Spotlight Series: Bethany Rae, Founder of Flower & Freedom
Flower and Freedom is a lifestyle brand and community platform on a mission to empower people to explore cannabis as part of a healthy lifestyle. Founder Bethany Rae is passionate about helping people discover - or rediscover as the case may be - how cannabis can fit into their lives.
Bethany is a fitness enthusiast from Australia living in Vancouver and producing local events to educate her community. The Flower and Freedom blog combines her love of fitness, travel and fashion with cannabis and showcases cannabis stories in a fun and relevant way.
What is Flower and Freedom? Why did you create it?
I created Flower & Freedom because I saw this huge need for the general public to understand the positive health and wellness side of cannabis. Much of what I learned not through smart consumer education, but trial and error. So I created a brand that combines the cannabis conversation with a few of my favourite things; travel, style, fitness, to bring awareness to the topic in a relatable way.
So as a company, we’re a cannabis lifestyle brand on a mission to empower people to explore cannabis as part of a healthy lifestyle. We create contemporary educational events, content, and experiences for the brand new or returning consumer.
We use the power of storytelling in our original online content such as personalized consumer voices, to educate our growing community with the knowledge they need to understand - and safely explore - the therapeutic benefits of cannabis.
The term Flower & Freedom means something different to each of us, and for me it means many things including celebration of the product innovation we are seeing, believing in global legalization and, most importantly, setting the knowledge and education free, so that everyone can freely make informed, conscious decisions about how cannabis might fit into our lives.
What was your first experience with cannabis like? When did you know that it could be used therapeutically?
I have had a two-part relationship with cannabis. In my youth, I consumed cannabis between the age of 15 and 16. I was drawn to the plant but I over consumed, not knowing any better.
Throughout my 20’s I felt guilty about my consumption in my youth, thinking that I had wasted time, burnt some brain cells and let myself down.
When I rediscovered cannabis in my early 30’s it was through a sour diesel vape pen in an apartment on the upper east side in New York. I felt joy, self-awareness and love for myself that I hadn’t felt before and I thought, this is not the cannabis I once knew! I became convicted in that moment to explore it thoroughly. And since then, it has benefited my life in so many ways. I haven’t looked back, I’m still exploring it today.
I’ve since come to understand that I was self-medicating for depression and emotional trauma in my youth, but that the lack of education and understanding around cannabis led me to over-consume. That is part of what drives me to create change and education around cannabis today.
You write a lot about health and fitness and ways to incorporate cannabis use into a healthy lifestyle, tell us about what inspired that passion?
Over the last few years, while exploring cannabis as an adult, I was also outdoors every weekend hiking, trail running, mountain biking, snowboarding and more. I became inspired to show this lifestyle that I was living to break down the enduring stereotypes that still exist around what a cannabis consumer looks like. I wanted to show that cannabis and an outdoor, active lifestyle can go hand in hand. There were a limited amount of people representing cannabis this way so I thought if not me then who?
You split your time between Canada and Australia where the stigmas about cannabis are much stronger, what has been your biggest challenge in trying to educate Canadian and Australian audiences?
I’m so grateful to be able to call Canada home but I’m committed to spending more time with my family in Australia and being a voice and advocate for cannabis consumer education where my own story began.
One of the challenges with growing a global brand and audience in the cannabis industry is making the content relevant to the varying levels of social acceptance and access.
We make it work by having a variety of voices and faces talking from personal experience so that, eventually, no matter where you are in the world and what motivations in learning about cannabis, you have a Flower & Freedom representative, sharing their story, that you could relate to. That is why we’re planning to launch an influencer program next year.
What is your favourite way to consume cannabis?
This is the toughest question so far because I consume cannabis in all of its different forms for different reasons. I love exploring cannabis so much I’ve made it my job to do so! However, I am a light consumer. I’ve learnt the hard way that the best way for me to consume cannabis is by microdosing and consuming just enough that I can feel the results I want without feeling overwhelmed. Oil drops, capsules, topicals, sprays, edibles, vaping, I get so excited by the innovation we are seeing but of course, fresh flower cannot be beaten.
I like to vaporize before I go running, what is your favourite activity to do after vaping/smoking/eating cannabis?
I find that my cannabis and fitness combination is more for post workout and recovery using topicals and edibles. I’ve been really surprised a number of times, after doing an extreme hike or boot camp class that I’m not more sore the next day because I applied my favourite cannabis topical lotion to strained muscles or ate an edible before bed.
What is the one thing you wish everyone understood about cannabis?
That consuming it doesn’t necessarily mean getting high but also that the euphoria of the high is not to be feared. I want people to understand that they have control over their cannabis experience based on the intention that they have. If they don’t want to feel the euphoria then there are ways to introduce the therapeutic benefits of cannabis into their life without the high such as topicals and CBD. But when they are ready a microdose of THC might provide the relaxation and uplifting effects they’ve been craving for years.
Do you have a favourite strain? What is it and why do you love it?
Again asking me to pick favourites! I love different strains for different reasons. If I could only consume one strain (that does not sound like Flower & Freedom!) it would be an Indica dominant hybrid. I recently enjoyed Black Tusk (also known as Blackwater) from Aurora and it was the perfect evening relaxation to melt stress away, uplift my spirits and remove mild pain. Almost all cannabis strains unlock my creativity and I’m known to fall asleep with a pencil and notebook in hand, getting out ideas that cannabis has unlocked.
You are producing events in and around Vancouver aimed at cannabis education. What has that been like? Are there particular challenges that you are coming up against and how do you solve them?
Our events are the favourite part of what we do because I get to connect with the people that are curious about cannabis and create a positive experience for them that empowers them to take on that cannabis knowledge for themselves.
The most challenging part is that we have designed these events for the brand new or returning consumer so many of these people have not had a cannabis interaction before and getting them to a cannabis event is the challenge in itself. We have designed these events with the conservative woman in mind so I’m really grateful when adult sons and daughters bring their mothers to our events.
What’s up next for Flower & Freedom?
We have more events and more experiences for the cannabis curious and health conscious woman coming up in the new year. We are also combining cannabis education with fitness classes and outdoor adventures. We are planning our next interactive consumer education event, The Elevate Experience, which is going to be even more exciting with the close countdown to legalization in Canada set for July 2018.
We have launched and are expanding our Flower & Freedom clothing line to support our educational initiatives so I’m really excited about seeing our pieces sold in a variety of storefronts next year!
Overall I’m really excited for the collaboration opportunities that exist in the cannabis industry, including product offerings, events, content and more. We also have a brand ambassador program so for anyone who is passionate about sharing with your community how cannabis has been part of your healthy lifestyle we would love to hear from you!
How can readers learn more about you and what you are doing? Where can they find you on the web?
I’m having fun across much of social media. My favourite way to chat and share what I’m up to is on Instagram and Facebook. We have fresh videos going up weekly on our Flower & Freedom YouTube channel. Our website www.flowerandfreedom.com is designed so that someone brand new to cannabis could feel right at home and comfortable in the exploration of cannabis. Thanks for having me, I hope to meet more of the Her(b) Lifestyle community soon!