Bess Byers aka “CannaBess” shares how she took the two loves of her life, photography and cannabis, and created a whole new niche.
Oov: What did you do before you got involved in the cannabis industry?
Bess: In college I studied Public Relations with a minor in Mandarin Chinese. I lived in Beijing for almost a year doing graphic design before I moved to Los Angeles. In LA I did marketing research, specifically focus groups and ethnography, for Fortune 500 companies like Apple, Louis Vuitton and Lady Footlocker. From there, I tapped into my passion for politics and started an advocacy group called A Generation Empowered to educate millennials about the national debt.
Oov: How did you get into cannabis? Where did it all start?
Bess: I’m really passionate about fiscal issues and had an opportunity in Washington DC. I mentioned to a friend my plans to move within the next month and jokingly said, “Unless I find a better offer in the cannabis industry.” Well, she made me a better offer at her grow in Washington State. I figured everyone likes pot more than politics, and I like Washington State more than DC, so the answer was obvious. Pot wins!
Oov: What would you say has been the most difficult aspect of being in this industry? What are some roadblocks?
Bess: The government! When you have a bunch of career politicians who write rules and enforce regulations about an industry they know nothing about, you are bound to have problems. Laws are constantly changing and if you’ve ever read i502, it’s a doozie. Even Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board agents aren’t sure how to interpret laws. Employee samples, plant waste, advertising and event rules have a long way to go. I hope to someday see cannabis treated the same way as alcohol or coffee.
Oov: What motivates you to be a leader in your niche?
Bess: It’s so humbling to hear people say I’m a leader or inspire them. I never really planned for my account to morph into what it’s become. I just want to create the best content possible and help break the stereotype of a “lazy stoner.” I’ve merged my cannabis photography with my love of fashion and the outdoors. So what motivates me? The cannabis community, without a doubt, motivates me.
Oov: What advice would you give to a friend wanting to break into the industry?
Bess: I love this question because I get it often! First, find an area of cannabis that interests you, whether it’s growing, extracts, sales or marketing. Next, update your resume and cover letter. I can’t stress this enough. Highlight not only your skills, but how you’ve benefited past employers. Did you increase sales or manage a ton of cash? Has your commercial photography been published? Let employers know how your skills will make them money. Third, apply, apply, apply for jobs. Followup if you haven’t heard back. Think outside the box and adjust your search if needed. Sometimes an entry level job will give you the chance to prove yourself and get your foot in the door. Lastly, if you get an interview, don’t show up stoned unless you absolutely need to consume for medicinal purposes. Working in weed isn’t an opportunity to be high all day.
Oov: Was there a “coming out of the cannabis closet” moment for you?
Bess: I had cannabis coming out moments with my parents, but the biggie was putting it on my LinkedIn. I am proud to highlight my career accomplishments on a site that connects me with so many peers. Sure my job is federally illegal, but at the end of the day I work hard and contribute to society. There’s no need to hide it!
Oov: Tell us about your first experience with cannabis.
Bess: I can still vividly remember this night. I was a junior in high school and our friend’s brother recently joined the military. He threw a going away party and a bunch of recent graduates attended. We stood in a circle outside and smoked out of this pipe. I took a fat hit and coughed like crazy. Everyone laughed at me. Probably ten minutes later it hit me. HARD. I handed my friend the car keys and she drove home. The whole drive back I felt like I was in the “Back to the Future” ride at Universal Studios. My windshield looked like a screen and I was watching this movie called Life.
Oov: Favorite strain/product on the market right now and why?
Bess: With so many amazing products on the market, it’s hard to pick a favorite! A few standouts for me are:
– Falcanna’s Orange Blossom for an uplifting citrus flower
– Biscotti hash sprinkled in joints
– Any sativa wax by X-tracted for a pre-workout boost
– Goodship’s Sour Cherry Pastilles to micro or macro dose
– Mondo’s scoopable powder is perfect in smoothies or coffee
– Foria suppositories when cramps hurt like hell
You can find Bess on IG at @imcannabess or visit her website at imcannabess.com