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 Lulu Tsui, CEO of AMBR Technologies and Co-Founder of On the REVEL.
DOPE Magazine: Tell us a little bit about AMBR and On the REVEL
Lulu Tsui:AMBR is a software platform design to support and standardize the operations and data for the largest growing sector of the cannabis space — oils, concentrates, and infused products. AMBR was born from seeing first hand a lack of digital tools that could support the workflows in the processing, manufacturing and formation labs. We understand the needs across this sector and are layering on top of that behavioral-based software that will capture data across this sector.
On the REVEL is a quarterly cannabis innovation showcase bringing the most innovative companies and trailblazers from existing cannabis markets to share their stories with the professional communities in emerging cannabis markets on the East Coast. Our goal is to educate, inspire, and engage all the underrepresented cannacurious industries of NY — finance, tech, fashion, media, art, design — in the cannabis conversation in order to normalize and de-stigmatize.
Who are some of your greatest role models?
The first lady rebel that comes to mind is Lilith, Adam’s lesser known first wife. She wanted to lie next to Adam as his equal. However, Adam insisted that she be subservient and lie beneath him. So, she said “Later” and left the Garden of Eden. I am lucky to meet amazing rebel minded women in cannabis who are like Lilith. They are quietly getting shit done, know exactly what they are worth, and know exactly when to exit gracefully. So, here’s to my lady cannabis colleagues, collaborators, dreamers and schemers. You are all MAGIC!
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career?
I grew up alongside the internet and started my tech career building websites in 1994 and then moved to what is now call UI/UX design when the dot-com bubble burst in 2000. It’s funny that some of the biggest challenges I faced in the tech space are the same ones in cannabis — mainly that when some people think of technology or cannabis, an Asian woman isn’t the first image that pops into mind, and assumptions are made about my role and competency. A few months ago, my CTO and I had dinner with a company that looked to be a promising sensor partner. However, throughout the entire dinner, the managing partner would barely speak to me, let alone look at me. I asked him questions and he would answer not to me, but to my white-haired male CTO. Needless to say, that relationship never developed. But that is one of the beautiful things about the cannabis industry; you can pick the people, companies and organizations that you want to build and collaborate with.
What’s something someone would never guess about you?
I was born in mainland China when the one-child-policy was still in effect. Many daughters were killed due to this policy. So, my father raised me like he would a “son”. My childhood memories are of kung-fu stances, soldering kits, computers, electronics and science cards. I clearly remember on my 5th birthday receiving a series of math books spanning from basic arithmetic to differential calculus. I suppose having that type of influence growing up has resulted in always feeling comfortable in the STEM fields. Thanks, Dad!
What’s your go-to self-care routine?
Physically. The constant flying and sitting down at a desk has taken its toll on my back, so I try to do yoga or Pilates whenever possible.
Spiritually or mentally. My friend Kathy introduced me to the Wim Hof method. The breathing technique has turned into a type of meditation that really resonates with me, so I try to practice every morning when I wake up. The ice bath, however, is still a challenge. But, since I’ve started this practice, I feel my immunity has increased and I haven’t gotten sick!
Emotionally. Being in the cannabis space can be very challenging because so many things are out of your control. It’s the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows, and sometimes multiples of that in one day. So, it’s really important to surround yourself with like-minded folks who understand, empathize, inspire and cheer you on during tough times. It’s so much easier to collaborate and problem solve together when you share the same vision and goals.
Favorite “guilty pleasure”?
“Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” — any day!
Where do you see your career/business headed in five years? Twenty?
In five years, I envision that I’m helping onboard manufacturers in other countries as they come online with their cannabis and industrial hemp programs. My mission is to bring cannabis to the world in a safe and gentle way, so using AMBR as a tool to show transparency across the oil and concentrated products supply chain is my global dream business. In twenty years, I will be focused on my two philanthropic passions: clean water programs and animal rescue.
How do you feel about the industry-wide assertion that cannabis is a female-friendly space?
I have met and continue to meet amazing women leaders on the advocacy and consumer-facing side — retail, design, marketing and PR. It is still very rare for me to meet women on the finance and supply chain side — genetics, cultivation, extraction, hardware, manufacturing and formulation. Please join us in cannabis, my STEM-focused sisters! We need more of you in cannabis and everywhere!
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
In 8th grade Biology we studied Darwin, Mendelian genetics, and crossbred fruit flies. I became obsessed and wanted to be a geneticist.
If you could talk to yourself five years ago, what advice would you give?
Nothing positive comes from having a fear-based mindset, so live your life with intention and an abundance mindset. If you’re the smartest person in the room, it’s time to find another room.
What advice do you have for other women looking to get into the cannabis space?
This is still a nascent industry, and we are currently in build mode, so it’s not a walk in the park. It’s a lot of hustle, hard work and sweat. It’s a very hands-on industry, so make sure to network, network, network to find a tribe that shares your same vision and goals, because at times your non-cannabis circle may not understand what you’re dealing with. There are probably multiple networking meet-ups and networking events in your area, so make sure to go and listen and learn. Your skillset is much needed to help the industry grow, but be respectful and aware of all the folks who came before you that helped set up this industry’s foundation.
Recommend a book, album, and movie you think everyone should read/listen to/watch while stoned!
The first time I saw music three dimensionally was listening to Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.”
Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
A good idea is a dime a dozen; it’s all about execution.
What’s your favorite cannabis product?
I’m in love with all the Honu, Inc edibles from Washington state, especially the peanut butter cups. For me, it’s such a gentle onset and gentle come down. I never get the groggies from any of their edibles.
What’s the one thing you would bring if you were stranded on a desert island?
I would have to bring my pup Orlando. Most people who meet him understand why.
What do you hope for the future of the cannabis industry?
I hope that our industry becomes filled with diversity and inclusion where people of all backgrounds and experiences are given opportunities to flourish and lead.
Fill in the blank: I could never live without ________
Rice. I’m Chinese — I can’t help it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