Varuni Palacios  0:00
The industry has been a completely different industry every single quarter for the last three years. And so that means we are incredibly flexible, we learn quickly and pivot even faster. Our number one strategy from a marketing perspective and even just like as a brand is to build community. That’s for a few things. One, we have this immense responsibility to educate our consumers. The population where the group of people buying cannabis is quite small when we look at other DTC industries that aren’t cannabis focus. So customer acquisition much further customer attention are really tough because you have to like educate people in order to get them in the mindset of being purchasers in the first place.

Announcer  1:00
You’re listening to two B one B podcast for cannabis marketers. Were your host Shayda Torabi and her guests are trailblazing the path to marketing, educating and professionalizing cannabis light one up and listen up. Here’s your host Shayda Torabi,

Shayda Torabi  1:19
welcome back to the TV blump Podcast. I am your host Shayda Torabi and today’s episode, just to kind of tee it up for y’all is all about conscious consumerism and contextual commerce. If you don’t know what that means, I hope that you will stick through the whole episode because we’re going to dive into what that means. But specifically, in relationship to featuring the brand Miss grass, which if you’re female in cannabis, if you’re just in cannabis in general, I’m sure you’ve seen some of their content. I’m sure you’ve seen some of the memes and things that they’ve created for social media that they’ve shared throughout different channels. Or maybe you’ve just been a conscious consumer yourself trying to get Canna curious and looking into different resources. And I’ve come across some of the blog and content that Miss grass has created. If you are not familiar, Miss grass is essentially a brand based in California, so a legal state, but their whole aim is to help you get good at weed. And more importantly, the emphasis is on the female cannabis consumer. So whether you’re a guy or gal, I hope that today’s conversation will enlighten you on some of the things that as brands go digital as brands go online. What are some of those intersections that they have to consider when it comes to the consumer when it comes to content when it comes to commerce and especially when it comes to community building? Obviously, with the you know, day and age of everything, you know, being online, we still live in a physical world. But through technology, we’re able to be connected to so many people so much broader. And I think Miss grass is one of those brands that has come into the marketplace and really disrupted the conversation because they’ve really leaned into helping build and foster and learn from their community. And so today’s guest is the head of marketing and growth for Rooney Palacio. She is so knowledgeable, we had a wonderful discussion that we’re going to play here for you guys in a bit. But just wanted to kind of set the tone for what we were going to talk about. Because I do think that sometimes questions come up, you know, how do I be online? If I’m in cannabis, how do I create content that resonates I think Miss grass does a really great job of focusing on their niche audience, while also creating different touch points for their brand to reach across the aisle. Maybe it’s, you know, a different industry, maybe it’s a different type of consumer, maybe it’s talking about topics that you know, you don’t really see out in the marketplace right now, especially when it comes to women and cannabis and spirituality and fertility and all these things that as a woman we deal with on a day to day basis, but the cannabis industry hasn’t really, you know, spoken to us just quite yet. So, again, today’s conversation is a really good one. I’m really happy and grateful to have had Varuna on the show and representing Miss grass because this is truly a brand that I’ve personally been a fan of and just getting to watch grow through social media over the last couple years and watch their e commerce store and marketplace evolve. There’s a lot of nuggets that we picked up from this discussion. So without further ado, I’ll let Dr. Rooney come and introduce herself but hope you guys enjoy another episode of The To be blunt podcast.

Varuni Palacios  4:39
I’m from Varuni Palacios. I am the head of growth for Miss grass. I’ve been with Miss grass since q4 2018. My background prior to coming to miss grass is in marketing I lead social media for HSN WWE And brand marketing for NBC entertainment after NBC entertainment, I moved on to Google to lead social and audience development. After Google, I had met our co founders, Kate Miller and Anna Duckworth. They were hard at work on on Miss grass for a while, launched formally on January 31 2018, when CBD became federally legal. And it is sort of like the creative brain behind Miss grass, our tone of voice and our early days editorial strategy. And Kate as our CEO, and CIO, really, and truly the brain behind the operation of who we are and how we’ve scaled and what we’ve become today. Since day one, we have been very hard at work on building our community, our communities, everything to us, she represents how the conversation around cannabis is evolving, how her needs are and aren’t being addressed. If she helps us fill in, you know, the whitespace and create opportunities for other people to come in and grow with us. And the industry, which is sort of you know why we’re all here today because all ships rise. And that’s sort of our internal motto when it comes to marketing, which I know we’ll talk about. For those of you who don’t know, Miss Ross, we’re in our fourth year. So we’re still babies, like all all of us are, and it’s been a wild ride. So I’m excited to talk about that today. We are a cannabis brand for women, but for all our mission is to help the world get good at weed. We are a contextual commerce platform. So we develop content around education, culture, well being equity, science, and, you know, share that content with our community to help educate them so that they can make conscious you know, decisions when it comes to deciding what you know, method of cannabis or you know, is for them and educating them so that they can, you know, share that education with their friends. We launched our first product viscous minis, which are available in dispensary, Stark, California, in September of 2020. So mid pandemic, which was exciting. And then we launched Miss grace minis hem pre rolls which are available for sale on Miss grass calm and our flower shop shortly after in November. And we still have a highly curated marketplace, which is the best of you know, CBD products from brands we love and friends and family in the industry around need states that we’ve curated that our community is that are most important to them. So everything from pain management, to stress management, to period pain, to sex, and in between. That was great.

