Lelehnia DuBois and Cannabis

As a young girl, Lelehnia DuBois moved to northern California with her mother to the heart of the Emerald Triangle. To this day Lelehnia is unsure if her mother, a nurse, brought them there for the wide, and accepted use of cannabis; but this plant would become a constant part of her life. 

After a car accident that caused the death of Lelehnia’s sister and her mother to break her back, she started to see the medicinal qualities of cannabis. 

After the loss of her mother, Lelehnia later found herself with a spine injury of her own. Later waking up from a short coma, and becoming pregnant with her son years later and needed to come off the western medications she had been prescribed. Lelehnia decided to see if cannabis would work. 

GH: What sparked your interest in working with cannabis?

LDB: Survival. It was never a choice, I can’t remember any other kind of life but being involved and apart of the industry. I didn’t understand that until I was quite older. My babysitter had brick weed, pounds of brick weed and my friend and her brother and I would pinch it; you know, go and sneak it. I grew up in a very unique situation, in a very unique community, there was a group of us kids, we were called the OB RATS we just ran around with very little parental supervision because there was a lot going on, with the transportation of drugs, sales, and true community movement. We created the People’s Food Store in Ocean Beach, the women in that community were very strong parts of the women’s movement.

We had eight FBI agents at one time, going through the mail, surveilling us. I have four files sitting on my desk from the FBI of my childhood. So in a sense, I was just born into a situation that made it very much a part of my life.

GH: What are your responsibilities as the First Chair and President of California Voice Humbolt?

LDB: My responsibilities were for connecting with my local cannabis community and encouraging them to come out and use their voice and help mold the CA market. 

GH: Can you tell me more about Sensi Magazine and Sensi Media?

LDB: They are a company I have been with for about two years now, and what we do is have community lifestyle magazines that are in cannabis-focused communities. We don’t focus just on cannabis, we’re building the new normal. We pull all parts of the community together through this publication. We also have events, four to seven a year, where we pull all our clients and their clients together. We really use media and marketing as a way to build these cannabis communities. 

GH: Could you tell me more about the importance of women’s empowerment groups like Women Empowered in Cannabis Supply Chain?

The Women Empowered in Cannabis Supply Chain is so important because the supply chain in this business has never been built before. It’s the first industry in our lifetime that we have to jump into, there are no building blocks.  Women in this industry and women who have a legacy like myself have had the flexibility to maneuver in the normalization and in mainstream culture. We have a lot more information on how to build a business, how to market, how to build relationships. This is also a very strong male-dominated field not just because of the numbers but because of the type of mentality that has built this industry. Finding places where women can come together and be curated and focused on. We don’t allow negatively calling out other women. We speak to issues by solving problems. It’s a way to network without draining your resources. 

GH: What has been your greatest career challenge so far?

LDB: Funding and being a woman. Those have been my two greatest challenges. If I were a man, because of how many resources I have, I would be funded by now. If I were a man I would not have had 75% of the challenges I’ve had and I’ve been through. 

GH: What upcoming projects are you excited for?

LDB: Bringing the diversity of a community together in conversation and I get to do that a couple of different ways. Right now I’m working on a project where I bring leadership together to talk about hard issues like illegal cannabis, and that’s a really hard issue in our community. Another way I get to do that is that I am a Chair for the Human Community for Humbolt county and a Human Rights Commissioner. We just got reallocated our funds so I’m working on a stakeholders meeting and with my board, I will be able to allocate those funds to foundations that are impacting human trafficking in our community.  

GH: What are your business goals for the rest of this year?

LDB: I would really like to see my magazine get to 20,000 on the ground, right now we’re at 10,000. I would also really like to see some programs in my community get started around identifying human trafficking locally. And then, I would like to see my brand, I’ve been building a brand and a beauty line for the past five years and I would like to see that get into full production.   

The Vice; Small Batch Wine is Better

Founder of The Vice, Malek Amrani tells us about what it’s like to own his wine label. 

