Hybrid Strain of Rosin Oil.
Within weeks, I had established a relationship with another Vendor who is distributed Nationally across Canada. For this part of the experiment, I needed someone extremely reputable and recognizable. I also needed a Vendor that produces high-content THC Tinctures and Capsules as part of my harm reduction initiative which I’ll explain later in Part 2.
Marys Medibles “Mary’s Canada” are based out of British Columbia. They were quickly added to the mix as their wide range of selection, recognizable Product/Brand Identifiers and existing Sales Marketing allowed me to Rep this product fairly easily in comparison to a smaller, local Brand.
My first order was $2200 and this was split between myself and the three women I had found, working under me in North Bay & Timmons, Ontario and Manitoba. A few of my friends got in on the first order as well so we sold out fairly quick.
OPCC Inc. chose to use the Mary’s brand as it is Lab-Tested for Quality and Strength along with meeting sealed packaging, labeling and dosing requirements. Their strong Social Media Marketing and Branding strategy had already been established therefore it was cost-effective to use theirs instead of having to create our own.
On the OPCC Inc. Instagram however I did create a few Posts promoting Mary’s product benefits and it led to several new Client relationships that were of “Influential” nature to build the #Cannagirl Alliance.
It was also helpful Marys Medibles.com existed to show their Product Lineup as we could not sell off a Website or use Facebook/IG to sell. At least not directly. We had to sell the stock based on products we designed Social Media Ads around promoting the benefit rather than coming right out with a Marketplace online.
As I wanted this to be similar to DoTerra which is a Multi-Level Marketing for Essential Oils; I encouraged the ladies to attract their leads by direct contact and Public Relations/Marketing over Instagram/Facebook. Each Social Media platform has its own set of rules pertaining to Cannabis-related posts. Sales are restricted so you would have to be cautious but creative.
Actual Order preparation and fulfillment took place in my kitchen late at night. I would spend some time talking to each lady, planning their product orders and sales strategies. The product would then be delivered for the ladies to do their own disbursements.
Each Woman had their own geographical area to cover therefore each order contained a variety of different products. Every area seemed to want a different thing; Southern Ontario for example is big with the Tinctures however Manitoba likes Gummies.
We would discuss our lives and days online using Facebook Messenger as our own Group Chat titled “Recovery Project.” We did this ritualistically every day. The Women were connecting on a whole new level and now using each other as motivators and mentors.
By May, all of the illegal dispensaries in Hamilton had been shut down. There were a few operating underground at Houses and Storefronts but for the most part, The Legal Market took hold.
The demand for Concentrates and Extracts became apparent quickly so I needed to choose a Vendor who produced Shatter, High-Grade Distillates and “Sauce” which is a fancy name for smokeable Resin; a pressed Cannabis-extract.
Sovrin Extracts in Alberta, Canada was chosen for its Premium product, packaging and Brand following. Sovrin’s Strain and Flavour selection is vast and memorable. People recognize the superior quality especially in terms of their Vape Pens and Distillate Tips.
What is unique about Sovrin is that they produce flavoured CBD-only tips for their vape pens which are hard to find and in demand. Vaping CBD has many advantages especially if you are looking for a higher return on the active ingredients.
In terms of Strain Selection; their Menu includes Indica, Sativa and Hybrid options which is uncommon for Shatter, Sauce and Tips. They even carry popular, hard to find Strains such as Jack Herer and AC/DC.
The investment in their Packaging and Public Relations made Sovrin Extracts an easy choice for whom to do business with. They were a pleasure to deal with and look for Companies who support a legitimate, long-term relationship within Distribution.
Distillate seems to be favoured over a Rosin Oil tip in terms of taste, return and impact. Buyers are able to choose from a variety of strains but also have the choice of pure THC, 1:1 or CBD only tips.
Sovrin also produces CBD Tinctures and Distillate Oil Pens.
By May, OPCC Inc. had grown in size significantly and we brought on more ladies. We would add one of my good childhood friends from British Columbia and a few more to the Southern Ontario Region.
We also had two other ladies working out of Midland and Barrie, Ontario to round out the North.
It was suggested by one of the ladies in Midland to contact Herbivores (Exotica Farms) to obtain a Wholesale Price List with them. This is where things started to become overwhelming for myself because there was a lot of work involved managing these relationships on my own.
By now we had 7 Women actively running their own Cannabiz and I couldn’t keep up with the demand. Adding another product line meant another relationship to manage, more orders to process and ship.
I decided to proceed with an order but I did not add Herbivores to my regular product line-up. I wanted to encourage the ladies to obtain their own Wholesale Agreements/Relationships to meet the demand of their customers. I also wanted to encourage them to setup Cannabar’s (think of a regular Bar only with Edibles) at Events.
