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.
Director of Operations
Kristina Neoushoff is the Chief Executive Officer 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 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.
Gia Morón is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of GVM Communications, Inc., a boutique public relations, brand development and personal development consulting firm. Since launching her firm in 2012, Gia has worked with various small to mid-sized businesses, non-profit organizations, entrepreneurs, speakers and authors. Gia’s client base covers many industries, as during her tenure at The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. one of the leading investment banks, where she was a Media Relations Officer for fifteen years, she oversaw several business lines. Her areas of focus ranged from Urban Investment/Private Equity, Investment Research and Technology to the firm’s organizational focus In Corporate Engagement, Diversity, Recruiting, Human Resources and Corporate Services. Prior to working on Wall Street, Gia worked for several years in the entertainment industry for The Fremantle Corporation as Director of Promotions and Publicity.
With a natural ability to cross and blend industries, in 2015, Gia expanded her business model to include business development. She is also the Public Relations Director and PR Chair for national organization Women Grow. Gia has partnered with many organizations and hosted dozens of workshops and events targeting women entrepreneurs. She has facilitated workshops, participated on panels to organizing events. With a career over 20+ years of experience in corporate within the entertainment industry to financial services, she has a special niche for bridging gaps and connect dots between industries. Using her public relations background, media training and personal development skillsets Gia works closely with corporate women and women owned businesses to provide tools to help balance work/life and succeed in our growing economy.
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
SAN FRANCISCO — Female leaders of the cannabis industry in the Bay Area shared their secrets of success with other women who want to stake a claim in the business during a gathering Thursday night hosted by Women Grow. The networking event featured presentations by women including Lynnette Shaw, the “godmother” of medical marijuana dispensaries; Sherry Glaser, operator of a Mendocino County medical dispensary and “bed, bud and breakfast” inn; and Jazmin Hupp, co-founder and former chief executive officer of Women Grow, the nation’s largest cannabis professional networking organization.read more
NEW JERSEY (April 4, 2017) — Women Grow, the cannabis industry’s largest professional networking organization, announces leadership changes. Leah Heise, Chief Executive Officer and Maryland regulatory compliance attorney has stepped down effective immediately. Heise is the recipient of a Maryland Dispensary pre-approval and will depart from her role as CEO to focus on the requirements to open her family-owned business. She will retain equity in the company and continue to vote along with Women Grow stakeholders on certain major decisions regarding its organization and expenditures. Jane West, Founder of Women Grow said, “We fully support Leah on her decision to step down as CEO. Although saddened we respect her decision and wish her the best as she focuses on her dispensary. We see this opportunity as yet another example of women making powerful moves within this industry.” West continues, “During Leah’s time with Women Grow she made incredible strides in restructuring our organization and elevating our mission to another level. We greatly appreciate her leadership and look forward to hearing more from her in the near future.”read more
Heise came to cannabis when she was suffering, and in it, she found a potent cure and holds the conviction that it can help many others, too. In the course of her work in the industry, she’s met a number of others who have been forced to become “medical refugees” to states that have legalized the use of marijuana—like some individuals with epilepsy—and listened intently to their stories. What she has grown to realize is how essential this plant is to many in their efforts to live healthy, happy lives.read more
Louis Armstrong said it’s “a thousand times better than whiskey,” Willie Nelson calls it a “flower put here by God,” Bob Marley talked it up to the “healing of a nation,” and even Susan Sarandon argues it would “make for a much gentler world.” Yes, I’m talking about good ol’ marijuana. And as we venture further down the path towards legalization, what better time to… clear the air, so to speak? For the record, this article is not a how-to guide for getting the most out of your ‘toking experience,’ nor is it a list of irrefutable reasons you should give pot a try or why “ganj be the greatest plont in the entiya universe mon.” It’s a real and open conversation about why it’s time to get over the ridiculous stigmas that cloud it–no pun intended–and see it for what it really is: natural.read more
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
Being a parent is already a difficult job, but when you’re one of the many invested in the burgeoning cannabis industry you unfortunately have to tread even more carefully. In a recent piece published by The Washington Post, Perry Stein speaks with four mothers who have banded together to form a support group where they frequently meet to discuss parenting in an age where the legal marijuana industry is on the rise.read more
Leah Heise, the embodiment of grit, takes the reins of the largest women’s group in the cannabis industryread more
Several times per month someone will ask me how can they break into the cannabis industry. They’ve heard how lucrative dispensaries are, and often people believe that that’s the only place to enter. Not true! Any of your existing skills and expertise can be aligned with the cannabis industry. The cannabis market is rich with job opportunities that don’t involve touching the plant. From writing to branding and graphic design there is not an area where your career cannot be formed. My interview subject Gia Morón of GVM Communications is PR Chair of the NY Chapter of Women’s Grow. Gia has a diverse skill set which includes time spent working in the entertainment and finance industries at firms like The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. With a desire to break into the cannabis industry as a nonuser Gia used her expertise in Public Relations to enter the market. Read on about her journey and advice to those wanting to enter the growing field.read 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