EstroHaze Solves The Diversity Issue In Cannabis-Culture With Creativity & Skill [Interview]
The founders of the cannabis-culture media company, EstroHaze, talk with Okayplayer about growth, inclusion and favorite strains.
Recreational use of the bountiful plant is legal, yes legal, in several states, including Alaska, Colorado, Maine, California and yes, even Washington, D.C. You have Cynthia Nixon, the former Sex and the City star who is running for governor in New York City, advocating for small-time drug offenders to be released and to make the drug legal for recreational and medicinal usage.
All these things are happening, making this age one of possible riches and successes for those looking to do the work. Enter: EstroHaze. A cannabis media company that is created by multicultural women for multicultural women. Founded by three wonderful creatives: Sirita Wright, Kali Wilder, and Safon Floyd — EstroHaze focuses on connecting bud businesses with interested parties, developing original content and events for weed lovers, and integrating people of color within a growing industry. New cannabis businesses are cropping up every day as imaginative young entrepreneurs are taking advantage of the paradigm shift and are cashing in in a major way. Despite the disparities within the marijuana industry (80% white owners versus 4.3% black) — EstroHaze is but one of many opportunities that serve the community and making an impactful mark on the game as a whole.
We are happy to light one up with the EstroHaze founding trio to talk about how their company solves the “diversity” issue, the growth of their aspirations and goals, and dab into their stash to learn what their favorite strains are. Enjoy!
Okayplayer: For those who are deep into marijuana / cannabis culture, but have yet to become familiar with EstroHaze — can you share what the company is about and how it got started?
EstroHaze: Absolutely! EstroHaze is a multimedia brand (podcast, live events, website) which highlights the businesses and lifestyles of women of color and multicultural communities in the cannabis industry. We started with our podcast “We’re Just Trying to Grow” in 2015 when we worked together at Black Enterprise. While there we saw the industry becoming more vocal and wanted to see more people of color being highlighted. At that point in addition to doing our podcast we started connecting with people of color in the cannabis industry and sharing those stories with the Black Enterprise audience, mind you, this was in addition to our actual jobs. The response to the content was great — so we continued to learn more about the industry and began attending local events and sharing what we were doing and learning on our podcast and on social media.
About a year later at an event, we met Patrick Rea, the CEO of Canopy Boulder — a seed-stage cannabis business accelerator. Almost a year had passed and through the power of Twitter we saw they were about to close the applications for their upcoming cohort, so we decided to apply. In true startup founder fashion, we googled pitch decks and put together our pitch video and submitted our application, and by the grace of God, we were accepted. In a matter of two weeks, our entire lives changed. We resigned from our jobs, uprooted ourselves from Brooklyn to Boulder, Colorado, and stepped into Canopy — where we haven’t looked back since.
OKP: As a company that has been providing a space for multicultural women who enjoy cannabis — what have been some major highlights for the company and yourselves personally?
EH: Our first major highlight was getting accepted into Canopy Boulder, and there we set up our EstroHaze’s foundation. We took a bold risk and left the security of our jobs with an idea of a media company, we only had a podcast. Everything we learned not only at Black Enterprise, but throughout our individual career journeys enabled us to manifest a community of professional, creative, and dynamic women and occasionally men in cannabis.
Another highlight was having our former employer credit us in a story we broke about Hope Wiseman, the youngest black female dispensary owner. We also solidified our first content partnership with some dope ass creatives out in Chicago who go by [the name of] SheFunny. They create original graphics, memes, gifs, etc., all centered in cannabis for our EstroHazers. Another major highlight was securing our first event sponsors 1906 and Binske. Finally, we have a content partnership with The Root. We’re excited to be sharing the businesses of cannabis professionals of color with their audience.
OKP: While attempting to solve the diversity and inclusion issue that is a part of this cannabis industry — what other obstacles have you overcome in EstroHaze’s journey to establish itself as a driver of culture and commerce?
EH: We as co-founders have sought to be intentional in creating a platform that highlights diverse perspectives within the industry. By showing the realities, for example, of securing a license for a cannabis business with the people actually doing it through our “Journey to Licensure” series we serve as a bridge for those looking at ways of accessing this industry. Every legalized state has different rules and regulations when it comes to cannabis and we connect with the experts and leaders in those states and share that information with our audience.
We also have partnered with others in the industry to lend expertise in areas. Nina Parks, a dynamic voice in the cannabis community, also a co-founder of Supernova Women has a video column on EstroHaze called: #AskNina. There she answers questions and provides information related to cannabis policy and equity.
EstroHaze is also creating original programming and serving as space for other cannabis creatives to share their work. Creatives can submit directly to our website (photo essays, op-ed, cannabis policy issues, dab art, etc). We are proud to be a home for fresh voices looking to define their cannabis reality and break stigmas — whether they are sharing the pains of cannabis entrepreneurship or how they use cannabis for health and wellness.
In addition to working with other creatives, we are working with other organizations to help facilitate the conversations happening nationwide concerning cannabis legalization, social justice reform, and business building. We recently worked with MJM Strategy for a marketing promo “10 Cannabis Commandments” that will be shown in full at the National Cannabis Festival. We’ll also be announcing an education-focused partnership that we are very excited about soon! EstroHaze provides “edutainment” for the around the way smoker, sophisticated consumer, and the canna-curious.
