JULIA GERMAINE – OPERATING PARTNER, KINDTAP/KINDRUN
What is your proudest accomplishment in the cannabis industry?
I’m most proud that my work has been a force of good, at the end of the day. The industry is complicated, volatile, and at times demoralizing – but I have created jobs and entire workforces, built and revitalized properties and community tax bases, and started conversations to normalize and respect the medical and adult-use of cannabis, in many different contexts and to diverse audiences.
Do you feel that the cannabis industry has more opportunities for female-identifying people than other industries?
I believe the opportunity for people who identify as female in the cannabis industry is about analogous to opportunity in equivalent sectors of other industries. Ten years ago, in different policy regimes, when traditional finance was still trepidatious about cannabis, there was a vacuum into which many womxn stepped. Some have been successful, but others have bowed out. Even more so than a lot of high-growth industries, like beauty, the cannabis industry is simply more difficult due to the plant’s fractured legal status in the US and within states (let alone abroad). There is a more open conversation about the disparities of female representation in leadership positions in cannabis, but I am a rare female operations executive – in part because my requisite experience has been gained in male-dominated environments like municipal government relations, construction, cultivation, manufacturing, etc. To ensure long-term sustainability, the cannabis industry right now demands operational expertise, not MBAs and ad executives, and I encourage female-identifying people to seriously consider how their operational skills in other industries and work environments might translate to cannabis.
Do you feel you have to work twice as hard as male colleagues or do you think the industry has moved past that?
I don’t have to work twice as hard as male colleagues, because I have authority gained through experience, and can point to a body of work that speaks for itself. The industry has not moved past prejudice, and women in the industry have not moved past the instinct to relegate themselves below typically more risk-tolerant men competing for the same space. I don’t maintain competitive relationships with my male colleagues, and likewise, because I’m very clear about where I begin and end. As colleagues, we share the same goals, and I am glad society is slowly moving past gender binaries that stifle female participation in economies.
What was your biggest challenge in business and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge in business has been an unethical, negligent co-founder of an early cannabis business my family and I started. Capital and pedigree – both personal and academic – are often prerequisites to starting a business and raising money, and were more readily available than competence and operational expertise ten years ago. I have yet to overcome the encumbrance of the company and co-founder, but overcame the professional and personal frustration by re-starting – I have new partners and new businesses, and am much smarter and more-empowered than I was ten years ago.
What has you or your company done to help give more opportunities for women?
My company is woman-led at the executive and directorial level, and actively recruits diverse candidates for new positions, including women. We promote women into leadership positions. We are flexible about schedules and are fortunate to operate in Massachusetts, where employee protections and rights are strong, and support maternity and other types of leave that allow women to participate in the workforce. I personally mentor other women to bolster their leadership and soft skills, which are often accessible only through experience and exposure.
What are your personal goals for 2022?
As the business leader for one of the first cashless cannabis home delivery businesses in the country, I hope that we can not only generate several millions in revenue this year, but more importantly show the world our collective 3+ year efforts of moving cannabis into the fully-elevated age of digital commerce, and the ability to accomplish this through social equity-businesses and a diverse leadership team. On a personal note, I’m hoping to take a holiday to Paris with my husband at the end of the year.