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 Kim Leadford, Founder And CEO Of Inde Local
Kim Leadford is founder and CEO of Inde Local Brewing Company. Based in Los Angeles, Leadford is an independent filmmaker and producer. In her own words, she’s “definitely living the ‘California Dream’... With my two co-founders, I lead a mighty little team of 8 entertainment and cannabis pros.”
TRAILBLAZERS: What is something unique that you bring to your work and the greater cannabis industry overall from your previous work or life experience?
KIM LEADFORD: I’m an independent filmmaker, so I am accustomed to startup life. Every film has its own LLC and team and crew and launch plans and ultimately, an exit. Occasionally, I have multiple productions going at the same time and launching around the same time. The only way to bring sanity to that sort of life is to surround yourself with only the best people and keep the team small and nimble. Because that model requires a great deal of efficiency, trust is key. Trust is a two way street, so accountability goes both ways. As a producer, I learned early on that taking accountability speeds everything up and cuts through the noise (for yourself as the producer and for your crew...they are the ones who are actually making the film!). That ethos operates well with any startup, let alone in a fast growth industry like the cannabis space. Hire the best, treat them the best and get out of the way so they can kick ass.
Part and parcel of all of that is that my partners and I bring something to cannabis that is so unique from entertainment: an obsession with fostering great morale. I can watch a film and know whether the film was fun to work on or not. It’s a huge success when fun shows up on the screen. At Inde Local, we want people to feel our morale when they’re enjoying our beers. We want our consumers to know we brought our absolute best to the table for them. It’s important to us that our consumers know we are committed to them having the absolute best experience with our brews.
Why are you passionate about being part of the cannabis industry?
I love the space and believe in its promise. I am a recovering alcoholic and owe a great deal of thanks to Mother Nature for blessing me with access to a critical med for most of my ailments, physical and mental. Cannabis is also just so much fun to use and I love having fun. Fun also happens to be our North Star.
What advice would you give to others who wish to join the cannabis industry and follow in your footsteps?
Seek counsel (lots of it), but don’t let too many opinions cloud your read on your gut. It’s a nascent industry, so there’s not much viable precedent. In my opinion, too much time is spent talking about what you can’t do. As with any industry, it’s your job to execute on your plan and it’s the lawyer’s job to make sure it’s compliant.
How are you supporting the advancement of LGBTQIA+ diversity, equity and inclusion efforts?
Inde Local is a group of misfits who are lucky enough to have found each other. We, literally, represent the spectrum of identity. We are queer, we are straight, we are refugees, we are first-generation entrepreneurs and none of us have been handed anything. So, inclusive is just who we are.
What are your favorite LGBTQIA+ organizations to support?
I take an investor’s approach to supporting LGBTQIA+ stories and businesses. I try to put money and resources, directly, into the hands of people in my community so they can build something for themselves and posterity. We don’t have a lot of generational wealth in our ever-growing tribe. The way to change that is to put real money into their companies and honest, intellectual and emotional support behind them.
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 to me, means being able to stand proudly in who I am and how I stand proudly for those who stand in the same conviction. For us, pride and allyship begins before and extends well beyond June. We get behind people, as a matter of course. At the moment, we are forging an incredible partnership with one of the most talented groups of founders we’ve met in the space. The company is called MAISON BLOOM. They are smartly filling a void in the cannabis drinks category, by elevating the presentation and formulations to an on-premise vibe. We really dig everything they are doing and are going to put all the resources at our disposal into their launch and beyond. This will entail manufacturing and distributing their cocktails and all sorts of other collaborations. And, yes, it feels really great to get behind a gay-owned business. For me, it’s personal.
What’s your favorite LGBTQIA+-produced cannabis product that isn’t from your brand?
Hands down MAISON BLOOM. While they aren’t yet on the market, I have had the privilege of enjoying their wonderful beverages and their branding and team are on point. They are poised to help elevate the game and we are excited about our partnership with them.
The future is bright in cannabis. What are you most excited to see more of in the industry next year?
The future is bright, indeed. I am super excited to see all the new beverages coming to market. It’s a really cool category that we believe is going to take off globally. We have been in discussions with some folks in Europe and beyond about partnering up in various different ways; which is crazy when you think about it. We called it, last year, and were looked at as naïve. Cut to a year from then and we are in viable discussions about launching abroad. And, we are not the only beverage in these types of discussions. It’s gonna be massive and we’re here for every second of it.
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Kim Leadford, founder and CEO of Inde Local (C) Areu Bros. Studios