Shayda Torabi  7:59
I think what intrigues me the most about this brand and this conversation is everybody always myself included, has you know, education first approach. But there’s one thing to say that you want to be education first. But there’s another thing to actually put it into action. And so knowing that you are very I love what you said contextual commerce, I’ve never heard of that. And so I love that little note, because I do think there’s one thing to sell a product. And I say a lot when I’m just talking on this show. And in general conversations, you know, there’s a reason Walmart still exists, there are people who want to shop at Walmart, and there are people who want to shop at Neiman Marcus. And so maybe different levels of education needs to be informed depending on who the end consumer is. But I think where y’all fit is really in that high quality, you really want to, you know, be relatable. And you highlighted it by just putting the ownership and the forefront on your community and making sure that your community is resonating with the content that you’re putting out. I recently was reading, you know, some of your blog posts. And it’s just fun to see the type of content approach that you take because it is very relatable. It’s like, Hey, I’m having trouble sleeping, I tried this product. And this is how I had the experience with it. And here’s some products that we recommend that we think can help you have that if that’s you know, the outcome that you’re looking for. And so I just loved the way that I as a consumer was able to navigate and kind of find myself throughout the dialogues and the conversations that you were curating. And so that’s why this conversation is so important for me to have because I just think like you kind of highlighted to in the beginning, the rising tide lifts all boats. And so being able to have that kind of community approach is so important. But execution I think, is where a lot of people get hung up and and I know you said you’re a four year old brand and still consider a baby but definitely see the work that you’ve done in the four years to grow the brand to where it’s become is is an impressive feat. So can’t wait to learn more from this conversation. But I’ll start by you know kind of positioning yourself of marketing and growth. And so what is your day to day look like? Are you more focused on social media branding or partnerships? So kind of walk us through what are some of the marketing and growth areas for Miss grass.

Unknown Speaker  10:12
And we can come back to our little buzzwords, contextual commerce and conscious consumerism, which is another big one that we should all if we walk away with everything, and anyone listens to this, I hope they kind of adapt that. But to your question, what is the day in the life look like and what sort of our marketing mix? So growth and marketing, when I first joined this grass, I was like, Oh, this will be really fun. I was also somewhat confused. Still, like, as a curious cannabis consumer, I brought my own stigma to the company, which Kate and Anna have helped me sort of navigate and learn my own approach along the way. So I walked in and was like, this will be really cool. I’m learning. It’ll be like walk in the park did it at NBC did it at WWE. Did it at Google? No, I was like, what the actual hell? I mean, people ask like, Oh, you know, what’s it been like? And the industry has been a completely different industry every single quarter for the last three years. And so that means we are incredibly flexible, we learn quickly and pivot even faster. Our number one strategy from a marketing perspective. And even just like as a brand is to build community. That’s for a few things. One, like I said, we have this immense responsibility to educate our consumers, the population or the group of people buying cannabis is quite small when we look at other DTC industries that aren’t cannabis focus. So customer acquisition much further customer attention are really tough, because you have to, like educate people in order to get them in the mindset of being purchasers in the first place. And for a lot of them who are stepping in to the muskrats community trying cannabis for the first time, like hoping that they you know, are retained or that they find you know, with us, the experience that is best for them is sort of like the first thing. So how do we build a community that is highly educated and informed can bring in their friends and family into this space as well and help with just the stigmatization across the board. We build our community via email, we build our community via social. And then ultimately, it’s about, you know, creating the right content, the right conversations, the right experiences that get them to ultimately make those buying decisions, whether it’s for themselves or for a loved one, because that loved one is suffering with something that, you know, they’re interested in trying but haven’t tried before. From a target demo perspective, we tend to cater to three different psychographics which are women who are out and loud and proud about their cannabis consumption. They are the, you know, stoner and their group of friends, which is a word that we are really trying to, you know, reverse the psychology around, Kate and I have these conversations all the time because she’ll say I’m a stoner and she is she’s such an advocate for this plant. It’s why she bought the URL from Miss grass over 10 years ago. She is our fearless leader at this company and she’s a stoner, she’s successfully building a company. Her career has been incredible her like her thought process, everything like the amount that we learn from her on a day to day basis is incredible. And you know, she’s a stoner which is a beautiful thing. And then women who have a cannabis practice but are sort of what we say in the closet about it because they’re afraid of like judgment or stigma from their friends or you know, it’s like the mom who will go into the bathroom at the end of the day and taking that a bowl or a hit of her vape pen. You know, once the kid goes to bed, she’s switching her glass of wine for weed at the end of the day. And then there are curious cannabis consumers where they’re, they’ve heard about it from their friend maybe they saw Kim Kardashian do her CBD baby shower, and you know, they’re like reaching for a bath bomb or something like that. Regardless, there was something for everyone when it comes to this plant and we exist to just help her and then navigate what that experiences our marketing mix in terms of how we do that is primarily organic because it’s really impossible to adopt a paid strategy at least one that’s digital which is where our community exists. paid media you know can be effective for outdoor and you know, direct mail and more traditional methods were digital brand. And so we’ve been experimenting with paid media from day one which we can talk about Little bit about and I promise I won’t be triggered. You know, our organic strategy is depends primarily on partnerships, email marketing, social, organic search, content development and content distribution, and pre pandemic events and experiences via partnerships that we’ve sort of evolved to be more virtual and are excited to be back IRL. And as things start to open up and when it’s safe for us all.

