This article is presented by Smoke Cartel, an online retailer and head shop made up of a close-knit team of glass lovers dedicated to making sure you get the best possible smoking gear.
The cannabis industry is a progressive place in general, with more women in leadership roles and executive positions than other industries. One place that’s embracing gender equity to build the best staff they can is Savannah, Georgia based online retailer Smoke Cartel. Led by a female CEO and other women in key management roles, the digital head shop is excited to highlight some of the amazing women who make up their team.
Smoke Cartel’s management team includes Amy, Darby, and Mary. (Courtesy of Smoke Cartel)
Smoke Cartel’s controller loves talking to people about her work—just not as much as they love talking to her about it.
“When I share where I work, people usually light up and tell me a story from their past and their secret love for the industry,” she says.
After a day of making sure all the numbers add up for Smoke Cartel—no small task for a company that has recently gone public —Amy likes to relax with the assistance of some special pieces from the company.
“It was pretty special receiving a birthday bong, but I’d have to say, my pineapple piece is my favorite because I love the history and symbolism of the pineapple in the South.”
“Even as cannabis creates more jobs across the country, telling folks you work in the industry is likely to elicit a couple giggles,” says Smoke Cartel CEO Darby Cox.
Lately, though, there’s more excitement and curiosity to pair with the sidelong glances of the past.
“That’s just one sign among many of the wider acceptance and understanding of cannabis use,” she says—a trend the Smoke Cartel team does their best to contribute to, even if it is going to take some time.
“It’s certainly harder to change folks’ minds when they aren’t able to see the massive progress up close and personal,” says Darby. “Thanks to improved communication and the availability of online resources learning about cannabis, we are moving ever closer to a fully legal nation.”
As Smoke Cartel’s human resources manager, Mary is responsible for bringing new folks into the fold and making sure they stay happy and productive once they’re there.
One qualification she looks for? People who are passionate not just about the company, but about the cannabis industry as a whole.
“It’s really exciting to watch the formation of the cannabis industry and know that we can help shape it within our own communities as legalization becomes more and more widespread,” Mary says.
Jayme, Erin, and Calla help to keep Smoke Cartel’s office running smoothly. (Courtesy of Smoke Cartel)
By day, executive assistant Jayme keeps the Smoke Cartel office running smoothly. In her spare time, she does the same for theatre productions by The Savannah Stage Company, which she co-founded. “My favorite thing about Savannah is how accessible the art scene is,” says Jayme. “There’s always something to see, do, or be a part of!”
When she’s not helping to make those things, she’s thrilled to work with the rest of the Smoke Cartel team to normalize cannabis use and help remove the stigma associated with consumption.
“What’s it like working in the cannabis industry in a state that’s behind the curve when it comes to cannabis prohibition? Like being at an oasis in the desert,” says Smoke Cartel’s customer service manager Erin.
“As someone who is strongly opposed to cannabis prohibition and highly values the many medicinal benefits of the plant, it’s difficult to be a part of a community that can close-minded,” she told Leafly. “Being at Smoke Cartel, where I’m surrounded by like-minded individuals, is very affirming.”
It’s an especially welcome relief given that most of her friends might still not quite get exactly what she does at one of the internet’s most popular head shops. “I get the feeling that most of my friends and family think I’m sitting behind a counter selling water pipes all day.”
Smoke Cartel’s building manager Calla helps keep the warehouse pristine and makes sure there’s room for all the company’s delightful toys in the inventory, including her favorite, the Olive Oil & Ganja Butter Bell Recycler from Bear Mountain Studios.
When she’s not managing the Savannah storage facility, she’s usually doing some handstands or some dabs—but probably not simultaneously.
Kerrie, Sherry, and Whitney help to tame Smoke Cartel’s vast warehouse of glassware. (Courtesy of Smoke Cartel)
The chance to help people get new pieces was what drew Kerrie to join the Smoke Cartel team. Perks like getting sneak previews of new items coming to the store’s inventory though, certainly didn’t hurt.
When she’s out of the office, Kerrie is way out of it, roaming the woods where she loves to fish, hike, and make the most of Smoke Cartel’s wares. For a quick toke on the trail, she recommends the unmistakable Wake and Bake pipe —“It’s my favorite pipe and my favorite time of day.”
