April Pride has been called the “unofficial godmother of the women and weed movement,” and with good reason. In 2016 April founded Van der Pop, which quickly became North America’s most recognized women-focused cannabis brand. She’s recently launched a consulting company, Of Like Minds, aimed at helping other cannabis brands better serve and connect to their female consumers. With an emphasis on choice and transparency, April Pride is a visionary force with something new to bring to the table.
When I founded Van der Pop I was approaching the company as a designer. We launched with products to store, smoke and share cannabis that were in line with what you’d find on a woman’s vanity or in her closet. We had a lifestyle brand, and I was really proud of our beautiful products, but I realized that we had to lay the groundwork for acceptance and application before we could focus on aesthetics.
We quickly expanded our focus to include education for women so that they are comfortable and confident in their decisions around cannabis. I was frustrated by mainstream messaging and that there was nowhere to get the full honest picture. I’m a big sister — I’m the kind of person that wants to share any new information that I have with the women in my life. Women were really still trying to wrap their head around the plant. How much do I take? What will I feel? Is it going to be a good choice in my life?
When my tenure with Van der Pop finished in February, I co-founded Of Like Minds with my college friend Ellen Scanlon. Of Like Minds is a cannabis consultancy focused on helping brands that currently only really market to men. Our mandate is to help clients either launch a product line that’s focused on women or connect with women where they have been previously missing the mark. As you know, this is a huge consumer group that nobody really is catering to. There are specific ways that the plant interacts with a woman’s body in particular. When I entered the cannabis space there was no one really talking to women about weed, or explaining that for all these years we’ve been told “just say no” by our schools and governments, in reality there are truly plenty of reasons to say yes. Whether it’s social anxiety, putting aside alcohol and choosing cannabis instead, or connecting with our partners on a deeper level, there are so many valid reasons women choose and come to cannabis.
I want women to feel comfortable and confident. I also want them to know that if they don’t, that’s okay. I’m still learning, and I do this every single day. ”
I want women to feel comfortable and confident. I also want them to know that if they don’t, that’s okay. I’m still learning, and I do this every single day. I think it’s important to be transparent about how complicated cannabis and our relationship to it can be, and make sure that women don’t feel like they are outside of it or that they are missing something. If they don’t know, we want to be open about that, because it’s better to find the right answer than to just suffer in silence and not move forward at all, right? It really goes back to helping to manage the stigma that’s in place and trying reduce it – baby steps – we’re chipping away at it as much as we can.
I have always found a lot of joy in my work, and that makes me want to work hard at it. I saw the opportunity that the cannabis space presented, and I took it seriously. Successful women should feel comfortable to speak up more about their accomplishments. Sometimes I get the sense people think I was lucky with Van der Pop — being at the right time and right place had something to do with it for sure — but I came at this with sharp skills and a clear mind, and I was serious about what this could be. I saw that there was a market in Canada, and I was one of the few entrepreneurs that figured that out and made it happen. I don’t want to downplay that. I’m proud of my success.
I have consistently been determined to be on the side of powers for good. This is going to be an industry that gets taken over in the same way that pharmaceuticals have, or big tobacco. And I think that there needs to be somebody that’s motivated in ways that are pure, someone making sure that we’re looking out for the consumers.
I’m grateful that I have cannabis as an alternative to alcohol, which was something that has plagued my life at certain times. I had to make the decision to keep it out of my life and go for years of sobriety without alcohol. I like to have a good time, I like to connect with people but I can have a hard time relaxing. I launch companies, I’m a founder, and can be extremely challenging. 2018 was the year cannabis really became a wellness industry. I think that’s good for now and a lot of women will use cannabis for wellness purposes. But it begs the question, why can’t people get high? We need to make women and people feel like it’s an okay choice to socialize with cannabis versus alcohol, pills, and other harder substances.
Hydrate. I keep a water bottle on me at all times. This seems simple, but I neglected to do this for years and I’m trying to make up for it now. The result? I have a lot more energy throughout the day.
Beauty sleep. I prioritize sleep. It’s not always possible with my schedule to get a full night’s rest, but I make sure that I’m getting quality sleep at least 5 of 7 nights. Better sleep means a better mood, better productivity, and they don’t call it beauty sleep for nothing!
Make time for fun. I’m a mother and a business owner, and it’s important for my happiness to take time for myself away from both of those roles. Even amidst the chaos, you need to find those moments. On Mother’s Day I had a family brunch in the morning, and a family dinner in the evening, but I made time for myself — an afternoon delight, so to speak — in between.