Shayda Torabi  15:28
So you kind of hit on some things that there’s like so many stuff that I want to break down, but one just kind of the nature of being a digital brand, primarily, and knowing the amount of content that you’re producing. And you’re not spending a lot on it, I do want to circle back around to digital ads, because I think that it is triggering for a lot of people. And I’m sure that you’ve had some, you know, experiences that you’ve learned from through it, but leaning more into organic, how have you really approached I guess, creating that content? Is all that content being created in house? Or are you leveraging influencers? Are you relying on partners to create some of this content, or is everybody who’s writing a blog post or creating something for social media, somebody that’s like internal, in house,

Unknown Speaker  16:15
it’s all of the above. I mean, we’ve created a very small community of creators, whether writers, photographers, graphic designers, partners influencers, which is how we have been able to make sure that we are telling diverse stories, and building a diverse community, it can all kind of come from one place. The other, I think, really, really important part of our strategy, which I think she would kill me if I didn’t mention is just how data focused we are like data is at the center of what we do, it’s the greatest part of my role at the company. It’s I think, how we’ve, you know, sort of been able to navigate the changing landscape as quickly as we’ve needed to over the three years and make really fast decisions we launched, like I said, in 2018. And ever since we’ve basically been listening and collecting and analyzing, every time someone takes an action on our site, every time someone takes an action, with content that we distribute, or takes an action with an email that we put out or takes an action by buying a product, we’re listening. We also, you know, in addition to quantitative data, which we track in terms of community growth, community engagement, and then revenue, you know, from, like, the entire lifecycle of a purchase journey, which is like not only like, what they’re buying, and how much of it they’re buying, but how often and what needs states? And are they re buying it? Or who they buying it for what you know, area are they buying it from versus where are they shipping it to? And are the same people who are making purchases? The same people who are opening our emails and reading them? And what sort of segments are we able to create based on like, how we’re capturing and sorting and analyzing all of that data so that we can better serve our customer, our community. So data is at the center of every single thing that we do. And even I mentioned qualitatively like if you go on Miss grass calm, you’ll meet our bud tender Kayla throughout that process, which is a little chat pop up that says, Hey, are you finding everything that you need, if not tell us and hopefully, that person leaves that conversation with our bud tender, a little more informed, to either pass that info on or make a decision and the journey, but we’ve been able to just kind of get a strong understanding of who she is, what she’s buying, where the gaps are for her, and how we can best fill them through content, community and experiences.

Shayda Torabi  18:59
I think they’ll do a good job just from listening to you. It’s really exciting for me, because I have a traditional marketing background. And I know that not everybody who finds themselves in a marketing role has you know, that experience that understanding of not just creating content or putting something out on social media and having it go viral? It’s it’s actually closing that loop and understanding what you highlighted so eloquently. It’s the data and it’s empowering as a brand to be able to be connected to the consumer in that way. And so I just wanted to kind of, you know, commend you for having that approach. Because I’m sure people are listening, and they’re like, wait, what I’m supposed to ask my customers for feedback. Like I remember being on a panel once and someone was asking, you know, how do you get reviews for products? And I’m like, Well, if you’re sending people physical things in the mail, you could include you know, things in the mailer, if you have a website, you can ask people for their feedback. Again, get them to engage, especially with your community approach. You have all these people who are joining the community. It’s like, listen to them. Right, it’s one thing to build the community, but it’s the other half to actually listen to them. And so it’s cool to hear that, that is kind of, you know, one of the first pillars of the brand is just to not only build the community, but to actually incorporate that feedback into helping you then navigate the industry, which is so rapidly changing and so difficult. And so I just thought that was a really cool point, where I want to kind of turn to is speaking specifically to your ecommerce platform. Again, with my background, I know e commerce is really difficult. And so a lot of these loops that you’re setting up from creating the content, you know, whether it’s on social or on your own website, and then talking about products and driving people to purchase and trying to get their feedback. You know, it’s a dream, I think, for people who want to get into cannabis thinking, Oh, yeah, I’ll just kind of take these processes from previous industry experiences, and just like go set up a website, you know, Shopify, or Squarespace and then I think most people are confronted with how difficult being online actually is. But it’s very clear your site is beautiful. So there’s kind of that user experience that you’ve considered. So it’s not just the site isn’t functional? Can I, you know, put a product in front of you and then make a transaction. But it’s, it’s beautiful, and it’s informative, and it functions. And so I’m just curious, you know, how has e commerce been a tool that you’ve used, and what have been some of the challenges that you’ve been able to overcome while navigating it throughout this journey in the industry?