OKP: It’s no secret that cannabis culture is the new gold (green) rush. Hell, even John Boehner has joined a board to enrich himself since D.C. is a legal cannabis state. Where does this paradigm shift leave the hundreds of thousands (or millions) of black-and-brown people who are imprisoned for small drug crimes? How does EstroHaze shed light on this issue while helping to highlight black-and-brown people who are doing great work within the budding industry?
EH: We shed light on the issues of social justice by highlighting the voices working in those spaces. Kassandra Frederique, Leo Bridgewater, The Hood Incubator, Cannabis Cultural Association, Supernova Women, NORML, Minorities for Medical Marijuana, Revel — these are just a few people and organizations doing great work in providing cannabis industry information, education, and resources for communities of color led by people of color.
It’s important for people to know what’s happening in their state concerning cannabis laws and social justice reform. We have to be in the rooms when legalization is being discussed to ensure our communities benefit from the “green rush”. It’s not too late and because this is a political, bipartisan matter, it’s more important than ever to get educated and not be left behind. Ignorance isn’t bliss, it’s poverty. People of color have been locked out too long to not benefit from this amazing plant. Both medically — because it is medicine and financially if they so choose. But, you must be in the rooms, know the players and get your action plan in order because this is big business.
When tax distribution is being discussed around local cannabis businesses we need to be in the rooms ensuring that portions come back to our communities and schools and not only to the fire and police departments. Start going to local events, getting and sharing information. We have to show up and support those who are doing the work.
OKP: Cannabis does have its detractors—Jeff Sessions, white evangelical Christians, Fox News—that believe the drug to be just as harmful as an opioid or narcotic. What would you say to them and others who believe that cannabis is a detriment to the health of the American public?
EH: The American people want cannabis legalized — 61% according to Pew Research. We have seen people’s lives changed for the better when they have access to medical cannabis as opposed to opiates. We have also seen the harmful effects of opioid addiction. It’s time to stop being proud and arrogant, stop trying to ignore the facts and let the plant heal the way it was intended to. From where we stand the train is not stopping.
OKP: 80% of marijuana business owners are white when compared to 4.3 percent of blacks, according to Marijuana Business Daily. How can this gap be closed upon and in what ways can an aspiring cannabis entrepreneur gain entry into this industry? How does EstroHaze serve as a bridge to help interested parties get knowledge and/or connections to get started in cannabis?
EH: We need more people to step outside of the cannabis closet. We need more investment from people of color. Hell, EstroHaze could use a $1 — become a Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/EstroHaze) and support the work we do with the help of our amazing contributors. Your support helps us to do more work. Virtually anything someone is doing now can be transferred to the cannabis industry: journalist, accountant, lawyer, lobbyist, scientist, interior designer, a real-estate agent, filmmaker, architect, engineer. It’s important to get in. If you want to own a dispensary [then] go work at one, experience what it means to be a cultivator providing cannabis at scale for local dispensaries.
EstroHaze provides access to the people doing the work — from in-depth profiles on the site to interviewing cannabis investors on our podcast (https://soundcloud.com/estrohaze-podcast), or talking with black cultivators like Larry Smith of GFive Cultivation on our Instagram show: #WeedCrushWednesday. Our offline events such as EstroHaze Experience gives people real-time opportunities to talk with cannabis pioneers like Wanda James in an intimate setting and try new cannabis products from flower to concentrates on edibles. EstroHaze as a multimedia company provides a multitude of touch points which provide access to the industry.
OKP: As more and more information is shared about cannabis, plus public figures lend support and help to change laws in the country — where do you see EstroHaze fitting into all this growth? What does the company have coming up this year that people should be keeping their eyes open for?
EH: EstroHaze is expanding. We are going global and bringing the cannabis conversation and access to people of color around the world. Cannabis is medicine and everyone should have access to this plant. Eventually we will go out and raise additional funds, but for now, we’re focused on building even more traction and growing our community. We recently received a distribution grant that will push our video series EstroHaze Escapades to a larger audience including Roku TV and Amazon.
We are also featured in a documentary produced by High Snobiety coming out 4/20. EstroHaze Escapades has partnered with Rough Draft (started by EstroHaze co-founder Safon Floyd) and we’re having an event in Miami this June — all centered on health and wellness using CBD. This will be an event for creatives, taste-makers, and professionals looking for a new way to experience cannabis.
We’ll also be back in Denver doing a dab bus experience with at the Weekend Soirée conference — we’ll have two buses! Our last dab bus experience, by the time we were dropping our guest off they were in a full-fledged sing-along to “Who Can I Run To” by Xscape on our Instagram. Who doesn’t want to be apart of that? More original programming is coming, more live events and merch! We suggest signing up for our email newsletter and joining us on social!
OKP: Last question, guys, with it being 4/20 and all, we wanted to know what your favorite strains are and what are some that wish others to try during this wonderfully weed-filled holiday?
EH: For Safon, it is “Girl Scout Cookie” for its taste and effect. For Kali, it is “Gas Money,” a hybrid of money pug and jet fuel. She loves a good sativa and it is great for focus and creativity. For Sirita, it is “Jet Fuel,” a sativa-dominant hybrid that keeps me relaxed and euphoric.