“Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree and no one shall make them afraid. If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made.” ~Amanda Gorman
Late Summer 2020 I called Lisa Snyder, Co-Founder of Tokeativity, to talk about some of the frustrations we had been experiencing in the community. She and I had a heart-centered dialogue about so many things. It was tough, but it was real. We came to the immediate understanding that together, as leading women in Cannabis, Club Kindness and Tokeativity could be a force in real change. That day, Bridges was born.
Bridges is a powerful and necessary series designed to foster collaboration and healing. It was born from pain, and created in response to the civil unrest that continues to permeate our lives. In this first phase of the project, we are focused on topics around race, equity, and inclusion.
“We created this series to build bridges with our peers, our community members, and those we have yet to meet. We feature brave women and bridge makers on the panels, seeking to develop conversational tools needed for real alignment that work to remove barriers in our relationships. Our ultimate goal is to help others create stronger relationships and be active participants in the healing and forward movement of our society.” ~Lisa Snyder, Co-Founder | Tokeativity
I am a Black Woman living in America, it is impossible for me to ignore the harsh realities of the inequalities facing my culture everyday. But throughout my life, it has also remained evident, that it is possible for those unaffected, or even worse, unexposed, to very easily misinterpret the reality around them. This is why Bridges is such a vital series.
“Bridges is for a very specific audience. It’s for people who care deeply about racial justice and the magnitude of the crisis currently facing communities of color, especially in relation to the drug war in America. It is for those who understand how much work we have to do and are ready to do it.” ~Mskindness B. Ramirez, CEO | Club Kindness
Our first event was held on November 5, 2020 and it featured three amazing women who spoke openly and candidly on the topics of opportunity, inclusion and TOKENISM. Chef Andrea Drummer, Dr. Tiffany Bowden, and Media CEO, Tiffany Watkins brought wisdom and tremendous grace to the stage. That is what Bridges was designed to encourage. And with the incredible support of Tokeativity HQ, I am able to humbly and freely moderate a space of love and safety for all of the participants.
Since this first digital event, we have hosted two more and featured some incredible leaders from both Cannabis and the broader community, while hosting hundreds of ladies and allies from around the world. Some of our upcoming topics include: Systemic Racism, Inclusion in the Workplace and Colorism. They are charged topics, but we are prepared to face them together.
“If we are going to break down these archaic, patriarchal systems of oppression we have to find new ways of breaking through into this new era together. Through the discomfort, through the anger, trauma, grief and pent-up energy that is so ready to be freed and healed. Healing is possible.” ~Samantha Montanaro, Co-Founder | Tokeativity
For now, Bridges lives in the internet. Women and allies can join us for the discussion from anywhere in the world and Club Kindness is working to develop a comprehensive toolkit for applying the knowledge we receive from these events. Together, with Tokeativity, we have created something beautiful. Something critical. And something healing for all those involved. As we continue to build Bridges daily. We hope that you will join us and bring your tools.
A huge welcome to Weed Queen, Mskindness B. Ramirez! Mskindness was considerate enough to take the time to answer some questions about her success in the cannabis industry, how she did it and how you can do it too!
Check out the interview below and don’t forget to share it with other Weed Queens!
How would you describe yourself and what you do?
I’m a teacher by nature, nurture and choice. Through and through.
In my adult life that has manifested itself in many ways. Early on in my 20+ year career, as a preschool teacher, then middle and high school. And now, as a college professor and Executive Director of my own non-profit organization, Club Kindness.
I am so many other things as well: a CBD Entrepreneur, Wife, Mother, Health Coach, and Author. I often refer to myself as a Multi-Passionate Businesswoman. I decided a long time ago never to profit from work that did not also serve others.
What has your personal experience with cannabis been?
I entered the Cannabis space back in 2013 after a bad slip and fall during my last pregnancy. The fall caused a condition in my pelvis and left me riddled with pain. In opposition to the opioids recommended by doctors, I sought alternative, more natural methods for pain relief. Having been completely ignorant to the true medicinal aspects of Cannabis, I was surprised by the depth of the rabbit hole I discovered when I looked. There were so many lies being told, so much propaganda being spread, and the social justice implications were too big to ignore.
Since then, all of my personal experiences with Cannabis have been filled with a myriad of feelings. They’re inclusive, challenging and exciting. But most importantly, they are pain free.
Because of Cannabis I can walk today. I have come full circle in my relationship with God’s plant. Now, I use it everyday as part of my intentional practice of Least Resistance.
What is your company about? What do you guys do?
Currently, Club Kindness is a member sustained organization. We teach new and existing consumers how to integrate cannabis, along with other supportive therapies for improved health.
We help them learn to practice Cannabis Inclusive Wellness.
CK Introductory programs include both online and in-home Cannabis Consultations. Our infamous “Kind Socials” are fun events that allow for new consumers to learn about Cannabis in the comfort of their own home with friends and family. (Right now, they’re virtual of course.)
Once a member of the organization, clients receive access to our ever expanding Kind Pages, a library of all things cannabis and The Responsible Brands Registry. They receive a discount on products in our wellness shop, including CBD products from EBK Apothecary and more. And perhaps one of the most vital services we provide is access to our Friendly Healthcare Network. These are professionals from various health fields, who will consult with members of Club Kindness about how they can use Cannabis as a part of their holistic wellness practice.
In 2016, Club Kindness made way for Elixirs by Kindness, now EBK Apothecary. Because I couldn’t keep telling consumers where to get quality products without creating one of my own. Now EBK features a full line of CBD rich apothecaries including tinctures, topicals, edibles and flower.
We are Ancient Medicine for a Modern Consumer.
In 2021, our goal is to expand into Brand Support with more outreach services. We see the need for Cannabis Brands to develop in house training programs and create community portals that will help to redesign the public lens around Cannabis in our society. My tenure with the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) is affording me the opportunity to work hand and hand with district leaders in the development of workforce programs for students that may reduce their barriers for entry into the Cannabis space. And my work through Club Kindness can help to unite the two worlds.
What kind of resources does the Club Kindness provide?
Kind Socials are our online and in-home events during which potential clients can learn about cannabis and gain access to the membership options available to them.
The Kind Papers are a great place for our members to read about the Cannabis plant, science, social norms, new laws and more. It’s a chronicle of the culture in context.
The Responsible Brands Registry is our growing database of licensed brands who our members can trust. Brands receive scores in areas such as packaging, labeling and testing, communication, sustainability, and social responsibility. It’s a great way for consumers to find the best products at a glance.
The Friendly Healthcare Network is a group of compassionate professionals who work in various fields of health. We partner with them to offer options to our members who want to take their Cannabis Inclusive Wellness to the next level.
CK Delivers is coming in Q4 of 2020!! It will include an online marketplace for Licensed THC sales and distribution from our local delivery partners. We’re excited to be working with Web Joint and their new platform on this. Our members have been asking for a while.
Our strong ties to the Cannabis Community and commitment to Social Justice also means that we offer volunteer efforts and consistent outreach support to our sibling community orgs in and around the space.
Did you ever expect a career in the cannabis space?
I didn’t just accept a career in Cannabis, I chose it. After my injury in 2012, and my discovery of the truths around the plant, I felt an obligation to enter. I knew what I had experienced; fighting with doctors, denying the claims of social services, having to advocate for myself at every turn and deflecting uneducated critics… So many other women and mothers had it worse. I was privileged and called to serve. That’s how Club Kindness was born. It was a resource the community needed.
What inspired you to start your company and when and how did you get started?
Haha, I think the last one answers this one. But we officially filed for our first NPO and corporation in August of 2015. Although the work began weeks after my fall in 2012.
Were your family and friends supportive of your venture?
I’m fortunate to be the youngest of 5 in a very supportive familial structure. My parents are divorced and I don’t share 2 parents with any of my siblings, but our mother has done a tremendous job of keeping our blended family strong. That also means, I’m a bit spoiled. I was a good student and I’ve worked hard for my entire career. So when it came to my decision to enter Cannabis, they trusted me. They knew I would do my research, they watched for a while, and now, have all fully joined the cause. While some of my more conservative, extended family members still whisper about it at family parties. Most everyone else is taking EBK Apothecary everyday!
Recently, my work in Cannabis afforded me the opportunity to work with some of my peers for the sake of my mother. About a year ago, my 76 year old mother was told that her Paraganglioma brain tumor from 22 years prior, had returned. Club Kindness, along with CannaKids facilitated a program for her, in conjunction with a study lead by UCLA, that included 5 months of intense cannabinoid therapy. As of August 8, 2020, her MRI results show no lesions whatsoever and no need for continued treatment.
Everything comes full circle.
Did you ever feel like you weren’t taken seriously because you are a WOC?
That look in the eyes of the white males in Cannabis is the same look in the eye of the white males in all other corporate settings. I had persevered that world for the span of my career preceding Cannabis. It was easily identifiable. Anyone who didn’t take me seriously missed an opportunity to work with a dynamic Black Woman. I’m okay with that.
What those moments led me to do was find my tribe within Cannabis and align with other compassionate and powerful women. These women help to fuel my career everyday and they take me VERY seriously.
What has your experience been like in a field dominated by white men?
The appropriation in Cannabis is as real as anywhere else. I’ve just chosen this battleground for my own. Again, I’ll say, it’s that same look in the eyes. When I see it, I identify and pivot.
Cannabis is a community plant, it will always be. And just like in any other space there will be colonizers. I’ve been fortunate enough to align with those more like me and as a result, been able to make some pretty great business moves despite their role in the industry. And right now, it’s a real “cool” time to be Black (that was sarcasm). I’m riding this wave until the wheels fall off! Haha.
How/do you think your involvement in this industry is going to positively impact your community?
I hope it helps to empower people to take more control over their own health. I hope they see that wellness can be and should be inclusive of Cannabis. We have an Endocannabinoid System and our bodies have been deficient of Cannabinoids for long enough. I also hope that we inspire brands to give back and to consider their impact as they grow in a post-prohibition industry while still so many of our black, brown, and even white siblings sit in prison cells for exercising those same rights.
I want my community to know that our mission is to educate. That we worked tirelessly to spread a message of social justice and that we participated in the efforts toward real impactful change. We have seen the healing powers of Cannabis when it comes to biology. I want to see that we’ve shown what it can do for the mind and spirit as well.
What has been your greatest obstacle in this industry to date – and how have you overcome it?
Continued Funding has definitely been my greatest obstacle. We knew we wanted to go the NPO route. I wanted Club Kindness to be a community service. But since we are a 501(c)4, fundraising is a little tricky. In that, donations to us are not tax-deductible for the donor. For that reason, we have to gain financing for a service from our members, or via events and other outreach messaging to those who just genuinely support what we do.
I was fortunate enough to start EBK with the little savings I had and with the support of my husband and partner, we’ve continued to grow. It has since proven to be profitable and helped to shoulder some of the cost to keep pushing the CK mission forward. EBK is just about ready to begin a larger raise and as it has always been, a portion of those proceeds will go to support the efforts of Club Kindness. I do not take a salary for Club Kindness.
As I continue to share what CK has to offer to the community, our membership grows, and it’s through those sustaining benefits that we will thrive. I’m a believer.
What factors have contributed towards your path of success?
Daily Meditation and the practice of least resistance. It takes perseverance and a flexible nature to make it in this industry. Especially if you didn’t enter with a lot of money. I always say that’s my super power… Adaptability.
Since not succeeding isn’t an option, when challenge comes, I pivot and continue to grow.
What’s the biggest change you want to see in the cannabis industry?
Decriminalization NOW! I want to see that right now. I mean in this next election cycle. I say that first, as opposed to full legalization, because that will still give the states enough time and freedom to develop programs for re-entry. And that should be done directly through the licensed industry. Once we, as individual states, have established models that work for a large Canna-scape. Then we legalize nationally and lead the federal government’s implementation as a united industry.
As a woman of color, how do you plan to create change and inclusiveness for future WOC joining the industry?
My work with LACCD is helping me to create change for POC/WOC right now. My goal is to help develop a workforce program in our non-credit departments, that can offer job skills specific to the Cannabis Industry, while shifting graduates directly into well paying jobs and leadership positions.
