On July 10th, 2021, cannabis users worldwide assembled--torches and rigs in hand--to celebrate Dab Day. Some of the most ambitious new female forces in the cannabis industry gathered at Vanguard Media’s virtual celebration conference, hosted by the company’s founder and president Tiffany Watkins.
Tiffany Watkins advocates for providing a voice to women who are finding their way into the market. She started Vanguard Media with the goal of bridging the gender gap in the cannabis industry and creating a leveled playing field for all business owners. On Dab Day, Watkins kicked off the conference with a mission statement: "We are dedicated to uplifting women and having the spotlight shine on them. We uplift every woman's business and journey all the time."
Watkins lived up to her vow to share the spotlight and wasted no time in handing off the mic to business owners Debbi Spranza and Brianne Ramsey from Rocky Mountain Cannabis Consulting (RMCC), a firm that specializes in training courses and other professional resources to help businesses achieve compliance in the cannabis space.
Spranza shared with the conference her humble beginnings as a single mother of two kids with an alcoholic husband actively living the stigma of being a cannabis user. She came to witness firsthand that it was her husband’s alcoholism--rather than his cannabis use--that was causing the most harm. In spite of this, cannabis remains the more stigmatized substance of the two. Spranza recognized this glaring misconception and took it as motivation to become a cannabis advocate and later join RMCC, where she worked to provide businesses the tools to play by the state and federal government's rules while also making substantial profits of their own.
RMCC’s CEO Brianne Ramsey echoed the sentiment that new businesses in the cannabis marketplace have their work cut out for them, but that it certainly can be done. She provided some realistic nuggets of wisdom to the room.
"If you invest in your team's growth through training plans and communication plans, this will significantly help you standardize and scale your manufacturing business," Ramsey said. By the end of the presentation, it was clear that Ramsey and Spranza take the cannabis marketplace seriously and are in it for the long haul.
After the RMCC speakers departed, the conference broke in order to give attendees a chance to check out the expos. The expo center featured 15 different female-led and oriented cannabis businesses aiming to enter the marketplace. Some of the most notable include:
My Jane marketed itself in a short video segment as a “pesticide, mold, and chemical-free CBD skincare company made by and for women.” The company owners also prioritize social activism, donating a portion of their proceeds to survivors of human trafficking.
Calm Better Days
Calm Better Days or “CBD” sells all types of CBD products. In a live interview with CEO Bianca Prachyl at the expo, she shared some of the struggles of getting past the red tape in the cannabis industry.
“My application for hemp is 18 months in and I still don’t have a registration,” she said. Even so, Prachyl is optimistic about the community of women who “have [her] back.” She concluded the interview with a wish for higher dissemination of cannabis information.
“I would like to see dispensaries in other states open up and allow CBD products, because that’s a prime spot where people can get more information since it’s so unregulated. They’re not getting education from a gas station,” said Prachyl.
Cannabis Business Alliance
Cannabis Business Alliance, founded by Patricia A. Patton (aka the self-proclaimed “Cannaboomer”) promotes healthy aging through hemp CBD products. Patton’s main initiative at the expo was to network with other businesses.
“Today I’m looking for members. I’m not here to sell you anything,” said Patton. Her business model stresses: “Curat[ing] a platform to bridge understanding in the wellness space between hemp and cannabis businesses and creating strategic market content.”
Galaxy Gal DJs
Galaxy Gal DJs' station at the expo was a fun mix of beats curated for the event. DJ Frenchie, the artist behind it all, spent a decade producing festivals, parties, LBGTQ events, burlesque, and art galas.
The event concluded back in the main room, where women took to the chat to express their gratification for the networking opportunity. Watkins ended the meeting just how she started it--by limiting her own time in the spotlight and instead taking the time to thank the other women involved. It seemed each business owner came away with the sentiment originally expressed by RMCC: “This is how we are going to get the job done by our rules.”
Photo: Tiffany Watkins, founder and president of Vanguard Media (C) Vanguard Media