Green Queens | Meet Jazmin Hupp of Women Grow

Author: Arianna Schioldager / Photos: Beatrice Seifert

Let’s be blunt.

Jazmin Victoria Hupp co-founded Women Grow, the largest professional network in the cannabis industry. Since its launch in 2014, Women Grow has connected over 25,000 entrepreneurs at events in 45 cities across the US & Canada. The organization hit $1 million in revenue in 2015, with no outside funding.

Its focus is to connect and empower diverse people to launch national cannabis businesses and to serve diverse customers. Hupp herself is a self-described feminist who once told Edibles Mag, “I love the real meaning of feminism and I am angry the word has been f***d with by people who don’t believe that women and men should be equal.”

Again. Blunt.

She told us, “Women are better than anyone at working within a system that wasn’t created for their benefit.” Can’t say we disagree. And it’s why she’s a Green Queen, through and through.

There’s a lot of water cooler talk about how legal marijuana could be the first billion-dollar industry not dominated by men. How does Women Grow factor into this? So, Women Grow is dedicated to “creating and cultivating”—women to be leaders of the cannabis industry. Why was it important for you to focus solely on women?
Women will purchase the majority of marijuana products after full legalization and the end of marijuana stigma. Marijuana is known for being a medicinal product, a wellness product, and a recreational product. On the medicinal side, women make the vast majority of medical decisions for their families and purchase 92% of over the counter medicines. On the wellness side, women are the predominant buyers of wellness services like yoga and acupuncture. On the recreational side, women purchase the majority of wine & liquor that will be consumed at home. Women are desperate for a sugar-free and low-calorie alternative to alcohol. As the stigma around marijuana ends, you’ll see women switch from a bottle of wine to a vaporizer at night. So since women will be the dominant purchasers of marijuana, it turns out that other women are best equipped to create the marijuana products and buying experiences that women want. Additionally operating a marijuana business today requires navigating a complex system not created for your success and it turns out women are better than anyone at working within a system that wasn’t created for their benefit.

I focus on women because they are the greatest untapped resource on this earth. They are already installed everywhere but working at half their capacity. When you upgrade the women, you upgrade the lives of everyone around them.

In 2015, you held your first summit. What was that like? What did you see that was inspiring?
Women Grow’s first summit was for just 125 women in the mountains of Colorado (the event has since grown to over 1,000). The black market of cannabis required business owners to be secretive and isolated from their peers. They had few people to ask questions or get support. We heard some stories from women in emotionally and physically abusive work relationships that had no one to turn to when what they were doing was illegal.

After legalization, women in weed were able to come out of hiding. By placing these women in community they were able to share knowledge and support for the first time. And we were able to take everyone through hours of business education to fundraise for their company. Now I get to attend office openings and anniversary parties of many of the companies founded after that first event. It’s an amazing feeling to see the staff of six women hired by one woman who sat in the front row of the event.

How has your business changed the last three years?
I ran Women Grow as CEO for the first two years and wow did I ever have a hero complex. I hated to see people struggle so I would give people the answers instead of mentoring them through the learning curve. So Women Grow expanded quickly to 66 cities and 3 countries but that growth wasn’t sustainable. I had built a large system that was dependent on me instead of creating independent leaders. This is one of the core reasons that we contracted when I left my role as CEO. I’m excited to see how Women Grow will blossom under Dr. Chandra Marcias, Gia Moron, and Kristina Garcia.

I also didn’t anticipate that many women had more experience fighting against each other than helping each other succeed. In my experience, women have a culture of destructive gossip that cycles negativity between each other. Instead of bringing feedback to the person who we’d like to challenge, we bitch to our friends about it.

Why do you think it’s important to decriminalize weed?
Cannabis (aka weed, pot, marijuana) is one of the safest and most effective plants we were gifted on earth. Our body naturally produces cannabinoids (the elements within cannabis) to regulate our body. When your body’s regulation is off, cannabis can supplement.

Cannabis is also one of the most flexible medicines, specializing in many of the symptoms women suffer from most. I use cannabis to fall asleep at night, to reduce inflammation in my body after yoga, and to balance my stomach when I eat the Standard American Diet.

Women Grow had no outside funding. What did you know about launching a business?
I caught the entrepreneurial bug as a kid and started launching websites at age 11. I started running theatre productions shortly after that and theatre teaches you a lot about running a business. You’ve got to pick your strategy (the play), hire your team (casting), get everyone to work together (rehearsals), sell tickets (marketing & sales), and deliver your product (opening night). Most companies never get to delivering their product so theatre was a great container to practice that cycle with lower stakes.

