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 Jake Wall, Chief Innovation Officer And Co-Founder Of MAISON BLOOM
Jake Wall is the Chief Innovation Officer and one of the trio of co-founders of MAISON BLOOM, the cannabis industry’s first strain-specific, whole-plant, single-barrel beverage brand. A veteran brand builder and growth marketing leader, Wall has a depth of experience across consumer brands, luxury fashion, digital and e-commerce, consumer packaged goods (CPG), and food and beverage/hospitality industries. Wall brought his signature human-centered design and thought leadership to each of these sectors while building successful brands that scale and excel to this day. He played an integral role in shepherding numerous brands to their high-growth and adoption phases including eHOW, LIVESTRONG, JAKE Clothing, Haute Couture French Bubbles, Ayesha Curry’s International Smoke, and Chef Michael Mina’s empire of restaurants (MINA).
During his time with MINA, Wall oversaw branding and market adoption for 45+ different worldwide locations across 10 brands delivering $220M+ in annual revenues. Prior to MINA, he served as Creative Director at JAKE, where he managed a lifecycle of four seasonal product lines, as well as developing a unique custom operation that could operate at scale to deliver $10M+ in annual revenues and secure a successful exit for stakeholders.
Wall splits his time between San Francisco and Los Angeles. In his words: “Between the two I am blessed to experience the only two kinds of weather California is known for –magnificent and unusual.”
TRAILBLAZERS: What is something unique that you bring to your work and the greater cannabis industry overall from your previous work or life experience?
JAKE WALL: I have integrated and evolved the practices of Human Centered Design (HCD) across many industries including media, luxury fashion, CPG, hospitality, and now cannabis to disrupt how products come to life. At MAISON BLOOM, our unique approach to how products are developed, refined, and – ultimately – succeed.
We believe at carving a better path to ensure great products make their way into the baskets of our consumers by (1) putting people at the center of all we do; (2) understanding that design is circular and engaging; (3) iteration is essential and is always an opportunity to learn; (4) creating “room(s) to think” by intentionally engineering spaces and places for the team and for our consumers that fosters creative thinking, group brainstorming, and complimentary idea-generation; (5) “walk in our consumer’s shoes” and staying laser focused on understanding the people we are trying to reach.
Why are you passionate about being part of the cannabis industry?
The legal market of cannabis is currently a space of convergence – a blooming legal industry and marketplace establishing itself in real time combined with an ongoing mission to fight historical stigmas and establish clear tracks of mainstreaming. It is an interesting time with an incredible industry that is, in its own way, a bit of a “Wild, Wild West” of business and commerce. Speaking for the entire team at MAISON BLOOM, we are builders and excel as agents of change and impact. As we see it, there is so much potential in the cannabis plant and tremendous benefits that can be further explored, evolved, and integrated into the day-to-day lives of consumers. We see cannabis as one of the world’s first true functional plant-based ingredients for food and beverage and we are dedicated to jumping into the deep end of this pool and being an expert voice – a guiding light – that can highlight the tremendous value cannabis and the industry can bring to so many people. We are here, in the trenches, doing the good work because that is where we thrive, not just survive. We both seek and drive what we call “the inertia of innovation,” and this industry is one that provides us ample space to practice our product-based “practical magic.”
Cannabis is all about community. What partnership opportunities with other companies have allowed you to create something even better than imagined due to your combined efforts?
I would have to highlight the exceptional collaboration that has come from teaming up with our friends at Vertosa and Sonoma Hills Farm to recognize the dream we set out to achieve with MAISON BLOOM; and engineer a true bar cart experience powered by the flower and deliver cannabis’s first strain-specific, whole-plant, single-barrel portfolio of beverages. When you bring the science nerds of Vertosa together with the agricultural nerds at Sonoma Hills Farm and combine with BLOOM’s own flavor nerds... Well, you see what happens when people who have unbridled passion for something – a passion that defines how they are as people – without fear of other people’s judgment get to do what they do best. It’s a pleasure to run alongside these teams so we can dream our dreams with open eyes and turn them into reality – one well executed strategic choice at a time.
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 is more than an opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, questioning, and asexual persons to celebrate their individual authentic voices. Pride is a month anchored in honoring the past and the people and persons who have worked hard, often thanklessly and at the risk of great personal harm, to ensure basic human and equal rights for the greater community.