Herbivores makes Candy like Fuzzy Peaches and Cherry Blasters, Cotton Candy, etc – people want this specifically for Candy Bars, Piñatas, etc. as Cannabar’s grow in popularity. However one of the challenges in providing these bars would be finding a trusted, reliable Vendor. Thankfully, Herbivores has the Brand recognition necessary for such an undertaking and so far, quite useful.
Finally around mid-May, it was time to contact a local Hamilton Vendor who specializes in Craft Cannabis and Products. I wanted to gauge the demand for packaged Quads that contained Craft Cannabis from the Legacy Market.
The passion and dedication that goes into the StayLiftedd brand blows my mind to this day. The Owner is dedicated to the Legacy/Craft Cannabis Market and loves what she does. She is the ultimate Cannagirl.
For our first order, I bought 1 of everything similar to my first Mary’s order in which I bought 2 of everything. I really had no idea what product would be sold and what wouldn’t but luckily; that wasn’t a challenge.
The Legacy Market is a term coined to describe the former Black Market participants who are Legal Producers trying to function legally.
The Legacy Market is a term coined to describe the former Black Market participants who are Legal Producers trying to function legally.
They are licensed to grow their own Cannabis and can produce products that meet the requirements and standards of the Cannabis Act if selected to do so.
What appealed me to StayLiftedd was the amazing Woman who owns and runs it; Danielle. She is a visionary with her product and specializes in producing Extracts, Flower and personal products like Cannabalms, Foot Scrubs and Lip Chaps.
Since StayLiftedd is local to Hamilton, it now became easier to meet the demand of orders. Around here, it is easily recognizable therefore I had a lot of success promoting it here.
By now I was running my own little Sales operation and making money to run my business and cover my expenses. By now the cost of Gas, Shipping and Extras was adding up not to mention Lawyer Fees involved for Incorporating in May.
My total investment into Original Product by May was $6500.
#CannaGirls & #CannaMoms:
In April, there was a Craft/Artisan Cannabis Market behind a Head Shop here in Hamilton. These Market’s and Events happen quite frequently around Hamilton along with Strain Swaps. I was introduced to a few people who produce their own products which inspired me to continue building my network of Craft Producers.
Danielle from StayLiftedd has an amazing background story herself so I wanted to promote her Cannagirl and Cannabiz profiles collectively by sending samples of her product out to Cannamom Influencers.
I decided to send a gift bag out to Moms Who Toke Are Dope @moms.who.toke.are.dope over on Instagram.
Her name is also Danielle and she does a lot of awareness around Cannabis being a medicine for Mother’s suffering from a variety of chronic conditions specifically anxiety, depression and pain.
By June, OPCC Inc. had 9 Women across Canada running their own Cannabiz.
Most ran their operation locally and within their own Communities; mainly by word of mouth and their existing Social Media networks. However, many began building their business and sales up by answering questions over the Facebook Cannamom and 4/20 Groups.
These communities are built upon trust, acceptance and appreciation for Cannabis as a Medicine, a Recreational pleasure and of course a connector.
The Black Market itself is based upon mutual respect, adhering to a standard of principles where consumers can expect quick access to Cannabis, a quality product and exceptional service.
Profit wise; all the proceeds from any sale were invested right back into the business. A self-rewarding enticement was built into every order. I would reward the Ladies with additional product to help grow their business and as a motivational tool to self-enterprise.
Part of growing their own Cannabiz required building their own Customer/Direct Sales networks. Social Media profiles became an integral part of the business building strategy. I encouraged each lady to identify themselves independently online by registering a Sole Proprietorship legitimately.
Each lady was responsible for Order Management, Ad creation and Sales strategizing. Many of the Women have backgrounds in Sales and Service but many are full-time Employed or Stay at Home Mom’s. Their ages ranged from 28-38 years old.
Most of the Cannabis 2.0 companies require anyone wishing to represent their Brand to have an Online presence and legal business profile. They will not just give out their Wholesale/Bulk Price List to anyone which is important in maintaining the integrity of the Brand.
The ladies began building their stockpiles and actually generating pre-paid orders enough to begin increasing their business beyond the initial investment. This Network of Cannagirl’s was starting to become quite profitable.
The ladies also increased their Marketing and Advertising Skills by creating “Starter Pack’s” and “Stash Piles.” More importantly, everyone was adamant about promoting lockable Stash Bags to prevent Kids from accessing Weed.
Pictured below are a few examples of one of the Girls in Ontario running her business in Midland: