This week’s Trailblazer is JP Gravina, Founder, and CEO of The Green Cannabis Co, an eco-friendly and sustainable sessionware maker whose entire collection is made by hand, uses locally-sourced raw materials, and is made in Canada.
Questions with a Cannabis Industry Trailblazer
When did you first become involved in the cannabis industry and why?
I’m a long-time cannabis user but started The Green Cannabis Co. in November of 2019. I’d been doing research on the industry from a distance for some time and as I dug around in those early days I noticed two main gaps in the industry: the first was there were almost no high-quality accessories brands. None that you would be proud enough to leave on your bookshelf or coffee table when guests were over and none were Canadian-made. And, the second was no one was owning the eco-space in the industry, a huge opportunity. So, I registered the company and started ideating on what we’d make. Yes, we started a brand with no products, crazy right? We think so too, but we had a vision! We weren’t exactly sure what would lay ahead of us in those early days, but after iterating constantly and partnering with amazing local manufacturers to help bring our ideas to life, we’ve created a collection of some of the most unique accessories on the market.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced when working with cannabis companies/brands?
To be honest, the restrictions, they’ve been tough. I’m sure they have for everyone but especially for me. In my previous life, I was an advertising Creative Director. I lived and breathed advertising and communications. I thought advertising could solve any problem – and for me, it did. And now here I am not able to advertise my own brand at all. It’s been a huge shift for me, personally. But, it’s taught me that your brand is more than advertising. In fact, your brand is far bigger than advertising. I’ve since embraced it.
If you could change one of the current Canadian or American marketing restrictions on cannabis, which would it be?
Tough question. I’d love to change a lot. A big one for me would be Retail Window Coverings. I know that might seem disconnected from our brand, but I think having open windows at the retail level would allow for brands like ours to have incredible displays. Think of the foot traffic going by some of those stores. It would be incredible exposure for us and an amazing way to bring the brand to life where our customers are.
In your observation, what marketing techniques or channels have been most effective for cannabis companies looking to connect with consumers?
We’ve had great success building our voice on Instagram. It’s an incredibly intimate platform that lets you really get to know a brand. The early followers we had, have seen us iterate constantly on the platform and (I think) they enjoy following the growth of our company. In some ways, our followers have become our advocates and they’ve organically become our ambassadors. I feel their passion and they feel ours. It’s been incredible to foster those relationships on the platform. Naturally, Instagram is a very visual medium, it works really well for us as our photography and branding have really helped elevate the accessories game as a whole.
Are there any other Trailblazers in the cannabis industry that you follow?
Oh wow. Where do I start… I’ve been a big fan of Jay Rosenthal and The Business of Cannabis. He’s doing some incredible work for the industry. I also love what Trang Trinh is doing at TREC Brands. Under her leadership, the 10% for good initiative is something to be really proud of. And then outside of that, I try to look to other industry’s trailblazers. I particularly focus on design, sustainability and the environment. There is incredible work happening on those fronts and we’re trying to incorporate those advancements into our brand and in turn into our industry.
What is one tip or piece of advice you would give to people looking to enter the cannabis industry?
I’d say don’t hesitate. Do it now. This past year has been the most exciting of my professional career. To be able to shape a new brand in a completely new industry isn’t something you get to do very often. So, forget about the stigmas and get in now while there is still building left to do.
A big thank you to JP 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.