What does Women Grow do?
We connect, educate, and empower women in the cannabis industry. Our largest program is Signature Networking Events held in 40 cities nationally every month (with many more cities coming online in 2016). We have retreats for cannabis business leaders and a national conference. Plus a ton of great resources on our website.
Why was Women Grow started?
Women Grow was inspired by the successful female entrepreneurs in Denver who wanted their new industry to be inclusive. Twenty businesses put up the seed money to found Women Grow in the summer of 2014 and we launched in August. The process that many of the successful businesses in Colorado followed does not look probable in most of the states legalizing cannabis going forward. In Colorado small caregivers graduated to medical marijuana businesses and have fueled their expansion to adult-use with a small amount of funding. New states are granting very few licenses to highly-qualified teams with lots of funding. Diverse candidates need to network with individuals forming teams now to be part of the industry going forward.
Is Women Grow a non-profit?
No, Women Grow is a LLC founded in Colorado. We believe a business can have a social mission and be self-sustainable. We model responsible corporate behavior with a social conscious.
How is Women Grow funded?
Women Grow is funded by sponsors who support inclusion in the cannabis industry and want to reach female cannabis consumers. Instead of membership dues, we charge for our events to make them more accessible to new-comers than annual membership requirements.
How large is Women Grow?
Women Grow is the fastest “growing” network of female-forward cannabis businesses and the largest networking organization in the cannabis industry. Our weekly newsletter reaches thousands of cannabis entrepreneurs and over 1,300 attendees meet monthly across the country.
Founded in 2014 in Denver, Women Grow serves as a catalyst for women to influence and succeed in the cannabis industry as the end of marijuana prohibition occurs on a national scale.
Personal connections are the key to professional success. Through the wide variety of events offered to members of Women Grow, trustworthy business relationships sprout from the face-to-face interactions of our members. We produce professional networking events, local social events, regional education symposiums and national speaking circuits where aspiring professionals can connect with current cannabis business leaders.
Continuing education is crucial to success in the cannabis industry. With government regulations and market forces constantly shifting, timely and accurate information is critical to build profitable and socially responsible business models. Through local Educational Symposiums and national Women Grow Speakers Bureau Events, we provide our members with relevant content from experienced leaders on current topics in the cannabis industry.
Together we have more power. As the cannabis industry grows on a national and global scale, women have the opportunity to build a new American industry from inception and redefine the workplace to create environments in which we can flourish and define our own destiny, and cultivate the next generation of industry leaders.
For those that may not have heard of Women Grow, can you describe what it is?
Women Grow is a professional networking organization that supports female leaders in all segments of the cannabis industry. Our goal is to connect, educate, and empower women to lead America’s fastest growing industry. Our largest program are Signature Networking Events held on the first Thursday of every month in over 40 cities across the United States & Canada.
We educate through our popular webinar series, leadership summits, original articles on our blog, and our newsletter to over 20,000 entrepreneurs. We empower new leaders by highlighting female role models in the press & industry events, political lobbying events & education, and mentorship programs. In February 2015 we brought together 76 women in cannabis to Washington DC to lobby for fair treatment of their businesses. We support diversity in the industry with scholarship programs for our national events and industry conferences.
How did you get started with Women Grow, what is your background?
Women Grow was announced at NCIA’s national conference last June and I was sitting in the audience. Jane West had organized the top women business owners in Colorado who wanted more women to join the industry, recognizing what a great business opportunity it had been for them. Jane had been producing large scale events for international organizations including UNICEF and UNDP. I had launched six businesses before this one and had a decade of practice in branding & communications.
Previously, I was working with an organization called Women 2.0 based in the Bay Area. Women 2.0’s mission was to get an equal amount of venture capital founding for women in technology. I helped grow Women 2.0 from the Bay Area to events in six countries for 100,000 entrepreneurs. Even after 15 years of Women 2.0, only about 7% of venture capital founding goes to women, severely limiting the types of technology products on the market. The script for how technology funding worked had already been written and it wasn’t inclusive. Coincidentally Jane had fashioned the Women Grow launch after Women 2.0, so we decided it was meant to be and started collaborating.
The scope of what Women Grow does has expanded since your beginnings in August of 2014, can you tell us about that?
