Spotlight Series: Alex from Waffleye

Alex and Billy, the co-founders behind Waffleye, my new must-have kitchen gadget, believe that cooking should be fun and that food can be used as a tool to bring joy into your life. At Her(B) Life, we couldn’t agree more. That’s how we feel about cannabis so I immediately felt a connection to this company, also I love food and this is food decorated with the shape of the leaf from my favourite flower.

At Waffleye, Alex and Billy’s goal is to impact your life in a positive way by bringing creativity into cooking with, what used to be, a boring appliance. I think they’ve achieved just that.

Image supplied

Image supplied

How did you get involved in the cannabis industry?

I got involved in the cannabis industry very recently — in 2017. My fiancé, Billy, had the brilliant idea to create a cannabis leaf-shaped waffle maker. At the time it was just another one of his crazy ideas, but due to the circumstances at hand, we pursued his vision and created Waffleye.

In October of 2017, Billy started chemotherapy due to a recurrence of Hodgkins Lymphoma. We both took time off of work to focus on his health and step away from the everyday stressors of life. We ended up having a lot of extra time on hand, and instead of focusing our energy on the disease, we got to work and focused our energy into the company. As a team, we compliment each other well. We always joke that he has the good ideas but I have the follow through. But it's true, we pick up where the other leaves off. I manage the social media, among other tasks, so I am constantly seeing posts about women in the cannabis space.

When I first got involved I had no idea the extent of women's role in the industry. I am inspired everyday by other female entrepreneurs in the cannabis space to create a brand image that is classy, fun, and approachable. It is amazing what we can collectively accomplish and how much potential we have as a group. Watching the industry grow in the short time I have been involved, has been a huge source of drive and inspiration for me.

When I first got involved I had no idea the extent of women’s role in the industry. I am inspired everyday by other female entrepreneurs in the cannabis space to create a brand image that is classy, fun, and approachable.
— Alex

Tell us a little bit about your product or service 

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Waffleye is a small startup company that produces cannabis leaf-shaped waffle makers. Our waffle makers are easy to use, easy to clean, and so much fun to make waffles with. Every time we make a waffle in our Waffleye, we can't help but smile.

What time does your day typically start and what does a normal day look like to you?

Being a business owner is wonderful because I don't have to be at the office at a specific time, however, I do like to start my day off early, around 7:00 with a matcha or CBD tea. From there, a typical day varies, but I always start by responding to emails, and social media and website inquiries. I also package orders as they come in throughout the day. The rest of the day can be quite diverse as I manage day-to-day tasks to ensure the company runs smoothly. This includes creating content for social media (which is a huge undertaking in itself), looking for outlets to expand the company, pursuing marketing strategies, putting out fires, writing and creating recipes for the website, administrative tasks, etc.

It is never ending. Sometimes a whole day will go by and I'll sit down at the end of it, exhausted, and wonder what I accomplished. I can attribute this to being at the mercy of a to do list, checking off tasks as I go, but not feeling like I've done anything substantial. The creative outlet that Waffleye provides for me is what keeps me going. I love coming up with new recipes and styling shoots for all of our pictures, as well as creating our overall brand image.

Check out the company’s social media efforts on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest

What is your vision for your company going forward?

Our vision for Waffleye is to sell a waffle maker to everyone (like Amazon's goal is to sell everything to everyone)! In all seriousness, we do want to help normalize the negative stigma that is sometimes associated with cannabis use. We believe that our waffle maker is a great tool to help do that. It is easy to create infused recipes for the waffle maker, but it is not necessary.

Simply using it still opens the door for a conversation about cannabis. Both of my grandparents have a Waffleye Waffle Maker and they love it. One of my grandmas (the one you see on our social media) uses it every Sunday for family breakfast. Both the waffles and cannabis are always a topic of conversation there.

Beyond normalizing cannabis use, our vision is to expand the company in an organic way. We are taking it slow and learning as we go. We want to stay true to who we are as individuals and have that reflect in our company's values. We aren't focused on making a lot of money quickly, instead we simply hope Waffleye is an appliance that brightens people's day. It may sound cheesy, but it is true. Money is definitely an important factor in the success of our company, but we have also found that focusing on our customers and their needs has proven to be successful in itself.

What would an ideal post prohibition society look like to you?

