I had the pleasure of interviewing Ophelia Chong, Ophelia is a community activist, graphic designer and photographer. She is a partner at The Bevel Group and the founder of Stock Pot Images and Asian Americans for Cannabis Education (AACE). She is driven to help shape the new conversation of Cannabis and is guided by one mission: to advocate for the legalization of cannabis and offer truthful reflections of the faces and communities that embrace cannabis.
Tell us a little about yourself, where are you from, whats your background?
I immigrated to the US to attend Art Center College of Design, and after I graduated I received my green card: in 2000 I became a US citizen. I am Chinese American. I’ve had about 6 careers in my lifetime, each one built the foundation for the next.
How did you get involved with the cannabis industry?
My sister has an autoimmune disease and was using cannabis to help alleviate the symptoms. I looked at her and thought “oh she’s a stoner…” and the next moment I started to cry because I was stereotyping her. From that moment on, I was intent on educating myself and others about cannabis by founding StockPot Images. My goal was to change the public’s perception of the cannabis community by offering empowered and true images.
What exactly do you do in the industry?
I am the founder of the only cannabis stock photo agency StockPot Images (partnered with Adobe), founder of Asian Americans for Cannabis Education and a partner at the Bevel Group (vertical cannabis marketing agency).
So many of our readers and viewers are living in states where medical cannabis is not accessible to them and because of that they are really passionate about seeing cannabis legalized or at least made available for medical access…what was it like for you in the beginning?
I live in California, and since the passing of Prop 215 in 1996, cannabis has been available for medical use. Dennis Peron was the advocate behind Prop 215 and is the man responsible for bringing cannabis to where it is today.
What keeps you in the industry when so many others were dropping out?
Hard work and a strong network.
What is your mission in your work? Why do you do what you do? Your higher purpose?
My purpose is to change the public’s perception of the cannabis community by the use of imagery. Photography is visual and is understood with no language barriers.
What do you see the benefits of legalization being for the US or global economy?
The drop in arrests, the stop in criminalizing segments of our society and the chance for social equity for those most affected by the War on Drugs.
You are considered to be one of the leaders in our field, can you share three tips that helped you get here?
- Hard work
- The ability to “talk”.
- Be kind. Kindness is not weakness, it is strength. It is harder to be kind and supportive than to be dismissive.
What do you do to stay relevant in the industry when there are so many newbies jumping in?
Stay true and not let my ego override the work I’ve done. I’ve seen people implode over ego in this industry. There is no room for “me” here.
Tell us about your Product or service…what is unique about it? Do you have any testimonial stories to share?
StockPot Images is the only cannabis stock photo agency in the world, and last spring we started a psilocybin collection.
The Bevel Group is the only vertical cannabis marketing agency. My partners and I all have worked in cannabis for years and come from outlier industries which has prepared us for the cannabis industry.
Does your product work for everyone or is there someone specific that is created for?
StockPot Images targets healthcare, ad, and branding agencies, as well as corporate and
emerging industries that will need cannabis images to service a new market of users.
The Bevel Group is a vertical marketing agency for cannabis brands.
Can you share your 5 Top Tips to Start a Successful Cannabis Business. Please give an example for each.
- Be kind. I’ve helped many, and I’ve received back in kind.
- Respect others. If they differ from you, listen, because you can learn more from an opposing view than one that agrees with you constantly.
- Delegate. Get help when you need it. It is cheaper in the long run to get it done faster than to lose a client over micromanagement.
- Take time for yourself. Set up a time during the day when you have no cell, no computer, just you. Walk, meditate, stare out the window. The work is hard and the schedules hectic, so take time out for your mental health.
- Read. When I entered the industry, I read every book I could get, I joined forums on growing, I made friends who were growers and asked questions.
- Grow. The most important lesson for anyone entering the industry is to grow a plant, learn her cycle, learn how to harvest, learn how to trim. If you don’t know the plant, you can’t talk about it.
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. :-)
I founded Asian Americans for Cannabis Education to promote the industry to APIs (Asian Pacific Islanders), to show that we are family members, moms, dads, Ivy League grads, the kind of people that APIs don’t stereotype as “stoners”.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Where can they find you? (do you have a fan page or social media channels you want them to follow?)
Watch the full interview below: