This week’s Trailblazer is Ashley Newman, Founder of Queen of Bud Cannabis, an LP that chooses unique cultivars that connect you with your surroundings and elevate your experiences.
Questions with a Cannabis Industry Trailblazer
When did you first become involved in the cannabis industry and why?
Alberta announced in early 2018 that it was going to allow private cannabis stores. This was a dream come true for me but I knew that I needed to be one of the first stores to open as I predicted supply would become an issue, which it did. They only let a small amount of stores open for the first year until they could gain access to more product.
I locked up the store leases in February 2018 and began the process of becoming a licensee with the AGLC. I always wanted to become a licensed producer but I couldn’t raise the investment so the next viable step was to open a cannabis store under a unique and differentiated brand. If I was successful at creating a solid cannabis brand, I might be able to attract that larger investor in the future. That’s what ended up happening and I’m so proud that we’ve had Queen of Bud Cannabis products on the market since December of 2020. Candre Cannabis has proven to grow some of the highest quality cannabis on market. Queen of Bud and Calyptra Light are our house brand. We’ve also grown and launched product for brands like Tommy’s Craft and Violet Tourist.
What has been the biggest marketing challenge you have faced when working with cannabis companies/brands?
There are many regulations that remove the ability to market like other companies. Our biggest challenge right now is the strict restriction around our packaging. There isn’t much branding elements allowed, warning labels, small text and the logo can’t be bigger than the THC symbol.
If you could change one of the current Canadian or American marketing restrictions on cannabis, which would it be?
After the first year of retailers being very successful, there were too many licenses given out with a lack of distance requirements. This saturated the market and because we couldn’t sell anything outside of cannabis and cannabis accessories, it became very difficult to differentiate ourselves outside of just the price.
On top of that, Covid eliminated the opportunity to offer a full experience to customers which is what the independents were known for. It became a race to the bottom on the markup and wiped out many of the independent retailers. Companies that had built up a large social media followings found their accounts deleted as cannabis isn’t federally legal in the states where these tech companies operate. Retailers began reporting each other and anytime a store thought of something cool to drive business, the provincial body would advise us to take it away or we’d receive a fine.
On the cannabis side, I’d like to see dosages for edibles increased and other cannabinoids outside of THC deregulated.
In your observation, what marketing techniques or channels have been most effective for cannabis companies looking to connect with consumers?
I originally fell in love with cannabis not because of how it made me feel but rather who it made me become. It opened my mind to reflection, awareness and energy. We look at our COA (lab results) and pair the terpene effects to a crystal that matched that same energy.
We gave each crystal a positive energy to focus on such as love, gratitude, creativity or optimism. Your thoughts create your perception, your perception creates your reality so we wanted to spread positive energy through our brand to customers.
This all began because Health Canada told me I couldn’t describe how a cultivar made someone feel or take photos next to jewelry. Now it’s not a description but rather an energy and crystals aren’t jewelry but rather a natural mineral. Cannabis companies must be creative and think outside of the box when it comes to branding and marketing.
Are there any other Trailblazers in the cannabis industry that you follow?
Darren Bondar, the Founder of Spiritleaf, created the largest cannabis franchise in Canada with over 100 stores. Raj Grover, the Founder of High Tide, has over 100 stores in Canada corporately owned, a wholesale business and has made some incredible acquisitions this year. These are people like myself who started off with a few locations and a big dream. We could have seen each other as competitors but we figured that we were stronger together as friends. Each cannabis company owner is a trailblazer, we’ve all pushed the boundaries in some form and fought to involve this industry.
What is one tip or piece of advice you would give to people looking to enter the cannabis industry?
Don’t be afraid of the regulations. Find out exactly how something is being interpreted and be creative while thinking of new plan.
Be authentic and meaningful. There’s so many cannabis brands that have launched that have no thought to them, no story, no emotion or connection for the customer to remember. People will remember your brand if it inspires them or creates an emotional reaction, that’s how the brain operates. When I say be authentic, it’s because everything that you’ve experienced so far in life is unique to you. Brands that are authentic to a story, a vision or a person are usually successful because they are different.
If you don’t love cannabis and you don’t wake up every day excited to be in this industry then you won’t be successful because there’s no passion, passion is what creates something special.
A big thank you to Ashley for participating as this week’s Trailblazer! Stay tuned for another interview with a cannabis marketing Trailblazer next Thursday in the ADCANN blog.
Interested in working with one of these talented cannabis marketers? Check out our Agency Directory for a list of all the agencies that specialize in working with cannabis companies.
Last Updated on February 24, 2022 by ADCANN