I continue to mentor women of all ages, especially the youth. My nature as a Teacher and pedagogical skills make that a calling as well. And my alliance with organizations like Women Empowered in Cannabis and Haus of Jane afford me the opportunity to cover topics of diversity within Cannabis across multiple platforms and regions. As long as they’ll listen, I’ll talk.
What would be your best piece of advice for fellow WOC looking to pursue the cannabis industry?
To budding WOC in the space, I’d say seek and find your tribe within. As with every space, Cannabis is a microcosm of the world at large. We are all human here. Ask questions, be genuine and show honor to those that came before you. If you show up and you give back, you will be accepted. It won’t be easy, but let’s be real, we’re WOC, we already know that. Start where you are.
What would you consider to be the most effective way or initial steps of breaking down barriers and ceilings to pave this path for WOC in the industry?
On some level, I think we all need to get out of our own way from time to time. And by this I mean, first remove our own implicit bias and fear, then just lean in. We have to work alongside our white counterparts and we have to seek out the allies who are true. They exist, especially within Cannabis.
However with this, it is vitally important that we highlight the Black Roots in Cannabis. Research and support minority led organizations, attend workshops (in the internet for now), and get to know who the WOC thought leaders are. Seeking and offering mentorship is crucial, many of us are available.
As businesses, we have to hire, train and encourage a more diverse workforce through explicitly intentional efforts. Point, blank, period.
There’s still a perception or stigma attached to the people involved in the cannabis industry or just consumers that partake in recreational or medical use, as being stoners- if you have encountered this kind of close minded perspective, what would your argument be to shift the conversation to one of the importance of the weed market and why it should be celebrated/normalized?
When it comes to effective pedagogy, you have to meet your students where they are. And if you want anyone to learn from you, you need a baseline from which to begin. For me, that begins with a question. People love to talk about what they know. It makes them feel good. A simple request for what they DO know about Cannabis can help show you where to start the conversation. It makes people feel heard when you lead with compassion rather than judgement.
I always tell people this one thing- “There is no such thing as recreational vs medical use. Those perceptions are only rooted in the intention of the consumer. All we can do is try to understand those intentions and meet them there in discussion.”
What’s your favorite and least favorite part about your job?
My least favorite part about my job is having to manage Social Media!! It is the bain of my existence. Believe it or not, we haven’t hired anyone to do that yet. If you know anyone good, passionate and affordable, HOLLAAA!
I thought about saying something mushy like how it breaks my heart to know that so many who could benefit from the use of this amazing medicine, are being denied access to it. But…. I feel like people already know that about me. Hence Club Kindness. And if not, they do now. Ha!
I love what I do, so that’s all I could come up with.
Where can we reach you? IG? Twitter?
IG- @mskindnessb… follow the linktree to everything else.
In this first book of a series, the Root Family takes readers of all ages on a beautifully illustrated journey of growing a garden in their backyard. Their very special garden has all the fruit, vegetables and herbs they need for achieving ‘homeostasis.’ I even include a glossary in the end.
Yes, shameless plug. Also, yes… I believe projects like these are the types of “out of the box” methods we need to implore to really begin to change the stigma.
“All things bold are better received with loving-kindness.” ~Mskindness B.
Name 5 of your favorite women in weed that you’d like to give a shout out too.
There are so many women I admire and this list constantly evolves.
But, currently my top five(in no particular order) are:
Key Takeaways from Mskindness B. Ramirez. MA.Ed:
Seek and find your tribe within the cannabis space
Ask questions, be genuine and show honor to those that came before you
Show up and give back
Start where you are
It takes perseverance and a flexible nature to make it in this industry
Weed Queens wants to thank Mskindness B. Ramirez. MA.Ed, for taking the time to share her entrepreneurial journey, her experience as a WOC navigating a new and exciting industry and for sharing advice and resources for future women who wish to also jump in the weed world too. You can learn more about Mskindness B. Ramirez. MA.Ed here and Club Kindness and all it’s amazing resources here. Last but not least, don’t forget to pre-order her new children’s book, The Root Family Shares- A Very Special Garden by clicking on this link.
Original Blog: https://weedqueens.co/mskindness-b-ramirez-ma-ed-author-founder-of-club-kindness/