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Industry Innovators: Sarah Aziz, CEO of Sundazed

Keegan Williams

By Keegan Williams

June 29, 2022

Headshot of CEO Sundazed CEO Sarah Aziz on neutral background

Courtesy of Sundazed

Taking a look at the branding and products of

, it’s hard to believe that the cannabis company is still in its infancy, formed just last year. The crystal-clear vision and forward-looking direction of the new company is thanks to CEO Sarah Aziz, an Egyptian American, LA-based entrepreneur and long-time cannabis advocate and lover.

The Sundazed website characterizes the brand as “high-quality flower curated for the feminine connoisseur,” with a gorgeous array of monochromatic pinks mirroring the product design. It’s important to look beyond the cute packaging, though, as the brand is equally as passionate about promoting top-tier quality indoor flower, affordability and the customer experience as a whole.

Sarah Aziz Meets Cannabis

Aziz first forged her personal connection with cannabis early in college. She soon found that the plant not only helped to ease her struggles with

and but overall allowed her to express her creativity more freely.

“I always feel like I’m a really creative person; I just want my life to be like that, and that’s what [cannabis] allows me to feel,” Aziz said. “That’s why I have been in the conversation about cannabis for that long; I have believed in what cannabis can do for humans.”

When the pandemic hit, Aziz moved back in with her family to help out her sister with her clothing brand. She references to her unique story, creating her own path in cannabis as a Muslim woman while most of the

in her family are homemakers and caretakers.

“So, I felt like I wanted to do something that would allow me to, you know, take my own life into my own hands and kind of break away from that—not that that’s not respectable at all, but just a different route,” Aziz said.

Courtesy of Sundazed

The Sundazed Consumer

Before Sundazed, Aziz worked in hospitality. She helped with the opening of the luxury Cipriani hotel Mr. C in New York and in guest experience at hospitality start-up Sonder. Her resume is evident when looking at the customer-focused and detail-oriented approach of Sundazed.

Part of that initial vision included a focus on women and femme cannabis users. It was an early aim, as Aziz recalled perusing an article, “What To Get Your Girlfriend for 4/20,” only to find all of the suggested brands were “very masucline.” While she was well aware that there were already a number of cannabis brands more focused on women and feminine people, Aziz wanted to continue to “move the needle” for those consumers and folks like her in the industry.

“I want women to look at me and feel inspired, like ‘There’s a strong woman,’” Aziz said. 

Once the idea was planted, she left her hospitality career behind, relocated to California, and moved forward to develop a handful of products, effectively creating the foundation for Sundazed.

“What I’ve learned is that, you know, actually cannabis has that hospitality—that art of hospitality—because it’s about relationships,” Aziz said. “And it can be a social plant. So I feel like, when I interact with people in the industry, it’s very authentic, which I love. So I’m really just finding myself on this journey.”

Overcoming Industry Challenges

As a woman of color in an industry largely dominated by white men, Aziz has faced challenges in climbing the ladder.

“I didn’t realize how much power they had. You know, I felt like there have been some moments where I’ve just felt almost powerless,” Aziz said.

While the cannabis industry is quick to tout conversations around

, Aziz said she’s even been told “No one cares that you’re a woman of color” by others in the industry. While it’s defeating to hear these types of comments, she tries not to let it bog her down, instead focusing on how her brand and work impact the bigger picture.

“I’m gonna do whatever it takes to get a seat at the table,” Aziz said. “There’s space, and that’s what they need to understand. That’s what I’m doing with my brand and, well, why I’ll continue to persevere and be resilient, regardless of the things that people say, just with the understanding of how dominated [the industry] is by those types of people.”

The nay-sayers also inspire Aziz to find the right people for her own team as it continues to grow, always looking to other women, femmes and anyone who shares her same vision for collaborative opportunities. She circles back to the idea that cannabis is social and often an immersive substance, allowing folks to open up their lives and minds along with their cannabis use. She wants to continue centering this conversation as Sundazed keeps growing.

So far, it seems like Aziz is onto something. Sundazed sold out of its first store in four hours, which Aziz called a “cosign” of sorts, a validating affirmation that she’s on the right path.

