Name: Bess Byers
Hometown: Richland, Washington
Current City: Seattle, Washington
Occupation: Cannabis Photographer, Digital Journalist and Founder of Blaise Creative
Bess Byers, also known as Cannabess is a Seattle-based cannabis photographer and founder of Blaise Creative. Before she stepped into the world of cannabis, she received a degree in Public Relations with a minor in Mandarin in Chinese, lived overseas in China for a year and started a political nonprofit to educate millennials about the national debt in Los Angeles. After four years in the City of Angels, Bess was ready to take her life to the next step. The original plan, move to Washington D.C. for a great political opportunity. About a month before her move, her friend who owned a grow in Washington state made a better offer.
"Well, I like pot more than politics and so does everyone else. Pot is still very political and beneficial to the economy. I like Washington state more than Washington D.C. so Washington state here I come," states Bess.
She worked at their grow for a year and helped with everything from startup duties all the way to sales and marketing. From there she worked in at a digital marketing agency and an international cannabis company. As of January, she officially started her own company where she works with companies she really believes in.
Read on to learn more about Bess' phenomenal journey.
Can you tell us a little bit about your company?
My company is called Blaise Creative because on my dad's side of the family, Blaise Belleau (my middle name is Belleau) moved from France in the 1500's and was really integral in the settling of Quebec. I figured, he really helped blaze that trail and its sort of what attracted me to it – pioneering the unknown. So, I do digital marketing, photography, videography, social media management, blogs, SEO and email campaigns.
You've worked with a handful of great companies/publications like Nike, Apple and Louis Vuitton. Do you have a dream collaboration/client?
Some of my clients like Nike, Apple and Louis Vuitton are from my marketing research days. Right now, my main client is Falcanna. I help them content and digital. Another client I work with frequently is Lazy Bee Gardens, an outdoor grow in Eastern Washington state. Then, I have a couple of other clients I am in negotiation with.
Are there any fun projects, collaborations or events on the books for you that our readers should know about?
Let's see... I don't like to share too much because I'm the person who likes to wait until it's live. I can tell you that I am planning to do a lot more video in 2018. I actually have a video project this week that I am pretty excited it. One of my really talented friends from Los Angeles is a videographer and I'm really excited to do lifestyle stuff with him.
When you’re not working on your company or assisting others, how are you spending your time?
Well, I don’t really a lot of free time. Ask my boyfriend. It was so funny because we celebrated Valentine's Day a day early and he was like, "Let's be honest Bess, you're going to have a laundry list of to-do items and you're not even going to have time to celebrate." And I'm like, "you're right."
When I am not working, I love to work out. I've jokingly said, "Man I need to work out," and people are worried it's due to body image. For me, working out is really a mental thing because it helps me destress and release endorphins.
There are a few things that I love to do when I'm working out. First, I love to do dabs and run the lake right next to my house. It’s about 3.5 miles and I’ll do a really big dab of Lemon Haze, put on some techno music and run as fast as I can around the lake. People probably think I'm crazy because I'm like untz untz as I run. Another thing I love to do is get high and do Zumba. I used to dance competitively growing up. Again, people probably think I am crazy because I'm so into it. Cannabis just really helps me let loose and feel the music and I love that.
Another thing I like to do when I’m not working, even though it can kind of feel like work, is a hike. If I’m going hiking, I’m obviously going to bring my camera and a bunch of joints. Additionally, we’ve got really good snowboarding and wakeboarding around here. Then kind of just hanging out at my house binge watching The Bachelor with my cat.
Say money and time were not a factor, would you still pursue your current path? If not, what career would chase?
If money was not a factor, I would 100% hire people to help me with the videography stuff and cranking out content exponentially more than I am now. I would probably be able to focus more on the political side of things as I am still really passionate about politics. I would love to see the 1080E repealed. I’d like to advocate for medical patients to own guns. As well as people being able to fly with their medicine if need be or kids being allowed to bring their CBD products to school if they need to. Right now, I’m one woman with only so many hours in the day. If money and time were not an issue, I would 100% be in the same industry, just going 10x harder than I am now.