Unknown Speaker  21:29
Yeah, I actually love that you are referring to ecommerce as a tool, because that’s exactly what it is for us. Like we are not just the CBD brand, where a cannabis brand and we’re both on THC and CBD with our products in the market. And so, econ definitely has been a tool for us to build community both at the top of the funnel and the bottom of the funnel, and sort of learn about who our customers are. So we look at sort of like community members, both top of the funnel and bottom of the funnel, and move them over to customers once they’ve ultimately made a purchase. But our community is like, worldwide, we have community members in multiple countries, we have purchasing econ customers in every single state in the US. And yet, on the THC side, right now our product is only available in the state of California, CBD and eecom versus like THC and in retail stores is something that we’ve been like learning and navigating. And like you said, the legality of things present a lot of red tape, and we’re looking to scale which is sort of like what keeps me up at night. I’ve been hard at work since day one trying to like what we say crack this paid media code. But at the end of the day, until it’s federally legal, and even beyond that, there’s a clear understanding of what’s what the platform’s aren’t really going to be able to open up advertising to us like we want them to, and even still, we kind of compare ourselves to like, non endemic FMB industries, and you know, sort of like the spirits industry, there’s a lot of like restrictions and limitations from an age and demo perspective that they have to follow. And so for us, it’s about like understanding where our marketing mix falls within the customers funnel. So like, you know, at the beginning of our day socialists, just the brand awareness tool, but we’re now seeing that there’s a huge purchasing appetite from our social community, and so their full funnel also same. And so like our goal is how do we everywhere that we have a presence, create a full funnel opportunity, where someone can, as you said, read, Converse, feel a part of the community purchase, bring their friends in and continue to purchase, whether they’re online, and they’re buying something that we ship across all 50 states, including the stress merge, which we had created for community, or if they are in the state of California, how do we drive them into our stores doing that with our partners, so, you know, our retail partners, we truly do call partners, because for us, it’s about working collaboratively with them, to drive them this grass consumer into their stores, which creates a mutually beneficial experience where sharing data and performance from both their their sides and ours helps us both understand what we’re doing here. You know, ecommerce, a place where we’re allowing people to sign up allowing people to search product pages, allowing people to make a conversion. And so it’s adding a little bit more information about who our community is every step along the way. And then of course, we kind of combine all of that data, put it side by side To get an understanding of like, where there’s whitespace, or opportunities for improvement, and we have tried, paid, but I think it’s like everyone who’s listening to this will probably have created that landing page experience that they’ve had to clean up and isn’t a full representation of their brand. And so the first hurdle is creating an experience that you can get approved. The second hurdle is creating an ad that’s representative of your brand, but still achieves the goal for the campaign that doesn’t get your campaign flagged. The third milestone is, okay, you’ve got the landing experience, you’ve got the creative like is the customer doing the thing that you want them to so that you’re, you know, quantifying the success of your campaigns or not, like, okay, we drove a ton of impressions, but we didn’t really see that returned in terms of traffic. Or, for us, like once in 2019, for a quarter, we were able to get paid social campaign up and running, and we’re acquiring email subscribers that under $4 a subscriber. And those subscribers wanted shit to do with us in the long run, you know, they tanked our email engagement rates, they tanked our econ conversion rates and, you know, ultimately, in the long run became inactive subscribers. So, you know, Gone are the days where like being able to launch a digital campaign was a success. Now that we have benchmarks both from organic and past paid runs. Every time we launch something new, which we’ve tried it all we’ve tried paid search, we’ve tried social, we’ve done outdoor, we, you know, as a team in 2019, launched a billboard in Venice, right outside of Great White. And as a team went and sat out on the curb, as the guy was installing it cheering him on is the sunset, like we pop champagne on the corner, it was a major moment in this grace history. And you know, that was great in terms of brand awareness, and, you know, a beautifully branded moment in the, you know, one of the most active like, zip codes that our customers and but that attribution opportunity was or the like attribution, there was a blind spot, essentially, we’ve tried podcast media, which worked for us, however, like took a very long time, like almost three quarters for us to see return on adspend. We’ve tried display many, many, many times. And well, you know, it is perhaps a brand awareness driver for us, we didn’t see the return on site traffic and conversion rates that we wanted to see, to justify the long term investment. And so I think like our challenges, you know, marketers and cannabis is evolving and scaling our brands, while remaining authentic to who we are and what we’re doing in the first place, which is, you know, helping our communities get good at weed helping people who are in charge of turning paid on or, you know, building more brands understand, like the responsibility that we have to just like, educate everyone, b2b and b2c. And doing that, at scale, at least via paid is just really, really, really tough today,

