Meet the determined, adventurous mother-daughter teams taking the cannabis space by storm
With the expansion of cannabis legalization and its rise as an innovative and growing industry, there’s a new crop of new businesses – founded by mother-daughter duos – uniquely poised to cater to the needs of curious and keen consumers.
From developing edibles and topicals to cultivating flower, these women are using their intergenerational knowledge to widen the scope of what cannabis businesses can be.
The role of a mother and of a business partner can take many forms. For Raeven Duckett, co-founder of the Oakland-based cannabis delivery service Community Gardens, her mother’s role is that of a support, and someone who provides connections to her peers in the city.
As partners, Raeven says they “spend a lot of time in the community hosting events, educating seniors in particular about the medical benefits of cannabis, and how some cannabis can be used to alleviate some really common symptoms that they find themselves on very heavy drugs for like insomnia, inflammation – things like that.”
Through the Oakland Equity Program – which aims to provide and support opportunities within the cannabis industry for those impacted by the War on Drugs – Duckett and her two co-founders rely on her mother Patricia Williams’ connections within the local senior community, but they also take the opportunity to do good in other ways. This past weekend, they hosted a fundraiser in honor of Mother’s Day, wherein attendees helped to assemble period packs for homeless women in their area. Because the primary service of Community Gardens is to deliver product to clients, Raeven notes that “it makes a lot of sense for us to carry those kinds of things in our car.” Again, it was her mom that inspired the idea, because “we actually do that on Christmas, where we go out and hand out socks to people on Christmas morning.”
It’s with initiatives like this one that Raeven hopes to make a greater impact with Community Gardens, knowing that it’s Patricia’s example that informs the initiative. “I really do think that comes a lot from the way that I was raised, and the way that my mom kind of guided our family.”
In 2014, Andi Bixel launched her Seattle-based edibles company, Drip Sweets, with her mom Kathy. As a pair of self-described “feelers & dreamers”, they use infused ice creams and gummies to spread the joy of using cannabis.
Andi wanted to work with her mom because they are incredibly close, but she also loves that she is able to “reintroduce this plant with someone who smoked for the first time at a Grateful Dead concert.” It’s in this spirit that Andi reflects on why starting a business together at this moment in history is so special. “I think we’re experiencing our society’s second attempt towards introducing consciousness – free love, chill vibes, fun. The hippie movement from the '70s, rebranded, and with legal access to our cannabis plant teacher.”
Kathy’s role with the brand is easing up because “she is, after all, technically retired”, but Andi still marvels at their ability to create products together, and looks forward to making a greater impact within the industry. “I’m working really hard to grow the company so that I can offer more opportunities to other women, as well as hopefully inspire and encourage other women to create their own path. I see us having the space here to really show how different an industry could look with women having a heavy hand in shaping it.”
When Susie Gress’ husband passed away suddenly, she says she found herself looking to make a new life plan. It wasn’t long after learning about Washington’s proposal to start providing licenses for growing cannabis legally that she remembered a prediction from a psychic in her twenties, who envisioned her growing plants later in life.
After telling her daughter, Ivy, about her idea to start growing flower, Ivy put her plans for law school on hold and jumped on board. “I knew this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to not just be at the forefront of a new industry, but to learn from the best entrepreneur and all-around powerhouse I know.”
Despite her history working in small business before launching Vashon Velvet in 2011, Susie says she wouldn’t have been able to develop the brand without her daughter – who was responsible for connecting with buyers and the community – because “[you] can grow the best flower on the planet, but if no one knows about it, you won’t be successful.”
Seven years on, Susie says she’s having more fun than she could have ever imagined at her age. Ivy no longer works full time with clients, as her mother says she did such a wonderful job of establishing relationships that they can only supply to their existing buyers.
At Cosmic View, the inspiration to start a cannabis business was spurred on by the firsthand experience of cancer survivor, Nicole Skibola, prompting she and her mother, Dr. Christine Skibola – a cancer researcher – to use their experience and expertise to craft infused topicals and tinctures. Nicole’s relationship with the plant came out of her cancer treatment five years ago; as an endometrial cancer survivor, using cannabis is something that Nicole now sees as necessary for her physical well-being. “My mother and I are both on this planet as healers,” she says.
Since Cosmic View launched a year ago, the Skibolas are still very much involved in every part of the process, and Nicole admits that “there are many, many wrong turns and bad decisions you could make in this business” but, by partnering with one another, they have the deepest possible trust in each other.
As entrepreneurs in the new, ever-changing cannabis landscape, they try to appreciate the bigger picture when possible. “We definitely enjoy our celebratory joint or a glass of wine with belly laughs, and even dancing sometimes, after a long day of manufacturing…”
Above and beyond their combined firsthand knowledge, pairing up also brings their individual lived experience to the project. Nicole sees the respect for the earth that came out of the ‘60s and ‘70s, and the rise of feminism returning with gusto. As she puts it, “It’s not only about the environment, or cannabis legalization, but also this notion of taking control of our bodies, personally and politically.” The duo aims to provide treatments for women who want to get away from the pharmaceutical drugs that have been their sole legal option for so long now, in favor of “…[getting] back to what Mother Nature gave us.”
Born+Bred Distribution is the brainchild of Janve Sobers and Mickey McKinney. Their desire to get involved in the cannabis industry also stems from the firsthand experience of seeing how this plant can be used therapeutically.
Mickey – who has been diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety, and brain injury (which resulted in severe migraines) – was first prescribed pharmaceuticals for these ailments. Despite enjoying cannabis in her youth, she says, “We bought in to the stigma of the War on Drugs, the Say No to Drugs stigma… raising my older two children.” So, she abstained from using cannabis. She took her doctors’ advice and filled her prescriptions for many years, but now she happily reports that she relies solely on cannabis for the relief she needs.
Her daughter, Janve, who is currently finishing a degree in Politics and Economics at NYU – something that she says gives her “insight into the legislative process for regulations and into the potential of the cannabis market in L.A.” – does not consume cannabis at the moment, first and foremost because it is still heavily regulated for medical use in New York, but also because she says “I actually really like myself when I’m sober.” But she sees her peers in school and notes, “It’s interesting how our culture as young people has played a role in de-stigmatizing cannabis…. We understand, as the generation who have been most pumped full of things like Adderall and all kinds of psychotropics for different things like ADHD, and also just stuff that’s been misdiagnosed, so we know better than anyone that that stuff doesn’t always work. It works for some, but not many.”
It’s clear that this perspective informs the pair’s business plan, as they aim to focus on ensuring that the products they will offer are what they say they are. As someone who uses the plant to treat her medical needs, Mickey goes to great lengths to legally procure products, but finds their potency can be unreliable. This is how she and Janve intend to stake their claim. “As leaders in California’s new cannabis industry, Born+Bred is committed to outperforming expectations of accountability, compliance and customer service.”
As Janve wraps up her degree, she and Mickey look forward to officially launching their business. They are thankful to be able to receive reparations from the Oakland Equity Program, and want to ensure that they are creating good in their community. “Our two perspectives on cannabis, and on the industry, has been the source of a lot of growth and a lot of forward motion for us,” Janve says.
Story by Jessica Walker
Van der Pop does not endorse or condone the illegal consumption of cannabis.