Meet the women giving cannabis culture a style makeover

Female entrepreneurs are carving out their own space in the male-heavy cannabis industry by creating sleek accessories for women who smoke weed.

Fashion-forward weed designs buck stigma and bring pot paraphernalia out in the open

Susana Erazo is seen creating her signature leather road trip kit at her Hide Boutique in Toronto in June 2018. It's part of the Milkweed collection, an online cannabis accessory retail site and is used to store rolling papers, stash tins and grinders. (David Donnelly/CBC)

Female entrepreneurs are carving out their own space in the male-heavy cannabis industry — and they're doing it with style.

Until now, the stoner culture aesthetic has looked more like Cheech & Chong's Up in Smoke or Seth Rogen's Pineapple Express than something you'd find in lifestyle reads like Goop or Vogue.

But with legalization, pot is going mainstream. New fashion-forward accessories like sleek vape pens and hand-crafted ceramic stash jars are being created to appeal specifically to women, who represent a fast-growing market for weed.

Female entrepreneurs are savvy about marketing chic accessories that don't scream stoner. They're also ardent about getting the message across that as a woman, it's OK to smoke up, even if you're a mother.

Entrepreneur Emma Baron is moving into the quickly expanding field of female-focused cannabis accessories. The Toronto-based designer hopes her stylish made-in-Canada products will help remove the stigma some feel around cannabis use. (Alice Hopton/CBC)

Emma Baron, the Toronto-based co-founder of the online cannabis accessory company Milkweed​, previously worked at a medical marijuana clinic. Women looking for pain relief were reluctant to use cannabis because of stigma, she said.

"Part of the inspiration for Milkweed for me was seeing 70-, 80-year-olds, like your grandma, coming into the clinic and the cannabis is working for them, but the only products they can find are covered in weed leaves," Baron said.

"This patient doesn't even want to use cannabis, they're so ashamed of the accoutrements that go with it."

'I knew I wasn't alone'

Baron realized more discreet, beautiful accessories could help ease those fears.

"If you can show off your stylish bar cart, why not your cannabis cart?" she said. "It's bringing it out of the closet, out from under the bed and out onto the coffee table — and feeling good about it."

Checking out stylish gear for the new pot connoisseur

4 years ago
Duration 2:16
Milkweed co-founder Emma Baron offers CBC's Tashauna Reid a quick primer on her line of cannabis accessories.

Hand-crafted copper stash tins, gold painted ceramic pipes and pre-rolled embossed blunts are just a few of the items getting the coffee-table treatment.

Seattle-based Van der Pop is another pot-related retailer blossoming under the eye of a female designer. Several years ago, creator April Pride saw the potential to market to women in a new way.

Seattle-based Van der Pop markets sleek designs to women marijuana consumers. The company was purchased by Canada's cannabis-friendly lifestyle brand, Tokyo Smoke. Pictured here are stash jars, grinder card and Pop Sticks, empty pre-rolled cones, left, Poppins locking stash bag conceals odours, middle, as well as company founder, April Pride, right.

One night, before heading out to a party, she grabbed her husband's pot pipe and was about to put it in her purse when she noticed it was decorated with his favourite football player's name and number.

Then she looked down at her shoes and handbag and said, "Well, there's just a disconnect here, right?"

"That's a huge opportunity to be able to shape something for the first time," she said. "If you're creative, that definitely doesn't come along in your lifetime, where there are no benchmarks. Just a blank page."

Designed for women with money to burn

Dainty gold-painted ceramic pipes, "smell-proof" Italian leather purses, and glass stash canisters are just some of the offerings now available for discerning cannabis users. They are designed for women who have the cash to go along with their good taste.

Patterned pre-rolled papers from Van der Pop cost $10 for six, while the gold weed leaf grinder necklace from Blunted Objects costs $275. A one-of-a-kind jewel-encrusted vape pen from the posh Beverly Hills Cannabis Club will set you back $196,600.

Beverly Hills Cannabis Club entrepreneur Cheryl Shuman, left, and the ruby and diamond encrusted vape pen she sells for $150,000 US. (Cheryl Shuman/BHCC)

The business is heating up so much, even mainstream women's lifestyle brands, like The Kit and Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop are jumping in, with cannabis bath bombs, along with health and wellness advice.

Online retailers with a cannabis-specific focus are also sprouting. Blunted Objects tailors its cannabis-inspired fashion to a millennial audience.

Lifting each other up

While female business owners are crafting new ways for women to enjoy weed, they're also building a community — one where entrepreneurs lift each other up.

Pride said there weren't actually a lot of women in the industry when she started.

"We all had very little resources in terms of people and money and so we pulled the resources that we did have together and it's been very much a rising-tide-lifts-all-boats attitude," she said. 

"I think the impact that's had is its given other women confidence to enter in this space cause they feel supported."

Women are starting to step to the forefront ... they're really coming out of the closet and saying, 'Yes. I have used cannabis. I do use cannabis.'- Rachel Colic, PureSinse

Rachel Colic loves cannabis but she doesn't want to be defined by her use — it's just part of her life.

She turned to marijuana after a bad car accident when her prescribed opioids made her "feel like a zombie."

After that, she decided to switch careers and is now a brand strategist at PureSinse, a licensed medical marijuana producer.

Now she is passionate about wanting other women to feel comfortable with weed and is excited to be part of the stigma shift.

"Women are starting to step to the forefront, as it's becoming legal and a business opportunity, they're really coming out of the closet and saying, 'Yes. I have used cannabis. I do use cannabis,'" she said.

"This is what it does for me, and I want to be a part of what's happening."


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