Shayda Torabi  28:31
thank you for sharing that. I really appreciated it, because it is just such a thing. I always try to stress both on the podcast and just in my own practices, you know, there’s not one way to the top. And so when you’re a marketer, and you’re presented with both, you know, traditional marketing, tactics and strategies, but then like implementing it into the landscape that is cannabis. It gets confusing, sometimes you know, you you want to go and do these things. But I think you said something that really resonated and hit my heartstrings. It’s attribution. And it’s so difficult sometimes, because obviously, digital is really one of the only, in my opinion, true ways to see the funnel closed. It’s, you know, hey, someone saw this ad, we have these links, they’re able to attribute that they saw it on this page, and they landed here, and then they made a conversion. And when you sponsor a billboard, or you know, an event, you can hope that it’s going to drive awareness and ultimately sales for your business, but unfortunately falls more in the brand awareness bucket, which I know all too well. I love brand building, but it is sometimes hard. I think as a marketer, it’s like you can only do so much. There’s only so much money that you can invest to actually make the brand grow and so you have to be smart about it. And so for better or worse, it sounds like y’all have used your previous you know, life experiences to help them Influence but also not being so set on it I also meet a lot of entrepreneurs and people in the cannabis space who are like oh this worked when I was in this industry or at this company and they just you know they’re very very like it’s gonna work in cannabis and like if you have a lot of money and time and you want to try you can but you know it’s it’s ultimately learning what like you said you’re there to serve your customer, your community How do you get in front of them and create content that is relevant for them and so yeah, for better or worse it is a little bit tricky of a space to play in when you are using digital to be the the platform to extend your brand but you can’t really pay to expand on that platform unfortunately.

quick break to say thank you to restart CBD for sponsoring this podcast, restart CBD is a brand my sisters and I founded in our hometown in Austin, Texas. We operate a retail location as well as an e commerce store and you can browse our wide range of CBD products at restart CBD calm. Again, thank you to restart for allowing me the time and resources to put on to be blunt. I hope you’ll check them out for your CBD needs. Let’s go back to the episode.

Unknown Speaker  31:22
Yeah, and you know, like you said, there’s more ways to the top and pay it isn’t the only one and eventually it will be and it will turn on and we’ll be able to like use it. I think right now. Our advice in what we do is KPI everything. So like when we do an event success of that event is not just pulling it off. It’s how many people RSVP, were they new to the community? Or were they people who’ve been with us for a long time? You know, how are we having the right conversations with whoever’s joining us for that event and tapping into their audiences and allowing theirs to tap into ours, we KPI everything. And we weigh the importance of qualitative insights and feedback as much as we do quantitative. And so you had mentioned it earlier. But we do surveys to listen to our community all the time, we just did one for women’s month, which was to better understand women’s needs when it comes to weed because they are highly underserved in dispensaries. They don’t have the best experience navigating conversations when it comes to bud tenders. Or they don’t even know what to ask, you know about tender or or they’re relying on delivery to just avoid the experience whatsoever. But like women’s needs when it comes to weeds, yes, like we want to be high and we want to enjoy the experience. But there’s so much more happening right now as it relates to like, fertility and endometriosis and aging, and, you know, spirituality and emotions and like the stress of the pandemic. And, you know, being parents and cannabis has a role in all of those things. And so we issued a survey at the beginning of March and, you know, spent a couple of weeks just listening and collecting that feedback. We organized it into some what we think are really effective data points and have started sharing those out with our community in hopes that that information helps someone say like, that’s me. And this information has really sort of like open doors or open conversations or helped me understand you know, more so long story not short, like, we try to KPI everything, qualitative or quantitative. Really?