Who are some of your greatest influences?
Definitely my dad and my mom. My dad, first and foremost, because he was the person growing up that always super anti-drug like, “ oh marijuana is so bad for you, don’t smoke or do drugs blah blah blah”. He was the first one who got me into photography. I’ve been carrying a camera to school since I was in the third grade. He got me my first digital camera when I was a freshman in high school when the max file sizes were less than a megabyte. He was also the one person when everyone else was encouraging me to go to D.C. and continue my political aspirations, that said, "No, get into cannabis because it’s a booming industry. It’s only going to get bigger." And I was like, “Are you just trying to get me back in Washington state and be closer to home?” And he was like “No, you should just get into this industry,” and I listened to my dad. It’s been a really crazy ride. I definitely wouldn’t be here without his encouragement.
Other than my dad, I love looking at different photographers on Instagram. I love some of the outdoorsy photographers I love and fashion bloggers. I’m always looking for inspiration as far as locations and styling.
So yeah, probably my dad and other types of creatives in the community.
To watch a video of Bess smoking with her pops, click HERE...
Discuss the importance of female friendships in your life.
Female friendships are huge. I am an only child, so growing up my friends really became my sisters. Thinking about it, I probably have like 7, 8 or 10 best friends that I talk to 3 times a week.
One of my best best friends has a child and I am the godparent, which is so crazy to have this child from birth know me as an aunt. Not only that, she's always known me as Aunt Bess, the flower photographer. It's really cool when Bridgette will FaceTime me and I'm in a garden because I make sure to show her what I'm doing. I'll explain to her what everything is so when she grows up, there isn't a stigma with it. It's just another plant that people use for recreational or medicinal purposes. It's not some scary drug.
It's been interesting for me to see how another of my best friends, Val, who is Panamanian born and East LA bred experiences in her day to day life. Once, she got pulled over driving my car because the lights were slightly dimmed and watching how the cops hassled her opened my eyes to what minority communities experience on a daily basis. It's helping me become more of an advocate, especially because I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood and wasn't exposed to it.
If you could have dinner with any woman in history, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Whoa, any woman in history? That’s a tough one because there are so many really amazing women. I’m going to say, because I was raised Catholic, Mary the Mother of Jesus. I have a lot of questions for her. I don’t know if she smokes or not, but she might...
What are you grateful for?
I am grateful for so much. I am grateful to have a family that supports me in anything I choose to pursue. I am grateful for my friends, that have equally supported me on this crazy journey I am on. I am grateful for all my followers, which sounds cliche, but I really wouldn't be where I am without the support of the cannabis community. It's crazy and inspiring how people reach out to me and share their stories. Sometimes it even makes me cry because are like, "You're an inspiration to me," and never in a million years did I imagine I would an inspiration to people. I am super grateful for the clients I work with and to be where I'm at today.
If you could offer one nugget of wisdom to individuals around the world, what would it be?
Never give up on your dreams. If you want to do something, you can do it, whether it was like me advocating for the national debt. How do you get people to care about the nation being $18 trillion, now $20 trillion in debt? If you want to do something, anything is possible and that’s kind of how I feel being in this position. Going freelance and starting my own company was really kind of scary at first and the inconsistency in pay/are people going to want to work with me? But where your attention goes, energy flows and if you put your mind to something, anything is possible.
Do you have a personal mantra or quote that inspires you?
This is something that when I lived in China, one of my coworkers told me and I thought, this is so true. The first couple of weeks I cried, I wanted to go home. The air was dirty. I was not having it. The motto that they told me was “Everything is possible, but nothing is easy.” It’s true, definitely in China, whether you’re grocery shopping or trying to get on the subway. Granted you will get on, but it’s going to take a lot of pushing. It’s also true here too. If you want to start a grow, there’s going to be a ton of hoops you have to jump through. It’s not going to be easy. If you want to be a budtender, get your foot in the door. People are not going to hand you a job. You have to apply and show that you’re hardworking.
Header Image courtesy of @bethanyfalcanna