Jazmin Hupp has a dream. She dreams of an industry where ownership more clearly reflects customer diversity. Previous attempts to steer more venture capitalism toward women in the tech industry disappointed, but now she’s looking to the marijuana industry.
Hupp co-founded Women Grow in Denver with fellow marijuana entrepreneur, Amy Dannemiller – known professionally as Jane West, owner of Edible Events Co. The group offers support to female entrepreneurs seeking access to the cannabis industry from people who have been there.
“It’s my job,” Hupp said in a phone interview, “to try to convince an experienced woman or diverse candidate to pivot into the cannabis industry.” She said she does this at least once a day.
Dannemiller filed the paperwork creating a Limited Liability Company in May and by the organization’s launch in August, the group raised $60,000 in seed money. It received strong support from an already close-knit Colorado marijuana industry.
“We don’t have a playbook for what we’re doing nationally.” said Christie Lunsford of Walnut Associates, one of the founding members.
It’s about having access to some of the brightest minds in cannabis, Lunsford told Marijuana.com in a phone interview. Lunsford said the group is about women entrepreneurs coming together. She previously worked with the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) and was Media and Marketing Director for Dixie Elixirs, a marijuana infused product maker, for nearly two years. She describes Walnut Associates as a cannabis think tank.
Taylor West, NCIA’s deputy director, said joining the group was an easy decision since all of the founding members were also NCIA members. The trade association stands behind Women Grow.
“We’ve made it a priority to highlight the incredible women leading and shaping the future of cannabis,” West said in an email.
Women Grow doubled its chapter numbers every month since August and they expect 60 by spring. Plans for the future include “Lobby Days” coordinated with the NCIA to speak directly with lawmakers about the industry’s needs.
The group took advantage of last month’s Marijuana Business Conference & Expo in Las Vegas. Hupp compared it to a networking event on steroids and the group rented out the Presidential Suite at the Rio Hotel & Casino (pictured right) to socialize and connect. She took particular pleasure in connecting new entrepreneurs with the power players of the industry.
Hupp expressed her excitement about making over 2,000 new connections at the event. She believes the industry will be stronger, safer and more profitable with diverse candidates in leadership.
“If we don’t teach diverse candidates how to build those teams and how to raise that funding,” says Hupp. “then they will not be a part of this industry going forward.”