The future of cannabis is female! December is DOPE Magazine’s Women’s Issue, and we wanted to continue to highlight women across the industry on all of our platforms. We sent a questionnaire to outstanding women in cannabis — some familiar to us, some new — and will be showcasing their answers in individual blogs this month. Today’s story highlights with Audrey Cavenecia, chief concepts officer and content producer at Ephila and Be Blunt.
DOPE Magazine: Who are some of your greatest role models?
Audrey Cavenecia: For me, it’s less about the person and more about the message they bring, such as the formation of carefully selected words that empower others to take action. An example of the power of language is Isabel Allende, who wrote, “Write what should not be forgotten,” and, “I can promise you that women working together — linked, informed and educated — can bring peace and prosperity to this forsaken planet.”
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career?
I have never known a time in my life that I didn’t want to accomplish something great; however, my combined big thinking, bold speaking and being a woman has been a recipe for heartbreak at times. There isn’t a day that goes by that I’ve escaped conscious or unconscious bias. Being a female leader in business is the greatest challenge in and of itself. Giving your whole self to a vision only to be dismissed because of your gender is painful and at times exhausting, but I chose this path and, I take great pride in my accomplishments, as should any woman who is succeeding in business. I’m most grateful to the men who have looked beyond my gender and related to me solely by my talent and grit.
What’s something someone would never guess about you?
I don’t believe anyone would guess that I am merely a shy nerd at heart. People assume I am an outgoing person who has natural confidence in leading people, but I wasn’t always that way. The first time I was asked to speak in front of people, I cried for four days, terrified by the thought of being ridiculed, and that was only an audience of six people. Determined to develop beyond my limitations, I went through intense training for almost a decade and have since spoken in front of over 100,000 people to date. Training, education and discipline is critical to accomplishing professional goals.
What’s your go-to self-care routine?
Power naps and brain apps. I am an avid expert at napping and am always in search of the perfect bedding to pour myself into bed. I believe that the brain is one of the most critical parts of the body in which to focus. It is the remote control to our entire existence; therefore, I set aside time every day to work with my brain using binaural and isochronic tones, meditating and brain challenges.
Favorite “guilty pleasure”?
Without question, my guilty pleasure is binge-watching tv series or movies. I grew up in a household where my father essentially educated his children on human dynamics through cinema. We would watch hours upon hours of films and discuss nuances with him, and he would always challenge my thinking by pointing to the details I missed. Spending time alone, watching movies makes me feel like a child again.
Where do you see your career headed in five years? Twenty?
I have a profound commitment to self-expressed empowered humanity, and an essential part of that vision is diversity in storytelling. The US produces 80% of all content that the world consumes. That means that we are primarily responsible for perpetuating stereotypes. Professionally speaking, less than 3% of agencies are led by women or people of color, which means, our messaging and imagery is also significantly limited in range. Just do the math; the majority of industries are only reaching about 10% of various ethnic and gender-specific markets effectively, but by around 2020, more than half of the nation’s children are expected to be part of a minority race or ethnic group. The US is swiftly becoming a minority majority and marketing is still broadly speaking to only Caucasians. In my opinion that is not only bad business, but it is also a massive missed opportunity for growth. Over the next five years, I intend to make a significant dent in diversifying the narrative.
How do you feel about the industry-wide assertion that cannabis is a female-friendly space?
I feel hopeful but remain vigilant. In 2015, women held 36% of leadership positions in the industry, but in 2017, the number of women in leadership roles had already fallen to 27% of executive-level roles. I believe this has a great deal to do with the increase of men entering the cannabis industry from outside professions and not putting women into leadership roles. The cannabis industry has the unique opportunity to make history by being an example of equality. It is in all our interests to ensure diversity has a voice in cannabis and one way I am actively forwarding that is by curating and producing diverse content on marijuana mainly targeting women (and people of color) working with RLTV and Verizon. I encourage brands to take on developing their video content which we can turn into programming for streaming distribution.
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be someone whose life mattered.
If you could talk to yourself five years ago, what advice would you give?
Stay the course and do not slow down, you are getting closer.
What advice do you have for other women looking to get into the cannabis space?
Do your research, be a unique voice, develop leadership skills and do not take “no” for an answer but instead, something to step over in your quest for “yes.” In the startup space, women get less than 7% of funding, and while I do not know the numbers in cannabis, I will assume it is not 50%. I started Be Blunt, a private event to bring founders together with funders, because great ideas from passionate leaders need the right funding resources. If I can create more opportunities to get women in front of great investors than I have done something worthwhile.
Recommend a movie you think everyone should while stoned!
“La Planete Sauvage.” 100%! That film will blow your mind.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
It is amazing to see what you are capable of if you never, ever, ever, ever, ever give up. Larry Ellison told me that.
What’s your favorite cannabis product?
A Fairwinds product, Flow CBD Gel. It is not only beautifully packaged, but incredibly potent. A superior product in my opinion.
What’s the one thing you would bring if you were stranded on a desert island?
A very smart and sexy partner to keep me company and start a tribe.
What do you hope for the future of the cannabis industry?
I hope for medical innovation beyond expectation. I spent the last five years working with big pharma in order to truly understand the hurdles. Cannabis can do great work in the medical and alternative wellness industry helping millions with mental and physical ailments. That is incredibly exciting to me personally and the future of the industry, worldwide.
Fill in the blank: I could never live without ________
What do you think needs to happen before we achieve federal legalization of cannabis?
People have power and if some are divided then we will remain divided. We have to completely shift the paradigm of cannabis perception and understanding. My cog in the machine is diverse content, content, content. Stories change minds.
What’s your smoking or cannabis consumption ritual?
I don’t care for how smoke makes my throat feel so I enjoy edibles or topical solutions. For relaxing, I will use Flow gel and for performance, I microdose to eliminate anxiety.