Solonje Burnett, Co-Founder and Cannavist at Humble Bloom, Brooklyn, NY
Humble Bloom is curating the culture of cannabis, breaking stigma, and elevating cannabis brands with integrity. By partnering with thought leaders and experts, consulting with growing brands, and connecting diverse communities through plant education, advocacy and inclusion is at the root of all that they do.
What made you enter the industry now, and what impact are you hoping to have?
I entered because I love the plant, wanted to be my own boss, and thought it would be smart to create a product in a growing industry. Immediately upon entering, our focus shifted to community building and education. What most know about cannabis is based on deliberate misinformation.
As a first generation Carribean-American woman, I feel it’s my duty to advocate for an equitable, fair, and regenerative industry. I will always use my voice to make sure we don’t end up in a monopoly situation where we’re stuck with only a couple big players controlling all.
How are you educating people about conscious consumerism?
We are educating through our speaking engagements, panel discussions, and immersive experiences. We have residencies at The William Vale and the Assemblage where we [curate] opportunities for attendees to learn by listening, questioning, and doing.
That can look like a discussion on cannabis as an agricultural crop, a brand activation that includes dosing, making your own product to take away, or a heart-opening tea ceremony with meditation. We take groups on field trips bridging the gap between urban and rural as well as connecting people more deeply with the plant and each other. We lead with collaboration and the intention that we’re all connected.
How can new cannabis brands focus on social impact and social responsibility?
Build it into your DNA. There are brands doing the right thing by having diverse leadership, hiring those who’ve been in the system for a drug offense. [Brands] whose packaging is sustainable and that don’t have additives that cause illness or farming practices heal rather than hurt our environment.
Don’t make social impact or corporate social responsibility an afterthought. We have so many examples from major corporations [like] Patagonia to innovative cannabiz models like the People’s Dispensary. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Take inspiration from brands like these and put your spin on it.
How have your experiences as a woman of color influenced the way you’re building your business? What advice do you have for others?
Jump in. There are so many avenues and pathways to cannabis, and not all are in making products, running a farm, or dispensary. Take your skillset and bring it over here to make sure we have a wide variety of voices in the conversation. We need people from all backgrounds to make this unlike any industry before it.
You can start your own ancillary business and by not being plant touching it is a lot less expensive. You also won’t go through the regulatory insecurities. Do your homework, get involved in organizations, meet and set informational conversations with people already in the industry. Find your allies and co-conspirators who will advocate and support you along the way.