This fall, cannabis experience curators Humble Bloom returned to Brooklyn’s The William Vale hotel in collaboration with Mexico City-based, Black and femme-owned hemp brand Xula to present a three day activation series that kicked of with a reiteration of their signature event Femme Sessions. Guests were invited to convene at this femme-exclusive event hosted in the spacious, open-air Vale Garden Residence. This exclusive venue featured a stage, bar, and hot tub, along with breath-taking views of the city. The bar featured healthy green drinks combined with tequila and some of Xula’s hemp-derived tonics. The brand touts hemp-based herbal formulas that focus on “anxiety, menstrual cramps, sleep, menopause, and hormonal toning.”
Humble Bloom founders Solonje Burnett and Danniel Swatosh were joined by Xula founders Mennlay Golokeh Aggrey and Karina Primelles, welcoming femmes to an event centered around “exploring the intersections of cannabis, the health of our bodies and the repair of our communities.” Guests were encouraged to visit vendor tables, receive a Thai massage or participate in a group breathwork session led by Burnett. The hosts aimed to create a space that addressed femmes’ physical, professional, and mental health needs with holistic offerings to help them alleviate some of those pressures. The facilitators mingled amongst the guests, encouraging conversation and collaboration while reconnecting with returning guests and welcoming new ones!
The hosts eventually invited guests to gather together for a round-table discussion between women who were experts in multiple facets of femme-centered care, cannabis innovation, and more. The panel included Cannabis + IP Attorney Jessica F. Gonzalez Esq.; Saki Fenderson, Co-Founder of wellness, culinary and education brand TLBK, LLC; Sinnamon Love, founder of the BIPOC Adult Collective for sex workers of color; and Tricia Cassagnol, a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner at NYU Langone Health and founder of Her Temple LLC. These women contributed to a conversation that ran the gamut from cannabis licensing, sustainability and the historical intersections of cannabis justice, and the criminalization of sex workers.
At one point, Aggrey from Xula, who was facilitating the discussion, asked Fenderson to elaborate on the philosophy of cannabis as a medicine first, hoping to clarify the connotation of recreational use. Guests sat at the feet of these women, collectively engaging in the discussion and Fenderson used that to her advantage. She began by asking the crowd to raise their hands if they used over-the-counter medicine or traditional herbal medicine such as elderberry root. There were murmurs and laughter when the latter set of hands exceeded the former while Fenderson paused.
Fenderson then said, “I like to think about cannabis in two ways: as a medicine and as a food. I think about it that way because if you use food the right way, it can kill you or cure you. Plants can be like food in that way. If you think about the plant like medicine or food, you use it when you need it.” To clarify her position on recreational use, she explained how cannabinoids are stored in your fat cells and can be released even after a casual session when your body needs it most. For Fenderson, all cannabis use is essentially medicinal.
Following the panel discussion and subsequent Q&A segment, DJ Getty Rene fired the music back up, and guests were invited to continue to mingle as they danced the night away. Femmes from different professional and personal walks of life exchanged ideas, reveled in the joy of the moment together, and created connections that would go beyond the boundaries of The William Vale and this whimsical night.
One of the attendees, Cristina Simons, a burgeoning cannabis event planner, had nothing but positive things to say after the event. When asked how the atmosphere of this event made her feel, she replied: “As a new business owner, I often feel out of place at networking events. Beyond that, as a new business owner who specializes in infused events, I also sometimes feel judged. I am so glad I was able to attend Femme Sessions and experience something different. Not only did I feel safe and confident surrounded by other beautiful confident women, I also was able to listen and speak directly to the amazing speakers featured!”
Featured image: Xula founders Mennlay Golokeh Aggrey (far left) and Karina Primelles (far right) with Humble Bloom co-founders Solonje Burnett and Danniel Swatosh at Femme Sessions. (C) Riley Westgaard