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 Kim Paris, founder and CEO of Apache Blaze, Inc.
DOPE Magazine: Who are some of your greatest role models?
Kim Paris:Colonel Sanders. His Kentucky Fried Chicken idea was rejected 1,009 times over a period of two years—he was forty when he started. Oh, and my Grandma Naomi, she was totally Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Rat Pack cool!
What’s something someone would never guess about you?
I’m a former Navy Air Traffic Controller.
Favorite “guilty pleasure”?
Tater Tots (fried not baked) and binging on “Ancient Aliens.”
Where do you see your career/business headed in five years? Twenty?
I see Apache Blaze, Inc. and apacheblaze.com scaled to an international brand, indelibly established as Made in America glass (functional and non-functional). That will be one definition of success for our business and the featured artists. The bigger accomplishment will be bringing to the forefront what has been an invisible subculture to most people. As it is, it was nearly extinguished by Operation Pipe Dreams (the 2005 nationwide sting operation that targeted businesses selling pipes and bongs). Many glass artists and head shop owners lost everything. Worse, it pushed [the] underground [community] even further and our uniquely American art form of functional glassblowing. Now, imports are increasingly putting American Made cannabis accessories out of reach of buyers – it’s a very predatory landscape. If Apache Blaze, the brand, can have a significant enough impact that consumers walk into their local headshop and automatically ask for American glass, we’ll feel we’ve been helpful.
How do you feel about the industry-wide assertion that cannabis is a female-friendly space?
I would agree, though that’s not something that really occurs to me when I reflect on what we’re creating here. More than being a woman-friendly scene, it strikes me as this enormous buzz[ing], innovative and fast-paced business building space. When I look around, there are definitely some badass female role models out there! As for the “friendliness” part, I would say I’ve found the men to be very open and generous with their knowledge and their networks. There’s a sense of camaraderie, because we’re all on the leading edge of a new frontier together. It’s the adrenaline that comes from big dreams of entrepreneurs and the angels that believe in them! In that way, there’s room for all of us, and more are welcome—men and women.
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A magician’s assistant.
If you could talk to yourself five years ago, what advice would you give?
Save more money to prepare for this. Entrepreneurship means ramen noodles every day if you don’t. But who knew this is where I would be?! I never thought I would find myself in the cannabis sector. What a marvelous time to live in! This plant will be so good for so many people … for the world, actually.
What advice do you have for other women looking to get into the cannabis space?
Do it! Most generations don’t have an opportunity to be on the ground floor of sweeping change. Learn everything you can about the industry from the trends / investor viewpoint. Subscribe to the cannabusiness newsletters. Keep in mind the fundamentals when it comes to your product and/or service:
- Does it solve an actual problem or meet a need?
- What differentiates you from competitors?
- Is it scalable?
- Do you have a clearly defined target market, and a good product fit?
- Do you have a specific “Go-To Market” strategy, and can you afford it? Keep in mind, cannabis products are still off-limits for promoting on social media.
- If you’re on a financial shoestring you’d better get to learning how to create a persuasive investor pitch deck. There are many resources to help you prepare, and canna-focused investment funds to apply to. I swear I’ve watched every pitch video and listened to every investor podcast that exists. #thankssativa
Recommend a book, album, and movie you think everyone should read/listen to/watch while stoned!
“Forrest Gump.” You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll want to marry him.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
If you’re going to fail, fail fast.
What’s the one thing you would bring if you were stranded on a desert island?
A hammock. Just go with it. I was going to say an inflatable raft, but that would require two of us to be stranded. I’m a pretty determined person, but not sure I could row back to civilization by myself.
Fill in the blank:
I could never live without: My two children, Sasha and Simone.
What do you think needs to happen before we achieve federal legalization of cannabis?
Not much now. As a libertarian I follow politics fairly closely, and I’ve always maintained that President Trump was going to be the guy to make it happen. If you understand his priorities, it’s pretty obvious. I know others were very concerned over former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. .. but if you believe that anybody tells Trump what to do, you need to get caught up, haha. Plus, there’s now too much political pressure from constituents for federal and state legislators to stand in the way of change (and the money it’s bringing). The drag is that some things will never change, government bureaucrats and special interest groups [included]. They have to get their noses in everything … always.
What’s your smoking/cannabis consumption ritual, if you do partake in cannabis?
An American-made, thick and chuggy bubbler in the bathtub.