A Preview of Gossamer’s New Night Issue
A Preview of Gossamer’s New Night Issue
This week, WW caught up with Verena von Pfetten, co-founder of the modern cannabis-focused quarterly, Gossamer. Meeting over at New York’s new favorite downtown bar and restaurant, Short Stories on Bowery, we indulged in some tasty cocktails and health-focused food, and took a look through the latest issue, Night.
It’s a time that I never would have thought possible back in grade school when I was grounded after my parents caught me in our driveway with smoke billowing out of my hot-boxed car — weed is fast becoming legal. With this in mind, the New York-based publication was crafted, “for people who also smoke weed.” Gossamer focuses on things like travel, art, culture and cuisine, but through “a green lens.” Volume Three is comprised of 144 pages, which focus on different impressions and interpretations of the word, night. Contributors and subjects range from stylist Kate Young, actress Kirby Howell-Baptiste and activist/writer Amelia Diamond. In conjunction with the release of Night, the company also launched a new CBD oil called Dusk. Made with the highest-quality ingredients, it’s the perfect thing to take 20 minutes before the end of GOT, so once it’s over you can calm down from the shock and confusion over Dany’s behavior and get enough sleep for work Monday morning.
Tell me about Gossamer: it’s inception and growth. Has anything along the way surprised you? How has the industry changed since you began? It’s just crazy how quickly the industry has grown and changed. We first came up with the idea behind Gossamer almost four years ago, and there was literally nothing out there that approached cannabis from the kind of lifestyle perspective that we wanted to see. And I’m really happy to see more and more brands that are elevating and normalizing the conversation—a rising tide raises all ships, or whatever. But that’s only interesting or exciting to me if they’re addressing the inequities of cannabis as well. I am constantly surprised—stunned, really—by the number of brands that make no effort to contribute to or address the devastating disparity between the people currently profiting in cannabis and those who have been and are still being harmed by the so-called War on Drugs. That’s surprising, depressing, and deeply fucked up, as far as I’m concerned. We were chatting about your meeting with the one CEO in the industry who’s a woman. Is it inevitable that most industries, without people (white men) making the effort, will be predominantly white and male? Great question. The woman I was referencing is Alison Gordon. She’s the only female CEO of a publicly traded cannabis company—and she’s brilliant. (And smart, driven, funny, supportive—the list goes on.) There’s a stat that’s a few years old at this point that is still often cited about how there are more women in C-level roles in cannabis than in any other industry. First of all, that’s cool, but there are only “more” in cannabis because the number in almost every other industry is abysmally low. Secondly, that stat, which I think was around 34% (of C-Level roles are held by women) has plummeted in the last few years—as more and more VCs and investors throw money into the space. As with everything, that money is going almost exclusively to white men. What can be done about it? There are a handful of groups and funds and nonprofits that are trying to address all the ways cannabis is, unfortunately, becoming less diverse and more unequal. Tahira Rehmatullah is another woman leading the way. She and Emily Paxhia, both fund managers and known for supporting women and minorities in the space, are senior advisers to a new fund focusing on female and minority founders in cannabis. But it shouldn’t be only on women and people of color to solve this problem. As for what can be done about it, banks could start by easing up their regulations around cannabis and hemp, which would allow underrepresented founders and business owners to access capital in the form of small business loans that doesn’t require institutional funding (which is deeply and unfortunately biased towards white men), funds and private equity could and should be doing the work to support and invest in companies founded by women and people of color. And consumers should put in the extra time (for now!) to research the brands, stores, publications, and companies they support. Money goes a long way and consumers have an incredible amount of power in this industry right now. What are your five favorite marijuana-based/focused items on the market right now? There’s a new brand called Rose out of LA that makes the most delicious little Turkish Delights that are infused with rosin and make for a lovely little high. I’m newly obsessed with Paradiso Gardens flower, and love that they’re a female-founded company. Plus, their branding is great. And then lastly, I’m a big fan of disposable vapes (even as I struggle with the environmental ramifications). Sunday Goods, Besito, and Roam are all in heavy rotation.
How does one exactly approach a publication’s content with green-colored lenses? We like to say that weed is the least interesting part of weed. What happens before, during, and after you consume is far more interesting, and I think speaks to the actual way people relate to the plant. Whatever your reason for consuming, the common thread is to have a better experience: sleeping, eating, laughing, going on a hike, managing pain, taking in an art exhibit. So we try to cover those kinds of things—art, culture, food, design, humor, product, travel—for someone who smokes weed, but isn’t defined by that fact. Sometimes that means there’s a weed angle, and sometimes it just means we think the subject might be of interest to our audience, or particularly interesting to someone who’s in a certain mindset, so to speak. [Laughs] The best part, though, is that because we speak to a mindset more than a topic, we’re able to give our contributors a ton of freedom. Our favorite prompt is to ask a writer, illustrator, or photographer if they have an idea they’ve been trying to place that no one else will take. We’ve gotten some of our best features that way. Plus, passionate writers are the best writers—which is true for all mediums, frankly. This latest issue is about Night — give us a few highlights from the issue! Our Conversations with stylist Kate Young and actress Kirby Howell-Baptiste are at the top of the list, for sure, mostly because neither have anything to do with the space, while being open and refreshingly thoughtful about their personal relationship with cannabis. Plus, they’re both just smart, funny, and aspirationally cool. Anjali Khosla’s feature on the 50th anniversary of artist Lee Lozano’s Grass and No Grass pieces is a great example of content that relates to cannabis but is of interest whether you smoke or not. It doesn’t hurt that Anjali is a brilliant writer and we’re honored to have her in the issue. And then Caroline Lafayette and Marina Melentieva’s photo essay riffing on a night of insomnia is a visual treat. We gave them the theme of the issue—Night—and told them to do whatever they wanted with it. They came back a few weeks later with their images and I lost my mind. There were almost too many amazing shots to choose from.