Sabrena Peterson said:
“I’m thankful to all of the (cannabis) pioneers and advocates who have been on the front lines for years moving legalization efforts forward, making sacrifices and risking personal freedoms.”
Describe yourself and what you do.
I’m a fiercely loyal and passionate person by nature. In both my personal and professional lives, I work hard to cultivate relationships that have depth, and I take my commitments seriously. I handle sales and marketing for RĒL (pronounced ‘real’) which is an interesting balance between maintaining structure and coming up with creative concepts to enhance growth. We’re a very small team that operates like a family, and it’s an all-hands-on-deck approach to make sure it all gets done.
On any given day, I could be meeting with dispensaries, planning a new promotion, getting feedback from our brand ambassadors, helping production get deliveries out the door, or working with our designer to format web content and marketing materials. The buck stops with me in reaching our revenue goals, so it’s a big scope of responsibility, but it’s also the most fun job I’ve ever had.
What is your vision for your professional cannabis endeavors?
Self-medicating for insomnia and ADHD has been a lifelong reality, but I never imagined that I’d end up being an entrepreneur in the cannabis industry. Almost three years ago is when I first took a hard look at getting into the business, and my mind was blown when I realized the opportunities that existed in such an incredible community. All roads started leading me and my partners to the same place over the following year as we sought out a sophisticated line of products that appealed to all of us.
We’re a small team with diverse demographics, ages ranging from 30s to 60s, veterans, women, various health issues and different lifestyles. We each have our own preferences for form and function when vaping. RĒL was founded to offer a full suite of products that focuses on enhancing bio-availability of extracts throughout our range of cutting edge device technologies and to create a brand that you can trust to have integrity.
I’m thankful to all of the pioneers and advocates who have been on the front lines for years moving legalization efforts forward, making sacrifices and risking personal freedoms.
My mission is to create a company that is not only successful by traditional business benchmarks, but that can respectfully carry the torch of those who paved the way and make them proud.
I wake up every day thinking about how RĒL can become a brand that is known for contributing meaningfully to the cannabis community, proactively reducing our environmental impact, increasing our participation in advocacy efforts, and continuously researching and incorporating the most advanced processes and technologies into our extracts and devices.
What is your personal cannabis origin story?
I started from humble beginnings. It was the kind of humble that includes having an outhouse and pumping water by hand to heat it on the stove in a pot for a bath. It’s not a sob story (or a take on Monty Python’s Four Yorkshiremen). The funny thing is, I didn’t even realize I was so poor until I was in my early teens.
Some of the most memorable holidays and fun times with my mom occurred during that time, and I’m eternally grateful for that. My childhood experiences inspired me to do well for myself, to create a life that was secure, and allowed me to enjoy a few luxuries in life. My path could have taken a different direction, but in my case I was motivated to become strong and dependable.
At some point, I developed enhanced clarity when things get crazy and hyper stressful. It’s like a weird mental survival skill. Pretty sure I’m listed as the I.C.E. contact (In Case of Emergency) with most of my friends and family, because they know I’m solid when things get rough, day or night. I remain calm during some pretty intense situations.
I’ve also been a workaholic since I was legally able to get a full time job at the age of 16. That’s around the time that I started self-medicating with cannabis, without knowing that’s what I was doing. I naturally gravitated toward cultivars that helped me feel more focused during the day and others that helped me get to sleep at night. Years later, I was diagnosed and treated with prescriptions for ADHD and insomnia, but ended up reverting back to cannabis after experiencing unpleasant side effects.
I can barely wait for RĒL to officially start contributing significantly to the medical community! We’re laying the foundation now, and should have some big announcements over the next year related to the medical research and product development.
What is your Superpower?
Tenacity, because I don’t consider failure as an option.
My personal life and career has been an ongoing journey of pushing through serious adversity, always putting one step in front of the other against the odds. I’ve dealt with my fair share of being underestimated and undervalued, misogyny, health issues, financial setbacks, heartbreak and caring for disabled family members from a fairly young age. Statistically, I shouldn’t have even made it this far.
Life has taught me to define my own expectations and be relentless in pursuing a fulfilling life.
What has been your greatest obstacle in this industry or with your business to date?
My biggest obstacle in this industry has been quickly adapting to an evolving regulatory environment. The only way we know to handle it is to play by the rules and stay compliant.
From the very beginning, we engaged a law firm that specializes in cannabis business law, to give our company the best chance of understanding what policies we needed to implement. It’s no secret that the transition between medical and recreational testing requirements in Oregon was rocky, and the market was totally disrupted for a few months.
The transition has stabilized, save for some comparatively easy to implement changes related to advertising, labeling and transferring product that have been updated recently. However, it makes sense for the state to be evaluating new measures that will prevent an oversaturation of licensed producers and processors, which should help further stabilize the market in the coming years.
What is your advice for women in the cannabis industry?
I’m inspired by a lot of women in the cannabis community who are winning at following their hearts and pursuing their dreams! I envision that a substantial number of us women will join the growing movement to become active in organizing, empowering, contributing and collaborating with each other to create opportunities for mutual prosperity.
To women dipping their toes into the beautiful and diverse world of cannabis consumption, take a little time to research cultivars that are likely to give you the effect you are seeking. Then go for it! I recommend starting with small quantities of different types of products, trying edibles, extracts, flower. Whether you are a soccer mom looking to safely and discreetly unwind at home after a long day or a medical patient seeking relief from a condition or serious ailment, find knowledgeable budtenders and ease into it.
To women dipping their toes into the challenging and rewarding cannabis industry, be confident and know your worth! Learn everything you can about the position you wish to hold, and gain some experience. Once you’ve done this, you become much more valuable.
Seek out and connect with people who appreciate what you bring to the table and support and encourage your success.
Connect with Sabrena: