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 Nancy Do, Founder And CEO Of Endo Industries
Nancy Do is the founder and CEO of Endo Industries, a social equity cannabis company that focuses on building a reliable, scalable supply chain for mission-driven operators. In her own words, the Endo team envisions “a world where human health is transformed through the accessible and widespread consumption of reliable, high-quality plant medicine. We do this by first providing reliable inputs such as strong cannabis plants and access to data.” Endo Industries has been based out of San Francisco, California since 2009, where the heart of the legal cannabis industry began.
TRAILBLAZERS: What is something unique that you bring to your work and the greater cannabis industry overall from your previous work or life experience?
NANCY DO: I bring a combination of many great things entrepreneurship and the cannabis community desperately need. These unique backgrounds are things such as being queer, female and the daughter of Vietnamese refugees from a working class family, as well as having over 13 years of legacy cannabis experience and being a social equity operator who has gone to jail for this plant.
Because of these varied and diverse backgrounds, that is why my company has been successful in going withstanding the ups and downs of the cannabis industry and entrepreneurship. I am passionate, hardworking, community oriented, insightful, innovative, resourceful and resilient. It took years of leadership and failing at many things in both my personal and professional journey to be who I am today, but the college rugby athlete and the school of hard knocks always pushed me to get back up to run harder, smarter and faster.
Why are you passionate about being part of the cannabis industry?
Cannabis is the intersection of all the social justice initiatives and plant medicine that I hold dear to my heart. I want cannabis to be decriminalized and available for everyone as a medicine. I want the cannabis supply chain to be equitable and diverse, as it had been prior to the commercialization of this plant.
This means that both our consumers and those who regulate it need to come to the same understanding as to why we are legalizing this plant. It also means that we need wrap-around services to support a diverse industry and access to research grants to better understand this plant. Lastly, it means we need consumers to have better access to understanding how to use cannabis safely and effectively.
I am building Endo Industries to be a model of what a cannabis company should look like - diverse, equitable and community-oriented.
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?
We have three interesting partnerships brewing this last year:
1) Endo is building a cannabis workforce development program for formerly incarcerated youth with BACR called the Fresh Starts Initiative. BACR is a local human services organization serving the Bay Area with employment training, placement and support programs. They currently focus on serving youth and young adults who are disconnected and have challenges concerning violence, employment, criminal justice, and health.
2) Endo is launching an events-driven retail concept called BASTDROP, in partnership with Nouera and MD Numbers. BASTDROP will focus on curated cannabis subscription boxes, events, and event consultation.
3) Lastly, we are also launching California’s first ever retail cannabis nursery in partnership with Yabusaki Nursery and Medicinal Organics. We look to connect the consumer with the actual plant. To make cannabis a home growing hobby is a strong way to normalize this plant and for consumers to start to ask questions about where their cannabis is coming from.
Endo is lucky to partner with like-minded cannabis and non-cannabis companies who equally want to champion consumer education, equity, diversity and destigmatization as core values. Ultimately, we are not in this industry for a quick come up. It’s about the long game and to us, it’s a movement. We built our foundation on collaboration and meaningful values. There is no thriving cannabis industry unless we work together.
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?
As a queer founder, Pride is a time to show gratitude to all those who paved the path for us in generations prior, and to reflect on how fortunate I am to be able to safely live as my authentic self, something not all of us in our community are afforded. As a company, we celebrate and champion PRIDE in the way we hire beyond the resume internally, as well as seek partnerships and pathways with other queer-led and celebrated companies. Our company thrives because we are a diverse group and we can only succeed and service the communities we care about if our leadership and partnerships reflect the same.
How are you supporting the advancement of LGBTQIA+ diversity, equity and inclusion efforts?
As a leader, it’s always been important to create a workspace and industry that is welcoming of the LGBTQIA+ community. The first step is in our messaging; we don’t shy away from advertising that we are queer founded. At the same time, we emphasize the intersectionality and diversity in our team’s identities so that our partners or applicants can do research on us and know our ethos around the communities we support up front.
In other ways, we practice no-tolerance workplace policies. We also relentlessly support LGBTQIA+, women and BIPOC-led businesses by intentionally seeking them out and giving them business or finding more strategic ways to work with them.
What is one of your favorite LGBTQIA+ organizations to support?
I am a part of the StartOut organization, which is a nonprofit that serves to drive the LGBTQIA+ community to economic empowerment through entrepreneurship. They have built an amazing accelerator program that I was fortunate to participate in. They have great access to other key resources such as mentorship, networking events and other programming.
What’s your favorite LGBTQIA+-produced cannabis product that isn’t from your brand?
I love Landrace Origins by Amber Senter from MAKR House because it’s rare, especially these days, to find cannabis grown from legacy genetics. I also appreciate how Amber is pairing it with Landrace Origins coffee from the native regions where these cannabis genetics are sourced. In a time when cannabis has become about mostly hype and branding, it’s refreshing to see the thoughtfulness in this brand. Amber has only done a soft launch this year, but next year her products will hit the shelves more widely. I’m excited to see what she will do outside of pre-rolls and flowers.
What advice would you give to others who wish to join the cannabis industry and follow in your footsteps?
The cannabis industry may look glamorous from the outside looking in, but it’s plagued with many barriers to entry, damaging regulation and taxation laws and numerous other challenges that you must have so much resilience to surpass. To not sugarcoat it, but many come into the industry thinking they will be able to do everything themselves and to make a bunch of profits. It’s a big reality check for those who model business plans showing grandiose profits and no supply chain partnerships.
Like any industry, it’s always good to plan out who your supply chain partners are going to be and to truly vet them. And most importantly, ensure your values are aligned and don’t waver from that vision.
What are you most excited to see more of in cannabis next year?
I’m really looking forward to seeing more consumers ask for lower THC products and question who is making their products because they want to support equity and diversity. I’m also looking forward to seeing an increase in legal cannabis use from consumers and how much they consume but in lower THC formats. This can only happen if the industry isn’t hampered by overregulation, taxation and high barriers to entry.
The high THC and hype game only really serves a fraction of cannabis and potential cannabis users. Our goal is to diversify the impression of “weed culture” and make it more approachable outside of its current niche. Lasty, I hope to see more safe spaces to connect about and consume cannabis. We need these spaces now.
Endo is set on normalizing cannabis consumption, encouraging home growers, and ultimately guiding people in understanding the complexity of the plant: how different strains can treat different ailments, why it’s important to preserve various strains, and why it’s important to support legacy and equity operators. It takes teamwork, patience and care, one day at a time.
Learn more about Trailblazers by visiting trailblazerspresents.com. You can find out more about Endo Industries at endoindustries.com. To learn how to support StartOut, visit startout.org.
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Featured image: Nancy Do, founder and CEO of Endo Industries (C) Endo Industries