A Q&A featuring @sunnny.daze & @mccartergetshigh
Tell us a little about yourself and your journey with cannabis.
For me, I first found major relief in the plant when I was struggling with depression in high school at the same time my parents were going through a divorce. After experiencing some terrible side effects from depression medications, I found solace in the natural antidepressant properties in cannabis. I went on to be a regular consumer of the plant throughout college while maintaining a 3.8 GPA and completing a rigorous fellowship (cannabis definitely helped me get through that stressful time, too!), but I still thought that as soon as I graduated I would have to stop due to the stigmas that our society enforces about adult cannabis users: they’re lazy, they can’t hold down a respectable job, they won’t be taken seriously. However, upon moving out to Colorado after graduation, I found that that wasn’t quite the case.
I started smoking when most of my friends started drinking alcohol as we entered high school. I immediately knew I preferred cannabis over alcohol, although I didn’t realize at the time that I was using cannabis as an escape and treatment for my anxiety and depression. I hid my cannabis use in high school due to stigma, the illegal aspect and the fact that I had signed a “no drug and alcohol policy” for varsity sports. Using cannabis became a daily occurrence in college until I received two possession of marijuana charges in Indiana. After that, I knew I had to move to a legal state, and Colorado was the obvious choice due to its general proximity to my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri and the lovely rocky mountains. I started working as a music writer and editor (my college degree was in creative writing and journalism), but I soon started writing cannabis news and quickly moved onto cannabis public relations, social media, content creation, and influencer marketing.
How would you describe your image and style?
When creating content, we always aim to incorporate our feminine aesthetic, as the number one demographic we’re trying to appeal to is actually women who are cannabis-curious and interested in trying the plant. Often times, cannabis content caters to the male perspective, but studies show that women are the fastest-growing group of cannabis consumers. Which makes so much sense, because women are more likely to care about the health and wellness movement! We always want to create content that makes them feel comfortable about testing the new waters.
When did you start creating cannabis-related content? Which social media platform is best for showcasing your creative work?
I started creating my own cannabis content in 2016. I had been working for a cannabis media company selling ad space when their content creation team started pulling me into photoshoots because they needed a female to shoot with. I quickly realized that I could combine my long-time love for both photography and for cannabis, so I started my Instagram account, @sunnny.daze, to semi-anonymously share my content with the world.
I began focusing on cannabis content when I started working for a cannabis PR firm in Denver. I saw other creators doing it and I was already smoking so much, I started to play around with filters and engaging with other creators. It was super fun and the community was so welcoming. I never looked back. After @sunnny.daze and I met in the summer of 2018 (on Instagram!) and started hanging out and smoking together all the time, we quickly realized we had the same goals when it came to spreading the word about cannabis through our content, and we soon quit our jobs to start our own creative partnership. We have been hustling and living our green dreams ever since!
We have found that Instagram is the most widely used platform to share cannabis content, despite being owned by Facebook who is not the most tolerant of cannabis. We are constantly worried about being targeted by the anti-cannabis Instagram police, but we do have friends who have gotten their pages deleted and managed to get them back eventually after working with Instagram to prove that they are legally consuming and operating as legal business entities.
How has legalization impacted your career and content opportunities? Do you believe that work still needs to be done in terms of cannabis advocacy?
As the cannabis movement progresses, so too do the opportunities for us to create content and educate consumers in new markets. There’s definitely still a lot of work to be done in states like MO, McCarter’s home state, that is newer to legalization and still have huge populations of people who don’t understand all of the power of cannabis. Education is so important in these changing times!
Walk us through your creative process: How much work really goes into cannabis content creation?
A lot more work than people realize! We start by identifying the goal and target demographic for the client we are creating for, and then we create a mood board of images that inspire us and capture the essence of what our client is looking for. Once we know that the client is on the same page as us, we will start setting up shoot logistics: do we want our faces to be a part of it, or do we need new faces to feature; do we want to bring in an outside photographer or do we want to shoot it ourselves; do we need additional props to fully tell the story? Our #1 goal is to make the content feel authentic to our lifestyle and our personalities. We love to work with other creatives to achieve this! Our main criteria for choosing who to collaborate with are simply that they are down to collaborate just as much as we do, and that they want to help us honor the plant through visual content. Collaboration over competition is key – we all have so many ways we can help each other grow!
Do you have any advice for those who want to monetize their Instagram accounts and grow a following by creating cannabis content?
Be brave, be bold! Start showcasing your unique perspective of cannabis. Share your thoughts and the unique parts of your personality in your captions, not just your images. Reach out to people in your area that might be trying to do the same thing. Both of our careers as cannabis content creators really started to take off after we began collaborating with other creatives and contributing to creative projects that others like us were working on.
Shameless plug time! Tell us about any existing or future projects our readers should definitely check out and where they can find you online:
You can find us at @okokcreative, @sunnny.daze, and @mccartergetshigh on Instagram! We have some big travel plans and big projects in the works that we will be announcing very soon on those channels, so tune in to find out what we have in store next for the cannabis industry!