Grooving through the myriad of intelligent individuals within the cannabis landscape are two of the most intriguing and passionate young people I’ve discovered as of late — Eminent Consulting Firm’s Emma Chasen and Matt Taylor. Cannabis Educator Emma and Cannabis Operations Specialist Matt know the eccentricities of the industry, which means they approach shaping its culture accordingly. They are on a mission, guiding emerging cannabis entrepreneurs in order to successfully implement a craft ethos and cutting-edge business model through authentic collaborative relationships and scientific-based educational initiatives. And….they have developed an Online Cannabis Education Program that’s receiving rave reviews from the community, so you should check that out.
Discovering new meaning to the plant through the path of intrinsic plant medicine is important to these two leaders in the space. This pertinent topic is certainly on the lips of many interested *and interesting* people in the cannabis space and far beyond. Our plant does have factual meaning! Both Emma and Matt are deciphering the previously unknown messages into tactile and pragmatic learning tools by the people, for the people. Now, get to know them both in my most recent five questions interview.
Warren Bobrow: Why Cannabis? What was your path to the plant? What did you do before?
Emma Chasen: I have always been interested in plant medicine. My mom, and really my matriarchal line, practices the Italian folk medicine tradition. My great grandmother was known as a strega verde or green witch in her community as she used plants and folk remedies to treat everything from viral infections to broken bones. While I grew up with plant medicine, cannabis was still very much surrounded by negative stigma in my family. I didn’t come to use or appreciate the therapeutic magnitude of cannabis until my freshman year at Brown University. At that time, I was on the pre-medical track and I decided to take a freshman seminar titled, Botanical Roots of Modern Medicine. That seminar opened my world up to ethnobotany and moved me to create a specialized track of study within the biology department that allowed me to explore medicinal plant research, culminating in my independent research project on the anti-viral properties of Mexican oregano (though I would have loved to have formally studied cannabis, if allowed). After graduation, I worked in oncology research, hoping that would be my way of bringing cannabis into my academic world as I saw, and now continue to see, cannabis as the “all-star plant medicine.” Unfortunately, when that chance came and a professor from Brown proposed a cannabis trial to the oncology research group, he was laughed out of the office. Realizing the oncology industry was not for me, I quit shortly thereafter and packed my bags to head across the country to Portland, Oregon, sight unseen. I serendipitously arrived beginning of September 2015, a month before the early onset of adult-use cannabis sales were to become legal in Oregon. So I got a job at a dispensary as a budtender and I’ve been in the industry ever since.
Matt Taylor: In summation, I believe cannabis is an agent towards positively revolutionizing many facets of the human experience. Cannabis can act as a powerful guide in introspection and self-growth. It aids in compassion/empathy as it can enable you to explore different angles of perspective. Cannabis reduces stress, an epidemic in our modern world and a major precursor to imbalance and disease in our bodies. It allows you to drop into the present moment, increasing focus. It expands creativity and unlocks your ability to discover inspiration in nearly everything around you. I could go on much further!
My path to Cannabis started at age 20 out of curiosity and fun after having spent prior years with a strong aversion to it. I would have to excuse myself from the room to go laugh uncontrollably in my bedroom for 15 minutes straight the first few times I smoked weed. That eventually led to a deep intrigue especially due to the stigma and illicit nature of cannabis. Suddenly, the younger, rowdier, not-so-law-abiding version of myself ended up in a position of supplying it to a widespread network of friends back on the East Coast where I originate. Eventually, my path led me to supply a prestigious producer in the R&B/hip hop/pop industry. This relationship grew organically, which led to being invited to work for him and assist in the startup of his record label along with my dear friend that connected us. This experience elucidated to me what it is to be self-made, that anything is possible if you have focus, resilience, and work ethic. I met some incredibly inspiring and highly successful people through this and very much shaped me into the person I am today.
Before and after that year, I was making my way up through the ranks from teller to lending officer in various financial institutions. This sharpened my ability to understand the realm of finances, and how to manage money properly. All of these experiences provided me skills that I then applied in the dispensary that Emma and I met as co-workers, and we quickly climbed the ranks together.
WB: Please tell me about your consulting company, Eminent Consulting Firm. What are your six and twelve month goals? What about stigmas? Obstacles?