GH: Why is wine made from small batches better?

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MA: The smaller the production, the better the quality. Most of our small batches come from a single plot of land, we are able to craft wine and care for it better than if you were making a large quantity of wine, per se, a hundred thousand cases. When you are producing a large quantity of wine, you are most likely not sourcing for a single vineyard, you’re sourcing from multiple locations and either blending the grapes or juice together. It’s like cooking, it’s easier to control the quality of ingredients and be more precise when you’re cooking for four people as opposed to a hundred people. 

GH: What role do you play at The Vice?

MA: I’m the founder and winemaker of The Vice wines. I am always traveling across the country and sharing my vices with retailers and consumers when I am not in Napa crafting wine.

GH: Could you tell me more about your sustainable farming?

MA: Most of our wines come from USDA certified organic vineyards. We practice sustainable winemaking practices and we never add sulfites to our craft before bottling.

GH: When was The Vice started?

MA: 6 years ago but we didn’t release our first batch, a 2013 Chardonnay until 2016. To date, we have released 14 batches with a few exciting batches to be released this holiday season.

GH: What part has social media played in your marketing?

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MA: Social media helped us introduce The Vice to new fans and stay in touch with industry trends.

GH: What has been an unexpected challenge so far?

MA: Every batch has its own unexpected challenges. Growing and harvesting the perfect grapes first depends on the weather. Luckily, Napa Valley is blessed with some of the most consistent, favorable and diverse micro-climates suitable to produce the finest wines, but every vintage there are challenges that arise such heatwaves, frost, and fires when you least expect them. Other challenges can be as silly as someone delivering the wrong color glass before bottling which logistically can delay us a few days, but ultimately stretches the wait time for The Vice wines to be uncorked by our fans by a few weeks rather than a few days.

GH: What are your goals for the rest of this year?

MA: Some of my goals for the rest of the year are to increase our distribution in New York where we are currently found at over 250 retailers and release exclusive vices during this upcoming holiday season. 

Carol Scott, a Lifetime of Fitness

Carol Scott has had a life long passion for fitness as a holistic lifestyle. Throughout the years she has been a CEO of her own company, a spokesperson for well-known labels, and is soon be embarking on a new business endeavor that could change the lifestyle of the average fitness instructor.   

GH: How did you go about founding the ECA World Fitness Alliance?

CS: I noticed that all of the continuing education and voice of fitness was coming out of California and the east coast was kind of underrepresented. So initially when I started at first I did one convention just to highlight talent on the east coast to show people what we were doing and then at the end of it someone came up to me and said, “when is next year?” and that’s when I said ‘okay this is gonna be something.’ 

I took my life’s savings, which was about 50,000 dollars and bet it all on black and ran that first event because it was a passion of mine and I felt like there was something missing in the industry. 

GH: How do you be a successful spokesperson? 

CS: I think you have to align with the brands you’re representing. I always did, I never chose something that I didn’t personally believe in or use. I think that brands have an identity of their own, and I just think you find brands that are synergistic or represent something to you and hopefully they find you as well. 

GH: What sparked your interest in health and fitness? 

CS: I was always a child athlete, I grew up in the 60s so women weren’t that prevalent in sports, especially on the playground. I guess I was a tomboy, I started playing sports, and I went to college for phys ed. When I student taught my last year I didn’t have a pleasant experience I found that at the time nobody wanted to go to gym, and there was a lot of rigidity in the program and in the curriculum. You weren’t able to change it at all, so I was seeing my life flash before me like I was destined to roll out the balls and be miserable every day. So instead I went into adult fitness when I graduated college and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do I wandered into what was then called an aerobics studio, and they were dancing and working out to music. I love music and I was a child actor and in school plays and I sang in the chorus and I played the piano, and I was a DJ, I just loved music. So I just thought ‘wow this is kinda the best of both worlds.’ I started going as a member, and one day an instructor didn’t show up so I said ‘I think I could do that’ because I had majored in phys ed, I knew I had the knowledge, so I gave my first class, and from then on I was hooked.