But we are also MAISON BLOOM, and there is no denying we love any excuse for a great party and celebration. This means Pride is also a month that serves as the ultimate celebration of openness and honesty – a celebration of individuals allowed to be their authentic and true selves in full color at work, at home, at play, and in a supportive and loving community. This means we at MAISON BLOOM have a role to play with action. We have the power to put our LGBTQIA+ friends in the spotlight, showcase photos and stories that champion the uniqueness of the individual while highlighting and celebrating the diverse voices across our community.
How are you supporting the advancement of LGBTQIA+ diversity, equity and inclusion efforts?
MAISON BLOOM is an LGBTQIA+ majority founded and operated company that believes in a world of more round tables and less executive boardroom tables. We are a motley crew of gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, and straight allies, many of whom are first-generation entrepreneurs. We are dedicated to creating opportunities – both internal and external to our organization – that call people in versus calling people out.
We have a firm commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion – Our Promise – which guides us in all that we do.
What is one of your favorite LGBTQIA+ organizations to support?
We are longtime allies of Human Rights Campaign and have been, going all the way back to the days of working in luxury fashion and partnering with this progressive volunteer-led organization for “Suit Up Equality” – a fundraiser and immersive fashion experience in support of marriage equality. We support and work continuously with the dynamic doers at HRC and support the true grassroots actions for basic respect and dignity that they supercharge across this country. There is always work to be done, but with each victory, HRC helps us all take one more essential step on the journey toward full equity for all and we at MAISON BLOOM will always have their backs. Because we never stop pushing until equal means equal for absolutely everyone.
What’s your favorite LGBTQIA+-produced cannabis product that isn’t from your brand?
Do you like beer? Do you like cannabis? Well get ready to fall in love with INDE Local‘s world of craft cannabis brews. Kim Leadford and the team offer up a bold vision where you get a truly delicious non-alcoholic beer that is leveled-up by the unique blend of cannabis ranging from pilsners to stouts and so much more. Delicious and a perfect decadence to level up your everyday. Great products made by great people with great vision, whom I am proud to call allies and friends. ‘Nuf said.
If you are looking for a curated approach to flower, look no further than what Timeka Drew is doing with BIKO Flower and her Juseyo Diamonds Whole Flower Pre-Rolls infused with ultra-premium THCa. A longtime activist who started her journey in cannabis due to a medical need, Timeka’s world of BIKO is one that delivers a superior flower based product that is also engineered as a tool for social change. It will get you high and deliver a higher purpose all at once – what’s not to love about that?
What advice would you give to others who wish to join the cannabis industry and follow in your footsteps?
Find your tribe as quickly as you can. This doesn’t mean rush into relationships, collaborations, or communities just because they are offered or available. Be judicious and be selective, but the sooner you can establish your own circles of support within this industry, the better you will be. This is an industry where many are sincere and truly want to see anyone and everyone succeed as long as they work hard. In finding and establishing your own network, you will find people who you can lean on, people who can counsel you and advise you, and people who will absolutely lift you up as you climb together. Which brings me to my second point... Make sure you return any and all favors and that you too help those in your tribe and the newcomers that arrive after you to succeed – lift them up as you climb. Be the gift you were once given and I promise this industry, although tough, will always treat you right.
What are you most excited to see more of in cannabis next year?
Prosperity is a big word. One that we don’t give enough attention to, but in truth, it is something that belongs to those who learn new things the fastest. Prosperity belongs to those who adapt in times of feast and famine and everything in between. We find ourselves in an interesting year – 2022 is a rollercoaster of macro and micro economic fluctuations and reverberations that are impacting everything. Whereas I do foresee that 2022 will be a year that delivers a tremendous amount of consolidation across portfolios, companies, and industry players, I also see a young industry and set of players who are surprisingly resilient. I am seeing a new wave of openness and shared humility among “movers and shakers” that is leading to incredible collaborations. Moments of constriction force us all out of our comfort zones and demand we push ourselves and I am seeing this feed a renewed sense of business camaraderie that is poised to better service end consumers and, therefore, serve to really deliver a paradigm shift in our march toward mainstreaming. Alongside this, I believe that technology is going to be an important “superconductor” in this mix impacting what’s possible in the cannabis products themselves while also furthering dynamic touchpoints consumer engagement and interaction which is going serve to fuel the first true great wave of brand distinctions in cannabis serving to carve out lanes for product branding, retail branding, and service branding in which consumers draw increased value from style, performance, and innovation alongside the power of experiential brand components.
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Featured image: Jake Wall, Chief Innovation Officer and co-founder of MAISON BLOOM (C) MAISON BLOOM