Women in the Cannabis Industry- Story Two: Rebecca

For our ongoing Women in the Cannabis Industry segment, we’d like to tell you about Rebecca Calloway. She is someone I hear about frequently and her success story is worth a share. Rebecca is incredibly focused and hard-working. I sat down with her at the Herbal Risings campus and asked her to share some thoughts and views on the industry, as well as improvements we could make.

Q&A

 Hi, Rebecca. Thank you for joining us for this Women in the Cannabis Industry Feature. Can you please tell us a little about your background? 

I work at Herbal Wellness Center as the closing manager. I have all the pm duties, handling money, all that good stuff.

I have always had a love for cannabis. I took the class here at Herbal Risings and I met Chad Olshavsky and he introduced me to another person and from there it just grew on. Helping people is the best part of the cannabis industry, and also meeting lots of good people.

What do you like most about working in the cannabis industry?

Rebecca of Herbal Wellness Center

The fun and the freedom to be yourself is definitely what I love the most about my profession.

If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be? 

I would probably change what you can earn in the industry; Gaining ground for professionalism and building systems. It is all so new right now, everyone is just doing their own thing. There is no real paved road yet. Hopefully there becomes more stable pay for budtenders, receptionists, all the different roles.

How do you feel about cannabis education? 

 Cannabis education is extremely important, [as a budtender] you can’t treat someone with an ailment or help with pain, if you don’t know what you’re talking about. These days, patients want a lot more education [from the budtenders], a lot more strain genetic knowledge, all kinds of different stuff. So it’s hard to throw someone in there that doesn’t know anything. That’s why I love the Herbal Risings program.

What is your biggest struggle as a female budtender?

 [The biggest struggle as a woman budtender] is getting past being hit on, getting past being looked on just for your image. You gotta really step up and show what you know about this plant. You know, there are a lot of guys in the industry, a lot of men, so showing that you could hold your own, and you know what your talking about. I have even noticed a lot of patients come in that will not even take consultation from a female budtender because they don’t trust their judgment or think [the budtender] doesn’t even know what she’s talking about and would rather deal with a male budtender.

I have heard that a lot actually.

Yeah, that’s a big struggle that I have noticed for my female budtenders. And for other managers that have been in the trenches and that has happened to them a lot. It even happened with me for a couple of patients. I had two {patients} at one time and these were two guys that were that way with all of the females before me I just had to put my foot down with them. If you show you know what your talking about, and you can come back and hold your ground. When I first started, if they say something like, “You’re really slow” Well sorry we can’t hold all the product in here because it’s going too fast, and I have to restock it. If you’re really timid, then I notice it is a lot easier to get walked over as a woman in the industry.

Has being a woman ever affected your job, such as how you were treated?

I feel like men [in the industry] have a lot more relaxed standards and requirements than women. They come down on you harder, if you’re slacking off. The guys can do whatever, it seems like. Some marketing techniques I have noticed are marketed towards selling sex and that type of stuff. I’m not the most feminine and sexy woman out there. Even doing voiceovers, and I’m quoting this they want, a “bimbo” type of voice. Which is tough to hear, because of what I said earlier is what I love about the industry is about being able to be yourself. 

How can we change that?

I think we all need to have an industry community like gatherings and things like that. As far as males and females working together, I think it would be good to have ethics classes for the workplace. I feel like that would help because I feel like the professionalism in the industry right now is not really there. So just having a respect for everybody. And not thinking about just because somebody is a woman that they are gonna clean the bathroom at the dispensary. So I feel like once we all start working as a team in our dispensaries, in our cultivation centers and as a whole industry. And as we all start to get to know each other and respect each other and everybody is in the spotlight. I think its gonna change. I really think women are coming up in the industry, they just really gotta stop looking at women as such a sex symbol. And start respecting that women have a say and know what they are talking about when it comes to cannabis.

 I have heard of women being fired just for having a child. What are your thoughts on family discrimination?

This is the first time I have heard of that. There are a lot of women on my staff; I think most of them have kids, but they prioritize, and they can get everything done that they need to do. I think if it interferes with you getting to work in time, I could see where that plays a part. But as far as just having a kid, the only thing I can think of is if you happen to have those certain types of men that don’t want to hire a woman with a child. 

Thoughts on the female competiveness in the workplace?

I think female competiveness is healthy. But female cattiness, there is a fine line. I have noticed if there are a lot of females from different backgrounds in one place, when working together as a team, you have to mesh those personalities together, at first. Because there is a lot of back and forth I don’t like her, I don’t like this, whatever. But once you put that competiveness and put it towards a common goal, and have everybody working as a team. It’s like a perfect basketball game where everyone is just working together and nothing can go wrong you know? I think competiveness with females is great.