There are a lot of different areas that women can go into under the cannabis umbrella, can you name a few?
A lot people start out thinking there are only two jobs in cannabis, either producing products or selling them. The truth is that this multi-billion dollar industry has dozens of different specialities. Some of the areas that I don’t see a lot of competition in that I think women are particularly great at are: cloning banks, trim crew services, HR services, marketing and training. This webinar goes into depth about all the different industry opportunities and how to decide which one might be right for you.
Women Grow focuses primarily on states where Cannabis is already legal in some capacity, is there anything women can do to further their career in cannabis where it is not legal yet?
Yes! You’ll notice that a lot of the successful business owners in cannabis came from the legalization movement. Working to legalize in your state will instantly connect you with other likeminded people, educate you on all the issues, and give you the confidence to move forward. Additionally, having women help write these bills make it more likely that the final results appeal to women who are often cited as the swing vote in legalization. And helps make sure the final result is fair and inclusive. So if you’re in a prohibition state, find the legalization organizations near you and volunteer. Some of the groups we partner with include NORML, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Marijuana Policy Project, MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) and so on.
You were recently at Lobby Days, what is that and why is it important?
If you’re in the marijuana business, you are now also in the policy business. The cannabis industry is one of the most closely regulated and we don’t expect that to change anytime soon. Unlike most developed industries where multi-billion dollar companies pay hordes of lobbyists, there are very lobbyists involved in cannabis so each individual business owner can actually make a big impact on how we get to serve patients. After 80 years of reefer madness the staffers creating marijuana policy may know very little about what we do and why we do it. So we have to show up and tell them. As you would expect from an industry that is legal at the state level but illegal federally, there are a LOT of conflicts to be resolved in the short term. As many of you probably already know, access to banking for cannabis businesses is spotty at best. One of our founding members, Brooke Gehring leads the Live Green Group in Colorado. They have lost 34 bank accounts over the last five years. Last year they did over $10 million in revenue and didn’t have banking services for half of that time. Forcing cannabis businesses to be conducted in cash benefits no ONE and so we’re supporting HR 2652, the Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act of 2013. The second major conflict is a section of the tax code called 280E, which prohibits businesses involved in drug trafficking from deducting normal business expenses from their income. This was written so drug cartels couldn’t write off their speed boats. Unfortunately the IRS has interpreted that section to apply to our state-legal cannabis businesses. Many dispensaries are forced to pay 50-70% of their net income (not profit! income!) in federal taxes because they can’t write off salaries, health insurance premiums, retirement benefits, business equipment, rent, marketing, utilities and so on. Cannabis business owners WANT to pay their fair share of taxes, but we need to make it fair. On a higher level we have to demystify cannabis, replace outdated, false ideas with evidence about the wellness benefits of the plant, social benefits of regulation, and economic benefits of this localized industry. We have to share how we are creating local jobs and stimulating the economy. We know the majority of Americans support fully legalizing marijuana – and we invite our congressional representatives to join us in ending failed policy and supporting America’s fastest growing industry.
You want women to get out of the volunteer vaccuum, what does that mean?
Your position on women’s cannabis purchasing decisions is a little controversial, can you tell us about that?
The branding and marketing of cannabis products could be more women friendly, what can businesses do to to avail themselves more to women?
What should women do right now to get started?
First acknowledge that you’re making a very smart move to get into a huge new industry near the beginning and it’s time to hit the ground running! When else will you have an opportunity in an exploding market that is going become national and international within your lifetime. Oh and it just happens to align with your values on wellness and social justice. Go to WomenGrow.com and sign up for our mailing list to get all the information we publish as its released. Read everything on our blog on getting started. I talk about how to research the industry, which events to attend, and so on. Come to a Women Grow event near you or start your own chapter if there isn’t one near you. And make plans to attend a national conference to give you a good picture of the industry. We host kick-off events with the largest of the national conferences. We’ll set you up to be successful and make connections there. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter too.
Are there sponsorship opportunities still available?
We’ve been so fortunate to have nearly fifty companies come out to support making cannabis an inclusive industry. In order to make our events as affordable as possible, we depend on companies who want to be known for attracting female employees and customers to sponsor us for the majority of our expenses. If anything I’ve said resonates with you and you want to be a part of creating something great, email [email protected] to talk about sponsorship options. The cannabis industry will never be this small again and your small gesture can make a big change in our collective future.
Leah Heise is an experienced regulatory compliance attorney barred in both the State of Maryland and the District of Columbia. Leah loves to develop structure both in her personal life and her business life. She is a big picture thinker with an innate ability to assess an issue and generate solutions. As a former Enforcement Attorney with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Leah is well versed in the world of rapidly changing regulations and has immersed herself in the cannabis industry.
Leah’s interest in the cannabis industry was peaked just two years ago with the passage of Maryland’s medical cannabis legislation. As a longtime chronic pancreatitis patient who utilized opioids as her sole method of pain management, the prospect of being able to eliminate her opioid use and learn a brand new area of law was intriguing. In mid-2015, Leah formed Chesapeake Integrated Health Institute, LLC, built a management team, and applied for a Grow, Process and Dispense license in the State of Maryland. Leah also began counseling nascent cannabis companies, ancillary service businesses and individuals interested in joining the industry in everything from business formation, infrastructure creation, operational compliance and personal skill assessment. Her work was comparable to a Chief Executive Officer and General Counsel rolled into one. Leah’s clients and mentees ranged from Patient Scheduling companies to Testing labs to students looking for possible career paths. Leah passionately believes that many skills are transferrable to success in the cannabis space and loves educating and empowering others to ascertain where they fit in and how to make their companies successful.
As CEO of Women Grow, Leah continues to build upon her passion to educate, connect and empower. Leah is the face of the Company and drives the creation of the Company’s infrastructure, oversees the development of financial and marketing strategies, and implements change while staying consistent to the vision of the company’s founders. She believes in transparent operations, collaborative feedback, and a positive work environment. Managing a team that is spread out across the United States while maintaining a cohesive vision and a feeling of community is a challenge she embraces head on.
When Leah isn’t attending Cannabis Industry events, you will find her enjoying her time with her husband of twenty plus years and her daughters, traveling the world and listening to music. If you meet her, beware; duplication is in her blood and you may just be talking to her identical twin. Not only is she an identical twin, she is the daughter of a fraternal twin, and the mother of fraternal twins. She is warm and friendly and always open to making a new connection.
Director of Operations
Kristina Neoushoff is the Director of Operations at Women Grow. With more than 15 years of experience studying and designing systems that enable individuals to reach their full potential, Kristina is dedicated to exploring what makes people tick and how we can use that to our advantage.
Raised in New Jersey, Kristina is a graduate of Cook College at Rutgers University. In 2002, she began her career with Apple. There, she learned branding, efficiency, and innovation from some of the best leaders in business, an experience that fueled her desire to create simple solutions to everyday problems.
Kristina credits Women Grow Co-Founder and Executive Director Jazmin Hupp with teaching her about the powerful potential of social advocacy. Kristina moved to New York City in 2009, after Jazmin hired her at the independent Apple retailer Tekserve and encouraged her to relocate. In New York, she worked with Tekserve and an entertainment industry startup before joining Esteé Lauder Companies to focus on technology implementations within the Global Retail Channel.
Kristina joined Women Grow in 2015 as Director of Operations. In this role, she works closely with several departments including HR & Training, Technology, and Customer Support to identify processes, select tools, and implement strategies to support the company’s rapid growth. She takes pride in helping the intelligent and self-motivated Women Grow team do their best work.
Kristina’s life goal is to make a positive impact on the world in whatever form that takes. She runs a pet-sitting and animal behavior consulting business, and is particularly interested in therapeutic applications for cannabis in the veterinary community. An avid traveler, she enjoys coffee in Parisian cafés, Sunday roasts at London pubs, and crossword puzzles in bed on Sunday mornings at home.
Candice Owens draws on more than 13 years of experience as an “artrepreneur” and music industry marketing expert to help rebrand cannabis, shatter stereotypes, and inspire women to become entrepreneurs and leaders in the industry.
