Bree Whitehead Doesn’t Want Your Rules
Bree Whitehead has had to deal with a lot of people giving her shit. And it’s not because she’s chosen to promote cannabis by starting her own media conglomerate, Stoned Media Group. It’s because Bree knows what thousands of people before her knew — sex sells. Through some of SMG’s verticals like Naked Weed Report and Stoned Girls, Bree’s almost entirely female-run web company (she’s only recently hired “a few guys”) has soared in click-through rates and engagements. And she’s not looking to apologize to anyone for her success. Bree is a powerful woman in an industry that is driven by millennial male sales — whether we like it or not. And she’s capitalized off of them. On a blog post for StonedGirls.com, Bree wrote the following: “Every time you look at another woman and slut shame her for what she decides to do in her life or with her body, you might as well hand over your girl card… I make no excuses about what I do… That’s my feminism. Your feminism and mine can co-exist.”
SMOKE BREAK: What’s your personal history with cannabis?
Bree Whitehead: I have been using cannabis in some way since I was 14. I stopped using frequently from 18–24 because I thought that would help me focus on a real corporate job. Then I realized I didn’t want a corporate job and began using it again. I created Stoned Media in 2014 after my 13 year relationship with cannabis. I have my medical card in California and medicate daily now.
What was your end goal or dream that you wanted to accomplish when you founded Stoned Media Group?
There are couple of things we wanted to accomplish when Stoned Media Group was built. We wanted to highlight beautiful women in a way we thought was provocative and relate it to the Cannabis industry, have a woman owned and focused business in an industry we didn’t see a lot of representation in. And last but not least, I wanted to be able to create something that allowed me and my team to build and grow into an authority in the largest growing industry in America since dot coms in the late 90s.
How have people close to you that don’t take part in cannabis reacted to Stoned Media Group?
My friends and family are pretty cool about it. They know what I have done and what I continue to do. I have never really hidden that from them regardless of their opinions on it. A lot of people have come around 3 years later. I am sure I sounded crazy in 2013 talking about being in this industry. Now I get a lot more people saying “smart move.”
What’s your favorite Stoned Media Group vertical? What’s the most popular?
Personally, it will always be Stoned Girls for me. That’s the one that I was writing, scheduling social media, building the look and feel of the site, working with the designers directly on. It was the one I did everything I was capable of in the beginning. Now when we launch a new brand, my team is like “We got this Bree, go do other stuff.”
Our largest and furthest reaching is Naked Weed Report. It’s funny and quirky and sees the most eyes. I have a feeling we all know why that is.
Do you have any insight into your primary audience? Is it mostly men, women, millennials, etc.?
It really depends on the brand. I’d say easily we target millennial males. We targeted them first because they’re the largest purchasing power in America currently. In saying that, I’d love to have something for everyone in terms of people interested in the cannabis industry.
I’ve heard that you only hire women, or that you only did in the past. And I know you’ve faced backlash from many females outside of your company for promoting the “boobs and buds” image. But let’s talk about about positive reactions from females about what you are doing. Have women come to work for you because of these reasons specifically? How do your female coworkers feel about this backlash, and how do you all deal with it together?
YESSSSS!!! Finally, not another “So you suck as a woman based on your work, but tell me why you think you don’t” question! My staff is compiled of badass take life by the horns type women that definitely respond to our way of doing things. When I ask most women in their interviews “Why us?” they respond with “I want to be apart of this because you seem to be empowering.” We all kind of take the backlash in stride. Once women hear exactly how we do things here they’re a little more amicable to the company and brands as a whole.
The “green rush” is totally exciting, but are there aspects of it that make you nervous or that you question? What do you think the highs and lows of legalizing recreational weed could be?
One thing that makes me nervous is that federally we’re not really making any advances. Because of that, I am worried we’re going to see a state’s rights conversation happen before we reschedule. This election is going to help decide that. PLEASE VOTE. Recreational weed is going to catch a lot of shit for people using marijuana irresponsibly. You’re already seeing “Marijuana gummy edibles hospitalized 13 at child’s birthday party.” The highs? The sky is the limit! Economically, you’ll see something beautiful.
Why do you think the female narrative or perspective is important to the cannabis industry?
This is our chance to change the standards. Think about it. The fastest growing and largest industry in America accepting the standard that women deserve equal billing in all aspects of their work? Sheesh. We’d make other industries change their policies. Similarly to how tech has changed what a millennial’s office environment looks like. Most of my peers in marketing jobs have never had to buy a suit and tie to go to the office.
Do you have any tips for women/girls out there that might also want to use their talents to enter into the cannabis space?
Be brave. Be fearless. The worst thing that happens is you fail. That can sound scary but it’s really not. How many times have you failed in your life? Are you still here? Still breathing? There ya go. Also, start looking to help and lift your fellow female coworkers, friends, peers, etc, up. And stop calling women sluts.
What’s your favorite weed smoking scenario?
Anything with my business partner Rebecca. She’s probably the funniest human alive. Check her out on our new web series, High Strung. Every meeting invite I send her ends with, “and maybe we get high too.”
What’s the best thing about your job?
I wake up every day determining my own fate. I get to be creative and I get paid to do it.