Jeanine of AnnaBis tells us how she transitioned from advertising to luxury, smell-proof cannabis handbags. The ultimate way for women to incorporate cannabis into their lifestyle. Oov is proud to partner with AnnaBis – you can access these beautiful handbags right from our shop.
Oov: What did you do before you got involved in the cannabis industry?
Jeanine: I’ve been inventing businesses since college (the first computerized horse buying/breeding platform), and that got me into advertising and marketing. I won an advertising prize at USC, so I packed up and moved to Madison Avenue. I started in new product development there, went on to create the first newsletter for female business travelers, the Fun Pass and Restaurant Week for New York City, handled communications for The September 11th Fund, and it’s been branding and marketing for new companies, products and positions ever since.
Oov: How did you get into cannabis? Where did it all start?
Jeanine: It started with a bong on our kitchen counter in Venice Beach. I was just a kid, but cannabis was so normal at the time, I just grew up with it…until I moved to New York City. It was VERY discreet there. But you soon learn the signals and the efforts necessary to be a member of the club. I did that for many years (and it was plenty of fun, too!) Then I started watching the burgeoning cannabis industry and knew I wanted to be involved. The ah-ha moment came when I was with a group of stylish friends and we wanted to enjoy some cannabis together. Everyone pulled out baggies and tea tins, and no one could find a lighter! Afterward, we were all digging for mints, perfume, etc. I knew there had to be a better way to “enjoy the journey.”
Oov: What would you say has been the most difficult aspect of being in this industry? What are some roadblocks?
Jeanine: This is one of the most welcoming industries I’ve been associated with, and I’ve been in tech, retail, wholesale, education, government, non-profits, associations and lots more. Like all nascent industries, however, there are some people who aren’t real (yes, cons), and those who don’t follow through and who self-aggrandize. But that’s just human nature. For me as an entrepreneur, the greatest difficulty is fundraising for the business. The problem is that if you’re running a business, it’s hard to devote the time necessary to fundraising. Sometimes you must choose between making a sale and reaching out for funds. An impossible choice! You got into this because of the business potential and the joy of building, so it’s not your first choice to contact investors. There isn’t any shortage of potential investors in this business, but there is a shortage of perfect business partners. Finding the right people to join you on the journey is a huge challenge.
Oov: What motivates you to be a leader?
Jeanine: I’m most interested in creating and building, so I like to work with people who love (and know how!) to create things, too. The type of leading I do is mostly collaborative. Which is about listening, learning and throwing everything you have to offer into the pot. The people I work with are extremely respectful of each other’s expertise, and we’ll usually defer to the person who has the most knowledge and experience. I also love people who aren’t scared of ideas and can accommodate a lot of information. I love working with experienced, senior people. That doesn’t mean I don’t love Millennials, because I do. They are the most learned and enthusiastic group. And their values are the hope of my baby-boom generation. But I must admit that working with people who have “been there and done that” (but aren’t set in their ways!) is an operational joy. Creative joy, however, knows no age or bounds. It comes from everyone and everything! I love facilitating that and the joy of discovery.
Oov: What advice would you give to a friend wanting to break into the industry?
Jeanine: I think it’s important to know what motivates you. If it’s cannabis, it’s probably (hopefully) the medicinal value, which is immense; and the more I learn, the more I become a rabid anti-prohibitionist (which I was before, but now even more so). We can’t do enough for medical cannabis, so I would say, do it immediately! If it’s being in a burgeoning industry, or because you like cannabis, I say “go for it!” It’s a wide open white space with tons and tons of opportunity. You just need to be the right type of person. Not everyone is an entrepreneur. Not everyone can keep up the energy and resilience needed. Not everyone likes to be poor for a long time when they could make much more in another industry (probably the one they came from). You really should think about your appetite for change, adversity, failure, and no nice new clothes and travel for a long time. And, make sure you understand what the “upside” is, and whether it’s worth it to you.
Oov: If you are a parent, how do talk to your kids about cannabis? If not, was there a “coming out of the cannabis closet” moment for you?
Jeanine: I always told my kids that cannabis is not harmful and that it’s preferable to liquor. But I also told them that their young cells are dividing quickly and they should be healthy and intellectually active. Kids can be lazy buggers already, so I don’t think cannabis improves that. I told my kids to wait until they’re adults. They thought I consumed cannabis, but I never said yes or no, and never let them see it. When I did tell them (they were 18), they were a bit scandalized, but got over it very quickly. I never denied consuming it, never demonized it, so it went quite well.
I came out ‘green’ on LinkedIn after starting AnnaBis. I decided it was hypocritical not to express who I am – because I think that’s what AnnaBis is all about. It’s about the freedom to be who you are, go where you want, and enjoy the journey. I lost a client because of it, but I certainly understood and anticipated that it would happen.
Oov: Tell us about your first experience with cannabis.
Jeanine: The first time I tried cannabis I was a preteen looking for cigarettes in my sister’s bedroom drawer. I found a joint. I knew what it was because my parents had been trying cannabis, so I took it and called my neighborhood friend Tim. Tim and I took the joint to our fort – a series of tunnels in the sand covered by board “roofs” camouflaged by more sand. We lit up and sat around waiting. We were laughing and laughing, and decided that it didn’t work. We went home, and later that night we spoke on the phone and realized it did work, and we liked it.
Oov: Favorite strain/product on the market right now and why?
Jeanine: I’ve been consuming cannabis for many years, but I didn’t find a lot of consistency before moving to California. Now that I live here (moved here from New Jersey about a year ago), all I want to do is try new things. I know I like the pineapple express strains, but I’ll always buy a new top shelf sativa to try that, too. It takes a lot of effort (and memory!) to be a cannabis connoisseur, so I’m not sure I’ll ever be one even though I’m a fan.