The Troubadour: Alicia Katy
* This story was originally published in the October 2017 issue of Marijuana Venture, on sale now online or at a store near you.
It’s a long way from Nashville to California, but sometimes life takes turns like that.
Like the country music songs she used to write and sing, Alicia Katy had success, heartbreak, life-changing troubles and finally triumph and happiness as she makes her way in a whole new industry on a whole new coast.
“Music has always been one of my biggest passions in life,” Katy says.
But today, Katy works as a business development executive for Canndescent, a fast-growing Southern California company with a focus on “effects-based” instead of “strain-specific” products, with stylish, simple and modern packaging. While she admits there is little crossover between strumming a six-string and pushing pot products, her experience touring and building relationships in the music industry helped prepare for her new job in cannabis.
“My job is to create relationships,” she says. “I’m a road warrior.”
Katy’s journey to cannabis has the familiarity of one of her songs: Unique, but at the same time relatable and easy to sing along to.
Blonde-haired, brown-eyed and blessed with a beautiful voice and the talent to back it up, Katy seemed destined for country music stardom. Music is in her blood — her father is a former musician — and Katy signed a record deal right out of high school and moved from her home in Chesapeake, Virginia to the heart of the country music in Tennessee. In the videos still available on YouTube, Katy belts out earnest, heartfelt tunes with conviction, usually accompanied by acoustic guitars.
But at the end of 2013, she was diagnosed with late-stage Lyme disease, putting her music career on hold and forcing her to focus on her health.
She traveled to California to get treatment and reconnected with a high school friend who co-founded Fruit Slabs, a THC- and CBD-infused fruit leather product for medical marijuana patients. Her friend suggested cannabis oil as a treatment and after she “prayed and meditated” on the possibility of using cannabis, and in the end decided to try medical marijuana as a more holistic approach to treating her Lyme disease.
“Long story short,” she says, “10 months later I got retested and I was Lyme-free.”
Soon after, Katy decided to walk away from her burgeoning music career and moved to California permanently, where she “dove head-first into the cannabis industry,” helping her friend at Fruit Slabs and getting her feet wet in the business. From there, she met the CEO of Calyx, a cannabis distribution company and was hired as the Southern California sales rep, educating budtenders and dispensary owners about the more than 30 brands the company represented.
“I started learning and really expanding my horizons in the cannabis world,” she says.
After little more than a year, she was contacted by the folks at Canndescent and today works as the company’s Southern California territory as a sales rep. Canndescent currently has a 22,000-square-foot medical grow operation in Desert Hot Springs and is at work building 33,000 square feet of new greenhouse space, set to open this fall, as the Golden State moves toward opening its adult-use market. The company has made a name for itself by not focusing its branding on the strains being grown, but on the intended effect of the product: Calm, Cruise, Create, Connect or Charge.
“We’re taking the guessing game away from patients,” Katy says, adding that some dispensaries pushed back at first, but the response from patients has been the company’s biggest selling point.
Like country music, the demographics of the cannabis industry tend to lean male, but Katy says unlike in Nashville, there are more women in leadership roles, creating and navigating new companies through the difficult waters of an emerging economy, one that is “on the forefront” for women in business.
“If anything, I’m so proud to be a part of the cannabis industry because there are so many CEOs who are women,” she says. “I’m proud of all the women in the industry.”
Katy says the community she found in cannabis is strong and supportive and she is “honored” to be a part of it, representing an up-and-coming company in an up-and-coming sector. And while it may not be from a stage or through a radio dial, Katy is excited to still be touching lives, even if it means leaving her shot at stardom.
“It’s really exciting to be part of an industry growing so rapidly,” she says. “It’s a really, really cool community to be a part of.”
Source: Marijuana Venture