Katie Pringle knew early on that cannabis culture was changing, and she wanted in. Now she’s the co-founder of several businesses. We spoke to her about the challenges she’s faced, and the opportunities she’s still exploring in this new industry.
Tell me a little about what you do. Why did you start working in cannabis?
I launched Marigold PR two years ago, and the other two businesses – a service-based marketing agency called Cannabis Communications and a cannabis lifestyle community called Canndora – are kind of rooted in that. We started working with cannabis brands early on, and now cannabis makes up about 90 per cent of our PR business. It was kind of fast and furious once we started working in the industry, and the growth has been fairly significant. We’re really grateful for cannabis legalization, and all the amazing economic opportunities that it’s presenting in Canada.
Marigold PR is focused on working with licensed producers and national brands. After that we launched Cannabis Communications, which is more of a startup path for smaller cannabis brands who maybe aren’t as well funded, but we’re able to work with them to build their profile.
The third piece of what I do, which is integrated but separate, is Canndora. It’s an online shop and community for women who are interested in cannabis, and it’s a bit of a passion project for me.
Is there a reason you leaned towards cannabis clients in your PR work?
I’ve always been interested in new and emerging industries. Before this I worked in television, and even then I took on a leadership roles heading up social media strategy because it was having a big impact on how we were looking at ratings and the value of content. I’ve always been very interested in new directions.
Once we started working with our first cannabis client, we learned quickly how difficult it is to promote your cannabis brand within regulations, and there are always additional regulations – say that Facebook or Google might have – on top of the laws. Cannabis was a very challenging environment for brands, and we really liked this idea of working within that challenge.
When we looked at the market, we also realized there wasn’t anything out there in terms of accessories or brands that really represented women. My background has always been marketing to women, and I also enjoy cannabis. So all of those things pointed towards a huge opportunity for marketing, for PR, and for developing brands that target women.
What kind of challenges have you faced so far?
The cannabis industry is fairly male-dominated, but there is a level of self-awareness around this. Cannabis brands are looking to hire and work with women and there are so many jobs and opportunities that are coming to market.
Brands are hiring marketing managers, but they’re also hiring everywhere from customer service to master growers. We’re not going to let this be another industry that’s run by men.
There’s lots of movement and support online as well. There are groups like Women Grow and the Boss Ladies of Cannabis, and other advocacy groups that have popped-up. If you’re a woman looking to launch a business or transfer your skills over to the cannabis industry, there’s huge opportunity to do it. Cannabis is really collaborative because the industry is very nascent, so if you’re looking to learn you can reach out to people and ask questions. You’ll likely get an answer.
On the personal side, ‘Mom Guilt’ has been a challenge of mine. There’s still a stigma to this kind of work. I try to be as honest and transparent as possible about my career, but I’m also cognizant that I wouldn’t want a parent of one of my children’s friends to be judgmental of my family based on my career choices.
What do you like most about your work?
It’s fast paced and ever-evolving. Every time there’s a new regulation that comes out or Health Canada puts something out, it kind of puts everyone in a bit of a twirl. It makes it exciting because you’re all in it together in some respects.
I’m really excited to watch how legalization unfolds in the country and to see how perceptions start to shift. I’m excited to see all the brands and products that come to market, and the development of cannabis in the health and wellness sector. There’s so much potential here for people to be able to choose plant-based remedies over pharma, and to have better education on what we’re consuming, why we like one strain more than another, or one experience more than another.
My personal experience in the industry has been nothing but positive, and our Canndora community is beyond inspiring.