The Women Behind the Products: Q&A With Bridget Conry and Amy Bacon
Happy Women’s History Month! Here at CVD, we are proud to have cultivated a team where more than half of the leadership roles are held by women. This greatly influences everything we do – from our workplace culture, to the products we create and the customer service we provide.
We are also lucky to work with a variety of women-led businesses. This month, our sister company Ceres Remedies has featured these partners on their Instagram every Monday and have been doing giveaways to promote their products. Additionally, 20% of every purchase of products from women-led businesses at Ceres this month will be donated to The Vermont Women’s Fund.
To round out Women’s History Month, we wanted to highlight the stories of two talented women who work at our own organization. Bridget Conry, Director of Brand Experience, and Amy Bacon, Production Manager hold important roles at Ceres. As Production Manager and Director of Brand Experience, they curate the entire customer experience from when the product is created all the way to when it ends up in your home. Their unique perspectives and backgrounds add value to our products and we’re lucky to have them on our team.
As our Director of Brand Experience, Bridget Conry is the lead on Research and Product Development, plus all things marketing and our educational functions. She began her career with CVD in 2013 as the Infusion Kitchen Manager. In 2015, she was promoted to Director of Operations, overseeing five departments: Processing, QC Lab, Extraction, Infused Kitchen and Facilities. She has studied and practiced traditional systems of herbal medicine for over 20 years, completing certification programs in the therapeutic applications of essential oils through Floracopeia and herbal internships at both the Eldermoon School of Herbs and Goldthread Herb Farm.
Amy Bacon, our Production Manager, is a native of Colchester, Vermont, and a UVM graduate. After college, she moved to San Francisco to attend the California Culinary Academy. Amy’s first job as a professional chef was at the world-famous Chez Panisse in Berkeley. She worked for three years under the tutelage of Chef Alice Waters, a pioneer in the Farm to Table movement. She then joined the team at CVD in 2014 when she took over management of the Infusion Kitchen. In 2018 she took the role of Production Manager and was given the added responsibilities of managing harvest and packaging.
What’s it like being a woman in the industry according to Bridget and Amy? Here’s what they said.
When did you realize this was an industry you wanted to be in? What excites you about the Cannabis Space?
Bridget: I became interested the moment I heard about Shayne’s (CVD’s Executive Director) plan to submit an application for the medical program back in 2012. At the time I was living in the Berkshires managing a bakery cafe and building my herbal business, Elemental Herbal Apothecary. Massachusetts did not have a medical cannabis program yet so this was my first opportunity to enter the industry.
Amy: When my sister-in-law was battling breast cancer, her only relief from the side effects of chemotherapy was when she used a Cannabis edible. I thought this is a real example of using food for medicine, and it inspired me to get involved.
How have you seen the industry change over the years you have worked with CVD?
Bridget: The industry has seen exponential, global growth since I began 8 years ago. The level of professionalism rises in step with the expansion of legalization as skilled workers and thought leaders in other industries move into this space. Decriminalization and the expungement of criminal records have also brought new talent into the marketplace.
Amy: The atmosphere of this industry is that it is always changing! The most exciting aspect for me personally is that when I began 6 years ago, my job felt slightly taboo and I did not share information about it with many people. Now, because of the changing landscape and legalization across the country, my job feels more valued and accepted within the mainstream.
What is it like being a woman in the Cannabis Space?
Bridget: I think it is a great time to be a woman in the cannabis space. The merging of increased social equity awareness in our country alongside the birth of this industry is giving women new economic opportunities. In my own professional experience, I engage with women in leadership positions in this industry far more than I have in any other. In addition, as new markets emerge, women are often being given preference in the licensing process. I am hopeful that a lot of Vermont women entrepreneurs will seize upon this opportunity. I look forward to collaborating with them to build an exceptional cannabis marketplace here in Vermont.
Amy: It feels very natural. After all, it is the female plant that yields the flowers that produce the medicinal and recreational benefits of cannabis.
What is the best thing about having a career in this industry?
Bridget: That’s a tough question to answer because there are so many things that I love about what I do. I guess the part I like the best is building something from the ground up. I thrive in a start-up atmosphere. Maybe it is the athlete in me, but I love the dynamic environment which demands that I consider new inputs and perspectives on a daily basis. If you want to be in this industry, you need to embrace change.
Amy: I like that the industry is evolving. New discoveries are being made. New laws are bringing the value of this plant into the mainstream. I think the best part is realizing that the products that we make really have an impact on our patients’ lives.
What advice would you give to women who are looking to break into the cannabis industry?
Bridget: Start building relationships now. There is so much to learn and it helps if you have supportive, knowledgeable people around you. Attend cannabis events to meet people and to learn. All of this is happening online right now due to COVID, but it is still great content. In some respects, the digital space is providing more access to top level talent. I have learned a lot and made some important connections by following brands on IG. Finally, make the step and apply for a job in the industry. One thing that I have learned in my 8 years of experience is that most people have misconceptions about what it is going to be like to work in this industry. Better to see it sooner from the inside out before you make considerable investments of time, effort and money into what you think it might be.
Amy: Find an aspect of Cannabis that appeals to you. Whether it is being in the garden, kitchen, dispensary or laboratory, explore the opportunities they have to offer. You may be surprised how your past experience can transfer quite well into this industry!