Melissa Romero is the Vice-President of @AltitudeProduct, a cannabis company that offers marketing, consulting, sales and service in the cannabis industry. @SocialUnicornLV, @Celebrate_Bella, @WeekendBoxMJ, @WeekendBoxCBD.
We recently invited Melissa for a Q&A session to talk about her marketing background and how she now markets in the cannabis industry.
Ganjly: What is your background and what made you decide to pursue a career in cannabis?
Melissa Romero: I was born and raised in a very small town in Northern California, called Redding – it’s so north, it’s essentially Southern Oregon. But it’s nestled in the Humboldt Valley, so cannabis was always around. I consumed in high school, as many of my friends did, but it wasn’t until I moved to Las Vegas and had a child that I realized how cannabis could truly help me on a daily basis. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression my entire life, but I’ve always used pharmaceuticals, which didn’t always leave me at my sharpest. One year for Christmas, my brother came out to visit. He was using cannabis for GI issues, and offered some to me. My anxiety and depression melted away almost immediately – I was sold. Feeling cannabis help me, and seeing it help my brother, I knew that this plant deserved better. I had previously worked at Zappos, doing everything from customer service to copywriting. I searched for a job in the cannabis industry, and quickly found one as a copywriter for an online headshop. I thought to myself, “great – I can do descriptions for pipes and bongs!” I soon discovered that their marketing tactics were incredibly out of date, using rasta colors & faux dreadlocks to reach their target audience. I knew we could do better, and I knew the community deserved better, so I sought out a progressive cannabis marketing firm, ended up connecting with Krista at Social Media Unicorn, and the rest is history!
Ganjly: How many employees do you have and what kind of traits do you look for when hiring new members?
Melissa Romero: When I started, the company was 3 people total: Krista (CEO), Craig (Graphic Designer), and Me (Social Media Manager). Right now, we have about 50 team members across the country, handling blogging, sales, production, and everything in between. Last October, we officially moved from our home offices to a 12,500 sq ft warehouse & office facility. We’re growing like a weed (no pun intended) and don’t plan on stopping any time soon. Fortunately, we always have people looking to interview, but unfortunately that doesn’t make hiring any easier! The #1 trait the we look for while hiring is work ethic. A lot of people see the fun events, and don’t realize how much work actually goes on behind the scenes. Having the ability to look at a task, break down the deliverables, and get down to brass tacks is crucial. You have to work hard to play hard, and unicorns love to party 😉
Ganjly: What is the most challenging experience you have had in the cannabis industry so far?
Melissa Romero: In this industry, collaboration is key, and the right partners make all the difference. In order to create a consistent brand experience, you have to ensure a smooth transition from concept, to design, to packaging, to delivery, and beyond. Kush Bottles is hands down the best packaging company we’ve ever worked with. Focus Distribution is our go-to distribution partner, because they’ve never let us down. And there is no one better than Nison Co. for public relations in the cannabis space. Because of the clear separation between all of the components, you have to find people that you can work seamlessly with, and who speak your language. We’ve curated a cannabis dream team of all-stars, and they enable us to overcome every challenge we come across.
Ganjly: What is your proudest moment since you started down this path of being an entrepreneur in the cannabis space?
Melissa Romero: Approximately 5 years ago my anxiety was so crippling that I wasn’t physically able to take phone calls. Socializing with anyone that I didn’t know on a personal basis was terrifying, and I largely relied on the internet for any and all communication. Last Valentine’s Day, I spoke on a Legal & Compliance panel at the Vegas Cannabis Summit with Senator Tick Sagerblom. Working in this industry has enabled me to overcome my anxiety, depression, and aversion to socializing – it has helped me grow in so many ways, including ones I’m sure I haven’t realized yet. Besides my personal growth, I’m incredibly proud to be cultivating the next generation of advocates. I’ve never shielded my daughter, Jessica, from what I do – on the contrary, I’ve included her and explained everything at an age appropriate level. Because of this, she knows the value of cannabis, and has even gone so far as to recommend it as a nicotine alternative to friends of the family.
Melissa Romero: Absolutely! We’ve got a couple things in the work that I’m incredibly excited for. The first one is a THCV strain that will be for anyone looking to lose weight, because THCV is an appetite suppressant rather than an appetite stimulant. Because most edibles contain large amounts of sugars and carbs, we’re also doing a full line of low glycemic index edibles, specifically for our diabetic consumers.
Melissa Romero: Find your heart. Dig down deep and grab hold of your reason for being in this industry. Inauthenticity is poison to the cannabis industry. Once you’ve found your heart, hold on tight and don’t ever let go. Believe in yourself so fiercely so that your passion convinces others to believe in you as well. You will have bad days. You will have days where you want to quit. But you’ll also have days where everything goes right and you can’t believe that this is what you do for a living. Keep the good days close, remember them fondly, and the bad days will pass.
Thank you, Melissa, for taking the time to answer our questions! To learn more about Altitude Products and their awesome products, visit the company website at Altitude Products.
To check out our awesome review of their luxury Weekend Box CBD, visit here.
We featured Krista Whitley, their founder. Read the very interesting interview here.
Photo Credit: Shannon Dorn with Dope Foto