I was born and raised in Portland—been here my whole life.
My family would move around Oregon about every two years, so I've been east and west, all the way from the suburbs to the city.
I didn't go to college or anything. When I turned 18, I got a job at the Apple Store and worked there for two and a half years. Then I worked part-time at clothing boutiques, like Compound Gallery downtown.
The owner, Katsu Tanaka, is awesome. He has this really amazing brand called Kiriko that takes Japanese fabrics and repurposes them. I was responsible for doing their consignment program. They import stuff from Japan and then resell it in the store. At the time it was the only store that sold streetwear. So Stussy, 10 Deep, Nike—all those accounts. It was great to be involved with that, just to see the transparency behind running the business and being a successful business owner. It was nice to be around that circle in Portland in 2011, 2012. The fashion industry was emerging a little bit more and the city wasn't as big as it’s grown to be.
There was a gallery upstairs and a store on the bottom, so they used to do these gallery opening parties the first Thursday of every month. Different artists and photographers and whoever would come by the shop. A bunch of different businesses around ours would also do gallery openings, so it was an opportunity for me to network with and meet people whom I normally wouldn't get a chance to cross paths at a young age. I developed a lot of really good relationships and friendships through that.
I'm grateful to be as young as I am, and I'm grateful to be as old as I am.
When I was 20, I got hired at Machus, which is a men's avant-garde shop here in town. That got me more involved with the fashion industry, the ins and outs, because it was just me, the owner, and his wife. So again, more transparency on how to run a business and have a really small, niche store.
I'm grateful to be as young as I am, and I'm grateful to be as old as I am. I've learned a lot from a lot of people who’ve been relatively successful in the way of starting with an idea and then building on top of it.
I went from Machus back to Apple, though. It was kind of a hard change because Machus was my dream job. But I had to take a step back and prioritize what I wanted to do independently, as opposed to working with a store or with a brand. Going back to Apple meant I was working less but still making enough money to focus on more personal projects, like styling work. That's how I broke into being involved with the fashion community here in more of a creative role.
And styling was really fun. It got me into modeling more, which was another way to just be involved even deeper. I started to do some contract jobs for agencies—stuff like that. More artists were reaching out. It was around that time that I started smoking cannabis, and that opened my mind to the idea that it can help creatively and, I think, with concentration and focus, especially for trying to find inspiration. Cannabis was really essential for me in that time period.
I grew up in really conservative family and, honestly, I have a lot of relatives who have struggled with drug abuse all of their lives. So I'd seen the other side of it from a young age. The way that it was always explained to me was: if you see your family members going down this pathway, it started with weed. That is what would happen if you got involved with it. And it impacted me a lot. I wasn't able to have contact with a lot of family members 'cause they were in and out of treatment or in and out of jail, things like that. It shed a light on the fact that substance abuse can really get out of control really fast.
But once I was able to be around my peers and see how they interacted with cannabis, it started to change my perspective in a lot of ways. To see that it doesn't have to lead to doing a lot of other things, that you can stay disciplined and in control. That was super helpful. It took me a long time to be open to that idea, but once it happened I was super down.
It helped me in a lot of personal health ways, too. I lost 50 pounds because I completely stopped drinking and only smoked. I was like, “This is great.” I did Crossfit and that shit actually works. But having an alternative substance to alcohol, a way to recreationally step away from things, was really helpful.
It feels amazing to empower people. It makes you feel like you are actually doing something to impact somebody’s life.
I used to work with the manager of Farma, Lydia, at the Apple Store. She takes all of the same principles and culture from that place and brings it over to the dispensary. It feels like a really big family. The thing I love about my job is that everybody comes to work happy and everybody respects each other. It’s very comfortable—nobody's micromanaging anything.
Our quality is great, but what we really bring to the table is great relationships. We're interested in people and talking to them and helping them. And I love to be able to have a wide range of ages that we are able to sell to. When I was at Apple, my role was to teach elderly ones how to use different programs programs. So now coming over to cannabis, I'm teaching our older customers proper cannabis etiquette and use, so that they're able to be in control. It feels amazing to empower them. It makes you feel like you are actually doing something to impact somebody’s life.
I’ll admit that I love to take control of things. I do all the visual merchandising and I’m grateful that Farma lets me bring my fashion and music past to the table. I just think it adds so much to have a space that feels warm and comfortable. Everybody plays their part at Farma. So many people are very focused on health, on wellness, on the science, and I love that stuff too, but it's just not my strong point. I just don't get it. I don't put the effort into even getting to know it that well. So I just try to take the reins on the product side of it, and it's fun to be able to do that.
