“I’ve always believed there was something bigger there, in cannabis, than getting high,” explains Jyl Ferris, a cannabis marketing maven and veteran of the community.
Ferris’ first experience with cannabis came in her teens. Unlike the friends she consumed with, Jyl didn’t break out into fits of the giggles. Instead, she recognized its potential to center her while opening up her creativity. In doing so, Ferris was able to think of concepts and ideas beyond what her day-to-day thinking would otherwise generate. “I would find myself getting more enjoyment from smoking alone, and then going and creating something. So I’ve been an artist since I was a child,” she explained.
Before getting into the cannabis industry, Ferris was often told by friends that it would be the perfect profession for her. However, she may just be a fit for a variety of work. “Before this, I was cooking, and everyone thought that was perfect, but this is extra perfect,” she explains to The Marijuana Times.
She would go on to learn about the plant’s healing potential. As a proponent of plant-based remedies, cannabis fit right into the regimen Ferris and her family subscribed to. Her first foray into the cannabis industry came when she sought out how to use the plant as an everyday remedy to increase the immune system and prevent diseases. This proved to be a difficult task on her own. “I couldn’t find any information, so I said, ‘Well, I’m not asking the right questions.’ I decided then, let me see if I can find the people.”
With only California as a medical marketplace and Colorado in its infancy, Ferris sought out networking groups in the New York City area. “I went to MeetUp and I typed in cannabis and looked for the people. I started networking in the industry in New York. That’s pretty much how I got started.” Her approach to marketing was rather simple. “I figured, you find the people, you’ll find the information. And once I found the people, I did find the information.”
Ferris had one job out of college before launching her studio, Jyl Ferris Designs. Over the years, she has taken on some full-time roles, including serving as Creative Director for the medical cannabis brand Tikun Olam. Regardless of the market, Ferris says that she has to be passionate about the product she markets for. “So, to me, cannabis is medicine, and being able to promote it, and to help people understand it, is amazing. I feel like I’m doing something good in the world.” She notes that, “With that passion, it really excites what I do.”
To get into the industry, Ferris believes it boils down to what a person knows. This applies to her field in particular, where regulations prohibit many traditional marketing measures. “I’ve worked with marketers that make mistakes in what they’re saying and how they’re communicating to people.”
To educate and ingrain yourself in the community, she suggests lots of reading and networking. For reading, she recommends a variety of material consisting of cultivation, history, medicine and numerous other subjects. For networking, her MeetUp idea proved quite fruitful. They include High NY and Women Grow, among others.
She also went in with a goal in mind. “I wanted to show who I was. I wanted to show that I’m capable, that I’m active, that I know my stuff.” With the knowledge in hand, Ferris saw herself making it to the top, thanks to her branding and marketing know-how. This has proven to be the case so far. Her accolades include being named as a leader driving the cannabis industry by Leafly.
Ferris’ blunt pearls of wisdom are likely part of why she’s made it to this level. When discussing industry gaffes, she wasn’t one to mince words. She started by saying, “First of all, you have to understand something, this is an industry that was, ‘Let me divide it up into little baggies and stick it under my ball sack and try to make sure that the cops don’t smell it as I’m doing my deliveries.’”
And she wasn’t one to be light on constructive criticism for a company. “A lot of people don’t understand that when you’re launching a brand, that 10 to 12% of your budget should be in marketing, that your marketing should start immediately.” She explains that there is more that is often misunderstood. “The importance of your naming, even. How you create an experience around the brand, it’s lacking.”
She was also quick to hand out praise to brands that are doing it right in the industry. They include Canndescent and MedMen, among others. For brands aiming to achieve this level of success, Ferris emphasizes brand consistency. A powerful mission statement will help steer a company. From there, focus on the customer experience and the environmental impact. In today’s space, Ferris sees leaders also providing information to the public.
When thinking of her New York cannabis community, she believes New York is overlooked when it comes to the cannabis community. The combination of a diverse cannabis workforce and the allure of the city helps bring professionals from across the country to New York networking events. “What we get the advantage of is speakers that are coming from Colorado, Washington, California, people that are coming from town and stopping by, these meetings are attracting, really, the top of the industry.”
Ferris sees New York as a hub that attracts the top names in the industry to its events as guests and speakers. As such, she emphasizes the need to advertise in the New York market. With hope, that will become apparent as the market grows.
After years of learning and positioning herself just where she wants to be, Ferris now hopes to reap the fruits of her labor. That includes helping herself find work, as well as others in the space. “I do most of the creative, whether it be conceptual or actually hands on myself. But I’m putting together teams in order to help me do the marketing with all of these efforts.” She adds, “I want to create a whole experience for my customers, to create an experience for their customers.”
By adhering to cannabis ethos throughout her journey, Jyl Ferris has learned and grown alongside the best in the industry. Over time, she became a force in the space herself where she continues to enhance her name and portfolio. With the sky as the limit, Ferris is just where she needs to be – and that excites her greatly.