Women's History Spotlight: Emily Paxhia





What is your proudest accomplishment in the cannabis industry?

By far and away my proudest accomplishment is building a company with my brother from the ground up and recognizing what this means for the industry. We believed enough in an amorphous sector in 2013 to put everything we had into starting our firm. I believe those of us who have invested our time, capital and reputation in growing this sector have contributed to what will be a lasting and remarkable industry. From 2013 to where we stand today, cannabis now has an economic impact of note, growing from $91B in 2021 to likely over $100B in 2022.  It is the work of companies like ours that has brought capital to the sector, attracted talent, changed laws, created social justice initiatives. I get to the office early in the morning, I open the blinds, turn on the heat and start the coffee machine. I use those moments to reflect on the tangible tokens of what we’ve built and to remind myself of why we keep pushing. I think about our incredible team of visionaries in Patrick, Mike, Andres and Colin and how they all share the energy and devotion to seeing the cannabis industry to its next phase of maturity and beyond and I am proud and inspired to be a part of something so momentous. I’m not sure I would find the same passion or drive in almost any other space. My favorite hashtag aptly sums it up #cannabisbroughtmehere and there is nowhere I would rather be.


Do you feel that the cannabis industry has more opportunity for female-identifying people than other industries?

Yes and no. From a positive perspective, I think there are more progressive and inclusive people in this industry than in many others and those qualities lead to a pursuit of higher endeavors, diversity in leadership and employment included. I have met tremendous male allies in this industry, who seek to include women in leadership and who champion our work. I also appreciate when they demonstrate awareness about their dominance in the business world. I have a few extremely experienced colleagues and if they ever speak over me in a meeting, I truly appreciate that they will acknowledge they did this and give me the space to share a perspective. We should cherish the opportunity to witness someone in a moment of change and growth to becoming more aware and inclusive. Additionally, there are several women in the space who I feel try to bring other women to the table. Drawing from my psychology background, implicit bias exists and if males are at the top and in control, there is the strong and innate potential for hiring / engaging with those who look, feel, sound, act the same. The only way we can interrupt that is to continue to raise awareness around diversity in hiring practices through action. Women have to keep showing up and adding value, we have to keep invoking the names of other stellar women when in mixed company to keep advocating for one another. Further, I think we have to reward good intentions around inclusion and honor that work. 

Do you feel you have to work twice as hard as male colleagues or do you think the industry has moved past that?

Every new interaction is a moment when a person has to prove her or his value/contribution to the situation. As I have said, Implicit bias exists. To unpack this further, it is not a ‘bad’ thing, it is simply a condition where people tend to have biases based on how they were raised or prior life experiences. Unfortunately, I still think there is an implicit bias about the value a woman can bring to the table vs. a male counterpart, so yes, we have work to overcome to prove ourselves out in those initial moments. And by the way, I have to watch my own biases and to focus on being inclusive and engaging when I meet new people too, we all have a lot of influences that can create blindspots. My way of navigating all of this is to come to meetings and interactions extremely prepared and organized, that way, I can do my best to show that my contribution is not one to be missed. Hopefully, by showing up, we can widen the aperture and remove some of these biases.

What was your biggest challenge in business and how did you overcome it?

This actually has nothing to do with being a woman per se. Every day in business brings a new challenge, so managing the range of issues one can encounter as an investor is the biggest and ongoing challenge. We have a diverse portfolio of companies across the industry and the world. Each company goes through phases and requires varying levels of attention. The only way I can continue to overcome these challenges is through teamwork and through prioritizing the challenges at hand. Of note, behind the scenes of navigating all of this is surrounding myself with other founders and leaders who I admire. We are the sum total of the quality of people we spend time with and I try to be around people who are net positive and who are as driven (or more so) than I am. This is especially true with my fellow female leaders in cannabis, there is a tight core of us and we work hard to be sounding boards and to lift each other up. We also work to bring others into the core. 

What have you or your company done to help give more opportunities for women?

We invest in women founders, we invest in teams that strive for diversity and inclusion and we continue to encourage this after the investment is placed. I am really proud of the work I see in our portfolio companies to seek out key female hires and to have female representation on their boards of directors. I am also inspired by the women who lead or participate in these companies, as each one of them is helping to create more space for more inclusion across the industry.

What are your personal goals for 2022?

To continue to do the good and important work that we are doing by building this industry. I love the cannabis industry enormously. As Julia Child said, ‘it is the breath to my life’ and I have made more friends and have gained more mentors than I could have hoped for along the way. Someday I won’t have to talk about how hard and discouraging this all is, given the political theatrics around this issue. In the meantime, I will focus on finding great companies and teams, I will continue to support our portfolio companies and will be glad for the fact that more people have access to safe, fun, enjoyable cannabis through legal channels than ever before in the history of society and that is because of the work we are all doing together.


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