Ashley Kingsley said:
“I hope to continue the dialogue and dream of a day when there is no stigma wrapped around the cannabis plant and the industry.”
Describe yourself and what you do.
I am an early adopter and serial entrepreneur with a love of connecting people, places and things. I started my own digital marketing agency in 2005 with a desire to help small businesses participate in and excel in the ever-changing landscape of digital marketing.
When I launched, there wasn’t a name for social media – because it didn’t exist. Twitter came to market in 2006, and because I am a seeker, I began teaching myself everything there was to know about taking marketing and advertising from print and radio to online platforms. I saw early on how powerful Facebook and Twitter were – yet I was early.
When I pitched these platforms as part of a marketing strategy, potential clients and business colleagues laughed me out of the room stating, “My kids are on Facebook. Why would I ever want to be there other than to keep an eye on my kid?” I persisted and began working with clients who understood the power of social media marketing.
In 2010, I saw a huge hole in an emerging market and felt deeply that I had to fill it. I started a company in the middle of the night on a WordPress site with clip art. Groupon had hit the market and was nowhere near mainstream. I had just had my second child, and the crash was well underway. I had no desire to take advantage of the deals Groupon was offering at the time: skydiving, limo rides, drinking, shooting, etc.
I was a mom trying to make ends meet and desperate for a nice meal, a night out, someone to clean my house, a pedicure, etc. No one was offering these types of deals. I started Daily Deals for Moms and really focused on the spending power of Moms who make 98% of the household purchasing decisions. It seemed like a no-brainer to build something that catered to this market segment.
The company took on a life of its own and grew into 27 markets in 18 months. We completely bootstrapped and, after a year or so, my partner and I went after funding. In 2011, women going after funding was still an anomaly. We learned the hard way.
We had meeting after meeting. Some called us the “cute moms from Denver with the home business.” Our fire was lit. We once again persisted and, sadly, it wasn’t until we brought a man into the room with us that were handed checks. We raised $150K in angel funding and grew the company to scale. I sold in 2012 and continued running AshleyKingsley.com, my digital marketing company.
I was able to build the digital marketing agency I had launched in 2005 faster and had more clients than ever. People had finally adopted Web 2.0 and understood the power of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. I have always been industry agnostic. I have worked with Fortune 500s, high-end fashion, mobile apps, to just about every ancillary part of the cannabis industry you can imagine.
What is your professional cannabis story?
I got involved with medical cannabis because my Mom got pancreatic cancer and spent two years fighting for her life. By 2008, she couldn’t get food down and was dying from malnutrition. I started educating myself and spending time with one of the first dispensary owners in Denver. He taught me about strains and the differences between CBD and THC. I had no idea I would be so deeply involved down the road.
I was able to get my mom on a cannabis regimen, and she got better. She was able to eat, and it is now almost 12 years out since she was diagnosed. She is cancer free and doing amazingly.
I voted for medical and recreational legalization. I have always been a believer in the medicinal value of the Cannabis plant. I began showing up to events and then started throwing my own. I was part of the team who originated the CannaBusiness Accelerator and organized the first cannabis job fair in Denver and Seattle, WA.
I met a lot of people early in the game who were blazing the trails. I spent a lot of time learning from them and continue to do so today.
My mission is to bring knowledge and experiences to people so we can dissolve the stigma that is so fiercely wrapped around cannabis. Like many, I view cannabis as medicine and will always have huge gratitude around the positive effects it has had on so many people whom I know and love. It has literally been lifesaving on so many levels. I hope to continue the dialogue around cannabis and the amazing health benefits the plant brings forth.
I manage my chronic pain with cannabis – typically in 1:1 CBD / THC form.
What is your personal cannabis origin story?
I have been a cannabis consumer on and off since I was 18 years old. As I got older, I totally lost interest in using any form of cannabis because it made me super anxious. Instead, I medicated with alcohol and became overly dependent on drinking because it helped me with my anxiety – short term – and with my chronic pain.
I had endometriosis and suffered deeply for at least one week out of every month. I lost so much time. I was diagnosed with endometriosis in my late twenties. Prior to a diagnosis, I just thought I had debilitating cramps. After nine gynecological surgeries, including two miscarriages and two C-sections, I became somewhat dependent on opiates.
I literally sought out a million ways to help my pain, but I was afraid to use cannabis for fear of making my anxiety and panic disorder worse. It wasn’t until 2016 that I began to use CBD oils and 1:1 CBD/THC products. I gained control over my pain. I started getting more confident and tried new brands and dosing methods.
There are some brands that are doing it right and precise. There is no more guessing. I know exactly what my body responds to. It has been a real adventure. I don’t medicate to get “high,” and I am living a much fuller life as a result. I am so grateful that I kept trying cannabis even though it scared me. I am thankful that there are solid brands and products out there that make it easy for me to consume for my pain without the high.
These are extraordinary times, indeed. I want to shout from the rooftops and share everything I have learned over the last several years. I intend to do just that.
What is your Superpower?
I love bringing people together and building powerful partnerships.
What has been your greatest obstacle in this industry or with your business to date?
I think one of the most important things I have learned is that I DON’T work in the emergency room. I have this feeling that I have to work all the time… and I don’t. I am not saving lives – I have to keep what I do in perspective.
Setting my own boundaries has been hard because I love what I do. But sometimes, like everyone else, I have to turn it off. I need to pay attention to other aspects of my life. I am constantly working on this.
What is your vision for women in this industry?
I want women to lift each other up – no matter what. Cannabis is now an industry, which feels confusing. It has been commercialized, and like every industry, for many, it has just become egocentric.
I don’t want the soul of cannabis to be lost. Now more than ever we all need to be united.
We, women, need to support each other and I think the best advice I can give is to do everything with absolute integrity and intention.
Connect with Ashley