What a thrill to meet with Anna Shreeve at one of her Seattle based dispensaries The Bakeréé! Anna is involved in almost all aspects of the cannabis space including: multiple retail operations (medical & recreational) in various states, CBD product development for skin care products & coffee, extraction, and research at the University of Washington. She is the Managing Partner of Bakeréé, Urban Paragon and Targeted Intent. The Bakeréé has multiple recreational retail locations in Seattle with a new one coming to San Francisco soon. Anna is a true role model for all women in the cannabis industry and a seriously intelligent resource.
Cannabis Creative Group’s very own Josefine Nowitz met with Anna Shreeve, managing partner at the Bakeréé, to discuss the Cannabis atmosphere. Anna Shreeve entered the Cannabis market in 2011 and has been going strong ever since. She has a strong presence on the west coast, predominantly in Seattle and San Francisco, but continues to grow both nationally and internationally. Through the Bakeréé, Anna and her son are trying to create a new cannabis atmosphere that invites people from all backgrounds to experience a welcoming atmosphere that is different than any other recreational dispensary. Anna is someone we want to spotlight in our Women in Cannabis series as a pioneer and a leader who is paving the path for other women looking to enter the realm of cannabis.
Josefine Nowitz 0:05
This is Josefine Nowitz with Cannabis Creative and I am here with Anna Shreeve. Anna is the managing partner of the Bakeréé which has multiple locations in Seattle.
Anna Shreeve 0:24
And San Francisco as well.
Josefine Nowitz 0:27
Thank you for joining me, Anna. I wanted to start off by asking you a few questions for our Women in Cannabis Series. What we’re trying to do here is interview female leaders and entrepreneurs in the cannabis space. I’m going to start off by asking you a little bit about your business and who you are.
So, when someone comes up to you on the street and they ask what your elevator pitch is, what would you say?
Anna Shreeve 1:06
So I am in the cannabis space depending on the state that I’m in because I’m a multiple state operator. I am in cultivation, processing, creating brands and products, and retailing. And so we do a lot of different things. And while I started out in Seattle, Washington with medical cannabis with my son, who was a college dropout. My son convinced me to get into this industry, and he needed the money to get started. So we partnered and the only way I would partner with him is by doing everything legitimately, and by having legal counsel. And so we’ve been doing that since 2011. We converted into our brand the Bakeréé into a recreational cannabis shop. And so we’ve been running that as well. And here I am.
Since then I have been a part of, or one of the founding members, the 50 members of women of weed, I really support women and people of color. We primarily in our business, we’re a very urban oriented business and we intentionally support people of color. I’m personally Hispanic. And so this is something that we have incredible passion for because of not just the disenfranchisement of people of color and the war on drugs. It’s really because in general, if you have a retail establishment, and you see someone that doesn’t look like you, you often have certain attitudes and opinions about that person, and we live in Seattle, Washington, it’s not a very ethnically diverse city, I would say. And so for people of color, there’s, a certain way sometimes that they’re treated when they’re truly the minority.
Many years ago, when we got started, we didn’t intentionally look to serve people of color, predominantly, but it ended up being that way because we treat every customer with respect, and it literally doesn’t matter who you are. We also have a very high impact with the LGBTQ community and all people of color, specifically the Muslim, Somali, Ethiopian communities in Seattle, Washington. We’re very proud of that fact, because we kind of fell into this into this sort of –– I think it into this general region, but more importantly, this sort of opportunity to really serve people. We became not only this cannabis dispensary, but also a place that people could affiliate with and come to and experience different things and we can add value to their lives. So we do this by doubling also as an art gallery, and a place that plays live music. We sponsor many, many off site events. We’re doing several things for pride month for example, we host large concerts with hip hop artists, and we bring people together in a non-judgmental environment, in a safe environment, all for the kind of the love and joy of Cannabis.
Josefine Nowitz 5:08
That’s amazing, and it’s so important in this space to really come right out and say that you are part of the community that you’re in and you’re here to serve the community, by providing opportunities for people of different backgrounds to partake in your business as employees but also as consumers. That is really critical and it’s something that Cannabis business owners are definitely challenged with these days when you bring up things like the war on drugs and socioeconomic justice. It’s so important as local business owner to be part of your community to really incorporate everyone.
Anna Shreeve 5:59
Absolutely. I agree.
Josefine Nowitz 6:01
So, you mentioned that you started out in 2011 with your son.
I have a question on my list here to ask you what your family or your significant other felt when they heard that you were getting involved in the cannabis space?
