In the first of an ongoing series of profiles, we interviewed good friend Samantha Montanaro, Co-founder and CEO of Tokeativity, about her views on the cannabis industry and being a business owner.
About her: Samantha Montanaro is a thought leader in the global cannabis industry specifically guiding and bringing the community together in this emerging space. Samantha is the co-founder and CEO of Tokeativity, a women’s empowerment and event network featuring a robust tech platform that brings communities around the world together on feminism, normalization and the plant medicine and self healing revolution. Samantha also opened one of the first cannabis consumption spaces, Prism House, after legalization in Oregon and has been a pioneer in advocating for the creation of social consumption regulations.
Her passion for plant medicine, music, art, urban farming, the psychedelic renaissance and progressive community culture are woven into everything she does as a business owner, mother, musician and pillar in her local community. She served as the Board President of Historic Parkrose and on the Executive Board at Venture Portland, both nonprofits working to support local business districts in Portland, OR. Samantha and her work have been featured in numerous media outlets including Forbes, Rolling Stone, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, Newsweek, Conde Nast and many others and is known for her progressive stance on drug law reform, education and urban development.
What was your inspiration for starting Tokeativity?
The inspiration behind Tokeativity was creativity, feminism, plant medicine, women's liberation and collaboration. My business partner, Lisa Snyder, had the idea when she was getting stoned and making vision boards with her friends on New Year in 2015, but the need was much more apparent after the "Me Too" movement swept the nation, as did legalization. We launched in 2017, just days before the inauguration of the One Who Shall Not Be Named.
What makes Oregon's cannabis community special?
Oregon's Cannabis Community is special because it is grounded in generations of tending to this land that fosters ideal growing conditions for cannabis. There is a real appreciation and celebration of craft culture in Oregon that I think makes this community really special.
Where do you think Oregon's cannabis industry is most lacking?
The Oregon Cannabis Industry is most lacking in diversity, which is no surprise when you look at the racist history of the state. Creating an equitable industry is not just an issue that plagues Oregon, though. I see this as the greatest need across the entire nation.
What advice do you have for people looking to start cannabis businesses?
Get grounded in your why (this cannot just be "there is an opportunity to make money"), find mentors and advisors who have been in the industry for a while, do your research, commit to forever learning and growing, and become (of you aren't already) an activist for cannabis - there is so much policy change needed still and we need all hands on deck!
What is one business lesson you wish you'd learned sooner?
As someone who is mission based in everything I do, I wish I had learned how to prioritize data-based decision making sooner. Set up metrics to track how your efforts are working and follow the numbers. Our intuition gives us a lot of information, but there is nothing like a data set that tells you exactly what is working... and what is not.
And here's a previous interview we did with Sam back at the Cannabis Connex Conference in early 2020: