Every day, more women are getting involved with the legal cannabis industry in Oregon, both as consumers and ganjapreneurs. If we look at the last century, cannabis culture has taken on many trends and target markets—being an integral part of the 70’s counterculture movement, 90’s gang culture, and stoner’s culture in the days of Cheech and Chong. This begs the question: what will the next cannabis culture look like? In a recent article by Grown Rogue, the next trending cannabis culture is predicted to be all about women. To get a deeper look into women’s cannabis culture taking precedence, we interviewed one of the leading female cannabis organizations in Oregon, Ladies of Paradise. With 29.7K followers on Instagram, Ladies of Paradise is taking the female cannabis culture by storm, transforming the way, both men and women, view the cannabis experience.
What was the inspiration for Ladies of Paradise and how did it begin?
Ladies of Paradise started as a jewelry company in 2014. I was in LA, at the time, working with a lot of like bloggers, models, and photographers just trying to push the brand. In 2015, my boyfriend and I decided to move from LA to Oregon to open up a dispensary. When I moved I needed somebody to shoot with and I found Harlee on Instagram. She had her own vintage store at the time so we started shooting. At the same time, I was working in the dispensary and started doing interior design for one of our shops. I started seeing that there was so much more that goes into the cannabis industry, beyond cannabis. You know, interior design, fashion, art and marketing have a place in the industry, as well. That’s when I had the idea to start merging Ladies of Paradise with the work we were doing in the dispensary.
I told Harlee that we should start shooting with cannabis accessories. So, instead of shooting at any of our normal places, we went to an outdoor farm. Ever since then we’ve been doing this whole fashion and cannabis thing. But it’s become so much more because we work with cannabis companies to fill a real need in the industry, which is to create content that appeals to women.
What is Ladies of Paradise?
We’re technically a creative agency. We get hired by companies to do social media and branding photography. We are, also, an event service so you can hire us to plan your events,
but we also throw our own events quarterly and that’s like a big a big part of what we do.
We love to throw parties.
Why is the focus on females and what was the inspiration behind that?
We’ve always been about girl power, but it’s when we started interviewing women in the industry that we made it the main focus. We were just blown away at how badass and knowledgeable the women were. Also, we noticed that the majority of cannabis brands were only marketed towards men. Something that we really wanted to stray away from was using naked girls to sell cannabis. We believe we are so much more than our bodies, it doesn’t just need to be about sex appeal.
On your site, you have a series called “Green Queen” that highlights women who have been impacted by cannabis. What are your stories? How did you get into the cannabis and how has marijuana impacted you?
Well, me, personally I have really bad ADHD and so I use cannabis to get off of prescription drugs. That’s been a really big deal because when I was on prescription drugs I didn’t feel like myself. Cannabis allows me to be myself.
We both don’t have any serious medical issues but some of the Green Queens that we interviewed moved to Oregon just so that they could heal themselves with Cannabis. It’s really important for us to be sharing those stories.
Why do you think more women are getting involved in Cannabis?
There’s a women’s movement happening all around the world. Women are banding together and standing up for what they believe and cannabis is one of those things. I believe that these women, also, want to feel like they are part of a community, one that is very open, collaborative, and welcoming and the cannabis community offers that.
What are the misconceptions about women who use cannabis? How do Ladies of Paradise break down these misconceptions?
I think the majority of the people in the United States still have a really negative view on it.One of the things that irritate me is when moms are seen as bad moms because they smoke weed, even if they are good moms. Meanwhile, taking prescription drugs or drinking wine is totally accepted. It’s unfair because people don’t make crazy decisions on cannabis like people do on alcohol. I just really think moms should stop being judged for their cannabis usage.
The image of cannabis consumers has changed a lot through the decades—it is still associated with 70’s hippie’s movement or gang culture. And these images have generated a lot of the misconceptions around cannabis. However, girls are feeling more comfortable with smoking cannabis because the image is changing—it’s becoming a classy thing to do. And we are part of creating that image by merging high fashion and beautiful art with cannabis culture.
One of the things I noticed is that Ladies of Paradise is not just about getting high, it’s about the fashion, the food, the drinks—the experience. Why is it so important that cannabis is seen as an experience instead of a “high”?
For us, it’s about changing the stigma around cannabis. We don’t just want to be perceived as girls who get dressed up in cute clothes and take photos. It’s really important for us to highlight the stories of how cannabis is changing lives. When we shoot women on farms, we dress them up and they just feel so beautiful. It’s the experience that we create that transforms the way they see themselves and the work that they do.
Yeah, ultimately, we use drinks, food, and the outfits because that is how we are going to change the stigma. It shows people that there is so much more to cannabis and that it, too, can be a cultured experience.
A survey showed that 30% of employees in the cannabis industry work for entirely female-owned companies. Why do you think we are seeing more female ganjapreneurs? In your opinion, how are they shaping the industry?
It’s a place where women can be seen and heard, work together, and feel more equal. Also, coming from the fashion industry, where people were so catty, everyone in the cannabis industry just seem so nice. It’s just got a lot of attractive qualities for a career.
And these women are shaping the industry by building products that appeal to women. Female ganjapreneurs are focusing on the aesthetic details of cannabis products—the fonts, shapes, overall beauty of the piece. And it’s transforming the industry because, products are looking so much more attractive, even if you are marketing to men. For example, Stoneware pipes, are pipes that look like decorative stones. You can stack them in your living room and they look like part of the décor of your home.