Entrepreneur, Cannabusiness coach, Women Grow member, speaker, and eBook author Alexa Divett is an incredible source of knowledge and insight related to the Oregon cannabis industry. I’m thrilled to present an interview with Alexa, and images taken at her home office in Portland.
- What does an average day on the job look like for you?
I try my best to start my day with a 15-minute meditation and quietly reflect on the days and weeks ahead. This helps me to stay focused on the most important business building and revenue generating tasks vs. being pulled in a million directions either via email, social media or the telephone.
Of course if I have important client deadlines, I always prioritize that work. I am constantly trying to strike a balance between client work and business building activities.
- What is your background and what inspired you to enter the cannabis industry?
My background is in public relations and digital marketing strategies. I’ve also been a medical grower for the last 8 years. I am most inspired by the power of the cannabis plant and the amazing amount of healing medical marijuana has brought to really sick people. My big why for my business is to level the playing field for the small, boutique cannabis entrepreneurs so they can compete with the major players like Willie Nelson and Snoop Dogg.
- What changes in the public perception of retail cannabis are you most interested in seeing?
I love seeing the public’s positive reaction to the healing power of medical marijuana. As we move forward I love that people are beginning to take this industry really seriously and are fully grasping the medical and financial benefits of legal cannabis.
What are some of the most profound PR challenges for cannabusinesses?
I think the biggest PR challenge is getting around the fact that we cannot send press kits with samples of products to journalists for them to try. Other than that, in Portland there are so many dispensaries that a new one opening (or closing for that matter) is no longer news. I coach my clients around creating a community service angle for their PR campaigns and outreach. I firmly believe that doing well by doing good is a powerful business concept and a great way to get the attention of journalists.
- Which social media platforms do you advise clients to be active on?
I think that right now it’s important for cannabusiness owners to focus on what I like to call the Big 3. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Although cannabis centric platforms like Mass Roots are important, the Big 3 is still where the majority of my clients’ audiences hang out.
- Top three “Gold Standard” companies that you believe have exceptional branding and content?
On a national level Leafs by Snoop’s branding is unbelievably gorgeous. I am officially obsessed with the design studio Pentagram and their fresh take on the iconic marijuana leaf. They have taken an image (the pot leaf) that could get played out and lost in the crowd and made it made it innovative, fresh and California cool. It reflects Snoop’s brand promise perfectly.
My former business partner from Maya Media Collective, Jessica Pierron and I often talk about The Farm dispensary in Boulder. Their branding is different and special and moreover they are utilizing content well with their blog and other offerings.
And then of course there are exceptional leaders here in Portland. Farma, Oregon’s Finest and Pure Green dispensaries (just to name a few) all have unique and thoughtful branding and are deeply involved with the forward movement of the industry.
They are all part of the Oregon Cannabis Association and are setting themselves apart from the competition through education and advocacy.
- Have you experienced any stigma surrounding the operation of a business in the cannabis industry? Has it affected your life in any way?
Actually just the opposite.
My normally conservative family members now send me articles from the Wall St Journal and often tell me how excited they are that I’m on the ground floor of a brand new industry. My relatives in Australia are also really excited about the future of their medical marijuana program and often reach out to me to share that excitement and get my take on their industry.
- Has the political landscape surrounding retail cannabis created any challenges for you?
Yes, the uncertainty is hard for B2B services because business owners are hesitant to jump all in with branding, marketing, security etc. until they know exactly how this is all going to shake out. The rules change weekly and for a B2C business owner who is trying to follow the letter of the law, you can imagine how stressful that must be.
- What inspires your visual branding/aesthetic?
When Jessica and I originally began brainstorming the aesthetic appeal we wanted for Maya Media Collective, we wanted something that represented what we call the creative force. We wanted something tribal and colorful. We are both inspired by sacred geometry and the creative force of the universe. When I transitioned out of Maya I wanted the same vibe from my branding, and it was an obvious fit to have Jess design my new logo.
- What do you find most unique about operating a cannabusiness in Oregon vs. Colorado or Washington?
As a B2B digital entrepreneur I am used to being able to attract an audience nationwide. My goal is to grow my business to serve anyone and everyone who needs cannabis business coaching. Oregonians by nature are different or weird as we like to say, so I envision that the industry will grow to a place where the boutique, organic and small batch marijuana will be in high demand vs. the Starbucks of weed. Colorado has the benefit of a wildly successful tourism industry with so much to do outdoors, so I believe we will continue to see Colorado bring in huge amounts of revenue from tourists.
- What do you predict will be the biggest changes the cannabis industry will see over the next 5 years?
I think fixing the banking issues and the 208E tax code need to be top of the list priorities for the activists and politicians who are working so hard on this industry. Additionally, we need the federal government to declassify marijuana from a Substance I drug to a Substance II drug, which seems possible over the next few months and years.
- What are your plans for the future?
Grow the digital portion of my company by building more products that can serve cannabis professionals around the country and around the world. I want to reach the masses with my message of uplift and teach business foundations and marketing skills to cannabusiness owners who want to make an impact and compete with the big guns.
MFP Cannabusiness Spotlight is photographed by Sebastian Neri, a commercial photographer based in Portland, OR. You can get in touch with him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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