As someone who came of age in the aughts, Kate Miller is quick to recognize the drastic evolution that’s taken place for cannabis and culture as a whole over the years. In 2004, before cannabis advocacy and reform were part of the general lexicon, an unfortunate moment exposed Miller to the reality of cannabis criminalization: Her brother was arrested for cannabis distribution, manufacturing and possession. She was a junior in high school, and he was a senior.
“I think, at an earlier age than most, I became an advocate for this plant, ultimately for cannabis reform, and just started diving in a bit deeper to weed. Before that happened, I didn’t think much of it. I liked to get high, I had fun with it, but it wasn’t conscious — the history,” Miller said.
This event was a catalyst for Miller, the CEO of cannabis and hemp brand
“I’d planted the seed of, ‘There’s got to be a brand that authentically caters to myself and many people in my life, particularly women, who love this plant,’” Miller said. Ultimately, Miss Grass launched in January 2018, with a focus on education, equipping conscious consumers in the cannabis space and creating a brand “that I felt was serving, and ultimately still is, what I felt was a very underserved demographic: women who love weed.”
Growing into a Cannabis Leader
After high school, Miller moved out West to attend college in Los Angeles. At the time, California’s adult-use cannabis program was not yet in action, but she said the experience of walking into a medical dispensary for the first time “was like a kid in a candy store, just completely blown away by the fact that that existed.”
As someone with an entrepreneurial spirit, she also saw the opportunity, identifying the parallels with the modern, emerging cannabis industry to the days of alcohol prohibition a century ago, though Miller argued the cannabis industry carries even more opportunity and weight.
She landed her first job in the biz as a budtender in her junior and senior years of college. This is also when Miller first bought the Miss Grass URL. She admitted the idea wasn’t developed, and while the
It was also at this time that Miller began to notice the lack of products catering to femmes and women. While she recognized there is still “so much to be done,” she noted the major evolution in inclusive branding from her budtending days to today.
“One, cannabis legalization, and with legalization, there’s more normalization, more consumers accepting this plant, being more open about their consumption habits; it’s more in the zeitgeist,” she said. “Then, you see more and more brands existing that are ultimately, authentically catering to a specific audience vertical. You see that this space is acting more and more like any consumer industry space.”
While Miller said there is still a more mainstream consumer segment that will inevitably be catered to, she believes Miss Grass is “early” in their approach.
“There’s only going to be more and more, and ultimately the brands who can do that authentically, who can cater to a specific consumer segment — and really authentically cater to that consumer segment, which means they need to be a part of that community — are ultimately going to be the brands that win in the space, is my belief.”
Miss Grass: Branding With Intention
Looking back at Miss Grass’s initial launch in 2018, she said it was a lot different, namely because there was no product. It began as an online community platform, predominantly living in the digital world, which made it easier to form the brand identity.
When the first Miss Grass product launched in October 2020, Miller said it was important for the team to not only create a visual identity system, fully embodying the Miss Grass spirit and ethos, but it also needed to be scalable. Rather than improvising with each new challenge, she knew it was important to create a system that would keep the Miss Grass brand adaptive and ready for new challenges.
Traversing the brand’s website, Miss Grass has a clear vibe, ever-present in the vintage-style photography, video and its subjects; color palettes; clean, minimalist package design and whimsical font.
Miller gave a shout out to Head of Creative Priyanka Pulijal, who was integral in creating the brand’s visual identity. It was the first time Miss Grass had pursued that specific resource through an in-house employee, and already having an established presence made it easier to pinpoint what makes the Miss Grass community unique.
While it was a team effort, Miller said Pulijal’s specific eye for design truly helped pull everything together.
“Colors are a perfect example. Our color palette isn’t just her looking at a swatch book and being like, ‘I like this color.’ It was driven by creating a system that helped to inform consumers exactly how they should feel when they’re reaching for a
Each variety (except for Half Times) can be purchased as a five-pack of 0.4-gram mini joints (complete with a matchbox); flower; two diamond-infused, half-gram pre-rolls; and two 0.3-gram pre-rolls, available infused or non-infused. Miss Grass also sells three
Retaining an Educational Focus
As a brand that began as a community platform focused in education, Miss Grass makes a point of breaking down not only the strains, but the specific terpenes, aromas and feelings a strain may elicit, complete with a chart weighing head-versus-body high.