GH: What is Conscious Body Consulting?

CS: Conscious Body Consulting is a consulting firm that mostly represents fitness, but can really cross borders, we’re basically soup to nuts. Through my many years on the planet, and experience I have come across a ton of multiple jobs, in multiple areas, and because I own ECA as the CEO I was in charge of everything. My familiarity, my experience was in branding, marketing, and programming, and hiring, and recruiting. I went from there and people would ask me for my advice on things, and I never really  say ‘no’ to a project, even if it’s above my head or if I have no experience in it, and that branched out into exterior design and interior design, and retail, and building a facility from the ground up.        

GH: What is your day to day life like as a fitness influencer?

CS: I broke all the rules and I break all the molds. I really believe that your life is a holistic journey, and you should not focus your entire life on just work. So I wanted to integrate work with my life. I usually don’t have to set an alarm, I get up and my days so very, sometimes I train people one on one, sometimes I’m doing a consulting job, sometimes I’m looking for work, sometimes I’m writing blogs, it’s such a varying experience day to day, which I love! It’s never boring and I work proudly all the time. 

GH: How do balance and wellness play into your own very busy work schedule?

CS: If I’m busy, I am passionately involved so I’m not really ‘busy’. I believe that your life should be one big passion and if you’re following your passions, then you’re never really ‘busy’, you’re just doing what you love to do. So I want to do what I love to do with my life, so I have a lot of balance. I don’t get stressed at work, because work is a pleasure, and work is passion. It’s like if a painter were painting, are they busy? They are at their craft, and that’s how I look at balance. I think a lot of people break up the body and the mind, they think ‘I’ll go get a massage and exercise and that’ll be my wellness’ and then 75% of the time they’re stressed out, so that’s not wellness or balance. Wellness is a holistic approach to life and it has to be all-encompassing. You have to look at your life and say ‘where are my tolerations, what do I love to do, and what am I doing the most of, and how can I fulfill my life in a full meaningful way?’ It’s not just an individual thing, we can’t just shut the world out. Things don’t always go well and it’s about how you deal when things don’t go well. It has to be you, and your outside environment. Help someone else, the feeling we get when we actually help others brings happiness to ourselves. 

And of course, there’s what you’re eating, if you’re exercising, how you’re sleeping, do you have support and positive people around you? 

GH: What has been your best marketing tool?

CS: Word of mouth. I think if you’re authentic, and you do your thing with integrity, and you pay it forward and you help everyone else along the way, the universe brings you what you need as well. If you give positive experiences and you stay authentic to your craft then those people that you work with will refer you. 

GH: What are your career goals for the rest of this year?

CS: I’m launching a new organization. There’s no support for individual instructors, so I’m launching a guild called FIG which is Fitness Instructors Guild. I modeled it after SAG. Most instructors are independent contractors, so here’s a way to come together under one roof and one voice and they will be louder together. We will provide services for them, benefits, and products for them at a discount and try and do everything we can to help the fitness instructor. FIG will help them plan for the future, and as they get older transfer into different career opportunities.

The Importance of Rent A Grandma, with Todd Pliss

It’s pretty safe to say that Grandparents play a very important role in the life of a young child. But what do you do if there are no biological ones available? Todd Pliss took that question to heart when he started Rent A Grandma. 

GH: Where did inspiration for Rent a Grandma come from?

TP: I was working as a licensed studio teacher with kids on movie and tv sets, many of them are homeschooled and quite a few of them moved here from all over the country and other countries as well. Dad was often back home, working his regular job, they come out here for pilot season for a few months or to work on something specific so I’d hear a lot of complaints from mothers that they couldn’t find any good help with their other kids if their other on was on set or if they had to run around to auditions, they couldn’t be in two places at once. Sometimes they’d hire 19, or 20-year-old nannies and they were total flakes, more often than not. So that was the inspiration, who’s responsible? 

GH: What’s your marketing strategy?

Todd Pliss on Shark Tank

TP: We haven’t had to do a ton of marketing because we get so much attention from all over the world. Fox News did a national story about us and the phone didn’t stop ringing for three weeks. We did Shark Tank, Tokyo TV, Russian TV, we were featured in Italy, Portugal, I saw interviews for British TV. Literally, there’s been dozens and dozens. We just released our mobile app which is stirring up a lot of attention, we do some advertising but not a lot, it’s really word of mouth. 

GH: What would your goals be for Rent a Grandma this year?

TP: I want to keep growing it, we have people from all over the place, Canada, the United States, and that includes small towns. We have a ton of Grandmas, but we want more and not just in major cities, but the smaller communities too; throughout Canada and England, and all over the place. 

GH: How do you distinguish yourself against other online caregiving companies?

TS: Other online companies hire 18 years and up. For us, you don’t have to be a Grandma, but you have to be mature, at least in your 40s. We make sure there’s a certain level of maturity, most people that come to us, they were teachers, nurses, some of them voluntarily retired and got bored, some were laid off from their jobs and had to retire against their will. So there’s a lot of wonderful people out there who still want to work. We differentiate ourselves by saying our women are mature, they aren’t gonna text or tweet while watching your kids, they aren’t gonna meet some guy and run away to Florida. We are different because of the maturity and life experience. 

GH: Is there a vetting process for your caregivers?

TS: Yes, we have interviews, we have a company that does fortune 500 background checks for those companies. We have an application, they have to be checked against the federal sex offender and criminal background checks. 

GH: What’s been an unexpected challenge for Rent A Grandma?

TS: The main challenge has been having enough Grandmas. We have people coming to us from all over the world, so having enough people. In LA, New York, Dallas, Florida, of course, we have plenty of people always, but if someone is in a town in Minnesota with 5,000 people we may not be able to help them. That’s why we’re doing everything online, and trying to open up the market as much as we can. So that’s been the challenge, trying to help everybody that wants help. 

GH: What are some of the benefits of having an older caregiver? 

TS: They’re more mature in life. A lot of these women, they’ve already had their kids, they’re more stable, they’ve had careers, there’s a big maturity level and a lot of them can cook. Not that everyone is looking for cooking, they just have more skills and are more patient. A lot have their own grandkids, so they’re used to dealing with young children, if a child has a meltdown or a tantrum, they can handle it. They’re not looking to go back to college if you’re looking to hire a 19/20-year-old, they’re just not as stable, they don’t have that life experience and there’s nothing wrong with that, we were all 19 and 20 at one point. It’s a big maturity level, the average age of our grandmas is about 60/61. They’re active, they train horses, they surf, they hike all over the world, so they’re certainly not sitting in any rocking chairs. 

GH: What would you consider to be Rent A Grandma’s greatest success so far?

TP: I’ve heard a lot of stories that are really heartwarming. We’ve had grandmas that work with special needs kids, I’ve had mothers on the phone literally crying to me over past frustrations, and people appreciate it so much. People say even the name brings a smile to their face. I think the goodwill and the fact that a lot of these women were frustrated because they couldn’t find any work. It’s very difficult the older you get, so it’s opening the market to all the people and parents especially really appreciate it. We get people who’s grandparents live on the other side of the country or have passed away, so we’ve had people who hire grandmas for the grandma experience. Just to have a grandma take you to the park when you’re five or six years old, because a lot of people can’t have that. I think the response has been the best thing. All the attention we’ve gotten has been nice, but in the end, it’s really the stories of help that we enjoy hearing.

Janet Restino Lives Life as an Artist

Janet Restino in every sense of the word, an artist. She is a sculptor, painter, singer/songwriter, poet, and greeting card creator living in New York City. Restino describes her professional artistic career as “entering through the gift shop” having sold work in museum gift shops, don’t be surprised if you start to see her work on gallery walls. As someone who has been cultivating her art career since the ’70s, Restino has an extensive archive of artist works across many mediums.

