Anja Charbonneau is combining her Kinfolk aesthetic with the budding media space in a new magazine for and by women who smoke weed. We spoke with her about her influences, creating content focused on cannabis, and her vision for Broccoli.
What are some of the first publications that inspired you?
During the early stages of research for Broccoli, I acquired all twelve issues of Flair, a short-lived fashion magazine that was published monthly in 1950. The editor was Fleur Cowles, she was a dynamic world traveler and knew every important artist, political leader, etc., during that time, which resulted in a star-studded pool of contributors. The magazine was considered extremely conceptual for its time, using experimental printing techniques like cut-outs, scented paper, metallic inks, and more. There are so many fun surprises in its pages, and it has such a strong voice and creative spirit. I love left-of-center editorial concepts, which is an important part of Broccoli. We’re not doing strain reviews, instead, we’re writing a music review of a relaxing and weird ambient album from the ‘80s.
What is your vision for Broccoli? What sparked this project?
Our purpose is to normalize cannabis by discussing it through the lens of art, fashion, and culture. Before Broccoli, I was working as the creative director of Kinfolk making books and magazines for the brand, so I already had a background in publishing. The cannabis media space to date has been very male-dominated, so we wanted to bring a forward-thinking publication into the world that prioritizes women’s voices and beautiful design.
What makes this the opportune time for a project like Broccoli?
Cannabis is a big topic of conversation right now, especially as more states begin to legalize it, medically or recreationally. Legalization makes people more comfortable with the idea of weed, even if they’ve never tried it before. Broccoli speaks to both long-time fans and those who are newly curious about the plant. We want to show that it can fit into your life in a thoughtful way.
Broccoli is available for free. What’s your approach to gathering funding for this project? Does the content pose obstacles to this?
We’re working with brand partners to fund the magazine, both through traditional advertising and partnered content. So far most of our partners are in the cannabis space, but we’ve been approached by some huge international non-cannabis companies as well. I believe very strongly that the path to normalizing and accepting weed is going to accelerate, and from a business perspective, that feels very promising.
There’s still a bit of coded language around cannabis media. (We’ve written about it here.) How do you work around the restrictions on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, etc.?
The only social media we are currently using is Instagram (@broccoli_mag), and as a magazine, we aren’t dedicated to promoting the sale of a cannabis product like a brand would be. I believe this puts us less at risk of being deleted, but the rules seem extremely arbitrary especially for something like cannabis where the laws vary so much. Community moderation involves a constantly fluctuating set of guidelines, much like cannabis law as it develops, so it makes sense that there are no clear rules. It’s frustrating, but not surprising.
What else are you doing now to build an audience or community for the magazine?
We’ve had some wonderful global press coverage, and since then the community has been emerging through every platform. A lot of women from around the world reach out to us via email, or send us messages on Instagram to tell us about their relationship with cannabis, and what it means to them. That kind of connection is very motivating to us, and it helps inform our content because our community is very open about what matters to them.
What has been the most popular piece to come out of Broccoli thus far?
People have had strong reactions to Seeking Arrangement, our weed ikebana photo story, which also appears on the cover of our first issue. We worked with a talented floral designer, Amy Merrick, and the arrangements show cannabis in such an undeniably beautiful way that it appeals to people beyond the weed sphere. We’re selling a set of postcards on our website that features the art. I gave a print to my partner’s mother for Christmas and she loves it. Everyone loves flowers!
Where do you hope Broccoli will be a year from now? Where do you hope to be a year from now?
I hope we are able to reach more and more people around the globe, which from a very practical standpoint will involve a lot of strategy around distribution and order fulfillment. We would love to be able to provide resources to our community, that’s our biggest priority beyond making the magazine. We’re asking what our community wants and needs and how we can help make that happen.
Just for fun, complete this sentence: “Other than my phone, I never leave home without…”
I always try to have the Quill, my favorite vaporizer pen, in my pocket. It’s extremely sleek and small, and has very even, gentle doses when you have a little puff. I like to go on long walks while listening to music on my headphones, and it adds a fun layer to those experiences.