This week’s Trailblazer is Danielle Samson, Regional Sales Manager for Wyld Canada, the makers of cannabis-infused edibles for every adventure and winners of the 2022 ADCANN Award for Best Packaging Design.
Questions with a Cannabis Industry Trailblazer
When did you first become involved in the cannabis industry and why?
Like many others, I self-medicated with cannabis as a teenager to control my ADHD and anxiety. I was always passionate about the plant but never in my wildest dreams thought I could do this legally. My background was in the action sports industry, and I had been working in sales for Roxy at Quiksilver. This role was so authentic to me that I felt lost when my position became irrelevant and I got laid off. So I decided to take a job with a wine agency. I was travelling and drinking wine but feeling very unhealthy and disconnected from the industry, as I always preferred consuming cannabis to drinking alcohol. On the side, I was helping out some friends with their micros, learning the ropes by assisting them with cultivating their craft flower.
Around that time, we received some terrible news that my brother had cancer, and he wanted to try cannabis as an alternative to chemotherapy. Our friends made him some RSO to see if that would help him. He began taking high doses and receiving just radiation but not chemotherapy. As time passed, he went for surgery, and even the surgeon was surprised – the tumour cut out quickly, and he was cancer free. We weren’t sure if it was the RSO or just a miracle, but we knew we had to explore it further.
We created a few brands, so I hit the ground with samples and started selling the product in the legacy market. I loved selling weed so much that it led me to launch Weed Me, Greenseal and Vortex with Cannavolve.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced when working with cannabis companies/brands?
Sampling products to staff and consumers is something that is necessary but unfortunately not allowed in-store. It is difficult to market a cannabis product successfully when active samples are considered non-compliant. If the team isn’t trying your product, they most likely aren’t going to list it, and if they do bring it in, they probably won’t push it to consumers.
If you could change one of the current Canadian or American marketing restrictions on cannabis, which would it be?
The Canadian edibles limit, obviously, as the typical edibles consumer is buying more than one package at a time anyway to achieve the experience they want. Not only would that be more consumer-friendly, it would reduce the amount of packaging needed in the edibles category. The THC limit and current packaging restrictions in Canada are just not sustainable for the future. As an industry, we produce more plastic than we produce cannabis.
I love the ocean and I spend a lot of time in it, freediving. During my time in different countries I’ve seen firsthand the devastating effects of human consumption in our oceans. It was so sad for me to see so many beautiful areas getting destroyed by human activity. Then I would come home to Canada and couldn’t help but see plastic litter everywhere, especially cannabis packaging like doob tubes and plastic jars. When I was launching brands in the legacy market, I was looking for compostable and biodegradable packaging and it just did not exist. Then as I moved to the rec market and saw more and more cannabis products being produced in excessive plastic – I knew I no longer wanted to be part of the problem, I wanted to be part of the solution. This in part led to me working with Wyld who are aligned as a company to my values and lifestyle.
In your observation, what marketing techniques or channels have been most effective for cannabis companies looking to connect with consumers?
Funny enough, my need to be authentic in my lifestyle and career led me to my current role as Regional Sales Manager with Wyld Edibles. When Wyld launched in Canada, as they are from the US, where they can put 100mg in one package, it was imperative to launch with a compostable package. It wasn’t even a marketing technique, just Wyld being authentic. As a result, launching a product in the BC market from a Climate Neutral Certified brand with a compostable package was my favourite launch ever! We also planted 50,000 trees with One Tree Planted. It felt so damn good to launch a brand with positive intentions. It was so real and authentic, the response was incredible. BC is right next to the ocean, and once budtenders and consumers heard that our package could be thrown in their home green bin after – that hit home for many people.
Are there any other Trailblazers in the cannabis industry that you follow?
Andrea Dobbs from Village Bloomery
Jessica Bill, James Agnew and Jay Pilon from BC Weed Co
Anne Forkutza from Dutchie
Eric Van Dam and Rene Kaza from Wyld
The Stolbie Sisters
Jeff Tek from Bullrider/Science
Colin Bambury from Ghostdrops / ADCANN
Jamie Norrish at Sessions
Emily Leung from Ohai
Cory Waldron from Moods
What is one tip or piece of advice you would give to marketers looking to enter the cannabis industry?
Be kind and transparent to everyone you meet, as reputation and credibility go a long way. Budtenders are your biggest ally and are single-handedly responsible for your product’s sell-thru. So take good care of them!