Arianna Cruz, founder of MORE Magazine, is doing her part to Make Opportunities Reachable for Everyone.
Cannabis Creative recently connected Arianna, whose professional journey started with a small program at downtown shelters. She worked with adults to help create better opportunities for themselves and their families, which eventually led to the creation of her magazine.
Read on to learn what it’s like being a woman of color, how the cannabis industry could be more inclusive, and how we can create opportunities for others.
CCG: How exactly are you helping to Make Opportunities Reachable for Everyone?
Arianna Cruz: I work with an incredible community of contributors that help the mission. I curate content intended to educate, inspire, and call people to action. It’s through this that we’re able to start conversations that lead our audiences to their next step, whatever that might mean for them.
What topics do your readers enjoy most?
I don’t think that I would narrow it to a specific topic as much as I would to the way we deliver our content. Our content comes from a personal place.
Whether it’s someone sharing how settling has inhibited them in the past compared to the freedom of asking for what they want, or someone sharing the cultural impact of being a first-generation woman in her financial literacy journey, articles are shared from a personal point of view. Our readers are most responsive to topics that provoke thought when it comes from a person.
What are some of the marketing challenges you’ve faced with MORE?
It’s a tale as old as time: capital. As a first-time business owner, I’ve been working from the ground up. I invest any profit back into the business and the people helping to make it possible.
Thankfully, with social being a free platform and a place for community, we’ve been able to reach many people and grow together. The mission has also innately connected with many people, and it’s been humbling to be given space to share with others to elevate the work we do.
Let’s talk equality. What changes would you make so society is a more inclusive environment for women, people of color, and other underrepresented groups?
I believe that when you lead with love and empathy, everyone’s voice can be heard. We could dive into creating more equitable solutions and how we can work to create a world where everyone has an equal chance at success. But I think at the root of it, it’s removing greed and the desire for power, and honing on our innate instinct to help.
As a woman of color, what has your professional journey been like? How could it be better?
As a first-generation woman with immigrants on both sides of my family, I’m reminded of the extraordinary perseverance that has come from those before me. That makes me want to work harder for every opportunity possible for my future family. There’s nothing in this life I would dream of taking for granted when I know the work it took to allow me the baseline of opportunity I was born into.
When I was younger, I would get invited to the happy hour for flirts more than I would be heard. That was hard. I felt like I wasn’t taken seriously. And I wanted to grow, but I was only seen as someone’s next game. Figuring that out made me more direct of a person, still personable, but quicker to cut through bull**** when I feel like I’m not being respected.
Any advice for women who want to launch an idea or business?
Make time for it if it’s what you want to do. What you want to do is up to you, and the worst that happens is that it doesn’t work out. I’d say to be smart with how much you invest into it, but you’ll never know if you don’t take that risk.
I think of the saying, “better to have loved than to have never loved at all,” and I can’t agree with it more. I don’t know what my life will be 10 years from now, but even if MORE Magazine is no longer what I’m doing, I would do it again. The conversations, people I’ve met, and people who’ve shared that they feel less alone because of the stories we elevate mean so much to me.
Switching gears to cannabis, what’s your opinion on the current state of diversity in the industry?
In the legal industry, it’s pale compared to what it could be. It’s safe to say that many potential business owners are doing time in states for the same thing that has since been legalized.
I met a Black woman who started selling as a business shortly after Indiana decriminalized the possession of weed. I asked if she was worried about the legal implications of selling a product that was still illegal to sell. She said she didn’t want to miss her opportunity to be in business for something that White business owners were already making a profit on when other Black business owners were in jail.
To hear someone say they’d rather risk consequences instead of being overlooked for opportunity really says something about the available opportunity in the space.
In what ways would you like to see the cannabis industry have a more intentional inclusion of minority business owners?
I’ve seen companies like Cookies and GAGE work to create equitable opportunities once they became established. It needs to happen sooner though. It needs to happen in business chambers and city economic strategy sessions that are happening with the focus on growth.
We have incredible people in our cities. We need to look at not only how we can grow our city but how we can create opportunity for our people. And then how can we attract more people to it?
I believe that people are attracted to people growing. And when you are a city that promotes that, the people will come. Within the industry specifically, I think being more open to the conversation would be an excellent starting point.
Seth Richtsmeier and I started a conversation because I was looking to do an article on the existence of equity in the cannabis space. And the number of people that I reached out to, the people that said they would get back to me and never did was so surprising. We need to remember that at one point, we were all on the other side asking for insight.
What’s your elevator pitch to the cannabis crowd to check out MORE magazine?
While cannabis is far from the only topic we approach, MORE Magazine is looking to create a conversation around a variety of topics that impact us all in one way or another.
Making Opportunities Reachable for Everyone can look different for everyone depending on where you are and what you hope to do. But at the end of the day, MORE Magazine is for those who want more for themselves, the people they love, and the communities they’re in. We offer to uplift your story should you feel ready to share it.
Featured image courtesy of Patrick Rogers Photography