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For me, an ideal post prohibition society would be one in which cannabis is freely used alongside western medicine, and as an alternative to alcohol consumption. This includes removing the stigma and making it legal across all 50 states. I hope for more high quality, in-depth studies to further our knowledge of cannabis and its benefits. It seems that as of now, there are so many blanket statements about how cannabis may help individuals but there isn't a ton of concrete evidence. I think that is a huge deterrent for people and practitioners alike. In addition, the legal side of the industry is in its infancy, leaving so much room for a lack of quality assurance. I hope that as our knowledge of the plant and its benefits grow, so does our quality standards.

What was your first experience with cannabis like?

My first experience with cannabis was far from exciting. I was in high school and attending a local punk show. My mom had to drop me off as I could not drive yet. As I was getting out of the car she told me something along the lines of, "Don't drink any alcohol, I will be able to smell it on you and will know." I took it to heart and smoked weed with my friends instead. I took such a small hit, I questioned if it did anything, but I was still paranoid my mom would find out when she picked me up later that night. I think it is safe to say that the minuscule high wore off by that time and she didn't find out. The first time was merely an icebreaker, the following time involved much more giggling.

Tell us about some of the challenges you face working in the cannabis industry

One of the biggest challenges we face in the industry is the limitations social media sites place on companies associated with cannabis. We have found marketing on certain platforms to be restrictive even though we do not sell an item containing cannabis itself. We try to find ways around this but it does make it difficult because a presence on social media is vital to the success of our company. Although they do provide countless benefits, it is unfortunate that the world we live in relies so much on the use of social media platforms. It's a necessary evil in my eyes but I am embracing it. It is a great tool to connect with people in the industry and to help sway the negative association that people have of cannabis.

What are some solutions you've found?

I have found that embracing social media as an asset and collaborating with others in the industry has been tremendously beneficial. The network of people I have connected with are positively influential on the industry in all areas. They are uplifting, supportive, and motivating for not only myself, but everyone in this space. By collaborating and working together, we can create a space in which cannabis use can be discussed, promoted, and understood. Together, we can change the negative association and help each other thrive in this industry.

What is one thing you wish everyone knew about cannabis? 

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I wish everyone knew how cannabis works within the body via our endocannabinoid system. Studies have shown that endocannabinoid receptors reduce and suppress the perception of pain, among many other benefits. This has been huge for me as I do not like to take over the counter pain medicine, but find myself needing to escape pain once every month during mensuration. I supplement with a very small amount of cannabis and it works just as well for me, if not better. Cannabis isn't just a tool to escape and laugh with friends, it has benefits beyond that.

What is one thing you wish everyone knew about your product or service?

I wish for everyone to know that we have created Waffleye out of passion for cannabis' many benefits, and as a tool to bring joy into cooking. We are all about having fun, being silly, and not taking life too seriously. For us, Waffleye is an appliance that encompasses those ideals and we hope it does the same for everyone.

If you could go back in time and do it all over again, what (if anything) would you do differently?

I wouldn't change a thing. Our journey has been anything but conventional. It started with the reoccurrence of cancer, but we turned that into something positive and the outcome is a company that we are proud of. We have learned numerous lessons along the way and that wouldn't be possible if we didn't take the approach we did. There is always a silver lining to every situation and the ability to look at each curve ball that life throws at you as a learning experience is invaluable.

What is your favorite way to consume cannabis?

My favorite way is to micro-dose with tea or other small edibles such as mints. I like the mellow high they provide. They deliver enough relief from pain (which is primarily why I use cannabis) and allow me to feel like I'm still in control of my day.

Concentrate or flower? Why? 

Both are nice. I like that flower is approachable by everyone. It is easy to use and it seems like there is less of a learning curve. Concentrates tend to be easy to over indulge on, however they do lend themselves as a better option to cook with, and for waffle recipes, this is key.

Do you think cannabis legalization will change the world for the better? Why? 

Yes! There are so many benefits to cannabis legalization. The fact that it is now recreationally legal in California has opened the door for so many people that I know. I have multiple family members that would not try it because it was previously illegal and they were victim to the negative stigma, but their perceptions have changed and they now use it for medical reasons. New doors will continue to open and that is exciting.

What advice would you offer to another woman who is looking to get into the industry?

I would advise another woman to look at the industry as a place of growth and camaraderie. There are so many inspirational women in the cannabis space. Reach out, make some connections, and don't be afraid to stay true to who you are.