Anna Shreeve 6:24
Well, my husband felt that I was absolutely insane. Our families, to be perfectly honest, we didn’t tell for years. And it wasn’t until my husband actually found himself diagnosed with cancer, that he actually converted. It was really that cannabis was part of the solution for him with stage four cancer, and so he’s come through that, you know, beautifully, miraculously. And that really changed his view and made it more acceptable for him and for us to talk about with our family. We both come from very religious family backgrounds and it was a little bit tough. But now everyone we know is on CBD. Let’s put it that way. We’re total advocates.
Josefine Nowitz 7:24
Right, absolutely. I’m sure that is a similar journey for a lot of people who, when it comes to medical cannabis, are dealing with a family member who is ill and interested in utilizing cannabis medicinally. Because it allows for family and friends and close relatives to really think differently about what cannabis is and how it can be useful. It’s a useful plant in so many different ways. So having a family member who uses cannabis medically will surely change the perspective and the stigma around Cannabis for family/friends.
Anna Shreeve 8:06
And now our time has come.
Josefine Nowitz 8:08
And now our time is here.
Anna Shreeve 8:11
It’s really cool to be Cannabis right now. Right?
Josefine Nowitz 8:12
It is really cool to be in Cannabis. Yeah. And it’s amazing to see how many things are changing almost on a daily basis. And it’s not just in certain states that have been pro-cannabis for many, many years like Washington. We’re seeing news updates and state regulations changing in many states almost every day in 2018 and 2019. Whereas, in 2012 or 2013, as Cannabis in Washington was just getting started, we weren’t seeing that regular news coverage on a national level yet. So, it’s very exciting to be part of it.
That kind of leads me into my next point here. There are so many female entrepreneurs getting involved in cannabis and particularly in the CBD space now, because they feel there’s less of a barrier to entry. CBD is an easier concept for folks to understand. So, with your experience, you’ve been in the space since 2011 and its 2019 now;
What advice would you give to someone who’s starting out in the cannabis space and if you have particular advice for women in the space? I’d love to hear that.
Anna Shreeve 9:36
Women are definitely the minority in the space. So I think it’s important that you really have a solid plan and that you really take passion that you have. So your goal can’t just be money, because that’s really not sustainable. And this business is…very challenging. And money is not falling from the sky with the tax structure of 280E. You have to have the fortitude and the will to continue. You need to have some other level of passion driving you beyond money. And that could be wellness, it could be the fact that you choose to employ women and pay them great wages and provide health care. It could be that you’re getting out of corporate America and you want to do something that’s fun, and you enjoy working with millennials. But at the end of the day, it’s about having a plan and understanding where you fit into the marketplace. It’s grueling work every day and It’s like any entrepreneur, I think the difference with Cannabis is that, because it’s new, there are very few emerging industries that appear to be equal and it’s only for a period of time.
I encourage all women and people of color to jump in now. Don’t wait, because it’s it won’t get easier. You know, in our state, we don’t allow outside equity investment. And so, it protects the little guy, but that may only last another year. So you want to really you want to jump in you want to invest you want to work hard, and get the experience and understand that the truth is that no one knows everything. No one is an expert, and all these self-proclaimed experts may know a facet of the industry, but they don’t know the entire industry. We’re just at the very beginning.
Washington State has a smaller advantage, and Colorado has a small advantage, but we’re also not large states. I think people that jump into California, or people that jump into Florida, people that jump into the New York if that is ever a recreational thing, will lead to huge opportunities.
Texas, for example. I just had a couple of women I spoke at a conference, the Cannabis Business Times conference, and at the end of my little speech, I was with Debbie Goldsberry from Magnolia in the Bay Area. And I was so excited to see so many women in the audience wanting to learn. That I just made this comment that if you’re a woman or a person of color, come up, get my contact information, I will be happy to help you no matter where you live or who you are. I had somebody yesterday who came from Texas, an African American mom and daughter team, who want to open a shop when it becomes medically legal. And that may not be until 2021 or 2022. But they’re getting ready now. And I think that’s fantastic.
Josefine Nowitz 13:42
Yeah, I was down in Oklahoma City a few months ago, and there were a lot of people from Texas at that conference. They’re really, really excited about getting involved in the space and they’re getting ready. They’re getting their business plan together, which is essentially my takeaway from what you just said; have a plan, particularly a business plan, make sure that your finances are in order. And make sure that you have the time because being a leader and being an entrepreneur is 80 plus hours a week, and working weekends and it’s not easy and money isn’t falling from the sky. And also make sure that you have trusted advisors that you can work with or reach out to and legal guidance as well.