A native New Yorker, Candice holds a degree in advertising & communications from the Fashion Institute of Technology. She began her music industry career in retail marketing for rock artists like KISS, Nirvana, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and was the road manager for the Latin ska/reggae band King Changó. Driven to use her creative impulse for good, she ultimately began creating music to elevate and educate as the songwriter and recording artist “Candice Cannabis.”
Candice believes that branding, design, and marketing are crucial to the process of reshaping public perceptions around cannabis. She sees the effort to rebrand cannabis as a battle against an 80 year campaign of misinformation, and is passionate about shifting public perceptions as legalization occurs in the U.S. and worldwide.
Candice directs Women Grow’s branding, design, and marketing efforts. She creates the company’s weekly newsletter, which reaches more than 20,000 subscribers, and manages its website content, video education channel, email marketing, merchandise and print collateral for dozens of chapters nationwide—no small task as Women Grow, and the cannabis industry, develop at warp speed.
From an early age, Linsey has been fascinated by powerful stories that invoke change and inspire. That initial fascination grew into her life mission: to become the megaphone for untold stories and propel them forward to make waves of social change.
Fluent in stoner culture, activism, and all things quirky, Linsey began her career in 2006 working for an environmental nonprofit. After spending nearly a decade in the progressive political world, Linsey moved to Los Angeles and began working with Brave New Films, a progressive film studio producing impactful documentaries. During this time, Linsey built relationships with top media influencers at the Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, the New York Times, among others. She created solid relationships with numerous indie media giants and digital outlets. It’s during this time that Linsey became outspoken on the War on Drugs, and it’s impact on our communities.
In 2015, Linsey founded Refined Bud, a digital marketing agency specializing in the cannabis space. Refined Bud is dedicated to advancing conscience brands and companies who share a similar vision.Industry players like Women Grow, Vaporbrothers, Civilized, and Weedmaps have turned to Refined Bud to establish, expand, and diversify their digital presence.
When she’s not working hard, Linsey can usually be found in the mountains with her wife and 3 adopted dogs, exploring off the beaten path places in Los Angeles, or cheering on her favorite sports teams; the Los Angeles Sparks, Dodgers, and The Ohio State Buckeyes.
Women Grow Founders
The product of 18 years of experience in corporate conference and private event production, Jane West’s extensive skill set includes event operations and direction, brand and marketing, media relations and training, and strategic community outreach and education campaigns. On a mission to mainstream responsible, adult-use cannabis consumption events, Jane founded Edible Events Co. in November 2013 after pinpointing an unmet need for large-scale cannabis industry events that rebrand cannabis consumption, build new consumer demographics through education, and offer experiential marketing.
Prior to launching Edible Events Co., Jane produced events for major nonprofit organizations including UNICEF, UNDP, NetAid, JDRF and corporations like GE Medical, Cisco Systems, and the Presidential Inaugural Conference. She holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work & Community Outreach from the University of Denver.
Inspired by industry leaders and passionate about the cause, Jane has quickly immersed herself in the cannabis industry. She created and continues to direct a pioneering cannabis event series that has garnered international attention. Her events have been featured on the NBC Nightly News, CNBC’s 2014 “Marijuana in America” documentary, and NPR, and in the New York Times, the London Telegraph, and The Denver Post. In May of 2014, Jane converted the series into a collaborative fundraising effort with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, further emboldening the evolution of cannabis events.
In July of 2014, Jane and Jazmin Hupp founded Women Grow, a professional networking organization empowering women to succeed in the cannabis industry. Jane lends her expert knowledge of events and campaign direction to the Women Grow’s fast-growing national monthly networking events series, quarterly speaking circuits featuring industry stalwarts, and other innovative events designed to inspire the cannabis industry’s next generation of professionals while promoting its pioneers.
Named a “genius entrepreneur” by Fortune Magazine and a top businesswomen in the cannabis industry by Forbes, Jazmin Hupp is the Founder & CEO of Women Grow. Women Grow connects, educates, and empowers diverse cannabis industry leaders. She educates women and men through monthly events in 30+ cities, a national leadership summit, and online resources. Jazmin’s goal is to have 1,000 women launch cannabis businesses at the foundation of America’s fastest growing industry.
Prior to entering the cannabis industry, Jazmin launched six companies in retail, eCommerce, business services, and media. Her core practice is customer experience design, which combines product design, branding, and business operations. Recently, she served as the Director of Digital Media for Women 2.0, which helps women start high-growth ventures. During her tenure, the brand expanded from the Bay Area to hold events across six countries for over 100,000 business women.
Jazmin believes that business is the strongest force of change in our world, so she works to create responsible cannabis businesses to help us change outdated laws and stereotypes. Her passion for cannabis legalization is inherited from her parents. She’s privileged to have been educated to choose cannabis as a safer alternative to alcohol. In combination with yoga & meditation, she consumes cannabis to relax & focus.
Jazmin holds a Management Information Systems degree from the State University of New York. She splits her time between New York City, Denver, and Oakland, while visiting every major cannabis market regularly. Follow @jazminhupp on twitter or @jazmin_grow on instagram to ride along.
During her tenure, Women Grow Co-Founder Julie Batkiewicz brought a diverse background in marketing, video production, and sales to her work as the company’s partnership director. A sales and marketing veteran, Julie managed the broad portfolio of strategic relationships that provided the network with financial support and unparalleled access to industry expertise. Under her guidance, she completed the FIRST50 campaign and launched membership programs that proved vital underwriting for Women Grow’s rapid expansion in 2015.
Before entering the cannabis industry, Julie worked in video production, design and marketing for more than a decade. She recently launched Monte Content, a production company that creates educational video content for cannabis consumers that is broadcast directly into marijuana dispensaries.
Julie began her academic career in Germany at Universität Potsdam where she studied Political Science and taught English for five years. She also earned a B.A. in Media Management from Columbia College in Chicago.
Since launching its first chapter in Denver with 70 attendees in the summer of 2014, Women Grow has rapidly expanded to include hundreds of participants and over 40 chapters nationwide (with more slated to kick off 2016).
Women Grow currently has chapters in:
New York City
DENVER — Women Grow, LLC, the cannabis industry’s largest professional networking organization, will host its third annual Leadership Summit in downtown Denver, Colo, with Title Sponsor Supernatural Brand. From Feb. 1-3, 2017, the Women Grow Leadership Summit returns to Denver’s Ellie Caulkins Opera House for a three-day event designed to provide attendees with the knowledge and connections they need to join the cannabis industry or take their career to the next level.read more
Leah Heise, the embodiment of grit, takes the reins of the largest women’s group in the cannabis industryread more
Of the existing billion-dollar industries, women are in control of none of them. Could legal cannabis be the first? As women, weed, and control make up three of my top five interests, I had flown to Denver for the annual Women Grow conference to find out.read more
The idea of cannabis as a business for women may seem like a tough sell to some, given the industry’s male-dominated public persona — the idea that historically pot smokers, and growers, are mainly men. But, if the vision of entrepreneurs like Hupp prove to be true, women, and their buying power as consumers, are key to cracking the glass ceiling of what will likely become a huge industry, built around a cash crop.read more
One way to put your feminism into action is by supporting women-owned business as often as you can. If you’re a pot smoker, this is going to be easier than ever, seeing that women are quickly rising to power in the marijuana business, one of the fastest growing American industries today.read more
In honor of 4/20—the 20th of April, which has become an unofficial marijuana holiday in the U.S—Fortune took a look at some of the pot industry’s female pioneers, including a “cannabusiness” investor, a dispensary owner, a grower, and a professional connector. A “genius entrepreneur,” Jazmin Hupp launched …read more
The Future (of Weed) Is Female: WEEDIQUETTE – Mary Janes. Can the booming business of marijuana become the first gender-equal industry? Krishna meets women working across the pot trade who are trying to put the Mary back in Mary Jane. Watch Women Grow featured in Viceland TV Weediquette.read more
A safe, legal industry in which woman are well represented, and which makes a tangible difference to their quality of life: what could be more feminist than that?read more
Women Grow is a national organization that seeks to connect and empower women in the legal marijuana industry, and the group’s Oakland, California, office is a busy one. “There are not many industries that are female-led, and in this setting up of a brand new multibillion-dollar industry, we saw an opportunity to let women lead where they have never led before,” Jazmin Hupp of Women Grow told KGO.read more