EC: I see Eminent as having two arms: science-forward cannabis education and strategic business development. We have created an online course curriculum designed for industry professionals and lay enthusiasts alike that presents scientific evidence regarding cannabis and its purported effects in a digestible and entertaining fashion. I’m really proud of it as it has been years in the making and I continue to believe there is great need for reputable education and training in this industry, so to be able to provide that service is a mission dear to my heart. In addition to developing educational materials, we also advise clients emerging into the cannabis industry on strategic business development, assisting with everything from design ideation to market launch. We infuse craft ethos, organic methodology, authentic relationship building, ethical manufacturing, and science-forward education into all of our client groups. With both of our company’s facets in mind, our goals are to launch our online course program into the world, helping cannabis businesses across the globe adopt training for their staff and encouraging policymakers to require training on cannabis and its purported effects for dispensary staff especially. For our clients, we hope to help them develop more brands and assist them in launching them to their communities. We’re especially excited about our group in Oklahoma — many cool projects we’re working on that will come to fruition in this next year.
MT: Yes, I echo Emma’s response. Our six-month goal is to establish good traction with our Online Cannabis Education Program via marketing efforts. Simultaneously, we will be in the planning and early development phases of our next project with our clients (and now friends) in Oklahoma. Twelve months from now, we will likely have completed and launched this project to the public. We are really looking forward to collaborating so closely together on this project, essentially birthing a brain-child! What we find very rewarding, is that our position as consultants grants us the opportunity to impart our ethos to our clients in newly legal states.
Our ethics have been defined by our backgrounds and past experiences. Emma came out of the womb committed to the path of high achievements. Through her tenure at Brown, a renowned progressive ivy league university, she was able to hone her mission and gain expertise in botanical medicine. I have spent almost my entire life involved in DIY-centric (though I prefer the term Do-It-Together) subcultures. There is a common thread through being actively involved in underground indie and punk scenes, skateboarding, graffiti, and the illicit cannabis market— they inadvertently train you to become what I call a Happen-Maker. You and the tightly knit community that you develop identify a mission to complete, and then you all figure out a way to make it happen. This includes strategizing against the opposing forces acting against you, and successfully overcoming them. So, we’ve applied these raw units of experience among the Oregon cannabis community over the last five years. Through our work, we’ve refined and expanded upon those raw units, and have converted them into the building blocks in which we’ve constructed Eminent. I believe by imparting our knowledge and guidance to our clients, we are working to dismantle cannabis stigmas in their communities.
WB: What markets do you want to enter? Do you have a professional mentor to help you achieve this goal?
Emma: I’d love to enter into the developing markets on the East Coast. Both Matt and I are born and bred East Coasters, so it means a lot to us to be able to influence our home states to adopt business practices that include craft ethos and science-forward education. Zoe Wilder and her partner Mike have mentored me and encouraged my more public presence in cannabis, and for that I am so grateful— it has been instrumental to mine and Eminent’s success. Matt and I would also love to have a business mentor who aligns with our values, so if any of you are out there please reach out!
Matt: Yes. Absolutely feel it is important to elevate the cannabis communities back East. In addition, I have a growing desire to expand into international markets-specifically Australia and New Zealand! That would be a major check off of my bucket list, and based on many many conversations, I know that applies to Emma as well.
WB: Favorite food memory? Favorite meal?
Emma: Yes, I love discussing food memories with you Warren! Sunday dinners at my grandma’s house will always be my favorite food memory. We’re a big, New York, Italian family and food is our love language. Chicken cutlets, penne alla vodka, broccoli rabe are all favorite foods of mine. To celebrate a successful year in business, Matt and I traveled to Tuscany together last fall and the food was absolutely divine — plates of gnocchi with walnut sauce, penne all’arrabbiata, trofie with pesto, focaccia, prosciutto, so many delicious meals. Italian food forever.
Matt: To this day, I’ve never appreciated a meal more than eating a Pepperoni Stromboli in my bed at my Dad’s house after coming home from having surgery on my hand. I was still very out of it from the anesthesia and analgesic drugs, but WOW after having to fast for the 24 hours prior to surgery, it was an ultimate experience. That was in 2006 and I have ceased to consume animal products since then. More recently, the Penne Arrabbiata that Emma and I ate in a tiny little restaurant in a small alleyway within the walls of Lucca, Italy— that meal was pure glory, and has inspired me to perfect my own Arrabbiata sauce.
WB: What is your passion?
Emma: Besides cannabis education, coaching people through life’s challenges and providing advice are things that I’m quite good at and also find very fulfilling. I love doing this through one-on-one coaching sessions, and public speaking. To recharge from this external output, I love to cook, bake bread, hang out with animals, embroider, read fiction, and watch trash reality TV.
Matt: Outside of cannabis, I achieve immense fulfillment from creating and performing music. I’ve played guitar since I was 8 years old, and have since been in many bands and produced many songs and projects over the years. Additionally, I dedicate a lot of my life to being utilized and in service to another’s journey. I love to recognize achievable potential among my peers/friends/collaborators, and I love helping them level up in their creative endeavors. Providing sound and constructive advice is an ability both Emma and I share. We joke often that eventually Eminent will evolve into a Life Coaching business.
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