To commemorate Black History Month this year, Rosebud partnered with social justice advocate, Kassia Graham to spotlight women of color making waves in the cannabis industry.
As a black woman herself, Kassia wanted to hold a mirror to other women of color in cannabis and highlight the incredible, and oftentimes unseen, work that they contribute to the industry.
We kicked off an entire month of Instagram takeovers with Solonje Burnett, Co-Founder, Cannavist, and People Advocate at Humble Bloom, where it’s her mission to create intersectional community, and give the underrepresented a seat at the table in the cannabis industry.
Solonje is an activist in more ways than one—she sits on the steering committee of Equity First Alliance, a national group of organizers working at the intersection of racial equity, restorative justice & the cannabis industry, she actively participates in Brick x Brick creative protests, and she performs with the Resistance Revival Chorus, a collective of women and non-binary artists and activists who banned together after The Women’s March in NYC, making it their mission to sing protest music in the spirit of joy and resistance.
Marie Claire recognized Solonje’s impact on the industry by naming her one of 15 Women to Watch in the CBD Industry, and Culture Magazine named her one of Five Cannabis Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2019.
Head over to Rosebud’s highlights to see her takeover, or get the full scoop on our chat with Solonje below:
How did you enter the cannabis industry?
“I entered the industry because basically, my life shifted.
Live Grey, a company I was working for had closed, and I was devastated trying to figure out what to do next. I started brainstorming with some friends, and it seemed like the most logical place to go next was cannabis.
It was an opportunity for me to fuse so many of my passions, ranging from social justice, to activism, environmentalism, sustainability, and mass incarceration. There were so many things that I could finally put into one bucket, and as a community builder, starting a cannabis company like this felt like the perfect next step.”
Tell us about what you do in the industry.
“At Humble Bloom, we curate the culture of cannabis by destigmatizing—using immersive, purpose-driven experiences that are rooted in advocacy and education.
We try to bring together a variety of people to create community and connection—this can come through social justice, wellness, and vulnerability. We even take people on field trips where they discover the plant, and learn about regenerative agriculture.
We really are trying to use the plant as a conduit for broader discussions, making it so that people can enjoy the plant, and understand her power.”
How does your work help the industry? More specifically, who does this help on the consumer side, and how?
“It helps the industry because we connect both B2B and B2C, as well as the canna-curious who come from diverse backgrounds, using the idea of conscious consumption.
Our goal is to educate people on who the thought leaders are in the cannabis space that are upholding the most responsible practices when building their brands and producing their products.
It provides a full spectrum, holistic education for cannabis patients, people who are interested in recreation, and those who are interested in starting their own business in the industry.
We’re making space and containers for people who come from super diverse, intersectional backgrounds and giving them space to come together and learn in a way that they wouldn’t normally learn, and to be around people that aren’t just like the people they normally have in their lives.”
What’s it like to see people who look like you in the cannabis industry?
“It’s incredible to see people like me in the cannabis industry.
It’s really important for leaders and entrepreneurs to see people who reflect their identity and culture. Representation really matters—it’s something that fuels you, and helps you know that you can do what you want to do, and accomplish what you want to accomplish.
When you see people who are just white, or just men, or just the opposite of what you embody in your identity— it’s really hard to see how you have a seat at the table.
It’s extremely important to see women, people of color, people who are liberal, people who care about the environment and sustainability, people who have the same values, as well as the same outward appearance in positions of power and running things in this industry.”
What’s your ultimate goal in the cannabis space?
“To help to dismantle some of the social constructs that we have that are prohibitive for us to evolve and grow, and to truly have equity and access in life.
I consider myself a humanist, and cannabis has made an opportunity for me to really think about how we can shift the way our culture is working, or actually—not working.
My ultimate goal would be to provide people with access, to provide leadership opportunities for people who are disproportionately affected by the war on drugs, as well as communities that have dealt with institutional racism, segregation, and the issues that we’ve had, or those who have experienced issues of just being blocked because you’re a woman.
Really, the goal is to break down some of these barriers, so we get to a place where we consider and value each other as humans.”
Who are 3 black people, organizations, or brands in the industry you look to for inspiration and follow? Why?
“It’s really hard to just pick three! If I have to, I’m going to start with two in Boston—my hometown.
Also, we’ve got Aja Atwood—Aja is the Co-Founder of Trella Technologies, which is an innovative growth solution for indoor grows, so plants can grow horizontally in spaces to help with food scarcity in neighborhoods that need it most.
And then finally, going over to the West Coast—our friends at The People’s Dispensary have a cooperative model, and they have an incredible dispensary program.”
How can the Rosebud community support you, your organization, and the brand mission?
“I think it’s about helping the broader community—really it’s about listening, acting, sharing, and just getting involved.
At Humble Bloom, we want people to connect and collaborate to make change happen. So, you can get involved with us by following us on our website at humblebloom.co or on Instagram @humbebloomco, and get involved to see what we’re doing.
We’ll have letter writing campaigns this year, and different events where we’ll need practitioners and people with different talents that can help others jump in and share in the power of cannabis.
So listen to each other, knowledge share, connect, and let’s make this legal in New York.”
Solonje believes that we can shatter stereotypes and poor business practices through culture curation, and by providing the industry with access to strategic branding, advocacy and inclusive community experiences.
There’s no denying that she’s doing incredible work, both at Humble Bloom, and through her work as a culture consultant—be sure to keep up with her @solonjeburnett, and check out @humbebloomco to stay in the know of all things canna-culture.
Check out our other Black History month features: Meet Solonje Burnett: Cannavist and Co-Founder of Humble Bloom, Meet Sandra Guynes: Registered Cannabis Nurse, Meet Lyneisha Watson: Rising Cannabis Journalist.