Juneteenth: Voices from The Artsy Leaf – Celebrating Inclusion in our BIPOC Community
“Why The Artsy Leaf?”
“Because they cared when no one else did.” – Marcy Valocchi
The Artsy Leaf is built on a foundation of inclusivity and we are so proud to work with a bunch of badass creatives as our vendors, all of whom have unique stories to tell. In honor of Juneteenth, we want to recognize what it means to be a cannapreneur and highlight the stories of our BIPOC vendors. Our vendors all agree that The Artsy Leaf is the perfect place for “you to be you” and there is no better feeling than having a safe and supportive space to put your products on display.
According to CEO and Founder of Vanguard Media, Tiffany Watkins, the best part of The Artsy Leaf is that every time a new product is listed on the platform, it supports a female-driven company. Tiffany was immediately sold on The Artsy Leaf’s mission to showcase art and foster community, and she is pleased by the equity shown in supporting a diverse group of artists. Tiffany feels encouraged as a member of the BIPOC community and says “it is my opinion that with this level of openness, all feel welcome to share their passion. This platform is very important because it signifies unity and expression. It’s not always easy being a creative individual. The Artsy Leaf provides a safe platform for artists to share their passion to the public.”
“I love having the freedom to sell my Cannabis products on this platform without worrying about my items being removed for violating the platform’s rules. They made the process very easy. It only takes me a few minutes to publish a new item.” – Marcy Valocchi
Marcy Valocchi of Discrete Unlimited has been creating cannabis-themed products since 2015 and designs home decor, clothing and accessories that allow consumers to show off their cannabis flair with pride. As a BIPOC creative, Marcy feels challenged by the “stoner” stereotype and by those who fail to acknowledge the benefits of cannabis. Marcy struggled initially with telling professional friends about her side business due to the stigma of cannabis, but found peace when she no longer cared about the opinions of others. Through her work Marcy became inspired and empowered, knowing she was using her platform to make a difference in others’ lives.
As Marcy says, “the cannabis industry is not an industry you can be in if you can’t let what others think about you roll off your shoulders. You will always have someone from somewhere that will tell you alcohol is okay and cannabis is not. Especially if you are a parent – if you are a parent consuming cannabis, then they will tell you that you are a terrible parent, but if you drink and you’re a parent, then you’re perfectly fine, it’s terrible.” Marcy continues to encourage other BIPOC creators to start their own journey even if they think they are not ready, as the cannabis industry needs you!
Jocelyn Harris of Mommies + Mary Jane has been selling cannabis-themed products since 2017 and is grateful that The Artsy Leaf both promotes and offers opportunities for increased brand exposure. She is inspired by cannabis and fashion and wants to challenge other companies to “comb through [their] C-Suite and check for inclusion” and to further promote the BIPOC community in cannabis spaces. In her eyes, companies need to encourage other BIPOC creatives to remain true to their aesthetic.
“Be you, be who you were designed to be. The cannabis industry has so many opportunities for you to be you.” – Ashley Wynn-Grimes
Creator Ashley Wynn-Grimes, a nurse and the author of Asa’s Medicine, supports the mission and vision of The Artsy Leaf and feels other companies need to consistently elevate the BIPOC community. She believes that current systems can only be dismantled through non-conformity and that we need to push back against those pre-existing systems. When asked how we can encourage other BIPOC creators in the cannabis community, she says “Education. In the state of the cannabis industry today, many do not see the various opportunities for using their creativity in this space. The immediate thought is that you have to own a dispensary or grow and that is the industry, but it is not. Not everyone has the charge of owning a brick and mortar business. Some people are intended to create and the plant is just another inspirational tool to support that.”
Ryan Holland of The Lit Dome, says that her favorite part of offering her products on The Artsy Leaf is knowing that she directly reaches her target market and is getting her product in front of as many eyes as possible. When asked what inspired her to join The Artsy Leaf, she says “We loved supporting a fellow woman-owned business. The idea of The Artsy Leaf is genius and we are rooting for their success.” The Lit Dome is inspired by family and was created with convenience in mind. Ryan thinks everyone should stop the struggle, ignite the flame and #STAYLIT.
No matter your background, The Artsy Leaf will always support its creatives and continue to provide a safe space for the cannabis community. The cannabis industry needs more representation, and we look forward to marching with this budding generation of cannapreneurs.