Imagine being arrested for something as a college student only to end up 10 years later working in the same industry. That may seem like a paradox, but it's a story that many cannabis entrepreneurs can say is 100% true for them.
That was the case for our latest Move the Stars podcast guest and local entrepreneur, Ashley Jenkins. Ashley's story begins with an arrest with a possible conviction of 30+ years in prison for possessing a minor amount of marijuana in Florida during her college years.
Since her scary resolution of that legal trouble, she's found success in Denver as the owner of MT Growers, eventually becoming the first Black woman to be appointed a cannabis manufacturing license through the City of Denver’s Social Equity program.
At first, she didn't understand how big of a deal the latter accolade was but is now using that accomplishment along with her bubbly, honest, and outgoing personality to fully capitalize on building her business's consumer loyalty, maintaining relationships with the local press, and maintaining transparent communication with her stakeholders when addressing challenges.
You can listen to our conversation on the Move the Stairs™ podcast here. Or check out our top three Move the Stairs™ takeaways from our discussion with Ashley below.
Move the Stairs Moment 1: Your origin story matters, even if it includes uncomfortable topics like incarceration
Ashley nearly went to prison for 33 years, simply for possessing a small amount of marijuana. Instead of hiding the story of her past, she fully embraces it and uses that transparency and vulnerability to connect with her customers, especially now that she's achieved becoming the first Black woman to earn her cannabis manufacturing license through the City of Denver’s Social Equity program.
Move the Stairs Moment 2: Negative press? Don't spin but be ready to talk about the good
Spin and toxic positivity are one thing, but Ashley says that supplying facts that are positive about the cannabis industry can be a great way to educate a journalist reporting about a negative industry story. As always, transparency and accountability are key.
Move the Stairs Moment 3: Cannabis education remains a priority and responsibility
If you work in the cannabis industry, whether it's hemp or marijuana, it's important that consumers are educated about the product. It's long-standing stigma and stereotypes that stand in the way of moving this plant from taboo to mainstream.