Smoke Cartel’s inventory control specialist makes sure that everything is where it belongs in the company’s copious warehouse, giving her some fantastic insights into their offerings.
Her advice for dabbing enthusiasts?
“Try the vapor stone, an inert, all carbon accessory from Health Stone Glass that makes it easy and discreet to dab your favorite concentrates on the go. It fits in most of our pieces, but in the Wake and Bake, it’s pretty amazing,” says Sherry, who spends her down time hanging out with her cat, Casimir Pulaski.
As part of Smoke Cartel’s receiving staff, Whitney balances school, work, and raising her son, and is always happy to share the latest additions to the company’s inventory or field the most common question she gets about her work—“What do y’all sell?”
Jessica, Annie, and Angelica help get the word out about the company. (Courtesy of Smoke Cartel)
A seasoned writer and journalist, Jessica met the Smoke Cartel team while working on a story for a local paper. “When they offered me a job shortly afterward, it took me about six seconds to make the best career change I could possibly imagine,” says the company’s communications strategist.
While her days can get hectic trying to keep pace with the new initiatives and ideas bouncing off the walls at Smoke Cartel, the floral splendor of Savannah’s magnolias, gardenias, camellias, and azaleas helps keep her stress levels in check. And of course, there’s plenty of other greenery to appreciate right in her backyard, where she tends a bumper crop of greens…like kale and chard, guys. Come on.
Smoke Cartel won’t be Annie’s most memorable job—a title that stays with the summers she spent working as a carnie at the West Virginia State Fair—but it’s the one where she sees her future.
“Getting to work with so many creative people and be a part of the creative process, not just the corporate part of the business, is huge for me,” says the company’s corporate communications guru.
And in Savannah, those communications can still be a little 101. “One of the most common questions I get is ‘What is a head shop?’” Annie tells us. “A lot of people here in Georgia still aren’t familiar with the term.”
A motion graphics artist by training, Smoke Cartel’s brand director wasn’t looking to wind up in the cannabis industry. But after initially joining the online headshop’s social media department, she’s turned into an advocate for cannabis and the people working to legalize it.
“It took some time to adjust to this whole new demographic and get a grip on understanding the industry,” says Angelica. “But now I have a new appreciation for cannabis and all the good it’s doing for people around the world.”
The Smoke Cartel team is working to bring more of that good to their own backyard, with many employees lending their support to Reform Georgia, a group working to bring cannabis legalization to the Peach State.
She’s also come to appreciate the kind of gear that helps highlight quality cannabis. “When I do smoke, I tend toward simple, straightforward pieces with a girly flair,” she says. “My personal favorites are the flat beakers from UPC , and a light pink spoon that our in-house glassblower made with this beautiful, subtle dichroic finish.”
Caroline and Haley help make sure Smoke Cartel’s customers get what they need, when they need it. (Courtesy of Smoke Cartel)
The fast-paced nature of the cannabis industry is a big draw for folks like Caroline, who manages the dropshipping department at Smoke Cartel. “The industry is brand new, and our even-newer company is expanding into new ventures, like dropshipping, every day,” says Caroline. “It’s exciting but also really challenging to keep up with so many new terrains.”
Luckily, navigating tricky terrain is something she gets to practice on a daily basis, right in the Smoke Cartel offices. “Our most efficient way of getting around the office is on scooters, and I have to duck under a dinosaur tail to get to my desk,” she notes. “I guess you could say there’s not a lot of anxiety about acting hyper-professional around here.”
Working for a cannabis company in a part of the country where consumption hasn’t been embraced—legislatively, that is—can be a challenge. But it’s exactly that challenge that lets companies like Smoke Cartel set an example and work to reset people’s perceptions of cannabis use in the places where it can make the most difference.
“Georgia is often viewed as having more traditional values and an aversion to change. I’ve definitely experienced this first-hand, but I’ve also witnessed the power of the communities here and how committed they are to making sure everyone has a voice,” says Haley, Smoke Cartel’s operations analyst. “As old-fashioned as the South may seem, our people have a lot of heart and are willing to stand up for what they believe is right. It gives me a lot of hope for the future.”