Shayda Torabi  33:37
No, I’m glad you added that point, though, because I think that there are a lot of things again, the industry get so wound up in the you know, challenges that SOCIAL MEDIA presents the challenges that digital ads present. But you gave a really great example that as far as I’m concerned is free 99 to do you have people who have already followed you on social media, they’ve made a transaction, you have their email, and you can do a pretty easy survey through Google, if you want to pay for something through Survey Monkey or etc. You know, there’s definitely different tiers to go about serving but again, what I observed about your brand, which I just kind of like to always re emphasize and highlight for the listeners to really pay attention to is is the closing of that loop that you’ve created. It’s not just getting people to be a part of the community or be a customer. It’s then getting that feedback and understanding like you highlighted KPI, everything and just the importance of data and what I think most people don’t realize, and I say this out loud, almost a little bit for myself, especially being someone with a marketing background but also being a business owner. There’s only so many hours in the day and it’s wild because I have good intentions personally of you know, going and setting up a survey or you know, kind of checking in with our customers or taking feedback from them, but the crazy part As I’m realizing through this conversation is that information is all there, I just have to go through it. Yeah. So people just need to realize, you know, it doesn’t, you don’t need to have, you know, 70,000 followers like y’all have I’m sure that’s a great sample size for getting feedback. But it’s like, take whatever you’re currently doing, and just dig into the data. So I’m really glad that you brought that up. Now, I’m going to pivot a little bit, you know, we’re talking about areas that you can’t necessarily play us comfortably in. But I do think that y’all have done extremely well and establishing your brand from a partnership perspective. And I know that you highlighted partners can also be your retail partners. But specifically speaking, y’all done partnerships with Beats by Dre, Lulu lemon, Soho house, these are massive, non cannabis brands. And for me, as a consumer who is into cannabis, I always love seeing when brands outside of our industry, obviously see the value and aren’t afraid to stand besides us. Because I think that that’s where we’re going to get new consumers and create a bigger community is by just extending ourselves beyond our own ecosystem. So I feel like in one regard, you’re doing that by just communicating to women and having this dialogue. It’s very specific for women in cannabis, I mean, sidebar, everything you just said around like fertility and spirituality and everything. It’s crazy. I just went to the doctor. And you know, I’m at an age where I would like to eventually have some babies. And I’m slowly having to have the conversation like, Look, I consume cannabis. And what does that look like, and there just aren’t a ton of resources out there. And so I need access to people who are willing to have that conversation and kind of stick their neck out. So I do appreciate kind of like that space in the industry that y’all are helping to kind of bolster. But kind of back to the partnerships again, it just is so cool and refreshing to see these big brands want to say, hey, cannabis is not just a drug. It’s not just something to kind of get high. I mean, I love getting high, but it has this application to so many things like my mind was blue lemon, obviously the wellness approach. So of course it makes sense. Like why would women not want to you know, do a workout which I’m one of those women I work out six days a week. So I love cannabis. I love fitness. Those two are not mutually exclusive. Yeah. So how have y’all leaned into partnerships? And kind of a further probing question is do you find that these brands are coming to you? Or are you actively going out and being like, Hey, we really cool if we did a partnership together?

Unknown Speaker  37:30
Yeah, the way that we approach partnerships is exactly what you said. And rather than wellness, for us, it’s more about well being because I think wellness brings her own sort of like drama, what brands have done to the word wellness over the last two years. But it’s an aspect of our lifestyle. You know, for some people it is their entire lifestyle. And that’s incredible. But, you know, it’s like you said there’s like an aspect of your life that’s fitness and fertility related, and there’s a role that cannabis plays in all of those things. I’m a new mom, for example, and going through this pandemic has been really really, really tough. And so like right now I’m really into the prismatic plants, they a night duo. So there’s a tincture for a day and a tincture for night. That’s a part of my routine. And I’ve got, you know, hashimotos hypothyroidism and so every morning I get up and I take my Synthroid and I take a tincture, you know, like my sister is super, super intimus grasses, quiet times. She is a publicist in media and entertainment, but she’s super into pole fitness. And every single Monday, she cuts off her work at 6pm, she’ll put in her headphones till 8pm, she’ll smell quiet times. And her goal for the pandemic was the perfect splits, for example. So like everyone has, so there’s so much to who we are and what’s going on in our lives. And so we look at partnerships as an opportunity to like collaborate with us and like telling those stories and it’s both endemic and non endemic brands. So, you know, like, for example, in what was it I want to say around the holidays to fight food insecurity in LA we’ve partnered up with men men, and ask people in the LA area to bring non perishable goods and food items to like co branded boxes while they were making their you know, in store purchases and you know, do good or like you said we’ve partnered with non endemic brands on

Unknown Speaker  39:31
you know, just experiences that incorporate well being and cannabis because it’s sort of like the best marriage and you know, we’ve created content and distributed it via well and good and refinery 29 we’ve done events like you said with Beats by Dre and ello yoga and we definitely want to do way more of those things. They’re not mutually exclusive and Allah Yoga is community and Beats by Dre is community and Soho house community has interests that align with those of people in the mist grass community. And if we can be well rounded, collaborative find mutually beneficial objectives and outcomes, we can grow. I think that there have been, you know, early on in the days where people didn’t even understand the difference between CBD and THC, which still a lot don’t. We found ourselves just sitting saying based on the psychographic of our target demo, who are the brands that align best with them. And so we would do a brainstorm and it ended up being like brands that are in you know, our daily lives on everybody up the team, which translates the community that we’re building and now we nurture those both incoming relationships and outgoing relationships. Every time like a brand or an influencer interacts with us on social. That’s an opportunity for a bigger conversation, whether it’s to fuel our content pipeline to do a product collab, which we just did one with playboy for February, they launched their CBD collection around pleasure for all bath balm collection of lubes. Really, like beautiful and incredible items that we added to our sex shop on Miss grass. But we took it one step further and collabed on a pleasure kit, which include Miss grass, hemp minis in xX xX, as well as playboys bath balm and lube. And that was something we did around February in the theme of pleasure for all we’re looking at those same opportunities for moms and Mother’s Day for summer and summer being like the coming out party post COVID that we’ve all been craving. And then you know, all throughout the year, including holiday, which is I think, a huge quarter for everyone now, especially if you’re a DTC brand cannabis or not. But it’s just about like catering to a psychographic because it’s like demo NGOs are too black and white. And our consumers are, you know, the opposite of that. And so how do we identify who our psychographic is and create partnerships and experiences that resonate with them, and then invite the right partners to make them feel rich and authentic and add value and KPI the shit out of them so that we can learn whether they’re doing something for both of us or not, and nine times out of 10, they are, and then the time that they’re not, it’s like, I don’t think we change the KPI, you know, there’s like value to be extracted from everything, even if, you know, escape tells me it’s just the learning of something we shouldn’t do again, which is what I’m like curled up in a ball, you know, crying or the Miss grass office before COVID, we had a cry room, which I occupied, I think most of the time, but, you know,

