I grew up in Alaska for most of my life and am currently a Portland resident. My parents are pot smoking fisherman and there isn't a time that I don't remember growing up around the plant and half-smoked j's in the ashtray. I was 21 when I smoked my first bowl (shitty break-up was a game changer) and have smoked ever since. I'm an aesthetician now with a passion for plant-based make-up and good eyebrows. My question for you is... HOW DO I BREAK INTO THE INDUSTRY? I have so much respect for the pioneers and hard-working women of this industry and I want to make sure I do it right. What's the best place to start? Budtending? Or would that be frowned upon due to my lack of experience? Are there classes I should take first? Help a pot smokin’ beauty professional out! I've got BIG dreams.
New Kid On The Block
Dear New Kid,
Welcome to the club! You’re getting in on the ground floor of the world’s most exciting industry. With all the enthusiasm and growth, it’s easy to see how taking first steps in your new career would be daunting. But luckily, with the wealth of opportunities comes a variety of resources to get you started on the right path.
While we’re waiting for educational institutions to catch up with industry expansion, there are many on and offline ways you can approach your new career path. According to our Women & Weed Survey results, 32% of North American women aspire to be involved in the cannabis industry, so you are not in this alone!
Schooling yourself might not be possible in a classroom just yet, but there are a few key sites that explain the basics of cannabis. You don’t have to become an “extraction process guru” overnight, but arming yourself with the vocabulary and familiarizing yourself with key players in the space allows you to investigate potential opportunities more confidently. Take your time and be methodical; for example, pick a topic and dedicate reading an hour each night on the subject.
Leafly, Wikileaf and Weedmaps are some of the most reputable weed websites, and speak to educational and lifestyle elements. You can also get cannabis-related news and info emailed directly via newsletters like WeedWeek, PUSH Magazine and Direct Cannabis Network. And of course, signing up for our own weekly digest, VdP Voice, is another great start!
Since the cannabis industry’s growth is moving at maximum speed, catching up on daily updates regarding legalization is fundamental. PSA: Use your discretion and make sure to verify facts against other sources before attempting to quote them.
Introducing yourself at dispensaries and finding out what opportunities are available there is a great idea. We all have to start somewhere, and customer-facing professionals will have the right attitude (friendly) and approach (rooted in deep knowledge) to arm you with the information and insights you need. Budtenders also meet suppliers all the time, and these connections are key.
You also have significant resources right at your fingertips. Start following accounts from cannabis brands, advocates and event groups; make sure to click the suggestion drop-down for additional “follow” opportunities! Let yourself get led down the proverbial garden path…. You never know where it will take you. There are many small brands out there who need support, be it with social media management, content production or brand ambassadorship. It doesn’t hurt to simply say “Hi!” and put yourself out there as an eager candidate for doing what they need to get done. As they grow, you can grow with them.
Familiarize yourself with local and national organizations like Women Grow and Lift, and attend seminars, conferences and industry panels whenever you can. Not only will you glean crucial insight from the scheduled conversations, but it’s also a way to make introductions to anyone you find inspiring and find out what they’re working on.
There are a few cannabis staffing agencies like Cannabis at Work in Canada and THC Staffing Group in the US, where you can investigate what kind of opportunities are out there. While you might not find your dream gig right away, at least you’ll have a sense of the scope of possibilities (and believe me, there are many!) and get your head in the game.
And, stick with what you know: cannabis-infused beauty is a flourishing industry and you can come to companies with your established expertise.
Your new motto should be, “Don’t ask. Don’t get.” Again, everyone in the industry today had to make that first approach, and what you lack in encyclopedic knowledge (for now), you make up with in personal passion and a commitment to the cause of cannabis normalization.