GH: How do you ride the line between craft and commerce?

JR: I just put out the best product that I can.  I use Epson archival ink Strathmore parchment, and I do the printing myself. In terms of pricing, I’m competing with what people are paying for a not so special piece people buy in the chain stores. I used to sell in various stores in New York City… the whole stationary business has changed profoundly over the last ten years or so, the internet has a lot to do with that. I just turn out the best product that I can and get feedback on what I’m selling at craft fairs or street fairs.

Janet Restino with her paintings

GH: As a multimedia artist, how have you cultivated a personal brand?

JR: I have a look, I have a style, I believe there’s a lot of integrity built into what I do. I’m not trying to do easy shlock. What I put out has a certain sophistication. I stand by everything I put my signature on, there’s a lot of craft and skill that has gone into it. I also do poetry, I do spoken word, and people recognize my style, it’s somewhat unique in the venues I perform it.

GH: Who would you consider a mentor in your artistic endeavors?

JR: I’ve had so many over the years, not really a mentor, but an inspiration for writing and music would be Bob Dylan. One reason being, as soon as I graduated from art school where I was a very serious sculptor, I started having dreams with Bob Dylan appearing in them. It was kind of a “what’s going on” moment, so I started recording them and taking them a little more seriously. I had always enjoyed writing, and that pushed me to take my writing more seriously and that developed into becoming a musician. I had studied piano as a kid, but with the background, I had there was no foundation for how to take this seriously. I eventually found doors opening when I moved to New York and started hanging out with people who were doing open mics, writers and musicians. Also in terms of mentors, there was David Slivka, he was a mentor to me in sculpture and he had a profound impact on my work.

GH: What advice would you give to a young woman considering a similar career path?

JR: Don’t expect it to be easy. Unfortunately, talent alone doesn’t guarantee success. Who you know, and the right time and right place and your own persistence and your own determination very much affect your career. You have to stick with it and listen to your heart before you listen to the dollar signs.

GH: Do you have a marketing team?

JR: I wish I did, unfortunately, that’s one of my missing links. I haven’t had the budget to hire people to be posting for me on social media. I am not good at that, at all. That would be a tremendous help with just creating awareness of what I’m doing. Honestly, for me, it’s the last thing I do. I’m more interested in creating and refining what I’ve created and keeping track of what I’ve created and then letting everyone know ‘hey, I just made this’ this is where you can buy it.

GH: If you could start your career over, would you change anything?

JR: That is the toughest one to answer because everything has changed. I guess I would have to say I wish I were a little more shrewd. When I was younger I totally lacked shrewdness. I wasn’t looking for openings and advances I just had my nose to the grindstone and was so thrilled with just being able to be an artist. I never thought to put a price tag on things starting out it took me forever to even approach selling anything. Part of it has to do with coming from a very repressive education, 12 years of Catholic school freedom was totally discouraged. So by the time I got myself to art school and had that, it was heaven. I was just happy to be a kid with her crayons and her clay, I didn’t think about my career and targeting it to a specific gallery.

GH: How do you see your career changing in the next five years?

Yonkers gallery

JR: It would be nice to have a good gallery behind me, I need to be more proactive in shopping for gallery. On the other hand, something with music is calling me more and more to develop the poetry and lyrics I’ve been working on for years. I finally found a guitarist that I love working with. Right now, that’s at the top of my ‘what I wanna do’ list. It’s developing myself as a singer of my own songs, and maybe other people will want to cover them, and in that way, they’ll have a whole nother other life.

Use the links below to learn more about the art and life of Janet Restino

www.janetrestino.com.  www.cafepress.com/janetsarthouse   https://soundcloud.com/tidecomingin https://soundcloud.com/janet-391908162