Photo by Helena Kubica de Braganca
Humble Bloom Advocates for Equality in Cannabis
Utilizing their platform for the benefit of others, Humble Bloom’s founders Solonje Burnett and Danniel Swatosh have the meritorious goal of bringing equity to the cannabis community with the re-launch of their website and new conscious storefront.
Humble Bloom, self-described in their press release as “a cannabis immersive education and advocacy platform,” has embraced the unprecedented pandemic as an opportunity for their brand to pivot. Like soil newly-enriched with minerals from the devastation of a fire allowing for new growth to flourish, Humble Bloom has re-emerged with a strategy for success which aligns with their core values and propels the cannabis industry forward.
The burgeoning adult-use cannabis market can serve as a catalyst for change to bring equity for a largely marginalized community. Humble Bloom, and the admirable efforts of founders Solonje Burnett and Danniel Swatosh, utilize their platform as a beacon of hope on the path to equity.
As consumers increasingly demand that the companies they support align with their personal beliefs, an explosion of consumerism means we are simply overwhelmed with options. The act of choice is challenging at best and crippling at worst, even more so when supporting the brand means supporting altruistic intent as an extension of one’s own activism. Humble Bloom’s online store serves as a way for the consumer to establish a connection with mindful brands.
By supporting their featured offering, the consumer harnesses the power of choice, amplifying efforts to achieve an ambitious goal of bringing equity to a space that has overwhelmingly disenfranchised the BIPoC community. The online storefront highlights twenty brands, nearly all of which are Womxn-owned, and over half are BIPoC with 33% Black-owned. Humble Bloom’s purpose-driven mindset is twofold, the storefront informs the consumer while also providing gentle guidance toward the small businesses in which they should invest. This two-pronged approach reinforces the sense of alliance that comes from building a community of like-minded individuals.
Emerald discussed the website re-launch with founders Solonje Burnett and Danniel Swatosh. Their unique perspective and insightful responses are below:
Editor’s Note: Interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Emerald Magazine (EM): How were the featured brands sourced for the shop?
Solonje Burnett (SB): The brands are a mix of those we’ve discovered throughout our time in the cannabis industry seeking purpose driven leaders who do it right. Many we’ve collaborated with in our experiences like our HB Field Trip at Aster Farms which featured Potli, Dogwood Botanicals, TAYLOR + Tess, and Winged. Others have been incredible supporters and partners including PrestoDoctor, Veda Warrior, Quim, Tonic, and Soul Addict.
These small businesses are tested and true. We know the founders and value how they show up in the world. They operate from a heart space of honesty and integrity. Others are newer relationships we’ve initiated to begin the equity-based healing necessary in this industry and beyond. We dug into lists posted throughout the pandemic, who we and others we admire were following on Instagram, as well as others modes of research. After several months of discovery, we are proud to know and align with the likes of Ardent, BWFW, Unoia, Root to Ritual, Munisa Ceramica, Frigg, and several others.
Danniel Swatosh (DS): It’s more than sourcing or a selection process — it’s a relationship. We’ve spent the last two years getting to know brands, asking tough questions, meeting them where they are at and showing up to amplify, nurture and support their growth. Our relationships have been reciprocal — not transactional — based on appreciation, respect, trust and open and honest communication. We work together to craft an industry that goes beyond a product, it becomes a purpose, driven by passion and a dedication to people, the plant and the planet.
EM: Are there active outreach initiatives to new BIPoC brands for future expansion of the shop?
SB: At the moment we are focused on the 20 brands, of which more than half are BIPOC. We’ve compiled and plan to work with them to spread awareness and education. We are always open to learning about others in the space and will continue to grow our knowledge in order to amplify Black and Brown brands to broader audiences.
Financial empowerment coupled with a co-conspirator culture is key to economic equity. These models of giving back percentages of sales to organizations are nice but I’m reminded of the “Give a Man a Fish” proverb. BIPoC are not a charity. Temporary support isn’t enough. The culture must be re-educated as to why they should buy small, continually support Black, Brown, and womxn businesses to start to undo the structures of racist capitalist patriarchal oppression we’ve all normalized.
DS: Even though we are focused on the current brands and the launch, creating a space where content meets commerce, valuing knowledge sharing over selling and people over profit, we have more work to do.
Currently, we do not have an Indigenous-owned brand, not that we don’t know any brands. One of my favorites is Native Humboldt Farms, powerful medicine but unfortunately no CBD, created by the force that is Lindsey Renner farming on what was once her tribe’s land. We are in talks with a couple of other brands, so hopefully we’ll have an Indigenous-owned brand soon.
The deeper-rooted issue is legislation, when the fabric of our country is not inclusive, it is exclusive. Like in California’s Prop 64 not including Tribal Nations, essentially barring them from participating in the legal cannabis industry.
Look at New Jersey trying to pass legislation without equity built in or at the MORE Act that just passed in the House. The MORE Act was meant to decriminalize cannabis on a federal level and give back to communities most impacted by the War on Drugs. At the 11th hour amendments were added to the bill that require applicants to get federal permit, like people need more hoops in a broken system to jump through, and that people with cannabis convictions or participation in court proceedings could be denied permits. These amendments essentially throw the foundation of every equity program out the window. The bill also has no dates attached to expungement meaning that state by state they can do what they want.
Bills that impact our daily lives are being passed while people are sleeping. From demonstration to legislation, we have to break down these systems of oppression, demand community reinvestment and equitable access to the cannabis industry. We cannot legalize the plant while still criminalizing people.
EM: What are the future plans for the Humble Bloom Marketplace?
DS: I don’t know about the future, but what I promise for the present for the Humble Bloom platform is a cross-section of brands and cultural education that will continue to use cannabis as a conduit for wider societal change.
We’ve had our vision, but nothing is completed until experienced. Now it’s time to listen, given the complexity of what we are creating and who we are trying to serve, there’s still work to be done. We look forward to exploring, to feedback and to doing better.
Beyond the Humble Bloom Platform + Marketplace we are consulting brands to cultivate their human essence, the soul of the brand and to build it into their core, going beyond a social post and into actions that show they care which ultimately builds customer loyalty and affects their bottom line. From purpose to purchase, values are valuable, consumers are looking for brands to provide more than a product but also emotional and societal benefits. They are starting to understand the power of their dollar and are truly considering who they are supporting and who they are not.
EM: How exactly do you intend to use the platform to elevate BIPoC brands?
DS: By continuing to amplify and support of Asian, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, People of Color, Womxn, Trans, Gender-Nonconforming, and LGBTQIA+ owned business. By sharing their knowledge and telling the stories of the people behind the brands, their purpose and their practice through a meet the maker [series], guest blogging, interviews, brand showcasing and intentional experiences whether URL or IRL that cross-pollinate ideas to create a multitude of access points for diverse communities to engage.
[We are] creating a space where people feel represented and their interests and needs [are] reflected. Also, [we are] keeping them in heart and mind as opportunities flow, connecting the dots, introductions and collaborative creation for everyone to evolve and grow. It’s all about breaking out of our eco-spheres. Cannabis is intrinsically intertwined in our evolution, touching all things, so let’s not think in a box.
To learn more, and to support BIPoC brands, visit Humble Bloom
Written By Katie Bryan