Events We Love: Q&A with Women Grow CEO Kristina Garcia

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On February 1-2, Cannabis Industry leaders will meet in Denver, Colorado to connect and soak up inspiration at the world’s largest gathering of women with cannabis-focused careers. Boasting regional chapters across the U.S. (and one in Toronto, Canada), Women Grow is next up in our “Events We Love” series.


Cannabis has come a long, long way from its formerly stigmatized days to its status today as a blooming mainstream industry with coverage in fashion and lifestyle magazines like Refinery29, which has an entire section on the site dedicated to cannabis culture, The Business of Fashion and Elle magazine.

Today, you’re likely to spot moms reaching for weed over wine as their “chillout method” of choice.

Also, the cannabis industry boasts a higher percentage of female business owners than corporate America, according to a recent survey by Marijuana Business Daily.

Cannabis Conferences Rising

Only a single business conference existed in the U.S. back in 2013 (!) but by the next year, that number had risen to six — and 2015 saw the rollout of a whopping 31 conferences. How do you create an event that stands out in this space?

Enter Women Grow, one of the leading event organizers in the female-led cannabis industry, an entity that connects and empowers the next generation of cannabis business leaders.

Co-founders/trailblazers Jane West and Jazmin Hupp are proving that the future of cannabis is indeed femaleand thriving.

 

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In March 2017, Kristina Garcia was named CEO of Women Grow — we caught up with her to chat about community engagement, year-round attendee acquisition, its “Diversity in Cannabis” report, and their upcoming Women Grow Leadership Summit.

1. WHAT IS THE BUSINESS MODEL OF WOMEN GROW TODAY AND HOW HAS IT EVOLVED SINCE ITS 2014 LAUNCH?  

Women Grow is a resource for leaders looking to break into the cannabis space. At first, we primarily focused on bringing education and networking opportunities to groups of women throughout the country. Now we host our annual, large-scale Women Grow Leadership Summit (WGLS) as well as monthly, “Signature Networking Events (SNE)” in every one of our thirty-five regional markets in the U.S.and one in Toronto, Canada — all hosted and organized by assigned and certified, “Market Leaders.”

In addition to our SNEs, we provide online education and created a thriving membership program to highlight the leaders that strive to make cannabis a diverse and inclusive industry and promote socially responsible business practices.

2. WE’D LOVE TO HEAR MORE ABOUT THE VISION FOR THE WOMEN GROW “LEADERSHIP SUMMIT” AND HOW IT’S SUCH A KEY PART OF THE WOMEN GROW COMMUNITY.

The Women Grow Leadership Summit provides a safe space for individuals to come together in-person, forge friendships and develop strong business connections. WGLS focuses on providing intimate experiences for attendees to find and connect with like-minded leaders, as well as providing alternative types of engaging education.

3. WHAT’S IN STORE FOR YOUR UPCOMING SUMMIT IN FEBRUARY?

We are excited about our lineup of speakers! Our theme this year is “Change-Transition-Evolution.” And we’re bringing back our “Lightning Talks” program, which is a TED-style series. Topics include everything from, “From Target to THC: Confessions of a Corporate-to-Cannabis Crossover,” “and Let Your Voice Be Heard” to “Capitol Hill to Cannabis.” 

We’ve also invited emerging and experienced thought leaders to the stage to share their stories. This year, we will also have a number of men taking the stage. Day 2 of the Summit features our 3-track program of Panels, classroom-style workshops and hands-on demonstrations we call “experiences.”

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4. HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR AUDIENCES ENGAGED IN BETWEEN YOUR CONFERENCES AND REGIONAL MEETUPS? HOW DO YOU BUILD & NURTURE THE COMMUNITY?

We have several levels of engagement. Members and non-members attend our SNE each month, with some markets holding multiple events in a month. Our Market Leaders have private Facebook groups in which they engage with the community. Certified leaders are awarded a license to leverage the Women Grow brand in order to earn revenue through activities like Signature Networking Events, learning lunches and even yoga classes; each regional leader needs to apply to serve as a Market Leader.

We also have educational webinars from when our company launched to today Currently, we have a 3-part investment webinar series with Viridian Capital Advisors.

5. AND ARE YOU LEVERAGING VIDEO CONTENT AND STREAMING TO THAT END AS WELL?

Yes! Another way Women Grow keeps its members engaged all year long is via its Video Education Platform, which includes a series of streaming videos from previous Leadership Summits. This means the TED-style Lightning Talks and the inspiration they provide can be inhaled virtually anywhere.

And we just announced that we are expanding our media presence with our new WomenGrow TV channel [WGTV] on Twitch.tv. The online channel will officially launch during the Leadership Summit in Denver this February.  WGTV will feature exclusive 2018 Summit content, original programming showcasing women across the U.S. and Canada in leadership positions in the cannabis industry, as well as exclusive content from Women Grow meetings and events.

6. WHAT SPECIFIC ACTIONS ARE YOU TAKING TO SHED LIGHT ON THE CURRENT STATE OF DIVERSITY IN THE CANNABIS INDUSTRY?

We partnered with another women-owned company, New Frontier Data, the authority in real-time business intelligence for the cannabis industry, for the first-ever diversity report for the cannabis industry titled, “Diversity in Cannabis: Perspectives On Gender, Race, and Inclusion in Legal Cannabis.” The report covered topics such as diversity of upper management, cannabis usage, compensation and benefits, and diversity and inclusion in business strategy. Following the release of the report, we co-hosted this webinar.

7. WHAT’S THE MOST SURPRISING OR INTERESTING THING THAT’S EVER HAPPENED DURING A WOMEN GROW EVENT?

There is great interest from the mature audience: women over 50 are finding their voice in our industry and are attending our meetings as well.

To us, that’s beautiful! Women are reinventing themselves to launch businesses, reenter the workforce, or become educated about the plant. #TogetherWeHaveMorePower

If you’re interested in attending the Summit in February, please visit womengrow.com/summit.

Our “Events We Love” editorial series features the truly great global and emerging events, conferences, and trade shows that are taking things to another level – and the leaders behind them. Is this you or a colleague? Fill out this really, really short form to be considered for the next one! 

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