I try to take a lot of the responsibility of changing the stigma. That's where I really find myself at with Farma. My parents went from barely thinking I drink to finding out that I was full-blown working at a cannabis shop. It was a shock in so many ways, which is to be expected, but I just had to be honest with them about what I’m doing. I know that they’re not able to grasp it fully, and that’s okay. I think history will prove that what we’re doing right now isn’t negative in any way and I try to use that as a motivation.
So I always try to think, “If my parents were to come into this space, what is that would make them interested?” I would explain, of course, the difference between THC and CBD. That's usually where I start. I love to gauge people’s knowledge with questions because it just gives me an idea of where to begin. When I help people understand the difference between THC and CBD, I say one is “intoxicating” and the other isn’t. I prefer to use that phrasing instead of “psychoactive” because CBD is psychoactive. It’s like how Advil and other medicines alter your mind to not feel pain anymore. To not feel anxiety, it is doing something psychoactively to you, but not in an intoxicating way.
The funny part about working at a shop, though, is that you never get to see what people are like high.
We get people who come in with their whole families. Grandmas, aunties, cousins—everybody’s here together. Recently an elderly woman came in and it was her first time. She'd never smoked before. We gave her a strain called Orange Sherbet. It smells amazing, but when she smelled it, she just popped it in her mouth. My coworker was like, “Oh god, don’t do that. It’s not to eat!” So she spit it out and we grabbed it and put it away. Her whole family was laughing—it was hilarious.
A big thing I see is elderly ones, as well as young people, coming in for anxiety and depression, things like that. I think it's something that a lot of people deal with and try to manage the best way they're able to, with whatever means they can. Encouraging people to use stuff like CBD, and to have options that aren't smoking, is big for me. We often encourage people to try tinctures.
There's a really great product, Earth Blend from Luminous Botanicals. It's a 9:1 ratio-per-dose tincture. I love it, and I love explaining the “entourage effect” to people: how having that small amount of THC— just that one milligram to nine parts CBD—can make a difference. Not in an intoxicating way, but you’ll feel the fuller spectrum of CBD because of its presence.
We're all just going off our own personal anecdotes and the feedback that we get from other customers, so I really encourage people to come back. I tell them, “If you enjoyed this and it actually works for you, please come back and tell us. We can use that knowledge to help other people.”
The funny part about working at a shop, though, is that you never get to see what people are like high. That's one thing I wish I could do. There are so many people I sell weed to, or new products to, who have never tried cannabis before. I just wanna see them three hours later. Are you stoned out of your mind? Are you laughing your ass off? Are you having an anxiety attack? Are you not happy at all? All of those things. I'm so curious.
I'm listening to Queen for the first time going, “Wow.” What is it about the way that they made this that makes people fuck with it so much?
DJing is my zen. I love it so much. I love music so much. My dad was a DJ. I feel like we're always doing things to please our fathers. So it was something I actually refused to try for a long time 'cause my dad was super good. He was super disciplined. But as soon as he had my sister and I, he didn't do it at the clubs or anywhere else anymore. He’d just practice at home and teach me. He always had his DJ setup in my bedroom and he'd go in there all the time. It didn't matter if I wanted to sleep, or whatever. He would DJ if he was mad, if he was happy—anything. He would just focus on it.
Funk is what I grew up listening to, but I love every type of music. I love doing house music. I love doing hip hop. Rap. 80s. Groove.
I love to joke with my girlfriend about learning about new bands that aren’t new. Like Queen. I'd never really listened to Queen before. I had just never, ever done that. But now I'm listening to them for the first time going, “Wow.” What is it about the way that they made this that makes people fuck with it so much? I try to put myself in the mindset of the people who appreciate listening to this music. That's something my dad taught me from a young age: it's not just about your own preferences. You have to play to your audience, but show them new music. Show them things that are relative. That's what I always try to do. Dig a little deeper to find where some hip hop artist got their sample from and then play that instead. That hits people's minds in a relative way.
DJing is another way for me to be involved. That’s how I really look at it. Yes, I have a passion for it, but I’m also making myself a resource for so many people, to so many events. This is something that I don't have to rely on anybody else to be able to do. I can always play some music, and there's always an occasion to do so.