Hermanas investor Jennifer Lujan has been working in social impact since the beginning of her career. Being a Latina, a mom, and a burner have all impacted how she sees community, education and the role of psychedelics as well as other plants as agents of healing.
We talked to her about her many life projects as well as her connection with Hermanas.
Q: What’s your story Jennifer?
A: I am originally from El Paso, Texas, which is predominantly Hispanic. First one to go to college in my family. I took many different career paths, but I would say all of them have the common theme of social impact, whether working for nonprofits or working in politics, or doing a lot of advocacy work, to then doing impact work in the corporate world.
Q: When was the moment, throughout your career when you were like, okay, I want to keep working in impact-driven initiatives but now with plant medicine?
A: Probably back in the 2013 / 2014. I was already in San Francisco and you heard a lot about psychedelics then. I’ve always had this strong connection with the land and the earth and plants, so these conversations around plants and psychedelics resonated with me, always. But it was when I actually walked into a cannabis facility that I could feel this energy of so many plants and then I saw how much all of these plants have healed many patients, specifically cancer patients, or people who are dealing with so much pain. Seeing them get off their pain medication and spend their last days or months of their lives with their families in way less pain, opened a new door to me.
Q: This is when Weed for Good was born?
A: Yes, I started to travel the world and meet with other practitioners who offered different modalities of different plant medicines. Different alternatives to the standard western practices for healing. I then found a deep passion for these healing modalities, specifically, plant medicines and so I pivoted my social impact career into cannabis where I started to work directly with patients. The mission with Weed for Good was to create opportunities and access for patients who are terminally ill, specifically hospital patients to receive access to cannabis, which could be used in replacement of opiates. And I saw how this transformed so many people who were in that terminally ill stage that it took me into a deeper level of knowing and seeing the power of not only cannabis, but psychedelics and plant medicines.
Q: You then pivoted to focus on social equity in cannabis. Can you tell me more about that?
A: As cannabis moved into the legal realm for adult use, the industry recognized that we need to correct the harms from the impact of the War on Drugs. I started a philanthropic arm for a company called Eaze, one of US’ largest cannabis delivery companies. Fast forward, I created an accelerator, which focuses on social equity and providing access.
Q: Tell me more about this…
A: Momentum [the name of the accelerator] is an accelerator for underrepresented entrepreneurs in the cannabis space, so BIPOC, Women, LGBTQIA and it gives them opportunities in the space by entering capital, pairing them with investors and mentors, and giving them very strategic partnerships either with investors or with retailers and dispensaries.
Q: Oh wow, and now psychedelics on top of that?
A: Yes, now we’re getting into the realm of psychedelics. Trying to give indigenous voices a space in the industry.
Q: It sounds like you’ve always been connected with the land and indigenous voices. And now you are a steward of a 12-acre property that you share with a wide community. How did you get there and what’s the purpose of that place?
A: Right before covid hit, I had my son Mateo and at that time, a lot of things were closed off and that’s when we moved outside the city, just outside of San Francisco, in a place called Bolinas. Like many people, we had this huge desire to get a piece of land and live in community and grow our own food. This was a big shift towards building community and also of understanding the importance of it, while also reconnecting with nature. Those two things became really important.
Q: What happens there?
A: We are creating an education centre for all ages. We have a forest preschool that we run, so it's an outdoor learning for two and three year olds. And we have started to have different workshops, retreats and after school programming that's centred around regenerative principles and gives access to nature.
The community didn’t have a preschool, so some parents came together and created a forest school on the land. It is all outdoor learning and allows the children to discover the magic of the natural world. About 90% of the time, even rain or shine, these children are outside and everything they learn is centred around nature.
Q: What does community mean to you?
A: I think community for me is creating an environment and an ecosystem that allows you to feel supported by others, to feel like you belong. Belonging is probably you know, the first real word that comes to mind. Community for me has meant so many different things. It's my family… my blood family, my chosen family.
Q: I also wanted to ask you what led you to invest in Hermanas?
A: Putting my investor hat on: I was impressed that there was already an MVP. There was already this product, you already had your audience you already had people who are invested into it, and your customer acquisition is one of the hardest things that people spend so much money on. I really trusted Dragana, who had built a strong community of women over years, to build and scale something bigger and more impactful. I really also admired how Hermanas tries to keep it focused from the female perspective, have only female investors kind of just as the foundation of Hermanas. I think Hermanas is very mission driven, which I appreciate. I invest in people and it felt right.