While I was in college for theatre, my computer broke and so I took a job at Apple for the employee discount. At age 20, I transferred to an independent Apple store called Tekserve in New York City and got a deep dive on every shade of a sales, repair, and consulting business. As an internal entrepreneur at Tekserve I got to create new offerings within the container of an already operating business. I got great at the creation, marketing, and launch of new things but was never responsible for operating what I created for more than a year. During that time I was also a director at Women 2.0, helping women become VC-backed founders with events in dozens of cities. Through Women 2.0 I was immersed in equity funding and Lean Startup methods.

In the Spring of 2014, my grandmother died and I took a few days off to reexamined my life purpose and what I was contributing to the world. Cannabis had just been fully legalized in Colorado and Washington so I decided to visit Denver for the first legal 4/20 celebration. I went to a huge event with a hundred different cannabis businesses and only met one female business owner. I realized that in this new blue ocean, women could have an unfair advantage in what would become a care-based industry. With that in mind, I met Jane West, who had already started to organize female business owners in Denver and we launched Women Grow in August of 2014.

For new entrepreneurs, what is your advice for starting?
We launched Women Grow with about $26,000 in founding memberships. Instead of going to investors for our startup capital, we went directly to our customers, female entrepreneurs, and built the business to about a $1M in revenue. The challenge with going to investors early is you have to immediately start serving two masters, what your customers want and what your investors want. By building the initial business on just customer revenue, you are more likely to create a business aligned with what your customers want before confusing it with investor advisors. You’ll also be able to get much better terms for those investments when you have a proven model versus them funding an idea on paper.

Starting your company based solely on revenue ensures that you scale your expenses with your revenue. If you use your outside funding for operating costs, you often end up in a situation with a high burn rate (money spent exceeding your revenues) and a ticking clock that forces you to raise even more money before you’ve proven your product works. Instead prove you can deliver something your customers want at a low cost and then raise funds to market the fuck out of it. Most companies raise money before getting that product fit correct and burn through it.

So many women are struggling at work. They’re burning out. You create happiness through a practice of yoga, meditation, cannabis consumption, and self-love. Can you chat about how these practices have improved your quality of life?
First I had to realize that my inner reality was creating my outer reality. By that I mean if I felt scarce, I would experience scarcity in my business. If I felt in flow, I would experience flow in my business. I stopped taking a salary from my company for the last two years to focus on self-work to work on myself and clear out the inner debris.

We all know that working out your physical body improves how your body functions. What I found is that I also had an emotional (a.k.a. energetic body) that needed just as much care. I tried dozens of practices and my current favorites are: meditation, Kundalini Yoga, Emotional Freedom Technique, ecstatic dance, sanskrit chant, and cannabis-infused baths.

This summer I’m launching a new company based on this self-work, called Rage Palace. Rage Palace is an event for women to release anger and workout their emotional bodies. We’re bringing together dozens of local practitioners to lead women through activities from sledgehammering a car to dance to crying on a grandmother’s shoulder. We’ll launch in San Francisco this summer and then tour the event as we perfect the formula.

What’s an exciting product you’ve seen hit the market?
I’m loving Treatwell’s Wellness & Balance tinctures. These are non-psychoactive, meaning they don’t get you “high” but give you all the benefits of cannabis for your body. It’s like taking the vitamin you didn’t know your body was missing.

You were named a genius entrepreneur. What’s it like to be called a Green Queen?
Honestly I don’t get called a Green Queen by anyone but reporters, they love puns.

What’s your proudest accomplishment to date?
Losing 60 pounds by changing everything in my life that made me want to overeat instead of following some silly diet. I realized that food was my go-to comfort substance. It kept me awake and made me feel better in the short term. In the long term it was masking how I was abusing my body to make money. We hired a new CEO for Women Grow and I spent a year pulling apart all my bad habits. Losing weight wasn’t even a goal, it just naturally came off as I stopped compromising myself.

What do you hope to see from women in weed?
Everything. Women in weed have the power to change our workplace cultures, our medical outcomes, our wellness practices, and even how we party on Friday night. I’m excited to see how replacing alcohol with more thoughtful substances might lead to a decrease in sexual assault. I’m excited to see how commercial hemp can replace fossil fuels in every instance where we’re using non-renewables. I’m excited to see how living in alignment with nature could be.

What would you consider your superpower?
I can tell what you need before you even know you need it. Basically, I can read people and anticipate their needs. It’s what makes coming up with new businesses so much fun because I can make stuff that you hadn’t thought of, but once you see it you know you need it.