Shayda Torabi  42:43
I can relate to the crying I find myself in the fetal position a lot in this industry, but it’s making us stronger, I definitely resonate with the philosophy too. It’s just that you’re always learning. And if you can kind of keep that approach. That’s how you’re going to survive this industry and thrive in this industry. But I love that you highlighted two things, one, kind of the way that you’re approaching partnerships is like, what do I like? What are the products and the brands that I’m resonating with and trying to create some correlation, natural correlation, a correlation of I am this person who likes this and that and so why is it exclusive, it shouldn’t be. And then the other thing you highlighted, which I think is not an expectation of brands, but it certainly is, you know, a strategy that I think can be rewarding, should you you know, lean into it, which is paying attention to people who are engaging with you on social media, I find you know, all over the board. There’s so many brands that you’ll send them a DM or I love this thing about you or you tagged them in a story. And I’m sharing this because I posted a little quick picture saying that I was interviewing Miss grass, I didn’t even like say anything specific, literally 10 minutes before we started recording and whoever’s doing your social, I don’t know if it’s you or not, like saw the story and like liked it. And I was like, Oh my gosh, your huge brand was 79,000 followers. Whoa, like I find their brands with smaller followers that you send things again, and it goes into the ether and there’s just no river back and not that I expect a brand to always pay attention to little me but it’s again, a conscious decision I think in line and in value with building your community that’s just like paying attention Hey, this person is actually a really cool person who had a really interesting thought, let’s capture that that’s customer feedback, or, hey, they tagged us in this art actually that arts really cool. Let’s maybe go and do something from that. And so, again, for people listening, just kind of you know, I know social media is not for the faint of heart, especially with you know the challenges of cannabis. And as a brand grows, I can only imagine the amount of people who are in your DMS but it just goes a long ways for the vision and the value of you know, building that community at the end of the day.

Unknown Speaker  44:49
Thank you. Well shout out to cha cha cha cha as our social community manager Kayla’s our budtender everyone should know that there was like a real bad ass woman behind Every single thing that we do are very lean and mighty team and if you are listening to this dm Miss grass and tell Chacha you love her or go on to miss grace, calm and tell Kayla that you love her Kayla’s mom will sometimes chat her out the bud tender during the day, which we all love and laugh about. I love that we have been this way since like, I don’t know, 20,000 followers, and we will absolutely be this way like above a million because it just goes back to sort of why we’re all all doing this. And at the heart of any day to see brand or any brand these days is just the service and appreciation and the love that you’re able to show on a personal level. You know, like we all remember, when Wendy’s or chipolte lay or like the brands that would like the airline brands that would adjust you via Twitter. And those are like, the brands that you keep going back to you know, you build loyalty, as brands, we are at our communities service. And if we’re not serving them in the way that they’re telling us, which is the point of social, then we’re just not doing our job. And you know, going back to paid and partnerships like the best partnerships is a one to one conversation that we can have with a community member who then goes and brings like their entire family and friends into what we’re doing.

Shayda Torabi  46:25
I love that you just said that. I think that is like the golden nugget of the episode. I mean, literally everything you’re saying though, seriously is so intelligently presented, I’m eating everything up. But that piece in and of itself, I often talk a lot with my own team. And we’re a bunch of you know, aside from my sisters were a women kind of run company as well, and women employed company as well. And just the power of like one to one if you can make one person and advocate if you can make one person feel more comfortable, confident, like excited about trying cannabis, then we’ve done our job. And obviously knowing that if those people have positive experiences, they’re the voters, they’re the friends of friends, they’re the future leaders of tomorrow and when they have a good experience with my brand or not. If I was a small part to play in their education, and their confidence building with cannabis, then that is a job well done. And so that it’s definitely something that resonated with me. I’ve just like you said it, I’m like, Yes, girl like Yes, that’s it. And it’s like, yes, you can grow and be you know, 80,000 100 million, etc, or whatever the growth is exciting, but it kind of always comes back to that one to one conversation. And so I love that these are real women who are behind the lean mean Miss grass team, and I do you think everybody should go dm cha cha on Miss grass and just have a conversation and, you know, continue that dialogue. Kind of With that said, wrapping up, I want to ask two things. One, y’all sit in a position of creating content. So I know that advocating on behalf of the plant is really important. And so social equity as a huge component of your brand. But the second half of the question is really around, you know, how do you get educated to be an educator?