So you mentioned corporate America before and I’d love to hear a little bit more about, your professional background. Where did you come from before you were in the space? What did a day a typical day look like for you then and what is a typical day for you now?
Anna Shreeve 14:57
So I worked for most of my career for CBS. And so I was in advertising sales. I launched a radio station back in 1991, an alternative rock station that became very successful that was then sold to CBS, and then I worked for CBS three different times. So I would go and work for another company and come back to CBS. I primarily was in sales management and then moved into general management, worked in all aspects of a TV and radio property from their digital media, to the newsroom. I received a lot of support from the companies that I worked for, was sent back for my MBA to school that was paid for. I have an undergrad degree in psychology and then finished off with a you know, MBA at the University of Washington.
I had the great fortune of working for some really incredible people. Through that process, learned how to be, disciplined, be competitive, do thorough work, manage people, look at inventory management, analysis of data and not be afraid to knock on doors, ask for help. And so I did that for over 30 years, until my son convinced me to do this. And I just now I look back on my career, and I realize I should have been an entrepreneur much earlier. I think I was afraid. I was afraid to really launch out on my own because it was so comfortable making money and being in a structure that was the only thing I knew. And so I know now and would encourage people to go do your thing.
Josefine Nowitz 17:13
That’s great advice. I appreciate that. Thank you.
So what does a day in the life of Anna consist of these days? You own multiple locations in Seattle. And are they all recreational dispensaries?
Anna Shreeve 17:33
Josefine Nowitz 17:33
Are you traveling from space to space?
Anna Shreeve 17:37
We, I do travel from space to space. I also have a store. I’m part of a group in San Francisco. We’re going through the process of application and build out in San Francisco. I’m part of an application in Florida. I’m part of an application and license in Michigan. Hopefully we’ll have many more opportunities to have the Bakeréé brand in highly urban areas.
I’m also involved in developing products. I work with a group of doctors that are originally from Korea. And they work with a product called a Coney acaba (sea kelp). [JN1] They create a product called canal. It’s basically a brown seaweed that grows 200 degrees below sea level off the coast of Southern Korea. We’re blending that with CBD, and it’s basically the best from the most medicinal plant from the sea, combined with the most medicinal plant, we believe, from the earth.
Josefine Nowitz 18:54
Is that going to be a topical product?
Anna Shreeve 18:56
Yes, but it’s literally almost every product, so that product is being released fairly soon. We have a dermatology blend, we have a blend that’s going to chiropractors, so all kinds of different types of products. We’re just more white labeling for others. And so that production is CBD only production. We have a different partnership group for that. I’m in the middle of a lot of different things. I started out doing this to help my son, and then I ended up realizing there’s so much more that I can do with my advertising background, and branding background to create products that are international.
Josefine Nowitz 19:51
And often that’s the type of personality that comes with a true entrepreneur. You kind of like to get your feet wet in all of these different areas. But as you mentioned before, it’s really important to have a plan to make sure that you’re not taking on too much, right? Especially if you’re juggling other things like your family, or you have to make sure that you have enough income to live your life comfortably.
So, really exciting to hear about that product. Is that something that’s going to be available online?
Anna Shreeve 20:28
It should be, it should be relatively soon, honestly. So we have a name. It’s called Terrasee. We’re just getting the packaging done now. And yeah, we’re excited.
Josefine Nowitz 20:43
That’s amazing. I’ve been learning a lot about CBD products and particularly skincare products and also cosmetics, and it’s certainly something that female entrepreneurs are getting really involved in, even bath bombs and facemasks. I wanted to ask you, before you mentioned this new product, how you feel about CBD and the new trend that’s going on. It’s definitely a trend that’s been happening the last six months here in 2019, since the farm bill passed, and people are getting really excited about it developing new products that it’s becoming an active market.
How do you feel about particularly cosmetics and bath bombs and the skincare products that have CBD in them? Are you excited about that? Do you think the market place for CBD will soon be saturated?
Anna Shreeve 21:40
I am excited about it. I worry because I think that if you’re not experienced with the cannabinoids or terpenoids of the hemp, you know, CBD plant or the cannabis plant. You don’t really understand the dosing that’s required to really make something effective. And so I don’t think it’s intentional, but there’s this sort of snake oil perspective around CBD. I think it’s a lack of knowledge. People actually think that hemp oil is CBD and it’s not. I think if there’s a lack of education, there’s going to be a bit of a rocky road. It’s probably going to be very similar to, um, the nutraceutical industry when it started. And there were kind of feaux nutraceutical that had trace, traces of vitamins, if you will. And then there were the real, you know, there were the real product. So I think the consumer, unfortunately may get deceived a little bit because of the labeling. So but I do think it I do think that CBD products are effective, I think that CBD skincare products are effective.
Josefine Nowitz 22:15
So, some advice that you might give to someone who’s interested in getting into the CBD product development space, and let’s say they’re trying to source from an extraction company to source their CBD oil that they can incorporate into their product.
Do you have any recommendations for how to find a trusted partner?
Anna Shreeve 22:39
I would think, when you’re looking at someone’s certificate of authenticity and their test results, go to a third-party testing lab and find out what it is that you’re actually reading. Because you need to have a chain of custody to understand where the starting material came from. You could unfortunately, be providing people with tainted product. There may or may not be pesticide testing in what you’re seeing, there may or may not be soil testing, it may or may not come from the United States. There are toxic chemicals in in the plant that are not tested, for example. You really need to understand the questions that you need to ask the CBD oil or isolate and that’s why there’s such a variation in pricing. You know, so, yeah, buyer beware it’s, that’s a little scary. And unfortunately, the CBD category is not yet covered under the FDA, but it will be and that will be a good thing.
Josefine Nowitz 24:01
Absolutely 100% agree with that.
Do you foresee that happening in 2019 or 2020 or any guesstimate?
Anna Shreeve 2:48 24:18
Well, I was doing some work at the University of Washington. And this was probably four years ago. And the FDA had contacted them to really even begin to understand the cannabinoids, so that they can develop a plan to regulate. At the time they said that it would take years and it’s been years but it’s going to take it’s going to take longer because I think the FDA needs to fully understand what the plant is. There are obviously really fantastic hemp cultivars that have 15% CBD, but they’re really cannabis cultivars, right? Rescheduled into a hemp, you know, right into an industrial pound product. And I think that’s fine if it meets the requirements, right.
Josefine Nowitz 3:40 25:10
Anna Shreeve 3:42 25:12
I think it’s fine… It’s just, it’s just maybe a lack of a lack of understanding maybe.
How long do you think it will take?
Josefine Nowitz 3:50 25:20
That’s it, I don’t know. I hope you sooner rather than later.
Anna Shreeve 3:52 25:24
I mean, I think that something that the FDA can do is solidify the requirements for labeling. That’d be helpful because you’ll see a label that will talk about the fluid ounces of hemp oil, right or the milligrams of hemp oil, but not the amount of CBD that’s in them oil because pressed hemp oil like olive oil, may have fractional CBD, it really depends on the CBD content of the biomass, right that you’re processing the hemp oil.
Josefine Nowitz 26:05
So yeah, right. So, bottom line, educate yourself. Make sure that you have trusted partners and advisors and a plan. And don’t wait. If you have the entrepreneurial itch, and you want to get involved. Find a partner, find that advisor, talk to people get out there and take the jump.
Do you have any advice for readers or listeners to educate themselves? Do you have any publications or newsletters or websites that you would recommend that our audience might want to visit to learn more?
Anna Shreeve 26:55
I am very fond of Cannabis Business Times.
Anna Shreeve 27:00
I think that they are extremely business oriented. And they also provide people with elevated advice you know, versus a publication that may be consumer oriented. Marijuana ventures I think is fine. Conferences, Conferences! I think all of them are excellent
Josefine Nowitz 27:28
Conferences like CannaCon, NCIA, etc.
Anna Shreeve 27:29
Josefine Nowitz 27:30
Okay. Well, we’ll add another list of conferences to this blog post as well. So last question for you before we can wrap things up.
Do you have any social media influencers or folks that you follow in the space that you would recommend?
Anna Shreeve 28:06
I follow Ken Morrow from Trichon technologies, out of the Bay Area. He talks a lot about commercial cultivation. Products that are being launched into the marketplace, is probably one of the foremost thinkers on Terpenes and the effects of terpenes, isolating terpenes, isolating the different cannabinoids and formulating products and more pharmaceutical blend, I guess you would say.
Josefine Nowitz 28:50
Okay, great. Well, I’ll include a link to his profile too, here and here.
Well, so, Anna, thank you so much for your time today. Thank you I really appreciate it and I’ve learned so much from this conversation alone.