What about safety in the workplace? Has there been a time you didn’t feel safe working in the marijuana industry? 

I’m worried about safety at first, when I got promoted to being a manager. It’d be April 20th and we would be counting $40-60 thousand dollars in cash at night. It is definitely something to think about but with the security and different things you could implement in your facilities makes it a bit easier. But if a women still doesn’t feel safe walking to her car at night, they should be escorted. But I haven’t seen too much of anything to worry about. Maybe just like flirting and patients wanting more with the budtenders and they will follow them on social media and things like that. We couldn’t even hire female delivery drivers because of the concern for safety. Thankfully we haven’t had a too many scares. But I do think the safety is in the hands of the dispensary.

At this point I mentioned Brittnie’s situation where the patients would find her on social media and the dispensary had to ban them.

Yeah, a lot of guys, they don’t know where to draw the line and they may think they’re being cute or your playing along with them. And some women are too timid to put their foot down and say how they really feel, so the [patients] may take it the wrong way and just not know when to stop. 

 

Have you ever been asked on a date by a customer?

Yeah, [patients have asked me out] a lot, I have never taken them up on that. I can’t even interview a patient without them coming back and shopping and having me feel uncomfortable. So I couldn’t even imagine, if I went on a date and it didn’t work out and they were irregular. You know, it would just be no good.

How do you handle aggressive patients? 

[If a patient was too firm and/or aggressive] we would definitely have a security guard or a manager explain to them that their behavior is not acceptable. We don’t appreciate that and we are gonna give them another chance, maybe depending on how the budtender feels. You know, they really come first, what their feelings are, they are the ones that are there everyday, that we care about. So if they don’t feel comfortable with that patient coming back, we have no problem, doing that for our team.

Do managers hire based on appearance? 

It happens everyday and I feel like it will just have a high turnover rate and patients don’t even respect it all that much. Just because you have hot chicks doesn’t mean they know everything [about cannabis] and then they don’t show up, or they have a better job somewhere else, something like that. When you just get people in there that care about their positions you don’t really have to worry about that. I found out from experience, that if you hire based on looks, you will just have people in there who don’t know what they are talking about and you lose respect from your patients.

Would you avoid hiring someone who was dressed sexy?

I mean, I don’t have much of a problem with sexy people working at a dispensary or different places; it can help businesses but– educate those people on what they are selling. Like Herbal Risings has something amazing going on right here, I went through it, and did everything I could through the program. If you’re educated and your coming through it, and you’re there for the right reasons whether you look hot or not whether you’re a woman or a male, I feel like it shouldn’t matter. Everyone should have a level playing field. I have found even with pay and everything it’s been pretty equal so I can’t say too much, but I do know that women are more made out to be a sex symbol in this industry right now. But I feel like they are breaking the mold. A lot of women are starting their own businesses and just really creating a whole new platform for women in the cannabis industry.

I noticed California is always posting jobs “NEED PRETTY GIRLS FOR BUDTENDING SEND PICS”

Yeah, that can be really discouraging for someone that may not have all that much confidence but does really know what they are talking about and has a love for the industry. So I don’t agree with that. If I had my own shop I would make everybody feel equal and feel valued no matter what they look like.

If you could empower your patients with any information, what would it be?

[To the patients] have an open mind and trust that if they are working at a dispensary that has good product and a good reputation trust that the education is coming along with the budtender. And don’t discriminate just because someone’s a woman, trust their word, take their advice, be appropriate, don’t be a perv, and lets treat each other as equals and as human beings. Not as male or female.

I completely agree, and do you have anything to say to future women budtenders/dispensary agents?

Do your homework, come in early, clean up in downtime, be the best, have the highest sales, take the most patients, and improve yourself, and show them it’s not about what you look like.

We want to thank Rebecca for visiting with us and giving her insight on the medical marijuana industry.

*At the time of her interview, she was working at HWC and has now relocated to Herbn in Phoenix.

We don’t want to scare people who want to work in the industry. These are a few concerns people have shared with us. Our advice: Work as hard as you can and take no crap. If you’re serious and motivated to work in the industry–show it and hustle every day. Work as hard as you can and prove others wrong. Be the better person, always.

If you work in the industry and would like to chat with me about your experiences, or have ideas about changing the community, please don’t hesitate to email me at Hailee@staffmmj,com. It doesn’t matter where you work or what your roles are I would love to hear your stories.

If you want to be successful like Rebecca and get the education to prove your worth, check out Herbal Risings classes; she is one of Herbal Risings’ top students.

Prove your knowledge everyday, stay professional, and be the best budtender in your dispensary!

We can build and educate this community on so many subjects but we can only do it together, as a team. Let’s do this ladies and gentlemen!

 

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