Female Disruptors: How Author Jamie Evans is shaking up the cannabis industry by putting an end to misconceptions
The Key to Success is Perseverance — As an entrepreneur, there will be many obstacles that arise, but to achieve your goals, you must be persistent and keep pushing onward. Only you can have the will power and passion to stick with it, even if you don’t make a profit right away.
As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jamie Evans, founder of The Herb Somm and author of The Ultimate Guide to CBD: Explore the World of Cannabidiol.
Bridging the gap between the gourmet world and cannabis, Jamie Evans is on a mission to normalize cannabis cuisine and infused beverages. Launching her culinary-meets-cannabis blog and events business in 2017, she’s played a critical role in helping lead the culinary cannabis movement from coast to coast. With her decade-long career in the wine industry and as a Certified Specialist of Wine, she was early to see the connection between terpenes and tannins. Her events and educational platforms focus on both herbal products and wine, a complimentary match that she believes helps consumers better understand the complexities of cannabis. As a culinary cannabis pioneer, entrepreneur, and tastemaker, Evans’ work with The Herb Somm has transferred into two published lifestyle books including The Ultimate Guide to CBD: Explore the World of Cannabidiol, written to further educate the public on ways to incorporate cannabis and CBD into daily life. Evans is also a leading member of Crop-to-Kitchen, a culinary cannabis advocacy group working towards legalizing cannabis cuisine across the nation. As a thought leader, her approach to cannabis continues to break stigmas and end misconceptions.
Jamie was named as one of Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 Tastemakers in 2018 and as a 2018 Innovator by SevenFifty Daily. She was also recognized as one of Green Market Report’s “Most Important Women in Weed” in 2020.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Throughout my life, I’ve been a believer that you can manifest your own destiny. I always envisioned myself as someone who would change things, never feeling comfortable with the status quo. This curiosity is what led me to the cannabis industry.
After a decade of US and international wine experience, I chose to leave the industry that I loved for cannabis. In 2017, I launched my culinary-meets-cannabis blog and events business, The Herb Somm. Since then, I’ve been a part of the transition from the medical to the recreational market and have helped elevate the culinary cannabis movement through my efforts in cannabis hospitality and education. I am also a firm believer that cannabis belongs at the dinner table alongside our favorite foods and wine, and there’s endless potential when it comes to infused cuisine and beverages.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
Since launching The Herb Somm, I’ve focused on building out an educational platform to help break the stigma that surrounds cannabis. By curating and hosting interactive dining experiences, I’ve always found that cannabis is more approachable and relatable when combined with food and beverages.
Over the past three years, I’ve planned and co-hosted several events throughout the US and Canada, educating thousands of consumers on how to approach cannabis-infused foods safely and responsibly. Never losing touch with my wine background, my private dining experiences incorporate wine and terpene pairing guides, which are tools that help guests use sensory evaluation techniques to interpret the aromas and flavors of cannabis. By introducing cannabis into settings that people are comfortable and familiar with (i.e. dining experiences), I’ve found that these types of events normalize cannabis and further break the stigma.
Since cannabis dining events have been greatly impacted by COVID-19 this year, most of my recent efforts have been dedicated to teaching people how to create infused dining experiences at home through recipes and interactive digital experiences. My new book, The Ultimate Guide to CBD: Explore the World of Cannabidiol, has also been an extension of my platform, helping educate people around the world on how to integrate cannabis and CBD into daily routines and rituals during these unprecedented times. Through this experience, I’ve learned that no matter what industry you’re in, being able to continuously innovate the work that you’re doing is incredibly important. To shake things up, you must be eager to discover new ideas and never stop exploring, “what if…”.
We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
Throughout my career, I’ve been lucky to work with many incredible thought leaders, both in wine and cannabis. I’ve also had the opportunity to learn from a number of successful women who are business owners, entrepreneurs, and c-suite executives, who have taught me how to hustle and be a successful leader in industries typically dominated by men. While each mentor taught me something valuable along the way, one common lesson that’s made an impact is to never stop building meaningful relationships with those in your community. Cherish collaboration over viewing others as competition. I’ve also learned to always show gratitude to those who’ve supported me or my business. Being humble and grateful are virtues that all leaders should embody.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
1. Never Stop Challenging Yourself — Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work in many different types of positions. As soon as I felt too comfortable, I would seek out a change to keep challenging myself. Always strive to learn more, to be stronger, and to keep growing.
2. The Key to Success is Perseverance — As an entrepreneur, there will be many obstacles that arise, but to achieve your goals, you must be persistent and keep pushing onward. Only you can have the will power and passion to stick with it, even if you don’t make a profit right away.
3. Lead with Compassion — Being compassionate is an essential aspect of creating a happy and healthy work environment. If you’re a leader in your company, be open to learning new things and accepting new ideas. The best leaders I’ve learned from do not dictate, but rather inspire those around them.
How are you going to shake things up next?
I’ve just completed my second book to be released next spring 2021 covering cannabis-infused drinks, one of the fastest-growing categories in the cannabis space. If you’re new to infused beverages, the global cannabis drinks market is projected to be worth $1.82 billion by the end of the year. Cannabis drinks are also changing consumption habits. They make a fantastic alternative to alcohol and advancements in infusion technology have improved on-set times and flavor. Most recently, I’ve also been exploring the idea of launching my own infused product, so be sure to stay tuned and follow along.
Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?
The first wine book I ever read was The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil. This book truly changed my life and was a resource that helped me throughout my wine career. I remember spending hours studying this book cover to cover. I’ll never forget the importance of The Wine Bible and how it inspired my love for wine. Without my wine background, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Another book that’s made an impact on my way of thinking is Laurence G. Boldt’s, Zen and the Art of Making a Living. This book is a unique career guide that’s dedicated to helping people contemplate their life’s work and the scope of the impact they want to make. It’s also packed with over 500 inspiring quotations from some of the world’s greatest thought leaders and philosophers.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
While this year hasn’t been ideal timing for a book launch, over the past few months, I’ve been focusing my efforts on a few different fundraising initiatives using a portion of The Ultimate Guide to CBD book sales revenue to help support the community during these difficult times. With the contributions from my readers, I was able to raise funds to support a member of the culinary cannabis industry who was negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most recently, I raised another round of funds for NAACP to help support the organization’s mission to create a society in which all individuals have equal rights. Giving back and supporting the community are core values that anyone can adopt to help create a more sustainable society, which isn’t strictly limited to financial support. It’s through our actions that we can truly make a difference.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
While I have a few favorite quotes, one that’s most relevant to my life right now was written by mother, Nancy Evans, who recently passed away from a courageous battle with cancer. Inside one of her notebooks, she wrote, “Life is more about how you conduct your daily life than how you conduct your business. It’s the small acts of daily compassion that make a difference.”
It was through her wisdom and values that I learned how to cultivate compassion in my life, something that I’m eternally grateful for.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I am most active on Instagram and Twitter @TheHerbSomm. If you’d like to learn more about cannabis, CBD, and infused food and beverages, please give me a follow! Also, be sure to pick up a copy of my new book, The Ultimate Guide to CBD: Explore the World of Cannabidiol published by Fair Winds Press of Quarto Publishing Group.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!