In honor of Women’s History Month, The Weed Blog is highlighting several fascinating women from the cannabis industry. Today, we’re featuring RĒL Director of Sales & Marketing Sabrena Peterson. RĒL offers consumers and patients a sophisticated line of stylish, sleek and discreet personal vaping products. Learn what inspired her journey and more in this insightful Q&A.
How did you get into the MMJ/cannabis industry?
I’ve been a cannabis consumer and advocate for about 20 years. What began as recreational experimentation with friends in my teenage years has evolved into an effective alternative for several prescriptions I’d been taking to deal with my ongoing insomnia and ADHD. Needless to say, I was more than open to becoming part of such an incredible industry by contributing in a positive and meaningful way. A few years ago, one of my business partners and I got involved as marketing consultants for another startup vape brand. Our first step was to better understand this fairly new and totally dynamic business climate, get a feel for what consumers wanted, and evaluate what competitors were doing. We did a lot of due diligence: attending events and conferences, talking to patients, meeting with cannabis attorneys, touring dispensaries, and buying and trying every vape product we could get our hands on. After a year of researching and trying so many products, we decided to go for it and begin our own journey of creating the kind of products we wanted to find on the shelves, and become the kind of company we want to support.
Explain what your current job in the industry is.
My title is Director of Sales and Marketing for RĒL Vape a.k.a. the doer of whatever needs to be done. I’m also an owner, so I get to run around like a (highly productive) chicken with my head cut off seven days a week. I manage our small, but mighty sales team, plan events, launch products, bring new stores into the fold, troubleshoot accounts that have issues, handle miscellaneous corporate tasks and work with the coolest people in the world!
What’s the biggest misunderstanding about your job?
The biggest misunderstanding that I hear often is that people think my job is to get high all day. So not true! I work like a machine, utilizing my prior business experience as director of operations for a non-cannabis company. Aside from sales and marketing related tasks, my job requires me to strategize, create and interpret some complex business documents, from extensive proformas to partnership agreements.
Do you have to deal with the stigma around marijuana from family or friends? At your job? If so, how do you manage it?
Thankfully, my friends and family already know that I’m a workaholic who is totally focused on succeeding in this industry. I’m lucky to have their full support and enthusiasm. Dating is another story altogether. I have a ton of funny stories about guys thinking ridiculous things about women who work in cannabis. Recently, I was in between condo rentals, waiting for a new lease to start after another ended, and temporarily staying in a short term furnished rental. I accepted a date with a cute guy from a popular online dating site, and I had been totally honest when he asked me about my job. I had to postpone the date, and let him know I was busy shuffling stuff in between places that weekend. He told me we were ‘in different places in life’ and assumed that being in the cannabis industry + being in between leases = homeless drug dealer!
How do you believe we can de-stigmatize cannabis?
You can be productive, successful, responsible, a phenomenal parent, a hardworking employee or an innovative business owner and also consume cannabis on a regular basis. I feel that the more we embrace and educate those who are new to cannabis, the faster people of all legal ages and lifestyles will start realizing that consuming cannabis is not just for ‘stoners’ who lack motivation and discipline in life. The majority of the responsibility lies within those of us who are in the industry. We can each choose to lead, educate and inspire by example.
What is the most powerful benefit of MMJ in your opinion?
There are so many MMJ benefits. What’s most impressive to me is that the growing body of science and anecdotal evidence suggests that it can be a viable, natural alternative medicine for many people who are looking to replace pharmaceutical chemicals that come with a slew of scary side effects and long term organ damage. Am I saying cannabis is a cure for anything and everything? No. I’m saying it has helped and relieved a lot of people in various capacities, and it’s exciting to see the science and research finally happening for conditions such as insomnia, pain, cancer, epilepsy, diabetes, nausea, eating disorders, anxiety and neuroprotection.