Miller saw the need for consumer education early on, arguing that the consumers the brand caters to want to be more informed, paying more attention to the science behind the plant, how the cannabis was grown and all around wanting more transparency surrounding the substances they are putting into their bodies.
At the start of the journey, education was essentially the product, and Miller admitted that there is less time today to focus on the online platform specifically, though it’s still a crucial part of the operation, alongside Miss Grass’s other digital endeavors.
“We have about 600-plus pieces of
This focus allowed the team to hone in on growth, creating an authentic relationship with their community with a candid look at what it is they want, all of which informed the products Miss Grass eventually launched.
The Social Responsibility of Cannabis Leadership
Miller has also made it a point to partner with an array of organizations, who she said “are really doing the work,” including
The team tries to embrace a variety of opportunities for collaboration. Some collaborations are a one-off campaign or a “moment,” those unique opportunities to ensure the attention is focused on what is relevant or most important in the cannabis space at the time.
“Honestly, we still speak about [cannabis] like, ‘Historically, this has destroyed people’s lives.’ Like historically, yes, but also today. Like, this is still happening today, in so many places, sadly, a lot of states, some better than others.”
She commended states like New York, taking these conversations into account in cannabis policy and legal frameworks to not only create a more equitable industry, “but to make sure that the people whose lives were drastically impacted by this plant’s prohibition are the ones who have a seat at the table and can benefit monetarily and opportunity-wise by this plant’s now-legalization, in a lot of states,” Miller said.
This, once again, connects to education and has always been a major pillar of Miss Grass from day one: How does Miss Grass equip consumers with that information and context?
“Just like the first moment I learned about that, with what happened to my brother — we’re not really taught that. Yes, it’s becoming more and more in the light, but [it’s] making sure that consumers know how they vote with their dollar, how they can support the people that should be benefiting from this plant.”
Other partnerships have been more evergreen and ongoing. Over Miss Grass’s near-five years in business, the brand has worked with Women’s Prison Association numerous times, with Miller describing the organization as “extremely aligned” with the Miss Grass community.
“They do a lot. They’re run by women, in support of women who have been criminalized, and many of which incarcerated for cannabis,” Miller said, expressing her gratitude for the collaborations Miss Grass has seen so far and excitement for what the future holds.
The Path Forward
While the journey has been full of rewards, Miller has still had her fair share of challenges, especially traversing the cannabis industry as a woman leader of a company catered toward women.
“I think where I felt the most conscious that I’m a woman in these rooms with investors or the people who have dollars, who are merging or moving money around — I felt my sex the most in that room than other rooms, by far,” Miller said. “I think that’s where you see, in a business landscape, just how disparate, and ultimately inequitable, those environments are.”
In regard to “equality in business,” Miller said, while it’s just one piece of the puzzle, the conversation must start with equitable distribution of capital and resources.
“In the same breath, I’ve also felt in the cannabis space so much support from women and allies, more than I’ve ever had in any other business landscape. I don’t know if that’s the nature of my work in the cannabis industry, or consumers who work in this space. I’m generalizing, but it’s true that people who love this plant are empathetic, compassionate and collaborative human beings.”
Miss Grass products are currently available in California, Nevada and Massachusetts, but the month is ending on a high note, as the brand expands to the New Jersey market October 26, “a fun, personal, meaningful moment in this journey, because that’s where my personal journey began with cannabis. I’m a Jersey girl,” Miller laughed.
Looking at the unseen path forward, Miller hopes cannabis reform and legalization continue to sweep the nation, which will ultimately serve the Miss Grass brand and community, too.
“Our mission is around making cannabis accessible. I’d love to make Miss Grass accessible to those who want access to her, or a brand like her.”
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