Tori Green: Who are you? What do you do?
Olivia Alexander: Olivia Alexander, CEO & Founder of Kush Queen
Tori: What was your first business (including running your own business)? How long did this last or are you still involved in the same business?
Olivia: The Crystal Cult, I started it in 2013 and it became Kush Queen
Tori: Biggest challenge? How did you get through it?
Olivia: Cannabis despite its progress still sits in a legal gray area, so it's always been a roller coaster. From merchant processing to banking, I have been shut down about 20 times. I thought many times that I would lose everything ,but realized that they can only stop you if you quit. For me the key to everything is being resilient and staying the course of betting on myself.
Tori: What is something that you wish you could go back and tell yourself before starting this journey?
Olivia: Get a life coach and take care of yourself. A business is a relentless experience that can and will take everything from you that you let it. In 2017, my business was growing, my mom got a brain tumor, and I was a total fucking mess. Luckily, a dear friend at the time suggested I get a life coach and do some work on myself. I didn't think I had the time or the money to put me first. Once I got into coaching, learned how to put my needs first, and really started doing the work my life (and business) completely changed.
Tori: What did you do before owning your own/running your business?
Olivia: I started as a budtender in 2006 and I had been an actor most of my life. I operated a marketing agency for cannabis companies for a few years where I got to really learn the industry. I grew weed, extracted it, and sold weed to friends all before owning Kush Queen.
Tori: What/who made you take the first leap?
Olivia: In 2013, I did a movie and the producers bankrupted the entire project. It was a shit show and I even called them out during production for lying about the budget. I worked on this movie for 3 months of my life and got about 2 checks. Needless to say, I moved in with my parents and did nothing but yoga and meditation for 6 months. Then one day I saw a vape shop pop up and cartridges come onto the cannabis market. I couldn't believe I could finally smoke weed inside at clubs while my friends drank. I bought the vape and crystalized it. I showed it to the owner of the store and he bought 10. Then I posted it on Instagram and everyone wanted to buy them. I saw it as a sign. I spent $700 on inventory and then built a Big Commerce website in a week. I made $6,000 the first month and then just kept evolving with it.
Tori: Who was the first to believe in you and give you real support (financial/sweat equity)?
Olivia: My mom was my first employee and the person I wouldn't be here without. Both my parents are the most supportive people. When I needed them, they were there for me. Not just to help work for the business ,but to loan me credit and cash. In those early days, I wouldn't have made it without their relentless support.
Tori: Was this your dream job? If not, what was?
Olivia: My dream job is to be a popstar. HAHHA. I recently booked a model for our 4/20 shoot who said she met me back in the day at a cannabis event. She said I was high as a kite and said I would be the Beyonce of weed. I cringe and laugh now ,but that really sums it all up. LOLOL
Tori: Why did you get into this field?
Olivia: I struggled my entire life with my mental health. When I tried cannabis for the first time when I was 18, I slept like a baby after years of struggling with insomnia. This plant has transformed me and that's why I do what I do. It's my medicine and I want others to know that this healing beautiful plant can transform your life.
Tori: What is your biggest failure that you turned into a success?
Olivia: In 2015, my agency fell apart because half my instagram pages were deleted because of censorship. I legit lost all my clients' Instagrams too. It was as if my entire agency was lit on fire. Instead of falling apart, we saw it as an opportunity to pursue Kush Queens growth. It was the worst best thing to ever happen to us.
Tori: If you could change one thing about your life today for the better, what would it be?
Olivia: If I could I would move out to the woods in Oregon and grow mushrooms. I’m too young to retire from that life ,but I would if I could.
Tori: How is your life/work balance? Body, mind, and soul weekly routine?
Olivia: Thanks to my life coach, micro-dosing, exercise, and my team I have a great work/life balance. We do not work on nights or weekends. And my goal is to go to 4 day work weeks by the middle of the summer. For me, balance is everything because I am a recovering workaholic.
Tori: Do you say/write out affirmations?
Olivia: I say many. “ They Cant stop you if you don't stop” “ I am grateful and thankful for multiple streams of revenue” I do a lot of mirror talk and hype myself up a lot. I just look in the mirror and say “ I love you and YOU are THAT bitch”.
Tori: When was the last time you tried something new/ Stepped out of routine?
Olivia: Writing my book was the last time I did something new. I was terrified. I had real deadlines and people to answer to. After being an entrepreneur for so long, it was a huge adjustment. The night before the book came out, I was pretty terrified that no one would buy it. I had my ass on the line in a different way and it was really scary for me.
Tori: Favorite book that changed your life?
Olivia: Celestine Prophecy
Tori: Do you think your gender gives you an advantage or disadvantage in today’s world?
Olivia: I personally think gender gave me an advantage in cannabis because I created a brand for women that didn't exist.I wouldn't of done this if I wasn't a woman. But I think overall gender creates a disadvantage in this world.
Tori: Have you experienced different treatment from your peers of the opposite sex?
Olivia: I have seen and benefited from misogyny in my career in cannabis. Throughout the years I have been supported by men in my career and personal life ,but I know this is not how many women have been treated. I constantly receive heart wrenching DMS from young women about SA, trauma, and treatment from men. I know I am really lucky to not have the same experiences.
Tori: Thoughts on the glass ceiling?
Olivia: The glass ceiling is real in my opinion. Just as the gender pay gap is real. I do not know how people deny its existence. Women just make less on the dollar than men, its fact and it makes it even harder for them to climb the corporate ladder or raise capital for their businesses. When you hear that only 2% of VC funding goes into women-run businesses, despite significant data to support women earning higher returns for investors, you can't help but wonder if we will ever achieve equality.
Tori: What advice would you give your children/ future children about succeeding in a patriarchal society?
Olivia: The patriarchy is your opportunity. Cannabis is a notoriously misogynistic industry. I got hired at my first dispensary because they just wanted hot girls selling weed. Everyday I flipped it and used it to my advantage and never took it personally. The world is operating from these archaic and oppressive systems. Building brands, companies, and products that speak to the changes that are coming with millennials and Gen Z is your opportunity. It's corny, but being the change you want to see in the world is key.
Tori: If you could talk to a young boy/girl from your hometown neighborhood who aspires to have your career/job/focus what would tell them? Advice.
Olivia: Chase your passion. I think a lot of people get tripped up on trying to be like other people. When I was coming up, there were other women in weed I wanted to be like ,but not really anyone I really saw. I think too many people are trying to be other people. Instead, I suggest following your heart, your love, your passion , and then operating from that. That's where you can’t lose or ever fail. That's where you are able to outlast your competition.
Tori: Fun fact about you?
Olivia: I once played an evil 50ft Cheerleader in a movie.
Tori: Number one piece of advice you remember?
Olivia: Bet on yourself. Every single day that's all I have done. I have had so many opportunities to work for other people ,but I really believe in betting on myself. You can’t lose when you bet on yourself and your own dreams.
Tori: Anything else to add?
Olivia: 4/20 is coming up and we're going to have 50% online and a ton of deals for people to take advantage of.
Tori: Anything coming up for you that you want to talk about?
Olivia: I would love to talk about my new book The Essential Guide Guide To Cannabis For Women: How To Buy and Use Cannabis For Recreation and Wellness.
Tori: Where can we find you online?
@TheLivalexander on IG and TT