Cannabis Creative recently chatted with Deanna Avery of Mammoth Distribution about diversity in cannabis, marketing, and her journey in the industry. As Sales Assistant & Brand Advocate, she’s doing exciting things with brands in California.
Read on to see how Mammoth promotes diversity and inclusion, the challenges Deanna has faced in cannabis marketing, and her ideas for how she’d make cannabis a more inclusive environment for women and people of color.
CCG: You were a budtender and brand ambassador in the past. How did you get into cannabis? What motivated you?
Deanna Avery: Growing up in a very pious household I didn’t consume cannabis until I moved back to the Bay for college. At first, I didn’t consume much, maybe a blunt every other weekend with friends. I then realized some benefits that came along with it.
Being an 18-credit full-time student and working three part-time jobs at the time, I found myself very stressed. I lost a lot of weight, I wasn’t eating right, and it was hard for me to focus on school at times to the point I just wanted to give up. I found that cannabis helped me to focus and motivate me, helped me with my back pain, appetite, sleep, and helped a lot with my stress.
When I moved off campus I wanted to find a sturdier full-time job, COVID had just started, and my friend said Airfield Supply Co. was hiring, so I applied. As a budtender and brand ambassador, you want to be well-versed with the products you’re selling.
Education is what motivates me, being able to learn more and teach others about the benefits of cannabis. I don’t just sell weed to get my paycheck – I offer a variety of cannabis and product knowledge to the customer to help find what best suits their needs.
As a brand advocate at Mammoth, what brand are you working with that you’re excited about right now? What are they doing?
Working with Mammoth Distribution, the largest and most professional cannabis distribution company in California, is amazing because they choose only clean products to work with. The brands we currently have in our portfolio are:
- Heavy Hitters
- Lift Tickets
- Higher Edibles
- And the newest member of the family, Sun Smoke
We recently merged with Spacestation, California’s leading cannabis-infused beverage manufacturer. We’re doing so many exciting things with all of our brands right now, it’s hard to pick just one!
Heavy Hitters just came out with the HVY Grand Tincture at 1000mg, which was made with Spacestation. We released the Acapulco Gold strain-specific game-changing premium tincture in December 2021 for our 25 year anniversary. We wanted to pair a legendary strain with a legendary product. We use liquid trichomes to produce that amazing entourage effect.
What have you found resonates the most with consumers? What do people like in a brand?
I’ve found a divide between the consumers. You have your typical customer who knows probably just the basics, like the difference between indica, sativa, and hybrids, and what THC and CBD are. These customers are usually potency hunters or flavor hunters, typically looking for the highest THC percentage or whatever tastes the least like cannabis.
On the other hand, we have the slightly more educated in the cannabis world. Some might even call them enthusiasts or connoisseurs. These consumers prefer transparency and consistency from the brands they choose to purchase.
Our industry can be tricky. What challenges has Mammoth faced with cannabis marketing?
Cannabis marketing is a forever ongoing challenge for us! From having our Instagram accounts repeatedly shut down (including my own accounts), it’s a constant struggle to get information out to consumers in a way they like to see it, without being reported or shut down.
In what ways does Mammoth promote inclusion and support a diverse workforce?
Mammoth knows that a diverse workforce enables us to best serve a diverse customer base. They build and evaluate our teams to ensure we have representation across cultures, ethnicities, gender, and various lifestyle preferences.
They also provide a variety of resources including coaching, enrichment opportunities, and employee assistance programs to help with personal and professional growth.
As a woman of color, what has your journey in the cannabis industry been like? How could it be better?
Being in the cannabis industry as a woman of color can have its challenges. I’d say the most common issues I personally face are people not taking me seriously or thinking I don’t have the proper knowledge.
Some customers just assume males in the industry are more knowledgeable, which is very untrue. I have personally seen customers wait to go to a male budtender even when multiple female budtenders were open. I’d love to break the negative stigma about women, and African Americans in general in cannabis.
What changes would you make so cannabis is a more inclusive environment for women, people of color, and other underrepresented groups?
This industry was built by people of color. I love to see brands, dispensaries, and even local licensing committees giving back and providing opportunities to the people that helped establish this industry at its roots.
Equity licenses are becoming more popular, which is great. Some states are even opening up their first rounds of licensing to equity applicants only, which is epic. We love to see that. I know there are many support groups out there for under-represented groups, but I’d love to see more here in the Bay Area.
I’ve considered starting my own social support group for BIPOC in the industry, where we can get together casually and talk about our journeys and just hang out and have a good time!
What advice do you have for women who want to join the cannabis industry?
No matter who you are or what your background is, if cannabis is your passion, then go for it! There are a lot of industries out there over-saturated with men and that won’t change unless we, women, dive in and make change happen.
If you had nothing standing in your way, what’s your dream vision for yourself?
Now with my bachelor’s in business management with a concentration in entrepreneurship, I wish to one day open up my own dispensary. I’d love to be the first women-owned and first black-owned dispensary in Santa Clara County, California.