Spotlight Series: Emily Eizen, the Creative Entrepreneur
Emily Eizen is a queer multimedia artist working in the mediums of painting, sculpture, photography, modeling, and performance. Her ‘60s psychedelic inspired works showcase the beauty, freedom and diversity Eizen considers essential to establishing equity in the cannabis space and beyond.
Her work is colourful, vibrant and in demand from brands all over the cannabis space.
How did you get involved in the cannabis industry?
I got involved in cannabis by starting as a budtender at 19 years old. I worked at a lot of crappy shops before I made it to anywhere nice. When I started working at a high end dispensary in Santa Monica, I saw the lack of meaningful, creative imagery and culture in the industry as a whole. That's when I asked if I could be in charge of the dispensary's Instagram. Taking photos and connecting with different brands there launched my creative endeavors in cannabis and I haven't looked back since.
Tell us a little bit about your product or service
As a creative entrepreneur, I wear many different hats. I am an artist, model, and photographer operating within the cannabis space. I take photos for many major cannabis companies as well as non-cannabis brands. Additionally, I perform live painting sessions, creative direction, and social media consulting. I also model and promote cannabis education and brand sponsorships.
What time does your day typically start and what does a normal day look like to you?
People ask me this a lot, and truly I don't have one specific answer because every day is so different for me. Typically, I wake up around 10am. I do my makeup, and gather my concepts and tasks for the shoot I have that day. That includes buying props, contacting models (or modeling myself), and coming up with ideas for future shoots. Then, I usually smoke once all of the details are figured out and all that's left is to be creative! I spend a few hours on set creating content, then I select and edit photos. If I'm not working, you can usually find me painting, or with my friends, enjoying a joint, and eating well. I love bingeing TV shows. At night, I smoke, shower, stretch, and spend time with my girlfriend. Then, I wake up and do it all again!
What is your vision for your company going forward?
The vision for my company is still in progress, but it is my dream to be a full time artist and model, working on big budget productions while uplifting my friends and others in the cannabis industry. I want to highlight the diversity and beauty that is often left out of boardroom executive meetings. I want to be a figurehead in cannabis culture, the modern lesbian Tommy Chong. It is important to keep a balance of goal-setting and staying present, being grateful for the opportunities that have already come to pass while still keeping one eye on the future.
What would an ideal post prohibition society look like to you?
No one is incarcerated for cannabis crimes. Descheduling cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug. Records are expunged. Social equity programs that provide opportunity to the people who have fought and been locked up for doing what I do so freely. Women, queer folks, black folks and POC own a fair share of cannabis wealth.
What was your first experience with cannabis like?
I hit my first little pipe when I was in 8th grade. I hated it so much! It burned my throat so bad and I told myself I would never smoke again! Then, freshman year of college (before I dropped out), I fell in love with cannabis and it opened my mind and changed my life course completely.
Tell us about some of the challenges you face working in the cannabis industry
Being a woman, especially a queer woman, in the cannabis industry has brought many challenges. Dispensaries and cannabis events are often breeding grounds for sexual harassment, unfortunately. People have stolen my content and used it for their brands. Also, a lot of companies still don't see value in investing in creatives. In cannabis, it's hard to convince people to spend money on something that doesn't have a direct link to huge profit at first — especially when they have other things like compliance and permits and high taxes to worry about.
What are some solutions you've found?
Working with women is usually how I side-step the rampant sexism in the industry. Finding people and brands that value your craft and actually care about elevating the culture and not just profits. Keeping my circle small and not giving into anxiety when it comes to taking risks.
What is one thing you wish everyone knew about cannabis?
Cannabis is less harmful than alcohol.
What is one thing you wish everyone knew about your product or service?
It ain't free!
If you could go back in time and do it all over again, what (if anything) would you do differently?
I don't think I would do anything differently. Everyone has had their own journey and I think mine was just well-timed. I got in pre-recreational, so there was less flooding of the market and I made good connections. If anything, I would tell myself to be patient because everything works out in divine timing.
What is your favorite way to consume cannabis?
I smoke joints and the occasional hemp-wrapped blunt!
Concentrate or flower? Why?
Flower all the way. Call me old fashioned, but there is nothing quite like grinding flower and rolling a joint. It's all about the process for me. Concentrates are too much fuss. I'll still take that dab, though.
Do you think cannabis legalization will change the world for the better? Why?
If implemented correctly, I think cannabis could save the world! With the proper consideration for social equity and less corporate greed, the possibilities are endless for medicine, sustainability, and mental wellbeing.
What advice would you offer to another woman who is looking to get into the industry?
I think working in a dispensary is a good way to get your foot in the door, learn about products, and meet brand representatives. Examine your intentions. Don't sell yourself short. and DON'T put up with men exploiting your labor. Be prepared to work in an industry in its infancy, where you won't always have a blueprint.