Honeysuckle is proud to present Trailblazers’ Authentic Voices: Pride ‘22 “Sweet Sixteen” series! Get to know sixteen LGBTQIA+ cannabis industry leaders who inspire us. Click here to find all their stories.
A Pride Month Message From Trailblazers Co-Founder Tyler Wakstein
Trailblazers is a curated community of cannabis and psychedelic business leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators who work together to advance the industry. We are unified by a shared ethos and vision of the future of plant medicine and other alternative healing modalities. We are a group of leaders and visionaries from across the entire ecosystem - from brands, to operators, to investment banks, MSOs, policy and law makers, scientists and researchers. We believe in creating a new paradigm of doing business - where collaboration, authentic connections and an abundance mindset drives the industry. We believe equality, social equity, and justice are not just something to pay lip service to, but rather the cost of entry into cannabis or hemp at large. We are honored to celebrate PRIDE Month with Honeysuckle Magazine and want to help empower the next generation of change-makers and emerging leaders in cannabis through access to the Trailblazers platform. Diversity drives innovation within a community like ours and we recommend applying to our fellowship program if anyone is interested in getting involved. trailblazerspresents.com/trailblazers-fellowship
Interested in finding out more about Trailblazers NYC, coming July 27, 2022? For details, click here.
Meet Charleen Caabay, Co-Founder And Chief Innovation Officer Of The People’s Ecosystem
Charleen Caabay is the co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer of The People’s Ecosystem, based out of Oakland, California and operating throughout the country in places such as Texas and New Mexico. Grounded on the intrinsic value of cannabis culture, The People’s Ecosystem is on the forefront of some of the boldest and most innovative thinking across the cannabis community. Actively promoting equity in the cannabis industry in a way that authentically reflects the plant’s diverse history, they are dedicated to bringing equity and opportunity to marginalized communities by helping companies through their experience and network to canna-entrepreneurs and recently added the first cannabis Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) to the mix. The People’s DAO intends to provide financial freedom, education and opportunities to BIPOC and women-owned businesses, creatives, and initiatives by using Web3 technology.
Often known as “Chef Charleen” due to her wide-ranging career as a renowned culinarian, Caabay started her journey working in food in the Bay Area. Building a solid following of local and regional foodies, she made it her mission to provide Filipino comfort cuisine to a mass audience. She won the Food Network competition show Chopped in 2016, has been cited in Zagat for her adobos, nominated for an Oakland Indie Award, featured in numerous publications, and has been integral in introducing Filipino food to companies such as Google, Zoosk, OkCupid and Eventbrite to name a few.
TRAILBLAZERS: What is something unique that you bring to your work and the greater cannabis industry overall from your previous work or life experience?
CHARLEEN CAABAY: I have been an entrepreneur for over 10 years, with restaurant, retail, and event production in my line of work. More recently and currently the food industry. Having food experience as well as cannabis knowledge makes for a great combination together for The People’s Ecosystem. But over all my company and myself are here to help elevate BIPOC and women-led businesses and allies transition from legacy market to legal market.
Why are you passionate about being part of the cannabis industry?
I have always been a cannabis advocate. Recreationally and medicinally it has aided many people, including myself with anxiety, ADHD, and pain relief. It has always been my passion to serve the community in ways of healing through cannabis. I have always been fascinated with the different ways cannabis can be used to heal, through food, extractions, topicals, and consumption. When I learned how to extract cannabis, I was able to make edibles that helped people sleep, gain appetite, and pain relief.
What does Pride mean to you personally? How are you celebrating or championing Pride through your company, the communities you do business in, or the industry overall?
Pride means to me that I can be myself, you can be yourself, everyone deserves to be who they are without any reason or judgment. Our company is majority LGBTQIA+ and allies. Our diverse group exemplifies what Pride is all about.
How are you supporting the advancement of LGBTQIA+ diversity, equity and inclusion efforts?
The People’s Ecosystem has always been focused on LGBTQIA+ diversity, equity, and inclusion. We have continued to challenge the current system in ways to put our people to the forefront. It is our priority and intention to make that possible for our people.
What is one of your favorite LGBTQIA+ organizations to support?
I am a longtime supporter of the Asian Pacific Islander Queer Women + Transgender Community. APIQWTC provides opportunities for Asian and Pacific Islander queer women and transgender people to socialize, network, build community, engage in inter-generational organizing, and increase community visibility.
What’s your favorite LGBTQIA+-produced cannabis product that isn’t from your brand?
MAISON BLOOM is one of the brands at the top of my list because their beverages bring a unique flavor profile to the market. I was most drawn to the sampling experience presented by them. It was refreshing to have a wonderful experience along with a story behind it. Even afterwards, the relationship that we built afterwards was so genuine and very welcoming.
What advice would you give to others who wish to join the cannabis industry and follow in your footsteps?
I always say, participate and don’t anticipate. Like any dream or passion, it takes one step to get things going. Patience and focus in this industry. It’s not made for the soft hearted - to be honest. One piece of advice is not enough. Hang in there!
What are you most excited to see more of in cannabis next year?
Community building is what is needed. You cannot move in this industry by yourself. Build, build, and continue to build. Build a new system that can help push us all to win, because this industry does not make it easy for us to succeed. The future is bright, we just have to keep on the same path.
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Chef Charleen Caabay, co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer of The People's Ecosystem (C) The People's Ecosystem