Throughout history, cannabis enthusiasts have proven to be innovative, creative, and thought-provoking, producing work that has inspired debate and adoration for decades.
Research shows that cannabis and creativity often work hand-in-hand, as the plant has been shown to tap into our brain’s frontal lobe to enhance creative divergent thinking.
Perhaps that’s why it’s not surprising a large portion of the cannabis community are trailblazers within their craft.
For those artists who use marijuana as inspiration for their work, it’s often difficult to find a place to showcase it.
For example, the popular e-commerce website Etsy, while it does not outright prohibit merchant shops to sell products depicting cannabis, their policies state that cannabis, CBD, and paraphernalia cannot be sold.
This creates a gray area for artists, who risk being shut down for policy violations.
COVID-19 has made it even harder for artists and small businesses to stay afloat.
Add marijuana to the mix and it’s even more of a challenge.
Thankfully, two pioneers within the cannabis industry created a solution.
Abbey Weintraub Sklar and Rebecca Goldberg are both outspoken advocates of cannabis who co-founded the online multi-vendor marketplace The Artsy Leaf out of necessity.
They realized there are multitudes of international artisans and makers crafting unique products for the cannabis-friendly consumer, but they are scattered among traditional channels and are often censored from tech platforms entirely.
Sklar and Goldberg realized that there was a dire need for an online multi-vendor marketplace dedicated to featuring creators and consumers within the cannabis industry.
The Artsy Leaf was born out of COVID-19, after a planned in-person CBD marketplace was defunct due to event shutdowns. Their website is now more important than ever.
“We saw a huge need for existing vendors and artisans to have a space to sell their wares, [a space] they don’t have to fully market and build themselves. We saw a need for people who are starting to turn a hobby into a side-hustle,” said Sklar. “I think the Artsy Leaf is really exciting and positioned well for us to be able to bring tools to people who are trying to turn a passion project into a reliable source of income, to pandemic-proof themselves for the future.”
Sklar and Goldberg both have considerable experience in marketing and event management for both the cannabis and entertainment industries.
In 2018, they used their passion for networking and bridging connections to create the cannabis industry ancillary event management firm Green-ology Event Group.
While at Green-ology, Sklar and Goldberg organized events for cannabis industry professionals and partnered with brands specifically to bring awareness to the benefits of cannabis.
While producing live events now seems like a thing of the past, the importance of connection within the cannabis industry is not lost in a virtual world.
“Events are what bring people together and we knew we could also make that happen virtually. We started looking into what was happening in the industry, both cannabis and also events, and noticed that [the industry] needed an aggregator to bring people together,” said Goldberg. “Yes, there’s Etsy and this is very similar to that, but we want to make it so much more and bring in our event experience and bring in those virtual experiences.”
Etsy can be quite restricting for those within the cannabis industry, as the site doesn’t allow product listing images, descriptions or tags to reference cannabis in any form, which can make it difficult for vendors to effectively market their products.
The Artsy Leaf was created to aid vendors and small-businesses, with an emphasis on strengthening their online cannabis community.
The Artsy Leaf model incorporates advertising, SEO consulting, and a promise to avoid hidden processing or advertising fees.
“Everybody can have a piece of the pie. We want to be partners and help our vendors succeed. We want the buyers to see they’re still buying from a small business and still shopping small. They’re still supporting a small start-up business by purchasing through the Artsy Leaf versus a bigger conglomerate like Etsy,” said Sklar.
Sklar and Goldberg have big plans for the Artsy Leaf that isn’t just limited to an online platform. In the future, they have a vision for exciting in-person events.
The duo are launching their website February 24 with fourteen unique vendors and many more soon to come. Customers can still visit the site in advance, but transactions can’t be made until that date.
While their website is a virtual marketplace at the moment, for the next six months they will be working on building their community partners and ancillary service vendors to further help people build a business.
Goldberg says that this is a great opportunity to help educate and provide artists or small businesses with ways to grow their brand compliantly.
In the near future, they have plans to create more opportunities for artists by conducting in-person gatherings and regional makers markets, similar to art fairs.
“We really wanted to aim to be completely open, you can’t sell flower or any substance that you can consume, but anything related to the industry, supportive of the industry, or just art in general — this is the all encompassing multi-vendor site to do that,” said Goldberg. “When it comes to people who are productively expressing their views through art or creation that’s not at the expense of another community, then we support it wholeheartedly because that’s the beauty of art and kind of the beauty of the cannabis industry — all sorts of people are in this together.”
If you’re an aspiring artist or a small-business who has found it difficult promoting your work during the digital age of the pandemic, you’re not alone.
Even if your art isn’t cannabis related and you’re just searching for a safe space to share what you’ve been working on, the cannabis community is anything but unwelcoming.
This thriving melting pot of lively creators and cutting-edge visionaries could always use more members.
To learn more about The Artsy Leaf, make sure to virtually attend their launch party on the Emerge platform March 2, 2021 from 2 p.m. EST to 4 p.m. EST. We’ll see you there!