Jamie Goswick is chair of the West Michigan chapter of Women Grow and owner of marketing firm Canna Media Works. Courtesy Jamie Goswick
A new networking group focused on entrepreneurs in the marijuana industry is launching this week in Grand Rapids.
The Grand Rapids chapter of Women Grow will hold its inaugural Signature Networking Event 7:30 p.m.-10 p.m., Thursday, at Peppino’s, 130 Ionia Ave SW, in downtown Grand Rapids. Tickets for the event can be purchased at eventbrite.com.
Women Grow is a national professional network with chapters across the country focused on supporting female leaders and entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry.
Jamie Goswick, chairwoman for the West Michigan Women Grow Chapter and owner of marketing firm Canna Media Works, said despite its name, men are welcome and she encourages their attendance.
“Men are invited to all of our events,” Goswick said. “It’s not women-specific; however, it is to help encourage women within the industry.”
Goswick noted while few CEO chairs are filled with women, the marijuana industry is an exception.
“About 35 percent of executive positions in the marijuana industry are held by women,” she said. “That is a lot higher than any other industry out there.”
Goswick said women tend to be the decision-makers when it comes to family health care, which is one reason for the larger concentration of women in the marijuana industry.
“Between 80 to 85 percent of health decisions in the family are made by the woman of the household,” she said. “That is pretty significant.”
Goswick said Women Grow networking events have a dual purpose: to provide a place for people to learn more about the marijuana industry and to provide an environment for those who already are involved in the industry to network with each other.
“Our organization’s main goal is to educate, empower and connect people currently working within the cannabis industry and those interested in getting involved within the industry,” she said.
The marijuana industry has unique challenges, she said, due to a patchwork of laws across the country. Laws don’t just differ from state to state; they also differ from one local government to the next.
“When you are starting your own business, it can be pretty challenging, no matter what industry you are in. When you are starting a business in an industry that has a lot of gray area and that is growing at a rapid pace, that can present some challenges too, so what I want to do is be here to help those people find the answers they need and navigate through all the chaos that comes with it.”
As a marijuana entrepreneur, Goswick has a firsthand understanding of the challenges business owners face in the industry. Goswick founded Canna Media Works, which provides marketing and public relations services to businesses focused in the marijuana industry.
“I work with dispensaries and testers — any business that is looking to get up and going in the cannabis industry in Michigan,” she said.
Goswick has a background in marketing, having spent most of her career marketing the ski industry in Colorado.
“I’ve been in marketing for 10 years and I decided I wanted to start doing marketing for the cannabis industry,” she said.
Goswick said the Grand Rapids chapter of Women Grow will host monthly networking events the first Thursday of the month featuring an educational speaker, with the exception of February when the board members will be in Colorado attending the Women Grow Leadership Summit.
Women Grow will also host other events throughout the year.
The first event will feature speaker Michael Thue, owner of Great Lakes Hemp Supplements in Traverse City.
“He will be discussing how cannabinoids in cannabis are broken down and used to treat adults and children,” Goswick said. “We really want people to understand the many ways of consuming cannabis, and that you can actually consume marijuana without getting high. We want people to learn information at our events and be able to use it to help educate people in their lives that don't fully understand cannabis and its benefits.”
The Grand Rapids Women Grow chapter is the second in the state; Ann Arbor also has a chapter. Goswick is encouraged by the success of the Ann Arbor chapter and expects the same for Grand Rapids.
“I’m expecting it to be successful,” she said. “The Ann Arbor chapter has only been going since the beginning of the year and they have outgrown their meeting space. That gives me an idea of the success that we will probably see over here, as well.”
Goswick said the passage of recreational marijuana will be key to whether the marijuana industry takes off in Michigan, as well as to the success of her business.
“Some of the businesses that are operating here are not technically legal, so some of them are a little scared to get out there and put their name out there and spend money on marketing,” she said. “They are afraid if they do that, they are being put at risk of being raided.”
She said, right now, education is very important.
“That is what I would encourage businesses to do: provide education for your clients and potential clients because that curiosity continues to grow, and if you aren’t feeding that curiosity and giving them the answers they are looking for, they are going to go somewhere else to find them.”
Goswick hopes the Grand Rapids chapter of Women Grow will serve as an educational resource.
“I want to emphasize that there is a lot of confusion and uncertainty about what is going to happen with the laws and legalization, and I think this is a way for people to learn more about it and stay up-to-date on what is going to be happening within our state,” she said.