Unknown Speaker  48:12
Yeah, I think that, you know, we are lucky to have advocates in our circle who call us out. And I call them advocates, even though they don’t feel like it at the time, but they call us out and they keep us honest. And you know, we make sure to do our research. And we make sure to not project our own experiences and just always be in learning mode. We research the organizations that we should be supporting. And you know, the people who have built this industry before we even had the opportunity to come in and corporatize it all, you know, it’s just sort of like staying curious understanding that every single brand in cannabis like every single leader in cannabis, every single like team member in cannabis like diversity, inclusion and equity and social justice have to have to be a part of every single thing that you do. And so every single campaign every single product launch every single partner or person that we work with or contributor, whether we’re creating content, there is an aspect and it’s a part of our conversation like, Okay, this is, you know, what we’re creating and why but how is this ultimately going to turn around and do some good because that’s the larger responsibility that we have. And you know, I’m glad that the last 12 months have really like shined a light on how dark things are. I would just say that like we are fortunate to have advocates who constantly call us out, keep us on our toes and a team of you know, people who are really dedicated to just always offering up Miss grace as a platform for people who whose voices can’t be heard. To use us on their behalf. Yeah, I

Shayda Torabi  50:03
think it’s so important, especially as this industry continues to become corporatized, it’s, it’s a little bit uncomfortable, right, you know, especially coming from more traditional marketing positions and backgrounds, it’s, you know, it’s both exciting to see cannabis now being put in billboards or talked about more openly on the media or in the news. But the flip side of that is certainly very real of just where the industry has come from, and where it’s going to continue to go. And I do believe that it is every one of our you no rolls to lean into that as much as we can, and try to shape and influence that conversation, aside from just this is what cannabis can do for you. But this is also kind of where the plant has come from. And this is the reality of it. So I just appreciate, you know, the conversations that you’re willing to have on the Miss cross platform, covering kind of this full spectrum and being able to use that voice in the community to really highlight issues and organizations and ailments and also opportunities for people to be as connected to the plant as they want to be. It’s, it’s really inspiring, and I think just a really special place for for this plant to be existing in and 2021. So thanks for sharing all of that.

Unknown Speaker  51:24
Thank you. And before we jump, I just want to shout out a couple of organizations that are incredibly important for every single listener to research and, and support. And maybe we can put them in the show notes. Absolutely. Like cannabis for black lives. No left turns, the hood incubator movements for black lives. The last prisoner project, the National bailout fund, we sell a T shirt on Miss grass and our merch shop where 100% of the proceeds from the sale of that shirt support the national bailout organization, cage free cannabis. You know, we support them on an ongoing basis. They’re doing incredible, incredible work. And if there are any questions about these orgs, or opportunities, like you know, if you want to join in with us, and provide support, like dm us, or hit up our bud tender, but I’ll give you a list that maybe we can put in our show notes.

Shayda Torabi  52:19
Yeah, I will definitely include these I think there are some that I’m certainly familiar with, and some that are new to me. And so in the spirit of you know, forever learning and being a steward of the plant, I think, yeah, it’s just trying to find organizations that we can contribute to and help further the mission of so that we can all benefit from what cannabis can provide for us as, as human beings living on this great planet. But I will hit you with some quickfire, because just because I’m curious myself, I want to do almost like a vocabulary lesson. So contextual commerce and conscious consumerism. I think we’re the two words you said, What are those mean?

Unknown Speaker  53:03
contextual commerce that’s about content and experiences that educate the consumer and making buying decisions that are right for that, going into a purchase decision I advise open, which is sort of the same thing as conscious consumerism, which is like stop buying shit that you don’t need, look into who’s creating it, what good they’re doing with the proceeds of your investment, basically, like vote with your dollars. You know, as consumers, we have immense power, there are buying decisions and you know, supporting the right businesses and ultimately doing good in the way that we can we spend money all day every day, spend it in the right place, so that we can spread the wealth and pay it forward.

Shayda Torabi  53:53
I hope you were taking notes, if not good thing that you can replay this podcast as many times as you would like until your heart is content. But truly, really, I encourage you to go browse the Miss grace website, I encourage you to engage with them on social media. I love the focus on the community and also the human touch aspect that this brand displays. Again, it doesn’t matter if you have 10 followers, 100,000 followers, one customer 100 customers, I think understanding and creating a special experience and creating that feedback loop for your consumers to provide you information to ask you questions to create a dialogue is so important and obviously so valuable and it was just really neat to hear how important that is to the Miss grass team and it obviously shows in the success that they’ve achieved. So hope you guys enjoyed this episode. We’ll be back next Monday with another one and as always, feel free to reach out on social media you can find me at the Shayda Torabi or at To be blunt pod and catch you guys with another episode next week. Take care and have a good one. Bye

Announcer  55:05
Love this episode of To be blunt. Be sure to visit the Shayda slash To be blunt for more ways to connect new episodes come out on Mondays and for more behind the scenes follow along on Instagram at the Shayda Torabi

Transcribed by