Courtesy of Sundazed

The Brand’s Stand

A Sundazed package is admittedly eye-catching, with an array of pastel pinks and impeccably clean design. Aziz enlisted the help of Paul Milinksi, an Australian contemporary artist and immersive designer, to create her flagship product. Aziz knew that the look of Sundazed was important, focusing on colors that people would connect to, the pink acting as a sort of “flag” for the representation and consumer base Sundazed speaks to.

The pair drew inspiration from traditional cigarette boxes, adding their own eclectic spin on the concept to create packaging that shows off the new standard of luxury in the cannabis space.

“I wanted the packaging to represent who I am,” Aziz said. “So, the outside is feminine, but the inside is that green, and it’s a bit more masculine. So it has those two sides, and that’s what I really wanted to portray.”

When asked about Sundazed’s focus on pre-rolls, Aziz simply asserted, “Well, flower is king.” She said she wanted to create a product she would use, and centering a product she herself uses every day was the most authentic way to share and express herself as a consumer through the brand.

Though there’s much more to unpack (other than the pre-rolled joint inside). Sundazed doesn’t focus on sativas, indicas and hybrids — rather, Sundazed focuses on cannabinoid and terpene profiles, the package centering how the user will feel after smoking rather than basing that entirely on an often arbitrary category system.

Aziz first learned about this expansive element of the plant for herself at a dispensary back home in Vegas, finding that the pinene terpenes in the flower she was using were exasperating her anxiety.

“It’s actually incredibly complicated. […] For us, in order to make it very simple, on the back of each package, it has ‘suggested experience,’ or the effects,” Aziz said, relaying the effects “surreal, intimate and relaxed” from the package in front of her. “Those are based on what I know about the terpenes going into it. So, you can expect to feel that way because I’ve already done the research.”

Courtesy of Sundazed

Aziz also wants to prioritize centering and uplifting artists and creatives on the Sundazed journey. Each Sundazed package features a QR code that opens up a Sundazed Instagram filter, created by one of Instagram’s filter artists,

.

“I just love that experience of being able to have [creatives] have the liberty and then show me what they felt through Sundazed, as an artist,” Aziz said. “I feel like in the industry, most people I meet are actually creatives.”

Advocacy at the Core

While Sundazed is on a steady path forward, Aziz lamented over the issues the emerging industry still faces, including the amount of people still serving

for cannabis and the industry’s equity programs, which she said aren’t doing enough to properly uplift a diverse array of cannabis professionals. As a further challenge, she said that the majority of people in the industry simply don’t care about these issues.

“People are still trying to maximize getting capital, and there’s just so much competition,” Aziz said. “It’s not the first conversation that people are having. I think that firstly, people need to get out of jail. I mean, when I start hiring people — I’m still kind of on my own right now — I definitely want to be mindful of that.”

Sundazed just debuted in the market with its first nine SKUs, and Aziz is looking ahead to the future for more ways to connect to cannabis consumers. While nothing is set in stone, she could see implementing something like a “pink ticket” in select pre-roll packs, giving Sundazed credit to a lucky customer as a fun surprise to brighten their mood, along with ways to expand the Sundazed brand beyond its stellar flower selection

She also points to the changing trends in cannabis consumers and the budding market as a whole, with more shoppers embracing brand loyalty and products they see themselves in (that also make them feel good).

“There’s just so much weed and so many brands out there,” Aziz said. “So, if you can give people an experience or make them remember you in any way, that’s really what’s going to last.”

To keep up with Sundazed, check out the company’s

and .

Keegan Williams

About The Author

Keegan Williams

HIGH THERE MISSION

WE’RE A CREATIVE COMMUNITY — EXPLORING THE SCIENCE, CRAFT, AND CULTURE OF CANNABIS.
WE BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE A COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY TOWARDS ERADICATING THE STIGMA, MISINFORMATION, AND INEQUITIES SURROUNDING THIS PLANT, SO WE CAN UNLOCK ITS TRUE POTENTIAL FOR ALL.