Business partners, friends, and soul sisters TiYanna Long and Shellise Rogers are creating black girl magic of their own through their growing company, Synergy Sesh. The business is a learning and development company servicing entrepreneurs and those previously incarcerated who are involved with the cannabis industry. Though the number of women of color in the cannabis industry is growing, they are still vastly outnumbered. Long and Roger’s goal as a company is to create wealth in urban communities through scalable solutions and leave a lasting impact on these communities. On July 20, Synergy Sesh held a “Brand Bootcamp” at the CBD educational shop, Come Back Daily, in TriBeCa to reach new entrepreneurs and provide resources to better their businesses.
“People came here and really they said this is like their first event they’ve ever been to that they felt like they belonged to and they felt like they have tangible tools that they can now take and move forward with whatever their idea was whatever their brand currently is,” Long said.
Synergy Sesh held their first event in New Orleans July of 2018 during the weekend of Essence Music Festival, a festival primarily aimed toward celebrating the accomplishments of black women. It was at this festival that Synergy Sesh launched a “Keep Ya Network Poppin’” event. The event consisted of a roundtable of entrepreneurs actively working in the cannabis space to give attendees an opportunity to discuss their business models and goals. The recent Brand Bootcamp was an expansion of “Keep Ya Network Poppin’”.
“It’s all about action, and if people don’t leave here feeling like they can take action than we haven’t done our job as well,” Rogers said.
The Brand Bootcamp at Come Back Daily held more attendees than Synergy Sesh’s past “Keep Your Network Popping” events. The TriBeCa mixer also featured a lecture by guest speaker Gigi Cueva, retail merchant, community strategist, and cannabis enthusiast, to give industry insight. Cueva, who calls herself a “Chillanthropist,” curates what she terms “the Art and Times of Chill” while marketing for companies like the CBD wellness brand Kiskanu and the botanical oil infuser LEVO. After the lecture, an open Q&A segment was held, in which attendees asked questions regarding the improvement of one’s business for open discussion. The second half of the event was open for networking among guests and one-on-one consultations with Rogers and Long.
“We want people who are ready to invest in themselves and who are willing to do the work because we’re willing to help you along your path in doing the work,” said Rogers.
Among the attendees were established business owners and those just beginning to break into the cannabis field. Periodically, Long and Rogers would encourage the guests to exchange information. “Collaboration is key,” they would remind guests.
“Sometimes people just need that assistance with really identifying what the priorities are because there is oftentimes so much that needs to be done when it comes to either starting a business, growing a business, scaling a business, and it can get overwhelming, like where do you even start,” said Long. “But there are specific places where you do need to start, and I think us having the outsider’s perspective of someone’s baby that they’re trying to grow is very helpful for people.”
Tiyanna Long and Shellise Rogers met at a Cannabis Cultural Association event in New Jersey. Together they created Synergy Sesh to empower their communities and support people of color in the emerging cannabis industry. The two both have backgrounds in finance and philanthropy, and use their education backgrounds to aid their clients. As, “Ya Business Aunties”, Long and Rogers aim to assist their clients in any way they can, yet give them the space to grow as individuals. They provide the resources and consultations when needed, but hope to see their clients grow and reach their goals as independent businesses.
“We’re your aunties, we’re here to love on you and let you go. And when you need us to come on back, we’re here. We’re here with all the resources right here with a vast network of people that we can plug you in with and connect you to,” Rogers said. “We encourage you to also connect yourselves with the people around you, they’re your network too.”
In the future, Synergy Sesh is looking to host more workshops and have more virtual education opportunities for their clients.
“We are also going to be working more with helping other companies put together programming for their employees on the professional and the business development side,” said Long.
The two carry their passion for empowerment into every element of their business. The emerging cannabis industry is still largely dominated by caucasian males, but the number of people of color in the field is growing.
“Honestly, that’s not where the authenticity of our social consciousness as a people is moving towards, you know, and I think the diversity that Synergy Sesh brings and the comfort that the safe space that we provide for people of all races, all sexes, all genders to come and learn and understand what their pathways of opportunity are,” said Long.
Patricia Whyte is a staff editor for Honeysuckle Magazine. She has been previously published for The Fordham Ram and Untapped Cities. She is currently a junior studying journalism at Fordham University.